Science, Suffering, and Intellectual Coherence: Public Lecture by Prof. Alister McGrath, University of Oxford

Thursday, 18 July 2019, 7:30 PM - 8:45 PM [GMT]

Andrew Wiles Building, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Woodstock Rd, Oxford , Oxfordshire, OX2 6GG, United Kingdom


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Thursday, 18 July 2019, 7:30 PM - 8:45 PM [GMT]

About the Event

Thu 18 July, 7:30pm – 8:45pm

Science, Suffering, and Intellectual Coherence: 
Theological Reflections on the Value and Limits of Theodicy

Alister McGrath
University of Oxford

Mathematical Institute, Oxford OX2 6GG


This lecture is free and open to the public, and also opens the IRC summer conference, “Compassion and Theodicy”.


This lecture offers a critical reflection on the intellectual motivations for theodicy, focussing especially on anxieties about incoherence and meaninglessness. Why do we consider it so important to be able to explain suffering? And what new dimensions to this discussion are opened up by the natural sciences, particularly by the apparent wastefulness of the evolutionary process? The lecture focusses on three questions, each of which is important in its own right. First, to what extent is the magnitude of the intellectual problem caused by suffering a result of our expectations about what the world ought to be like? Second, given that many of our concerns about suffering focus on human pain, is there a danger that we adopt an anthropocentric approach to the question which fails to take into account its wider context? And finally, is it helpful to distinguish between 'explaining' suffering and enabling us to cope better with its challenges?


ALISTER MCGRATH holds the Andreas Idreos Professorship in Science and Religion in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford, Professor of Divinity at Gresham College, and Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion. His main research interest at present is the area of thought traditionally known as “natural theology”, a theme of his Gifford Lectures at the University of Aberdeen (2009), and his Hulsean Lectures at the University of Cambridge. A former atheist, he is also known for his opposition to New Atheism and his advocacy of theological critical realism. Among his best-known books are The Twilight of AtheismThe Dawkins Delusion?Dawkins' God: Genes, Memes, and the Meaning of Life, and A Scientific Theology.


This event is organised by the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion. 

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The Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, University of Oxford

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