Thinking Faith blogs

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A Holiday for the Restless

It's vacation season once more and everyone seems to be posting pictures of themselves lounging by the river, sipping G&Ts. No better time, then, to consider the role of rest in our work. Academia seems to offer lots of ‘time off’: Easter breaks, Christmas breaks, and summer breaks can dwarf the terms they punctuate. But we all know that breaks are not really breaks for researchers. When undergrads are away, academics rejoice: now we can really start getting some work done!

A Christian view of scientific progress

Christian thinkers have proposed a range of ideas about what science is, ranging from reading the book of God's works and "thinking God's thoughts after Him" to studying how the Universe runs itself if God doesn't intervene.  Views like these were expressed by early modern scientists (Galileo, Bacon, Newton and others) who were Christians of one sort or another, but they needn't be the last word for a theistic perspective on science.

Somerset Maugham and the Fear of Final Judgment

In the final year of his life, the atheist novelist Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965) became terrified of dying and the possibility of judgment by a just and holy God loomed alarmingly. He had led a sordid, decadent and intensely selfish life and he craved secular comfort and consolation. In this state of fevered anguish he summoned the famous atheist philosopher Alfred Ayer to his deathbed in the south of France and pleaded: "Freddie I have led a debauched and depraved life.

Critical thinking and grace

Essay covered in red pen

In this post I’d like to reflect on a tension that I consider to be quite widespread within academia. ‘Critical thinking’ is often extolled as one of the core virtues necessary for the intellectual life: much university-level teaching is geared towards developing this skill, and it is viewed as foundational for effective research.

Queen Victoria and the Occult

Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert attended séances as early as 1846. In 1861, the year when Prince Albert died, a thirteen-year-old medium, Robert Lees delivered a message from Albert to the Queen in which he called her by a pet name known only to her and her dead husband. Victoria was delighted and she sent her trusted servants to investigate the young medium. After impressing the royal officials with impossible-to-know details of Albert’s personal life, Lees was invited to visit the queen at Buckingham Palace.

Staying connected to others as a researcher

It won't be news to anyone reading this blog that life as a researcher – perhaps particularly life as a doctoral student – can be, and often is, very isolating. You're working on a niche topic, which few other people may understand or seriously care about; your day-to-day research is self-driven and self-directed. Particularly in the humanities, there is often little to no organised time with peers.

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