Roger Trigg is the Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick and a member of the faculties of Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University. Nigel Bovey talks to him about science and philosophy, faith and reason, and how it takes more faith to believe in a multiverse than in God.
Professor Trigg, why philosophy?
I started reading Plato at school, where we were taught Classics. As a student at Oxford, I read what was called ‘Greats’ – a mixture of classical literature and ancient and modern philosophy. One of my teachers was AJ Ayer, one of the leading humanists of the time. He was very strident in his criticism of Christianity. He maintained that science sets the standard of what defines evidence. His view was that only those things that can be verified have...
Christian philosopher and author Peter S Williams was at Sheffield University in January giving a lecture on ‘Science, Scientism and the Knowledge of God’. A video of the lecture, given to the university’s Christians in Science group, is now online, complete with the Q&A session at the end.
Says Peter: ‘After illustrating the recent growth in the idea that science is the only way to know anything about anything – an idea promoted by the likes of Stephen Hawking and the new atheists – I show why this idea is wrong.’
The lecture explores questions such as ‘What is science?’ and looks at the relationship between science, philosophy and arguments for God. The practice of science relies on philosophical disciplines (such as logic, ethics and the philosophy of science), while...
When Stephen Fry said in a TV interview that he thought God was a stupid maniac for creating a world of suffering and injustice, there wasn’t a shortage of online comment agreeing and disagreeing strongly with him.
One response came from Justin Brierley, who hosts Unbelievable? – a weekly debate show on Premier Radio where believers and unbelievers argue the pros and cons of Christian belief. Justin Brierley took to the streets of London with a film camera to record a ‘Dear Stephen’ video letter to Stephen Fry.
‘I’m a Christian,’ says Brierley, ‘and my first reaction was to want to tell you, I’ll give you five bulletproof reasons for why that’s not the way God is. But then I realised you’re not giving an argument against God, but more an expression of your anger...
It might sound like the beginning of a joke, but when Stephen Fry was asked in a TV interview over the weekend what he would say to God if he unexpectedly found himself outside the pearly gates, he gave a serious and angry reply.
Fry, who is well known as an atheist, responded: ‘I’d say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?’ See the whole exchange in the clip above.
Stephen Fry’s outburst against God isn’t original, as philosophers and theologians have been debating the issue of why suffering exists (when God...
An academic conference which could easily have been introduced with the words, ‘And now for something completely different’ was held in London last summer. Jesus and Brian: What have the Pythons done for us? drew a lot of biblical scholars together who wanted to discuss the life of Jesus in light of Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
The film wasn’t a huge hit with the church when it was released in 1979, due to its themes of religious satire. John Cleese and Michael Palin were hauled over the coals by churchmen in a TV chat show and Life of Brian was banned from being shown on the BBC and ITV and from many towns in the UK.
This time around, academics from around the world were delighted to be discussing their favourite subjects in the light of what was for many of them their favourite film....
Rev Dr Joanna Collicutt is a clinical psychologist who teaches trainee Anglican priests and is the Advisor for Spiritual Care of Older People for the Church of England Diocese of Oxford. Nigel Bovey talked to her about faith, delusion, wellbeing and her own journey as a Christian.
Dr Collicutt, what did you study as a student?
I studied experimental psychology at Oxford and then became a clinical psychologist. As a clinician, I specialised in neuropsychology, working with the rehabilitation of people who had brain injury as a result of a stroke or an accident.
In an increasingly ageing society, there is concern about the difficulties of dementia. Can eating a correct diet or doing puzzles help stave off the onset of dementia?
It’s always good to keep your brain active. The other...
Graeme Smith is a lawyer and the author of a new book, Was the Tomb Empty? which is subtitled, ‘A lawyer weighs the evidence for the resurrection’. Philip Halcrow talked to him about the professional skills he brought to bear on the available information for the resurrection of Jesus.
The burden of proof is on Christians,’ says Graeme Smith. ‘People don’t generally rise from the dead. So it would be wrong for Christians to say that the burden of proof is on others to disprove the resurrection.’
Graeme has been working as a lawyer since he joined a firm of solicitors in 1986. Today, he is a district judge and sits as a Crown Court recorder. He is also a Christian.
‘I was brought up in a Christian home and was taken to church when I was young,’ he says. ‘But my faith became completely...
The science and Christian faith of Robert Boyle, one of the founders of modern chemistry (famous, for example, for Boyle’s Law) have been brilliantly discussed on the BBC Radio 4 programme In Our Time, by presenter Melvyn Bragg and three expert guests.
A pioneering scientist and a founder member of the Royal Society, Boyle’s work was motivated by his strong Christian faith. The programme is especially good at showing how Boyle’s highly influential scientific method arose out of Christian beliefs.
One of the guests, Simon Schaffer, Professor of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge, says that Boyle’s interest was ‘not simply investigating nature because it is made, organised and run by God, but also in showing people that the way nature is organised and runs shows God’s...
Gus Holwerda, the director and writer of the film documentary, The Unbelievers, which follows atheists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss on a world speaking tour, recently took part in a debate with Christian author Graham Veale, whose book New Atheism: A Survival Guide, was published earlier this year.
The debate, broadcast by Premier Radio’s Unbelievable? show, hosted by Justin Brierley, focused on the two ‘rock stars’ of atheism and whether their arguments against religion stand up. The show included clips from the film, including a now-famous response by Dawkins to the question of which is more important to him: explaining science or destroying religion.
Dawkins says: ‘Science is wonderful, science is beautiful. Religion is not wonderful, it’s not beautiful, it gets in the way....
Professor Richard Hain, a consultant in paediatric palliative medicine at the Children’s Hospital for Wales, provides care to children with serious illnesses. His work deals with some of the deepest questions about human suffering. ‘This isn’t the way it is supposed to happen,’ he says. Nigel Bovey talked to him about his life and faith.
Professor Hain, what are your present responsibilities?
As well as being a practising clinician, I am a visiting professor at the University of South Wales and honorary senior lecturer at Bangor University, where I’m involved in clinical research in children’s palliative care. As a doctoral student in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at Oxford University, I am studying end-of-life ethics in children.
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We are constantly adding to and updating our resources. We produce written and audio materials which we hope will help answer some of the questions you might have about the Christian faith. This site also has resources which offer a Christian perspective on many of today's most challenging issues. Photos above by Taro Taylor and Jon Sullivan