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British scholar and writer C. S. Lewis wrote nearly 50 years ago, "Faith and science form part of a whole. They are intimately related." It is no secret, though, that theologians and scientists have been anything but intimate. Since the trial of Galileo over his views of the cosmos, scientists and theologians have stood on distant shores, whether discussing the origin of life, the existence of God, or many other areas of mutual concern.

However, in a rare gathering that resembled more a family reunion than an academic mud fight, 400 astronomers, physicists, biologists, philosophers, and theologians joined writers and performing and visual artists at the third triennial C. S. Lewis Summer Institute to discuss just how their disciplines interrelate. Hosted by Queens' College in Cambridge, England, the July symposium included workshops, lectures, discussions, and artistic presentations around the theme "Cosmos and Creation: Chance or Dance?"

"Chance refers to the idea that the universe began out of some spontaneous confluction, an unplanned and unmediated occurrence," London astrophysicist Christopher Isham said. "The dance refers to a scene from Lewis's space trilogy, a beautiful and inspiring description of the biblical origin of the universe and the general meaning of things."


Isham's interpretation of the conference theme reflects a small but enthusiastic effort by Christian scholars to recognize the contributions of diverse disciplines to their own. The recent feature film Shadowlands, about Lewis's relationship with American poet Joy Gresham, has raised new interest in his works. Cambridge '94 provided a platform for discussion about a question Lewis loved to ask: What, if anything, do science, art, ...

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In the Magazine

September 12, 1994

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