Science and Faith

The last two years have highlighted how we respond to science.  For many years, we have become used to the idea that science has the answers to the questions that we need answers for.   We have watched the news briefings as the Chief Science Officer and the Chief Medical Officers of the different UK countries have led the country through the last 2 COVID-filled years.  We have become steeped in science.  Science has fuelled decisions.  Science has led to Lockdowns, self isolation, economic regression and medical inventiveness in changing PPE and vaccines.

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These COVID times have been a nightmare.   The number of deaths in the UK that have involved COVID has reached 176,000.  Some people think we should have ignored this – that it is no different from flu – that its a storm in a Teacup – this it is part of nature.

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with science.  I like to know how things work.  When I was a child I used to take things apart and then try (and fail) to put them back together again.   I have a thirst to understand.  I need to know the details.   Through the COVID epidemic – this has been no different.   I have wanted to learn what has been going on; why decisions are being made and the justification for the measures taken.

I have been fascinated to watch our scientific (and less so, our political) leaders in action as they tried to do what was best for us all over the last 2 years.   These were big, hefty decisions that needed to to be taken.  None of us really understand the pressure on someone who is responsible for the actual lives of a nation.  I have watched ‘the science’.  I have considered the data and the responses to that data.   I have watched the predictions as wave after wave of COVID spread through our population – with seemingly no end in sight.  I bought a book called Covid by numbers:  Making sense of the Pandemic with Data by David Spiegelhater and Anthony Masters.  They outlined some rather good arguments for the different available facts and figures (in 2021) about the mechanics of the epidemic and dealt with some of the hard questions about the disease, the interventions that were used, the vaccines and the process used to develop these

I am a Christian.  I am a believer.  I believe in a God who cares deeply for us.  I am someone who has faith.  I have a simple faith.  I don’t like to over-complic`ate things.  Having faith means that you cannot have all of the answers.   I don’t mind not knowing some of the answers.  I like the fact that there is mystery.  We need the mystery because God is in the mystery.  Having faith means that you make a decision based on the information available to you.  It’s your best guess.  It’s based on the things you see in front of you.   You listen to people.   You hear the stories of what God has done in the loves of people and you decide to follow.

I believe that God created the world and everything (including us) in it.   Sometimes, as a Geography teacher that belief can pop up when I am trying to explain different things in class.   I have held creationist views for a long time but I have to admit that the recent years have threatened this.  Its not that I have had some sort of existential crisis (I haven’t).   Its not that I have read new opinions that have swayed me (I haven’t).  It’s that some of the people who used to share the same ideas as me – have become rampant anti-vaxxers who are challenging every scientific discovery and even the body of science thought and thinkers.   I am used to disagreeing with some scientists.   I am used to saying that we cannot explain away everything. I am used to getting people to justify and to find that there are still things that we don’t know.  But – I am not used to having to back up the ideas of people who are arguing that the science is wrong and that we are being duped.

I have listened to the medical experts of our country and when they said that the vaccine was safe – I have believed them.   I have got all 3 of my jabs.  I have listened to the informed argument.  I have spoken to my doctor friends who have reassured me about the safety.  I have listened to some anti-vaxxers who have spread lies, half truths and downright propaganda about the validity of the vaccine.  I have watched the pictures of people try and force their beliefs on other people.  I have heard Christians spout lies and fuel fires that the vaccine was made with aborted babies.  This is not acceptable.   Right thinking Christian people should be condemning these people and calling them out.   I have read reports about how COVID was a fake. I’ve had it.  It’s not.   All this does is to shake my faith.   I am frustrated that many vocal Christians have hijacked the mics and are shouting about freedoms they don’t actually believe in.   `People who I used to agree with – I now find repugnant.  I dislike their message.  I dislike the way they spread their message through fear and admonition.   I dislike how they attempt to undermine the public safety messages.  Yet – when they catch the disease themselves they claim that it is something different that ails them.

It is ok to read the science and to come with a different conclusion.  But it is not OK to do this with no sound thinking and evidence to back things up.  It is not OK to do this in such a way that it instills fear in people or belittles the struggles that people are going through.

People are entirely well within their rights to have their own opinions on things.  But – to argue that everything is pseudo-science is harming MY faith.  Where is your faith?  When you tear down the pillars of science – what are you replacing it with?   We believe that God will protect us and will intervene when we pray – yet, and yes we must rely on Him for salvation.  BUT – that does not mean that we turn our backs on those with the gifts and talents who have been given to us to help us through the crisis.   I am very thankful for the medical scientists who provide injections and tablets for me on a daily basis.   I am thankful for their training, knowledge and professionalism to give me the best chance of living a long, active and productive life.

I am reminded of the story that Leo tells Josh in the West Wing about the man who fell down a hole  . . .


I have been reading a book about Quantum Physics recently – it is so good that I am even understanding some of it!  Its called Helgoland by Carlo Rovelli.  Quantum theory is something that many great scientists do not fully understand on page 130 he writes about how the ‘world of phenomena is one that we can investigate, gradually improving our understanding of it’.   We are trying to work out how to negotiate our way through a health crisis and we want to use every tool (and talent) that God has put at our disposal.  I don’t believe that God intends this age to be some sort of Malthusian Thanos-inspired finger snap where half the population are wiped out.     I believe the God who created us, revels in our industry, in our inventiveness, in our determination to fight the unseen virus.   Rovelli continues,

“I believe that one of the greatest mistakes made by human beings is to want certainties when trying to understand something.  The search for knowledge is not nourished by certainty:  it is nourished by a radical absence of certainty.” 

