Portsmouth Diocese E-News

Science – or – Religion? Symposium
Winchester, Saturday 3rd November 2018




30th July 2018




Does Recent Research on the Universe suggest the Existence of a Creator?

Professor Brian Cox  and  Dr. Andrew Pinsent


WORKSHOPS (Participants must choose ONE Workshop from each Group)


Group A


A1. Christianity and Extra Terrestrial Life

Fr. Bernard Barrett, Theologian.


Despite the work of NASA SETI and its successor Project Phoenix, we have had, to date, no empirical evidence of ET Life but there has been plenty of bold conjecture. The talk, however, will focus on the widespread claim that Christianity would be vanquished or undermined if intelligent Extra-Terrestrial Life was discovered.


A2. The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

Professor Maria Burke, Professor of Management, Winchester University


The workshop will cover definitions of Artificial Intelligence (AI), ethics in 2018, and current developments. We will then consider if AI helps or hinders us in our daily lives; discuss the role of the government – whether regulation and legislation is even possible, and finally, if artificial systems are constructed by humans, ask how they might be able “to integrate societal, legal and moral values into technological developments in AI” (Dignum, 2017).


A3. Quantum Physics and the Quantum Physicist

Dr. Vincenzo Tamma, Senior Lecturer in Physics, University of Portsmouth


Quantum physics aims to describe the mysterious fundamental nature of our universe. Here we explore quantum phenomena like the wave-particle duality, quantum superposition of multiple physical states and the apparent possibility of distant particles to communicate instantaneously with one another.  These same phenomena underpin quantum technologies, such as lasers, high-precision sensors and super-fast computers, at the very heart of the current quantum revolution. A quantum physicist is therefore called to undertake a continuous exciting journey toward a deeper understanding of the truth behind the phenomena he is studying by placing his discoveries at the service and benefit of the society.


Group B


B1. Is Consciousness immortal?

Dr. Andrew Beards, Academic Director, School of the Annunciation, Buckfast


Are our minds simply our brains? Is talk of a ‘soul’ superstitious myth from a pre-scientific past? Is the idea that part of us, at least, survives death, also to be relegated to the fiction section of the library? In this workshop we will examine what the resources of philosophy – independent of religious faith – can contribute to the argument that human consciousness is not reducible entirely to the physical. We will look at what philosophy can offer in reflecting upon evidence, of various kinds, for the survival of the non-material aspect of ourselves after death.


B2. In the light of evolutionary psychology, can humans have free will?

Dr. Rebecca Page-Tickell, Business Psychologist, Hampshire Business School


What are the implications of evolution on our patterns of thinking and perception and how do they impact free will? In this workshop, we highlight patterns of behaviour that are adaptations from our evolutionary past and discuss the extent to which biology determines our choices.


B3. In the light of current medical advances, could people live forever?

Dr John Ochai, Urologist, St Mary’s Hospital, Ryde


The Bible says our “span is seventy years or eighty for those who are strong” (Ps 89: 10). Is there an inbuilt limit on human bodily existence? Yet Adam was said to have lived for 930 years (Gen 5: 5), Abraham 175 years (Gen 25: 7) and Moses 120 years (Deut 34: 7). Could rapid advances in medical science and improvements to living conditions enable human beings in the future to live as long as the patriarchs - even for ever? 




Professor Brian E. Cox OBE
is the Professor of Particle Physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. He has written and contributed to over 950 scientific publications and is the author of numerous popular science books such as Why Does E=mc²? and The Quantum Universe. He is well known as the presenter of science programmes on TV and has been described as the natural successor for the BBC’s scientific programming by David Attenborough and Patrick Moore.



Dr. Andrew Pinsent
is the Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at the University of Oxford. Formerly a particle physicist on the DELPHI experiment at CERN, he has degrees in philosophy and theology and a second doctorate in philosophy. His publications include work in virtue ethics, neurotheology, science and religion, the philosophy of the person, insight, divine action, and the nature of evil. In the media, in schools, and at a great diversity of other venues, he is a regular contributor to public engagement with science and faith issues.



Fr. Bernard Barrett

Is an expert in the philosophy of Bernard Lonergan and a graduate of the University of London, he has been a lecturer at the Maryvale Institute and St. Mary’s College Oscott and an Associate staff member of the School of The Annunciation. He is currently a parish priest in Milton Keynes. In his ‘The Eucharistic Community in Contemporary Culture’ he considers how Christology and the mission of the Church might respond to the discovery of an extra-terrestrial intelligence.



Professor Maria Burke
is Head of Research and Knowledge Exchange, in the Faculty of Business, Law and Sport at the University of Winchester. She is Professor of Management and researches within the context of Information Systems. Her main areas of research expertise concern the application of new digital technology to economic, environmental and social systems. Maria has contributed extensively to international journals and collaborated in community, business and government contexts. Her research awards include the B2B Best Internet Award and the EPSRC National Impact Prize. She is a keen amateur astronomer.



Dr. Vincenzo Tamma
is senior lecturer in Physics at the University of Portsmouth. His research aims at achieving a deeper understanding of the fundamental physics at the interplay between quantum physics, quantum information, complexity theory, atomic physics and general relativity, as well as at boosting the real-world implementation of quantum-enhanced technologies for applications in quantum computation, quantum communication, simulation of complex quantum systems, high-precision sensing and imaging. He is a fellow of the Advanced School for Interdisciplinary Research (ADSIR), University of the Holy Cross, Rome, Italy, engaging and mentoring students on interdisciplinary topics at the interplay between science and philosophy.



Dr. Andrew Beards
is the Academic Director at the School of the Annunciation, Devon. His publications in philosophy include: Objectivity and Historical Understanding, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997); Method in Metaphysics, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2008); Philosophy the Quest for Truth and Meaning, (Collegeville MN: Liturgical Press 2010); Insight and Analysis, (New York: Continuum, 2010); Lonergan, Meaning and Method, (New York: Bloomsbury, 2016).



Dr. Rebecca Page-Tickell
is a business psychologist and HR specialist. A principal member of the association of business psychologists she is senior lecturer in Work Based Learning at the University of East London. Her research focus is around the biases and heuristics used to make decisions in particular in the area of learning in the workplace. She is author of HR Fundamentals: Learning and Development a text book for HR professionals.



Dr. John Ochai
graduated from medical school, Zaria, Nigeria and undertook postgraduate studies in the UK in 1981. He is currently Urologist at St Mary’s Hospital, Isle of Wight and has a special interest in general urology and endourology. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, Fellow of the Intercollegiate Board of Urological Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland and also Fellow of the European Board in urology.






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