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 (Natural Sciences; University of Cambridge, 1992)

MA (Theology; University of Oxford, 2005)

PhD (University of Cambridge, 1992)

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

Research activities

View all 15 activities on Research Explorer

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.

View all 93 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 (http://www.lorentzcenter.nl/) in Leiden, the Netherlands, August 27-31, 2018.