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Science and Faith Festival

PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 March 2016

Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

Mix elephants, eruptions and evensong with a bishop walking on custard to create a new festival of science and faith, writes Rowan Mantell

Norwich Cathedral will be hosting scientific experiements for all the family as part of the Science Festival at Norwich CathedralNorwich Cathedral will be hosting scientific experiements for all the family as part of the Science Festival at Norwich Cathedral

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together for sermons by scientists, volcanoes in church, an exhibition on plant genome sequencing and a bishop walking on custard. Science and faith come together in a new festival fortnight in Norwich Cathedral this month.

“There is often a misapprehension that science and religion are in conflict,” says Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James (who will be doing the custard walking). “That is far from true as I hope the events of this Science Festival will demonstrate. Understanding our world and enlarging our knowledge by experiment and observation does not diminish our sense of wonderment at the universe but often increases it.”

Events range from a family fun day, including the chance to launch a rocket and meet a giant tortoise, to a guest sermon by the Very Rev Prof Gordon McPhate, who is Dean of Chester after a career including being a consultant chemical pathologist researching diabetes.

Food scientists, including the director of the Norwich-based Institute of Food Research, leading farmers and a nutritional biochemist will take part in a panel discussion and Q&A session, opened by the Dean of Norwich, the Very Rev Jane Hedges, and chaired by the vice chancellor of the University of East Anglia (and biochemist and microbiologist) Prof David Richardson. Issues ranging from food production and the environment to obesity and famine will be addressed in the Food Glorious Food evening on Monday, March 14.

Dean Jane says: “This is the first science festival the cathedral has organised and we have tried to put together a programme that has something for everyone. One of the most important things is that science doesn’t need to be seen in any way as threatening to our faith. In fact, understanding more about our universe can enhance our faith.”

Norwich Cathedral will be hosting scientific experiements for all the family as part of the Science Festival at Norwich CathedralNorwich Cathedral will be hosting scientific experiements for all the family as part of the Science Festival at Norwich Cathedral

Sixthformers will debate the chasm between science and religion, secondary school pupils can create mini robots and there is a lucky dip science show for younger children in special days for schools at the cathedral during the festival. The following day’s programme includes a session combining bread-making and meditation.

Throughout the Science Festival a free exhibition called Evolution – Faith in a Changing World includes bones from the West Runton mammoth, historic books from the cathedral library and displays about the sequencing of the wheat genome.

And the bishop on custard segment of the festival takes place during the family fun day on Saturday, March 12, alongside the chance to explore everything from how the cathedral organ makes music to how bacteria help our bodily organs digest food.

Get involved:

The Science Festival at Norwich Cathedral runs from Sunday, March 6 to Friday, March 18. All events are free, with donations welcome and booking required for the schools events, bread day and a visit to the Norwich ResearchScience Park.

Full details at For full details visit www.cathedral.org.uk/science

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