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Posted: 15 March 2018

We’re glad to hear that the UK’s leading apologetics gathering, Unbelievable? The Conference 2018, is returning to London on Saturday 19 May 2018.

The conference is hosted by Justin Brierley, whose popular Unbelievable? radio show and podcast brings believers and sceptics together to debate the big issues. He will be joined by 10 internationally renowned thinkers, scientists and Christian leaders, including Rob Parsons, Hugh Ross, Sharon Dirckx and Glen Scrivener.

The conference seminars, talks and Q&A sessions promise to help attendees respond to the questions that we and others frequently ask of the Christian faith.

Early bird booking rates end this Friday 16 March, so do check out this year’s theme and the full speaker lineup. For tickets and more info, visit Unbelievable? The...

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Photo of Stephen Hawking at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

Posted: 15 March 2018

The death of Stephen Hawking has evoked a range of positive tributes among Christian leaders, scientists and thinkers online. Professor Hawking, one of the world’s best known and most celebrated scientists, had contrasting things to say about religious faith during his life. In his bestselling book, A Brief History of Time (1988), he famously said: ‘If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God.’ But in 2014, he firmly declared himself an atheist and said, ‘What I meant by “we would know the mind of God” is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t. I’m an atheist.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury paid tribute to Hawking on his Facebook page:...

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Photo of Rebecca Goldstein, William Lane Craig and Jordan Peterson

Posted: 26 January 2018

Tonight sees a debate, which will be live-streamed on YouTube, between philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig, psychology professor Jordan Peterson, and philosopher and author Rebecca Newberger Goldstein. The debate is expected to be lively and provocative, as the three scholars offer their very insights into questions around the meaning of life.

See the debate live here.

Jordan Petersen, a leading Canadian intellectual, is the author of recently-published 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, which has been described as ‘a hardline self-help manual of self-reliance, good behaviour, self-betterment and individualism’. Peterson was recently in the news for his fiery interview on Channel 4 News, focusing on gender issues, which resulted in online abuse of the interviewer,...

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Posted: 23 January 2018

National Geographic devoted the cover of its Christmas 2017 edition to The Real Jesus. The journalist who wrote the feature, Kristin Romey, naturally considered the question of whether Jesus existed at all, writing: ‘Might it be possible that Jesus Christ never even existed, that the whole stained glass story is pure invention? It’s an assertion that’s championed by some outspoken skeptics – but not, I discovered, by scholars, particularly archaeologists, whose work tends to bring flights of fancy down to earth.’

She then quoted Eric Meyers, archaeologist and Emeritus Professor in Judaic Studies at Duke University: ‘I don’t know any mainstream scholar who doubts the historicity of Jesus… The details have been debated for centuries, but no one who is serious doubts that...

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Photo of man ascending steps

Posted: 17 January 2018

Think ‘God’ and what do you see? Psychologist Bonnie Poon Zahl of the University of Oxford has investigated people’s perception of God and the effect our image of God has on behaviour. She talks to Nigel Bovey.

Is there a link between having a religious faith and a sense of personal wellbeing?

There is a fair amount of research that shows a general trend of religiosity correlating with higher levels of wellbeing – so religious people seem to report more satisfaction with life and a greater sense of purpose. But it would be wrong to suppose that every individual believer feels good about themselves and about God all the time. As well as being a source of joy, religious faith can also sometimes be a source of strain.

How can having a faith be personally detrimental?

For my...

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Photo of bookshelves seen through a pair of glasses

Posted: 30 December 2017

Politicians ‘doing God’, scientists and theologians in conversation, a compelling biography of Martin Luther, and a fresh take on the Good Book. We look at 10 of the most striking books on the borders of faith and culture published in 2017.

Cover of Unbelievable?

Unbelievable?
Justin Brierley has hosted the radio show, Unbelievable? for the past 10 years, inviting atheists, sceptics (and believers) to debate arguments for and against the Christian faith. But how have all those years of discussion with Richard Dawkins, Derren Brown and others affected Brierley’s own faith? In his book of the show, Brierley tells the stories of his radio guests, and explains why (to borrow the book’s subtitle) ‘I’m still a Christian’. Published: June 2017

Cover of The Mighty and the Almighty

The Mighty and the Almighty: How Political Leaders Do God...

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Posted: 22 December 2017

The story of the birth of Jesus is well known through Christmas carol services and nativity plays. But modern archaeological finds have helped give the story greater depth – for example, by showing that the village of Nazareth, where Jesus grew up, was a tiny, impoverished settlement. Here are three details from the Christmas story, illuminated by arcahaeology, taken from the booklet, Digging for Evidence, by Peter S Williams.

‘In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world… And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David’ (Luke 2:1,3-4).

So begins the birth narrative of...

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Photo of the ceiling and stained glass of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris

Posted: 30 November 2017

In 2015, Tim O’Neill started a blog, History for Atheists, dedicated to debunking the ‘pseudo history’, ‘fringe theories and crackpot ideas’ frequently used by new atheists. That might not seem exceptional, except that Tim O’Neill is a convinced atheist himself, and a member of various atheist organisations.

How did this happen? O’Neill says: ’I felt someone needed to start correcting the popular misconceptions about history which are rife among many vocal atheist activists. I also felt there needed to be some push-back by a fellow unbeliever against several fringe theories and hopelessly outdated ideas which have no credibility among professional scholars and specialists, but which seem to be accepted almost without question by many or even most anti-theistic atheists.’...

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Posted: 26 October 2017

La Sagrada Família, the celebrated (and unfinished) basilica by the artist Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, is the subject this week of a 99% Invisible podcast, one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes. The episode, La Sagrada Família, explores the history, design and religious inspiration of the church, which was begun in the 1880s, is scheduled to be completed in the 2020s, and is said to be the longest running construction project in the world.

The podcast says that Gaudí drew his artistic inspiration from the natural world, which had enthralled him during his childhood in Catalonia. ‘He seemed to absorb essential lessons from the patterns and shapes he saw in nature. A dried out snake’s skeleton, a snail, a honeycomb – these were nature’s perfect constructions. And for Gaudí,...

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Posted: 20 October 2017

We’re pleased to announce that we’re producing a Drawbridge Lecture in May 2018, to be delivered by Marcelo Gleiser, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College, and Director for the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement. The lecture, ‘Unknowns in Heaven and Earth’, will be followed by a conversation between Marcelo Gleiser and the Revd Andrew Pinsent, Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford University.

‘Unknowns in Heaven and Earth’ takes place in the Crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral on Tuesday 22 May 2018, starting at 6.30pm. Entry to the lecture is by free ticket. Please register here

Marcelo Gleiser is also giving a lecture on Monday 21 May 2018, at 6.30pm, in the Harvard Lecture Theatre, Bush House, King’s College London. This is a free...

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Photos at the top of this column by:
Taro Taylor and Jon Sullivan