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Photo of Tel Beit Shemesh where the stone was found

Posted: 17 January 2020

A large stone slab has been unearthed by archaeologists in a town near Jerusalem, which may have once served as the resting place of the lost ark of the covenant, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports. The stone, which is the size of a table, was found inside a 3,000 year-old square building that experts believe to have been a temple, in the ancient settlement of Beth Shemesh, that is now the modern town of Beit Shemesh, 20km from Jerusalem.

One of the leaders of the dig, Dr Zvi Lederman of Tel Aviv University, says, ‘This would be a rare case in which we can merge the biblical narrative with an archaeological find.’

The unearthed building is a perfect square, its corners aligning with the points of the compass, and it opens onto a platform facing east which was used for religious...

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Photo of Claire Foster-Gilbert

Posted: 14 January 2020

We’ve recently started working with the Montgomery Trust, which helps fund lectures and talks on the Christian faith by expert speakers. The talks are delivered throughout the UK, making them accessible to a wide audience. Here’s the line-up of talks in the spring and summer, taking place in Chester, Liverpool, North Yorkshire and Nottingham.

MARCH

Women, Culture and Gender Issues
Chester Cathedral, 2 March 2020, 10am
Elaine Storkey looks at the sociological, psychological and theological issues surrounding women, culture and gender, including a theological examination of gender stereotypes. The lecture will show how the Christian faith sheds light on areas which are crucial to our gendered lives.

APRIL

Rediscovering the Bible as the People’s Book
St Brides, Percy St, Liverpool L8...

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Photo of a banner reading Hi mom I'm an atheist at the Reason Rally in Washington DC in 2012

Posted: 09 January 2020

A recent summary of 10 facts about atheists reveals some surprising features of the beliefs and attitudes of one of the world’s fastest-growing non-religious groups. The summary draws on a number of polls and surveys into religion, carried out by the Pew Research Center.

‘Measuring atheism is complicated,’ admits Pew. ‘Some people who describe themselves as atheists also say they believe in some kind of higher power or spiritual force. At the same time, some of those who identify with a religion (for example, say they are Catholic or Jewish) say they do not believe in God.’

Here are just five of the surprising and not-so-suprising facts revealed in the summary:

Significant growth – The share of people who identify as atheists ‘has increased modestly but significantly in...

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Photo of a melting glacier

Posted: 21 December 2019

In 2009, Dr Mike Hulme, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Cambridge, found himself at the centre of a media storm known as Climategate. A leak of scientists’ emails, the majority of which belonging to four scientists, including Mike Hulme, led to the integrity of research into climate change being questioned. Ten years on, Mike Hulme talks to Nigel Bovey about that time, and the present scientific research into the impact humans are having on the physical environment.

Professor Hulme, what was Climategate?

Climategate was a controversy that erupted in November 2009 just before the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen. It involved the publication of professional email exchanges between a group of climate scientists, including several who worked with me at the time...

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Posted: 09 December 2019

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 archaeology, 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 audience listening to a lecture

Posted: 05 October 2019

Christian Evidence has recently started working with the Montgomery Trust, which helps fund lectures and talks on the Christian faith by expert speakers. These talks are delivered throughout the UK, making them accessible to a wide audience. The line-up of talks between now and Christmas take place in Edinburgh, Welshpool and Derbyshire:

Photo of Jolyon Mitchell

Passion Play: The Mysterious Revivals of Religious Drama
4 November 2019
Jolyon Mitchell at St Albert’s Catholic Chaplaincy
23-24 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LD

In this illustrated talk, Jolyon Mitchell explores the extraordinary growth of religious drama in the UK, Europe and beyond over the last 60 years. Using examples from both the Mystery Play tradition and the closely related Passion Play tradition, he investigates why both ancient and modern...

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Photo of Richard Dawkins speaking in Australia

Posted: 01 October 2019

Richard Dawkins’ latest book has just been published, and it has a young audience in its sights. Outgrowing God: A Beginner’s Guide, ‘explains to readers of all ages how life emerged without a Creator, how evolution works and how our world came into being.’ Dawkins has often tweeted in opposition to religious parents bringing up their children in their own faith traditions, and this new book, which has been dubbed ‘the junior version of The God Delusion’, seems designed to educate young readers in the opposite direction.

Outgrowing God has already been making waves. How has it been received by religious and other reviewers?

Dawkins and Rev Richard Cole engage in a good-natured to and fro about the book on the Penguine website, in which Cole says, ‘the problem, for serious...

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Photo of a home smashed by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans

Posted: 27 September 2019

‘Some of the fundamental questions religion asks are: What kind of world do we live in? What, if anything, does God demand of me?’ Dr Jonathan Moo, associate professor of New Testament and environmental studies at Whitworth University, Washington, talks to Nigel Bovey about climate change and human responsibility.

Dr Moo, what is your academic background?

As an undergrad, I studied biology and English literature in Chicago. I then spent a year working in a seminary. While I was there, I enrolled on a theology course. I then did a master’s degree in wildlife biology at Utah State University, followed by time studying the New and Old Testaments in Boston, before completing a PhD in early Judaism and the New Testament at Cambridge University.

You have been working as part of the Faraday...

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Photo of a skull in a medical school

Posted: 26 July 2019

Is there a genuine conflict between science and religion? A new report shows that the ‘conflict’ between science and religion is sometimes talked up in the UK as if it were part of an emerging culture war, as it apparently is in the US.

The report, produced by Theos, the think tank specialising in the relationship between religion, politics and society in the contemporary world, gathers over ten years of polling data to give the fullest picture yet of the science and religion landscape in the UK.

The report can be downloaded (for free) here. Some of the most memorable findings include the following facts and figures, taken from the report’s executive summary:

• The percentage of people who agree or strongly agree that science and religion are incompatible is only 27%, compared...

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Photo of Justin Brierley in the Premier Radio studio

Posted: 03 July 2019

Ahead of Unbelievable? the Conference 2019, Justin Brierley, presenter of Unbelievable? – a radio debate show which brings people of faith and no faith together – talks about his experience of being a Christian, and of sitting in the hot seat of debate for 10 years.

I grew up in a Christian family. Both my parents became Christians when they were at Oxford University together. However, I wouldn’t say that I really owned that faith myself until I was about 15 years old. We went to church every Sunday, and I had friends in the youth group, but I went because my parents did. The turning point for me came at a church youth camp. As a teenager, l wasn’t sure about Christianity, I didn’t have the conviction that others seemed to have. However, on that youth camp, faith really came...

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