Science and Religion

Science and Religion examines religious beliefs and theological concepts in relation to the sciences. This field involves studying the significance of scientific research for concepts that have traditionally been of interest to theology, like personhood and human nature. This research also involves the application of scientific tools to religious phenomena, or the history of the complex interactions between science and religion. By bringing science into conversation with theology and metaphysics, the field of Science & Religion stimulates research into some of the deepest questions about the nature of reality.

The senior academic in this field at Oxford is the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science & Religion. The current Chair is Alister McGrath. Some previous chairs, Arthur Peacocke and Peter Harrison, have established scholarships to assist research students.
 

Research Areas & Projects

The Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion (1974 - Present)

The Faculty of Theology & Religion is proud to host the Ian Ramsey Centre, which is dedicated to research and outreach in Science & Religion. Directed by Prof. Alister McGrath and Dr Andrew Pinsent, the Centre produces top-tier research and hosts regular public events. Over the past decade the project has directed several large projects thanks principally to generous grants from the John Templeton Foundation. These projects are:

New Horizons for Science and Religion in Central and Eastern Europe (2019 - 2024)

This five-year project for over £2 million aims to stimulate world-class research and outreach in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The project will enhance engagement with Big Questions in science and religion within the region and in dialogue with researchers elsewhere in the world. Over two hundred diverse subgrants and major activities of the project, covering the twenty-four countries of CEE, will focus principally, though not exclusively, on a suite of questions within the broad themes of (a) Science and Religion in the CEE Context; (b) Reason and Faith; and (c) Persons, Mind, and Cosmos. 

Science, Philosophy and Theology in Latin America (2011 - 2017)

Two back-to-back projects of over £1.5 million total over a period of six years enabled and equipped hundreds of researchers in Latin America, especially early-career scholars and future leaders, to engage in big questions at the intersection of contemporary science, philosophy and theology. The main themes of the project were (a) the origin of life, (b) the brain, the mind, and the human person, and (c) the place of the person in the cosmos. 

Special Divine Action (2014 – 2016)

This project was a collaborative project of over £1.4 million involving the University of Oxford, Western Michigan University, and the Texas Center for Applied Technology (TCAT). The project recovered forgotten texts and landscapes of ideas, especially since the rise of early modern science, so that more of the finest scholarship on divine action could be made accessible to contemporary researchers and audiences. 
 

Community

Science & Religion has one of the largest student bodies of any sub-discipline in the Faculty of Theology & Religion. The field is also one of the most diverse. In a Science & Religion seminar you may find yourself sitting in a room with a philosopher, a particle physicist, an astronomer, an anthropologist, and a neurologist – each from a different continent. Our community is supportive and stimulating, full of people passionate about big questions. 

Outside of seminars, the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion hosts regular events within the field, providing a great place to connect with colleagues and people with shared interests from across the university. In particular, there are regular public seminars and an annual summer conference that attracts scholars from across the world.