Home: Science and Christian faith

Why you won’t find me in the Tyne Valley Express any more

From March 2017 until July 2020 I regularly contributed articles on topical science issues, written from a personal viewpoint as a Christian, to the local bimonthly what’s-on and advertising magazine Tyne Valley Express.  These were generally put together to occupy a single page of the printed magazine, roughly 800 words plus some illustrative pictures.  The contributions were a response to an invitation from the editor after I asked to insert some notices advertising talks on the science-faith interface during 2017.

The text of the various articles can be found on the ‘Current science topics from a Christian viewpoint‘ page of this website.  There was no article for May 2020 because the magazine was not produced and distributed during this stage of the coronavirus pandemic.  The July 2020 article covered two pages and was on the topic of viruses.

I wrote an article for the September 2020 issue covering the topical subject of conspiracy theories, as many of these have been circulating on social media and elsewhere with particular reference to the current pandemic situation, many concern scientific topics, and they need to be countered as baseless.  The editor refused to publish it because he disagreed with its contents, saying that “your perception of reality is so far removed from the actual reality around us in my opinion”.  Despite my repeated request for clarification about the disputed points in the article, I have heard nothing in reply.

When the magazine was distributed, it was obvious that my article would have been in direct contradiction of one by Sarah Fae, entitled Masquerade, which promoted several conspiracy theories!  Her previous article Immune to the System had already claimed that the mainstream media manipulate and control our perception of reality with a blanket of lies and hiding the truth, and she cited online resources that are connected to QAnon and other known extreme conspiracy organisations.  In this one she repeats the attack, extending it also to government health advice, which “was never about our safety”.  She objects to face masks as an inhuman symbol of control by a corrupt system, suggests Covid-19 death rates are exaggerated, implies the “pandemic” is not real by use of those quotation marks, and mentions vaccines in a negative context.  She is clearly an admirer of the arch-conspiracy theorist David Icke and objects to the fact that he has been de-platformed because his views are considered a threat to public safety (this is a man who believes the world is controlled by a race of mutant reptiles, climate change is a hoax, and the scientific method is complete rubbish – his own choice of words is ruder than that).  She recommends two resources, one of which is a huge online collection of some of the worst conspiracy theories in circulation, and the other is a so-called documentary film that has been thoroughly debunked for its misinformation and distortions (not to say, outright lies).

The magazine editor refers to the “pearls of wisdom” provided by his writers in this issue (I have no problems with any of the other articles!) in his short editorial that also rails about mask wearing in public places and refers to “a fascist regime” as part of his response to it.

I’m sorry to say that the Tyne Valley Express has chosen fantasy over fact.  I have not received the usual reminder and invitation to write another article; the newly developed magazine website makes no mention of me as a writer and does not include my last published article on viruses in its collection, while the article by Sarah Fae from the same issue attacking mainstream media is featured.  What’s that about de-platforming?  I am very sad to see this useful publication rejecting objective evidence-based truth and promoting unfounded and dangerous nonsense.  They clearly don’t want to hear from me again.

What makes a scientist tick?

This talk by Bill Clegg was originally given to the Stocksfield Retired Men’s Association in March 2020, just before we went into Covid-19 lockdown nationally.  It was slightly changed in October 2020 and recorded in video form (by audio recording into the original Powerpoint presentation) for Perspectives Christian Vision for Men, a local organisation that usually arranges monthly breakfasts with speakers.  It combines autobiographical elements with a discussion of the character of science and scientists.

A website with a renewed purpose…

April 2019

The bigquestions-anyanswers website was originally set up in 2017 to support and resource one particular funded project addressing the interface between science and the Christian faith.  Although that particular project ended, all its material is retained here for reference and further use; this includes audio recordings and slide presentations for most of the nine talks given in various locations in the Tyne valley area.

The website is now serving the work of the Tyneside & Northumberland local group of the national organisation Christians in Science (cis.org.uk), which aims to address the same sort of issues.

This local group has an email distribution list, which is used to send out information about plans and activities; it is used infrequently, and the email addresses of recipients are known only to the list managers.  If you would like to be added to this list, or to know more about it, please contact bill.clegg@ncl.ac.uk

…and a new event

We organised the 2019 Christians in Science Northern Conference in Durham in May.  This was designed for anyone who’s interested in the subject, not just experts in the science or theology.

Details of the conference, together with audio recordings of the talks, can be found on the ‘Previous events’ page.  They are also being made available on the Christians in Science national website (cis.org.uk)

Where do we go from here?

November 2017

Our Templeton-funded project has reached the end of its programme of nine talks by invited speakers, giving a Christian perspective on topical science issues, but this isn’t the end of ‘Big Questions – Any Answers’!  Please see the invitation below to contribute to an online survey of reactions and opinions to what we’ve done so far, so that we can make plans for the future.  And watch this space for further activities and events!

In the meantime you can catch up with talks you’ve missed, by visiting the ‘Previous Events’ page, where you’ll find audio recordings, presentation slides, video clips, and other links and resources.

New items and features added!

October 2017

  • You can now read some related articles from the Tyne Valley Express – see the link in the menu list to the right.
  • Short video summaries of some of the talks, alongside the full audio recordings, can be found on the ‘Previous Events’ pages.  Video introductions to the project are available below.
  • There’s an online Survey Monkey questionnaire to explore the way forward in the science-faith interface following the end of our funded series of talks in November 2017.  If you’d like to contribute to our ideas and future planning, please follow this link (it will open as a new browser tab or window) and get your friends to do the same:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/K5QNMBW

or alternatively  goo.gl/vhuxTi

What’s it all about?

Big Questions – Any Answers?’ is a series of talks arranged for the Tyne Valley area, in which leading scientists who are Christians tackle some of the big scientific issues of today and what the Christian faith has to say about them.

Generous funding from an international charity means that we can attract world-recognized experts as speakers and hold the talks in convenient venues around the area, while making all the events completely free for anyone to attend.  This is a rare opportunity, not to be missed. 

The talks are intended for a general audience.  No scientific expertise or training is needed, and no particular attitude to religion is assumed.  Everyone is welcome, whatever your background, and there are opportunities for questions and discussion. 

The first series of 5 talks took place on weekday evenings between Easter and the school summer holidays, and featured scientists from Cambridge and Newcastle Universities.  A second series of 4 talks followed in September–November after the school holidays.  Posters for both series are shown below.  Further details can be found on the “Previous Events” page, including audio recordings and presentation slides from the various talks together with other links and resources.

Use the archive material for an exploration of some of these Big Questions, and see if we can provide Any Answers to satisfy you.  We’re sure you’ll find it interesting and informative, and maybe even challenging and inspiring!

Video introductions:

  1. by the science co-director, Bill Clegg

2. by the church co-director, Pete Jorysz:

Science and Faith poster

Series poster 2