by Patrick Lewin
from Signs of the Times No. 28 - Jan 2008
[Other parts: • part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5]

Now in conclusion come the 'Big Untidy Questions'. 'Mummy, who made the world?' 'God did.' 'Then who made God?' 

'Philosophy begins in wonder. And, at the end, when philosophic thought has done its best, the wonder remains.' Whitehead, expanding Socrates in Plato's Theætetus.

How easily is that most precious sense of wonder lost. The first wonder is under our noses and most adults never give it a thought: that there is anything at all, that there is something rather than nothing. Everything around us is what the schoolmen of the Middle Ages called 'contingent'. It is temporal. It might not have existed, it is dependent on something else to bring it into existence, and at some time in the future it will cease to exist. Even an infinite series of contingent entities would be dependent on something that wasn't contingent, something eternal, what the same philosophers called 'Necessary'.

by David Taylor
from Signs of the Times No. 28 - Jan 2008

evolution of man

So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name (Genesis ii.19).

Like most people, even those who talk quite a lot about him, I've never actually read a book by Darwin. In my youth it is possible I read one or two books about him - it's so long ago now I can't remember. But everyone, even those who've never even read a book about him, everyone talks about him; and if you want to be taken seriously as any kind of scientist in the modern world, it is essential that you agree with him.

by Nick Jowett
from Signs of the Times No. 28 - Jan 2008

In 2005 the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission published an 'Agreed Statement', Mary: Grace and Hope in Christ. This was the final report from ARCIC II and it sought to overcome some of the deep historical differences on Mary's role and status between the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The statement repeats 'significant agreement' about Mary from a previous ARCIC statement (Authority in the Church II, 1981), and then asserts that it has sought to understand Mary's person and role in the widest possible theological and spiritual context, 'in the light of a theology of divine grace and hope.' It takes us through the scriptural references to Mary and a brief history of the Church's beliefs and practices in relation to her, both before and after the Reformation, and concludes:

by Michael Bayley
from Signs of the Times No. 28 - Jan 2008

The Omega Climate Change Group in Sheffield has produced a five session course, designed as a Lent course though it could be used at any time. Michael Bayley, on behalf of the group, has sent us these two excerpts. The course is available online here.


1) Part of an imagined letter to a grandson in 40 years time

This was written as a counterweight to a more pessimistic article by Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian. Both are used in the course.

by Joan Dorrell
from Signs of the Times No. 28 - Jan 2008

At MCU Conference many years ago I was in a small group led by the late Monica Furlong. We were asked to sit silently and think about how we saw God.

When it came to feedback time I was the last to talk and felt embarrassed. We had heard a variety of descriptions including the benign old man sitting on a mountain top. I felt the odd one out as I said "I see God as light: I live in the country with no street lighting but even on the darkest night there is always light somewhere". It was then coffee time so I never knew what Monica Furlong thought. At that conference (before 1994) we had several feminists working actively for the ordination of women so I thought perhaps we had been intended to see God as 'She'!