We all need a little faith.  Even in science – observation and measurement is not enough.  To delve into the depths of how our world works and how the physical world interacts – we need to have a little faith.  We don’t want certainty.   We have to have faith and we have then can start to think about who started to create all these things in the first place.

My concern is that if people start to think that Christians have nothing positive to say and only pull down and demean (and lie)  – it will mean that when the crisis is over, no one will listen ever again.


Rediscovering reading


What have you been doing differently through the Lockdown?  What new skills have you gained?  How has your day looked different to what you did in the pre-lockdown era?

These are the questions that many people are pondering.   Today, I read a newspaper report on Radio/TV host Stephen Nolan and how he was finding time for new things amongst his attacks on public figures and battles for PPE.

For me, its been a strange change of pace.  I’m shielding at home which means that I have not been out much.   I have been trying to keep ‘school hours’ through the weekday mornings and my days have been filled with planning for next year, organising the collection of exam results and making sure there is enough work for my pupils.

But, there has also been a little more time than usual for other things.   As my wife is working up at The City Hospital, I’ve been sorting out the food orders and making the dinners.  I’ve made a few things I’ve never tried before – my own Lasagne and a version of Chinese honey chilli chicken that is so good we have been enjoying it at last once a week (with home-made prawn crackers too!)

I’ve also rediscovered my passion for reading.   I haven’t had a lot of time to indulge in reading  until recently.   I have started to plough through a daily newspaper (online) again.  I started with a subscription to the Daily Telegraph but I wasn’t really enjoying it and switched to The Times.   The Times was always the paper I used to read – from way back at university where I got special vouchers to buy it for 10p.  I used to read through and cut out articles that I thought might come in handy.  I find myself doing the same now – if I come across a story that I like – I take a screen grab to store it for the future.   I knew I had made the right decision to switch back to The Times – when on my first day I had saved 3 stories.

But, I’ve also stated reading a lot more as well.   I have always read a lot.  I have a really wide taste in books.   Often I will come across a recommendation online or on twitter and I will order it up there and then and 2 days later a little cardboard package will appear on my doorstep.   Usually, I will read about 5 books at once.  I keep them all in different places – on my phone I am reading a novel about submarines (Final Bearing by Wallce and Keith), on my iPad its a book about the Spanish flu epidemic (The Great influenza by John M Barry), on my desk I have Carol Dweck’s book on Mindset (that I am reading through for the second time), Island on Fire by Alexandra Witze and Jeff Kanipe,  D-Day by Stephen E Ambrose and Education Exposed by Samuel Strickland.

I like to dip into a book and read a chapter or two and then come back to it again a day or two later.  I like to have what I read swirl around in my head as I process and come to grips with what it is saying.   Sometimes I will write a quote down but more often I will grab a pen and scribble over the pages with some ideas and thoughts.  That’s why I prefer a physical book to one on my kindle app – though I still will buy books and look for bargains on Kindle.  Why pay £10 for a book if I can get it for 99p on Kindle?

This approach does mean that it usually takes me ages to read books.   I started Stephen Ambrose’s book on D-Day at Christmas.   I am currently on page 437.   I usually read about 4 or 5 pages every couple of days.   I am hoping to have it finished by 6 June. Sometimes I will fly through a book.   I just finshed reading the small book – Where is God in a Coronavirus World? by John C lennox earlier on this week and it did not take me that long to get through – though it did make my brain hurt!!

My reading backlog is getting bigger through the Lockdown too.  I have two shelves in my house where I keep the books that I have yet to read.   I’ve ordered quite a few recently and need to get round to reading them as soon as I can.  They are mostly filled with history, geography, education and religious themes.

Right – I’m off to get another chapter done.   I wonder what I’m in the mood for  . . . . .

Its a new year, its a new term, its time to step up your game

Its 5th January 2019.  I am at the end of the Christmas break.  Its been a good break.  I love Christmas. I love spending time with my family and friends and chilling.   I feel more rested after this break than for as long as I can remember.  I have deliberately allowed myself to wind down and NOT think about work and all that is waiting for me when I go back on Monday.  Its a good thing to do.  I could easily aspire for the holidays to continue and the downtime to be repeated.   But, I do love my job.  I enjoy the people around me.  I enjoy working with teachers and students.   I refuse to be negative at this time in the year.   I am looking forward to Mondy morning.  I can’t wait to catch up with my pupils.  To hear about their Christmas break.   I can’t wait to hear from my colleagues – to hear about the places they have been to over the break; the people they have hung out with; the experiences that they have had.

Its a new year.  Its a new term.  Its time for new opportunities.  Its time to do something different.   Its time to BE that difference.   Its time to change lives and attitudes and outlooks.   Its time to challenge.  Its time to encourage.   Its time to invest in people – in students.  To not give up.  To refuse to allow them to give up.  Its time to step up your game.   Happy new year.    #letsgo

Here we go . . .

Its been a while since I had a proper blog with some proper thoughts and writing.  I’m not sure what I am going to write here.  But I thought it was high time that I set up another area to air my laundry (so to speak).   The internet can often be a vacuum – so who knows where this is going but maybe you will like what you see and join me on the adventure ahead.

If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere

Bear Grylls