Science and faith project to be extended


A project to promote greater understanding between science and faith is to be extended thanks to new funding

Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science, (ECLAS) first set up in 2015 and run by Durham and York universities in collaboration with the Church of England, has received a generous grant from Allchurches Trust to continue its work from April.

The new grant will allow Revd Dr Kathryn Pritchard, Research Fellow and Project Coordinator for ECLAS, to continue work with the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs team in Westminster on public policy implications of Artificial Intelligence and robotics and other scientific advances.

The project will develop a major piece of research into the impact of church engagement in science and science related public affairs, together with a proposal to integrate science more fully into the curriculum for trainee ministers.

The work will also include more events such as a conference for church leaders on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and a Royal Society conference for principals of theological colleges.

Nearly a third of the Church of England’s bishops along with a similar number of senior church leaders from the Methodist, Baptist and United Reformed Churches have taken part in ECLAS conferences so far on subjects ranging from fracking, neuroscience and bioethics to robotics.

The scheme has also funded work to promote greater dialogue between science and faith in churches and cathedrals through the Scientists in Congregations scheme, as well as digital resources for theological training.

Sir Philip Mawer, Chairman of Allchurches Trust, said: “This innovative project aims to challenge the thinking that science and faith are in conflict; instead exploring the synergies between them and what they can learn from one another.

“Continuing technological advancement brings challenges, but it also brings opportunity. These are exciting times and it is vital that the church is actively engaged in the debate and equipped to be agile in its response and thinking as public policy is developed.”

Rev Dr Pritchard said: “I am enormously grateful to Allchurches Trust, as are the wider team, for their generous and timely grant enabling us to continue to build on the momentum of this project.

“We are seeing so much interest in our work and enthusiasm from bishops and senior leaders who attend our conferences. The churches and cathedrals that have run science related events report that the wider public are interested and intrigued by questions for faith raised by scientific developments.”