Professor Mark Harris (MA MA PhD)

Professor of Natural Science and Theology and Director of Postgraduate Studies


As a phyicist working in a theological environment I think of myself as a theologian of science, interested in the complex ways that the natural sciences and religious beliefs 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. By the end of 2020, more than 6,000 journal articles had been published on the topic since our original discovery in 1997. A little after this original breakthrough, I also discovered theology, and began to broaden my interests beyond magnetism. 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 through the Science and Religion programme at Edinburgh, which includes both MSc and PhD degrees. 

My research interests include the relationship between the physical sciences (especially physics) 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 critical study of the theological reception of quantum mechanics. 

​​​​​​I lead the Theology of the Quantum World project, along with the God and the Book of Nature research network, funded by the Issachar Fund and the John Templeton Foundation, respectively.

Outwith my work in the University, I serve as President of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT), and am a past Chair of the Science and Religion Forum (SRF).  


MA (Natural Sciences; University of Cambridge, 1992)

MA (Theology; University of Oxford, 2005)

PhD (University of Cambridge, 1992)

Responsibilities & affiliations

School appointments

Director of Postgraduate Study and Head of Graduate School

External appointments and memberships

President of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT)

Fellow of the International Society for Science and Religion

Co-editor (with Dr Michael Burdett, University of Nottingham) of the Routledge Science and Religion monograph series

Convenor, Theology and Science seminar, Society for the Study of Theology

Undergraduate teaching

Theology and Contemporary Science

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

Postgraduate teaching

Postgraduate courses taught:

  • 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?


Areas of interest for supervision

I convene our PhD in Science and Religion, and supervise PhD students across a wide variety of projects in the area. Topics range from studies in the methodology of science and religion, through historical accounts, to the theological reception of particular areas of modern science, including quantum mechanics, cosmology, and evolutionary theory. I am open to enquiries from prospective PhD students in any area of Science and Religion. 

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 special divine action, and am currently working on a project which takes a critical overview of the theological reception of quantum mechanics. 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

Project activity

Some of my research interests are as follows: - 

  • 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 Prof Harris are available on his Edinburgh Research Explorer profile.

Current project grants

Theology and the Quantum World, from the Issachar Fund

God and the Book of Nature, John Templeton Foundation.

View all 113 publications on Research Explorer

Conference details

2 Sep 2017: Invited lecture at The Fruitfulness of Science and Faith, Diocese of Lincoln,

Location: St Nicholas Church, Newport, Lincoln, LN1 3DP. My title: 'With apologies to Albert Einstein: Is physics without religion lame, and religion without physics blind?'


9 Oct 2017: Lecture in 'Science meets faith' series at Wesley Methodist Church, Cambridge 'Creation not creationism: What does the Bible have to say to science?'


26 Oct 2017: Plenary lecture at Science-Engaged Theology workshop at St Andrews.

Title - 'Science-engaged theology: Is it better for science to be a "handmaid to religion"


8 Nov 2017: Foundation Hour Lecture at Liverpool Hope University.

Title:‘Is the science and religion debate always a clash of two cultures?’


16th Jan 2018: Lecture at the Scottish Church Theology Soc (Peebles, 16th Jan. 2018)

Conference title: "Approaching the mystery: physics, cosmology, theology. Title of my talk: “God’s particles.”


7 Feb 2018: Boyle Lecture, St Mary-le Bow Church, London.


3 March 2018: Invited lecture at Drake University, Iowa (USA). My title: 'Naturalism and the Problem of the Unity of Science: How Miracles Help'


28 March 2018: Invited lecture at 'Reading is Believing? Sacred Texts in a Scientific Age' conference in Cambridge


5-8 Apr 2018: Lecture at Faraday Institute conference in Malta. My title: 'Science and miracles'


16 May 2018: Christian Theology Senior seminar at the University of Cambridge.

My title: "What's the difference between theistic naturalism and natural theology?"


12-13 July 2018: Plenary lecture at Bridging Two Cultures conference at LMH, Oxford, invited by Michael Burdett


27-31, Aug 27-31, 2018: Plenary lecture at this workshop - Distinguishingscience and metaphysics in evolution and religiontobe held at the Lorentz Center ( in Leiden, the Netherlands, August 27-31, 2018.