Every year around this time our masters students in Science and Religion give a talk outlining their intended research over the coming months, as they work towards their dissertations which are the keystone to our MSc, due for submission in August. For me, as the programme manager of the MSc, this is one of the high points of the year, as I get to see how the students are developing their own thoughts way beyond the past 6 months’ classes, interaction and debate. I am always deeply impressed (and also rather humbled) by the breadth of interests and expertise.
Students are encouraged to explore any topic which falls broadly within the ‘Science-Religion’ field. The ‘classical’ field of Science and Religion, defined by the work of scholars such as Ian Barbour, Arthur Peacocke, John Polkinghorne from the 1960s to the early 2000s, is being rapidly superseded these days, as we discover more and more crucial areas of engagement between the two disciplines. Our students have uncovered a number of new areas themselves, and we were all impressed by the degree of novelty and ingenuity on display. Topics included: intercessory prayer and divine action; Teilhard de Chardin and systems biology; natural theology in McGrath and Gould; dark matter/energy and Christian mysticism; T F Torrance, Polanyi and a new theology of science; creationism is UK schools; Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials and Nietzsche; Neanderthals and the ‘image of God’ theology; creationism and the evolution of inerrancy; critical realism and the potential influence of Polanyi; divine action in the human brain and religious belief; Sam Harris and Buddhism; the deep future, human evolution, and the ‘image of God’ theology
We look forward to seeing how these very fertile and imaginative projects emerge in the coming months.