Christ, the Academy and the (Post-)Modern World

Coming up in two weeks' time is the next in the series of Forming A Christian Mind conferences in Cambridge.  Entitled "Christ, the Academy and the (Post-)Modern World: Approaching Your Subject in the Light of the Gospel", this event is slated as the first of three conferences for this academic year.  The keynote speaker is David McIlroy, Visiting Professor in Law at SOAS (University of London), who will speak on ‘The Narratives of Modernity and the Christian Story’ and ‘Christianity and the Modern Conception of Rights’.  At the end of the day there's a plenary talk by Daniel Hill, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool: ‘Serving in Academia as Christian’.

I have a special interest in promoting this event, firstly because there's an explicit, FiSch-oriented focus on 'Studying excellently from the basis of a biblical worldview'.  (The following conference, on 22 Feb, will balance this with a focus on 'Pursuing your studies toward worship, cultural apologetics and mission', and the one on 16 May is about communication skills.)  Then, secondly, I've been invited to lead a Science Track workshop on ‘Science and the Modern Worldview’.  Here I will be sharing a vision that I've thought a lot about recently, of scientific work as seeking out the many sides of God's word of power that structures the created order.  And I hope to illustrate the academic potential of a Christian philosophical framework with reference to some of my own work, such as the FiSWES project. 

In parallel with my session, Dr Anna Nickerson (University of Cambridge) will lead an Arts & Humanities Track workshop on ‘The Secular Imagination: Insights from the 1930s’.  I understand that Anna's research includes a focus on the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, which rather makes me wish I could go to her workshop.  But perhaps I'll quote some Hopkins in mine to help make up for not going.  indeed one point I'd like to make with a 'scientific' audience is that the arts+humanities/science dichotomy is somewhat artificial, and largely a product of the Modernist worldview itself.

The long-range planning of Forming A Christian Mind (FACM) is encouraging to see for those of us who've tried to support and nurture authentically Christian engagement with academia - as is the fact that FACM finally has a free-standing web site.  In fact, a lot has been developing behind the scenes.  You can now sign up to receive weekly readings and discussion questions on topics related to the Gospel and scholarship (this week it was C.S. Lewis' talk on Learning in Wartime).  This comes courtesy of the fledgling UCCF and IFES-Europe network for relating the Gospel and scholarship – and there's a plan for people who follow the readings to meet up in Germany sometime in 2020.

The forthcoming event takes place on Saturday 9th November 2019, 9.30am–4.15pm at the Old Divinity School, St John’s College, Cambridge.  For further details and a booking link, go to http://formingachristianmind.org/conferences/november-conference/

I hope to see you there!

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