you describe us the history, the reasons and the targets of the Ian
Ramsey Center ?
Centre was founded in 1985 for the study of religious beliefs in
relation to the sciences and medicine. It is a centre of the Theology
in the University
The Centre was named after
an Oxford Professor of the Philosophy of Religion and later Bishop of
Durham, and who had interest in science, religion and medicine. The
Centre runs a seminar programme, hosts an annual international
conference, and is home to a number of research projects on science
have been more relevant activities, related to a more clear
definition of science and faith relationship ?
of the key annual events is the Centre’s international conference
that brings together scientists, theologians, historians and
philosophers to discuss key issues in the field. Our 2009
conference, for example, was devoted to the theme of religious
responses to Darwin. We had many lively and thought-provoking
exchanges on the religious implications of Darwinian thinking. While
the conferences tend to be oriented towards academics, our public
seminar series seeks to bring to the wider public some of the
distilled conclusions of the academic discussion.
you talk us about next activities, particularly next Conference
God and Physics ?
physics and cosmology have been particularly fruitful areas for the
contemporary dialogue between science and religion. One interesting
area, for example, is the so-called fine tuning of the universe for
the emergence of intelligent life. The remarkable features of the
universe we inhabit have suggested to some that the laws of physics
must be the result of design. Other contest this. So this will be
one of the items on the agenda at the conference. Attending will be
a number of prominent physicists, philosophers and theologians will
offer presentations of their views about the possible intersection of
physics and theology. There will also be the opportunity for
contributed papers from other participants. The presentations of the
major speakers will be published as a book.
dedicated this event to prof. John Polkinghorne
a sense, Prof. John Polkinghorne embodies the possibilities for
fruitful dialogue between theology and physics. As a distinguished
physicist, who later in life become a Anglican priest, John
Polkinghorne demonstrates how physics and religious faith can
coexist. He has also published many important books on the
interaction of science and religion, and has been a major contributor
to the positive engagement between faith and science.
your point of view, are there, in United Kingdom and generally in
anglosaxon countries, specific keys to interpretate Science
and Faith relationship ?
speaking, in England science and religion had a very positive
relationship, certainly from the seventeenth century onwards.
However, things began to change in the late nineteenth century, with
the growing professionalisation and specialisation of science. It
was around this time that the ‘conflict myth’ arose, according to
which science and religion were necessarily in conflict. This is
still a quite common view, and is vocally promoted by people such as
Richard Dawkins. So it is sometimes difficult to promote the
contrary view, which points to the possibility of peaceful
co-existence between science and religion. The situation is much
more polarised in North America, of course, partly due to the
prevalence of strong anti-evolutionary movements there. These tend
to promote a polarisation between science and religion.
philosophy has a mediation role between science and religion, which
should be a possible role for communication, and information too ?
has a very important role to play, as a way of mediating central
issues in the science-religion discussione. Equally important is
communication. There are many myths and misconceptions about science
and religion and their relationship. While many in academia are
aware of the currency of these mistaken ideas, it is important that
this message is communicated more broadly.
is also important, as in all areas of academic research, that the
results of considered reflection on these key issues be communicated
to the public. This can be difficult, but it is an important part of
our work to keep the public informed.
important role that media sometime seem to misunderstand, or refuse,
due to economic and audience reasons ...
media often like short ‘sound bites’, and because science and
religion issues tend to be quite complex, it can be difficult to
comunicate the issues in an approachable and understandable way.
The media also tend to favour stories about conflict and controversy,
and so the idea that science and religion can co-exist peacefully is
more difficult to get across.
most recent book is The Cambridge Companion to Science and
collection is an attempt to provide a
comprehensive introduction to the relations between science and
religion, with contributions from historians, philosophers,
scientists and theologians. It explores the impact of religion on the
origins and development of science, religious reactions to Darwinism,
and the link between science and secularization. It also offers
in-depth discussions of contemporary issues, with perspectives from
cosmology, evolutionary biology, psychology, and bioethics. The
volume is rounded out with philosophical reflections on the
connections between atheism and science, the nature of scientific and
religious knowledge, and divine action and human freedom.
Charles Darwin's Year is it possibile to think to a
“reconciliation” and a dialogue between evolution and faith in a
Creator God ?
would like to say that we are seeing a greater understanding of how
evolutionary theory might be consistent with traditional religious
belief. However, while this is true in some quarters, there seems
to be a growth in both religiously inspired anti-evolutionary
movements, and in the use of evolution as a kind of atheistic
ideology. So while the Darwin year saw some very positive
discussions about reconciling faith with evolutionary thinking, my
sense is that more generally there is growing polarisation of views
on this question. This disturbing polarisation is promoted both by
aggressive atheists who attempt to implicate evolutionary thinking in
their atheism, and by fundamentalist Christians and Muslims, who
believe similarly that evolution must be linked to atheism. Of
course, both groups are mistaken.
by Paolo Centofanti, SRM