Dr Mark Harris (MA MA PhD)

Senior Lecturer in Science and Religion

Background

As a physicist working in a theological environment, I'm interested in the complex ways that science and religion relate to each other.

Active in physics for many years, I'm known (with Steve Bramwell of University College London) as the discoverer of 'spin ice', currently a major research area in the physics of magnetism. Midway through my scientific career I discovered theology, a moment of awakening not unlike that provided by my first chemistry set at the age of ten. After ordination as an Anglican priest, and spells in university chaplaincy at Oxford, and cathedral ministry in Edinburgh, I now combine my academic interests in physics and theology by running the Science and Religion programme at Edinburgh.

I am currently working on a project to create online distance learning programmes in Philosophy, Science, and Religion (funded by the John Templeton Foundation), along with my colleagues Dr Jamie Collin (Divinity), and Prof Duncan Pritchard (Philosophy).  

My research interests include the relationship between the physical sciences and theology, and the impact of science on modern views of the Bible, especially in thinking on miracles and divine action. I am currently working on a book project on naturalism (the philosophical basis for the natural sciences), and the ways that historical debates on naturalism in geology provide a new way of looking at miracles. 

Qualifications

MA MA PhD

Responsibilities & affiliations

School appointments

Programme Director, MSc in Science and Religion

External appointments

Conference Secretary - Science and Religion Forum

Council Member - European Society for the Study of Science and Theology

Member of the Doctrine Committee - Scottish Episcopal Church

Co-editor (with Dr Michael Burdett) of the Routledge Science and Religion Series

Editor of the Routledge Biblical Challenges in the Contemporary World Series

Undergraduate teaching

Theology and Contemporary Science

  • Science and Christian Theology
  • Christian Doctrine
  • Modern Religious and Ethical Debates in Contemporary Literature

Postgraduate teaching

Cosmos, cell, and Creator

Science and Scripture

Key Thinkers in Science and Religion

Science and Religion in Literature and the Arts

PhD in Science and Religion

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Research summary

My first career as an experimental physicist has meant that I have a fascination with data - how to gather it, and how to interpret it. And although I keep up interests in physics, much of research at present focuses on how scientists and biblical scholars interpret the data provided by the Bible and the classic texts of Christianity. The Genesis creation stories provide an obvious example, and even now, more than 150 years after Darwin’s Origin of Species, controversy still rages over how they are best understood theologically in the light of modern science. The creationist agenda has tended to dominate the debate, but many fascinating questions arise about the agendas we all bring to foundational texts, whether as scientists, theologians, biblical experts or sceptics.

Current research interests

As well as scientific and theological approaches to creation, I am also interested in the theology of miracles, and am currently working on a project which takes in scientific, philosophical and textual angles on resurrection. FInally, I have recently begun a major research project on the nature of reality (physical and theological) and the laws of nature. If you are interested in exploring advanced study in science and religion (either through our MSc in Science and Religion, or our PhD), then I would love to hear about your interests. Please send me an e-mail at mark.harris@ed.ac.uk

Project activity

The doctrine of creation - scientific and theological perspectives

Divine action and miracle - biblical and scientific approaches

The soul - material reality, theological reality, or ...?

Cosmic Christology and the laws of nature

Science and religion in literature and the arts

Renormalisation and explanation - the challenge to scientific reductionism

More information about research projects by Dr Harris are available on his Edinburgh Research Explorer profile.