But he is deeply interested in the profound issues of existence such as the nature of time, consciousness and the origin of the universe, which for centuries have been the province of theology. He feels that science can not only inform theology but can develop its own framework of ideas that will eventually cater for the spiritual requirements of people in a way that traditional religions are failing to do.Central to Paul Davies’s ideas is the sense of purpose he sees in the universe and our place within it: “I find it very hard to accept that our existence in the world is something that just happens to be. It seems to me that the fact that the universe is self-aware is something that’s written into the laws of nature. We are here as part of the action and not just for the ride.” Paul Davies is keen to point out that the Templeton Prize is for progress in religion; in order to be able to make progress, this suggests to him, religion does not have all the answers Science too should be progressive and not dogmatic, he says. Scientists must always be prepared to change their minds in the light of new evidence; that is the power, not weakness, of science. Such an approach brings a sense of humility that tells us we do not yet have all the answers, nor are we not necessarily the pinnacle of creation.Dr Peter Fenwick of the Institute of Psychiatry in London has investigated the links between brain function and transcendental experience.
With the latest scientific tools for scanning the living brain and even recording electrical activity as individual thoughts pass between brain centres, he is able to see how different heightened experiences and emotions are localised in different parts of our minds But he also finds things that he cannot explain. For example, people who have been pronounced clinically dead but are then resuscitated often seem to experience a sensation of travelling down a tunnel towards a bright light and a deep sense of love. Is this simply the brain being starved of oxygen or does it reflect some other reality? Sometimes, under such circumstances, patients report seeming to float above their bodies. Evidence that this was really the case would transcend science: it would imply that mind was not localised solely in the brain Evidence for phenomena such as telepathy would do the same. That would open up to science concepts such as the spirit or the soul that have previously been firmly in the realm of religion. Peter Fenwick is very cautious in interpreting evidence so far, but he is a leader in the growing body of scientists who feel that there is something here worthy of serious investigation !. “WHO’S Jesus then, mum?” It’s one of those million-dollar questions with which children are apt to trap the unwary parent.
This particular poser often crops up at Christmas as sentimental nativity scenes appear in high-street windows and the Salvation Army take its message to the streets. So who is Jesus? It’s a big question leading the unsuspecting adult into all sorts of tricky areas: death, heaven, the meaning of life… The Nineties’ parent’s impulse may be to prattle on liberally about “different gods for different people” but children are quick to reject vague generalisations They want to know what you, their mum or dad, believes. What, then, do people, believers or not, tell their children?
THE NEW AGERClare, 36, was brought up as a Christian and now says her beliefs are a combination of New Age thinking and Buddhism.