Overview

Research forms the basis of ECLAS’ work to drive culture change within the church. Through surveys and in-depth interviews, we explore current attitudes towards science within the church and suggest evidence-based ways to engage more deeply with science. Our research informs our policy work, resource development, and senior leaders’ conferences.

Our main research interests are:

  • Senior Christian leaders’ attitudes toward science and science-engaged theology.
  • ‘Narratives of Science and Religion’, past and present, in relation to health, environment and artificial intelligence. Relatedly, working directly with church leaders to reflect on questions of how to best engage with and communicate science in the setting of faith communities.
  • We are following and analysing the unfolding Church of England response to Covid-19.
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CURRENT RESEARCH

Our researchers are based at St John’s College, Durham University; the University of York; and Mission and Public Affairs at the Church of England.

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Dr Thoko Kamwendo Durham University
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Dr Franziska Kohlt University of York
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The Revd Dr Kathryn Pritchard Mission and Public Affairs Unit,
Church of England
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Dr Alex Fry Mission and Public Affairs Unit,
Church of England

RESEARCH FINDINGS AND PUBLICATIONS

In previous phases of the project, Dr Lydia Reid carried out two pieces of significant and original research on church leaders’ and educators’ engagement with science.

From 2018-2019 Dr Reid interviewed more than ten church educators and advisors on their views toward artificial intelligence and technology, as well as potential avenues for including these topics in ministerial training.

From 2015-2017 Dr Reid carried out original research on clergy’s attitudes to science. As part of the project, Dr Reid conducted interviews with over 20 church leaders and senior church leaders, as well as conducting a nationwide survey of over 1,000 clergy from the UK.

This research is currently being prepared for academic publication. For more information on the findings, please contact lydia.j.reid@durham.ac.uk  directly.

Dr Zara Thokozani Kamwendo has interviewed 12 Anglican bishops about narratives they have encountered during the Covid-19 pandemic, and identified resistance to the narrative that Covid-19 is an act of God. Dr Kamwendo explores the contextual explanations for this resistance in her paper “Resistance to Narratives of the Covid-19 Pandemic as an Act of God.” If you would like to read a pre-publication digital copy for individual use, please email zara.t.kamwendo@durham.ac.uk.

Dr Kohlt’s paper “’Over by Christmas’: The impact of war-metaphors and other science-religion narratives on science communication environments during the Covid-19 crisis” can be read in full at https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/z5s6a/

RESOURCES

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The place of coronavirus in God’s creation

We spoke to Bishops in the Church of England about how the Covid-19 pandemic could change the way we live alongside Creation and each other. Interviews conducted by Dr Thoko Kamwendo.

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Theological and biblical narratives relating to COVID-19.

We spoke to seven Bishops in the Church of England about theological and biblical narratives they have come across during the pandemic, and whether these are helpful or unhelpful ways of thinking about the current...

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How can Christian leaders model a healthy engagement with science?

We asked seven bishops in the Church of England how Christian leaders can model a healthy engagement with science, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

by David Wilkinson
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Saints Informed by Science

This paper will offer a structured analysis of the perhaps surprisingly common religious narrative patterns that emerged in public responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. A constructive critique of these narratives, it will address insecurities over...

by Franziska Kohlt
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God, Stephen Hawking and the Multiverse: What Hawking Said and Why it Matters (2020)

In ‘God, Stephen Hawking and the Multiverse’, Hutchings and Wilkinson explain the key elements of Stephen Hawking’s physical and mathematical theories, consider their philosophical and religious implications, and relate his ideas to traditional Judaeo-Christian concepts...

by David Wilkinson
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The Poetry and Music of Science (2019)

What human qualities are needed to make scientific discoveries, and which to make great art? Many would point to ‘imagination’ and ‘creativity’ in the second case but not the first. This book challenges the assumption...

by Tom McLeish, FRS
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