Earth Scientists, Bishops and Fracking … a heady mix at Durham

The first of a series of conferences where I did a section of fracking.

I hope this will lead to many things in relation to science (technology) and Christianity including a more informed approach to fracking and a move away from a Bambi eco-theology, which well send us back to the caves – if we Survive.

Faith and Wisdom in Science

frackingDavid Wilkinson has a succinct way to say it: ‘Learn to see Science not as a secular threat, but as God’s Gift’. From that notion follows everything we are excited about. David is Principal of St. John’s College, Durham University, where I have just emerged, dazed, from a discussion of fracking that brought together theology, oil and gas engineering, earth science theory, local community politics, national policy frameworks, global environmental science and more in a group of bishops and scientists. How on earth did we get to this?

David and I have been working together since I joined the university in 2008 to find ways of helping the church, and the world beyond, to see and work with science in new ways. For some time we have been thinking through this germ of an idea – science as God’s gift – talking with others about it, writing books, working with…

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6 thoughts on “Earth Scientists, Bishops and Fracking … a heady mix at Durham

  1. Ashley Haworth-roberts

    As far as I know the people who sprayed graffit on those dead sperm whales in Lincolnshire have not expressly blamed fracking for their demise. Unless ‘Our Fault’ means fracking.


  2. Richard Gijsbers

    Tom, I am wondering if we are being presented with too simple a dichotomy of science (technology) and nature here. Mike Hulme in his book “Why We Disagree about Climate Change” identifies several understandings about nature that are held almost to the exclusion of any other understanding Game of Thrones has nothing on the brutality of the fighting between these different camps). Thus there are people who see nature as “God’s gift: sacred and to be untouched for to do so would be desecration” Such people would see those who see nature as “God’s resource made available to humans for their use” as being sacrilegious antropocentrics to be shouted down as quickly as possible and so it goes on.
    We will never understand the fracking and mining debate until we understand (and respect(?)) these (and other) differences. The first step surely being to identify these differences. Developing projects to justify one or other of the positions is doing only half the job.


  3. michaelroberts4004 Post author

    Richard, that is a pertinent point. What is overlooked is that every “tree-hugging” gardener “desecrates” land as soon as he digs it to plant his non-GMO , pesticide-free crops 🙂


    1. Richard Gijsbers

      Michael, as you know I agree somewhat with your perspective. That said, I think that we have a couple of choices in the debate:
      1. hone our perspective and bash those who disagree over the head with it or
      2. seek to map out the range of perspectives and see (dispassionately) where we disagree but at least understand that there are differences and try to understand them.

      Being strident about one’s perspective is only a little short of fundamentalism.



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