Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I have just recorded a series of talks that will be broadcast on Tuesdays in March at 9.50am on RTHK Radio 4 for the Minutes that Matter slot.  I enjoy doing this slot.  The idea is that you give a short talk or meditation linked to a piece of music.  For these talks, I have given some thoughts on creation and linked it to pieces from Haydn's, The Creation.  As most of you will know, February 12, 2009 was the anniversary of Darwin's birth, and it was this and the amount of articles there have been in the press that prompted me to put together a few thoughts.

This is the first talk in the series:

Creation Talk One: How and Why?   

On February 12, 2009 it was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and, by a happy coincidence, this year is the 150th anniversary of the publication of his book, On the Origin of the Species.  It is no wonder then that there have been many articles and books to mark the occasion.  Many of them have focused on the relationship between science and religion asking what the implications are for faith of Darwin’s theory of evolution.   

In western society prior to this, the assumption was that the world had been created by God, along the lines suggested in the book of Genesis.  Creation in six days was taken literally and dates were even suggested for when world came into being.  Darwin’s theory of evolution was thought by many, religious and non-religious, alike to prove that the Bible isn’t true and that there can’t be a God.  It did, of course no such thing.  It may have challenged one way of understanding the Bible, but all that the theory could do was to describe how God created the world.  It could not by definition answer the question of whether he created it.  Sadly, still today people do not focus on what the theory is actually about and try instead to draw conclusions about issues that it does not and cannot address.   

What the theory of evolution did do, however, was to provide people, who for other reasons did not want to believe in God, with, at last, an intellectually respectable alternative account of how human life came into being.  An account that people could believe in while leaving God out of the picture.  It provided an explanation of human origins that was seized on by those who for other reasons did not believe in God.   

Unfortunately, both believers and unbelievers to this day fail to distinguish between two separate questions: the question of how the universe came into being and the question of why it came into being.  The ‘how’ question is the business of science.  It combines observation, hypothesis, and experimentation and while it often gets it right, advancing our knowledge and understanding of the universe and the more immediate world around us, it is worth remembering that it also gets it wrong.  It is also worth remembering that science does not take place in a vacuum.  In the same way that those wanting to throw off the shackles of religion seized on Darwinism so too other theories and discoveries have been in the past, and are still in the present, appropriated for ulterior goals.   

In our own day, we have scientific research being sponsored by companies in the hope of financial gain in a way that can prejudice its objectivity and outcome.  Fantastic discoveries such as coming to an understanding of how to split the atom can lead to the massacre of thousands with a single bomb.  Our pride in our scientific progress needs to be balanced with humility and even repentance.   

What science cannot do, however, is answer the why questions.  Scientists are welcome to contribute an answer, but they do so on equal footing with everyone else.  Knowing how does not make you an expert in why.  For an answer to the question of why it is to other places and people that we must turn.   

It is the why type of question that the Bible seeks to address and its answer although profound is very simple.  ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and earth …’  Yes, believers should embrace science and were wrong at times in the past to be slow in doing so.  Yes, the how questions are fascinating and important, but the why questions even more so.   

Why am I here?  What is the meaning of life?  Where am I going?  It is only as we begin to discover answers to these sort of questions that we can begin to make sense of our own place in the scheme of things.  St Paul described God as ‘he in whom we live and move and have our being’.  If this is true, then it follows that we can only make sense of the world around us when we know not only the theories of science, but also the Creator behind them.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Approach of Lent

No sooner are Christmas and Chinese New Year over than we are preparing for Lent.  Each year in common with other churches everywhere we have a series of weekly studies at Christ Church. Normally it is very hard here to get people out for regular meetings during the week. This is perfectly understandable: people work long hours and have precious little time with their families as it is. As churches we need perhaps to be more understanding of the demands that are made on our members not least in the present financial climate.  However, Lent is one time when we do have a go at getting people to come together for regular Study - with mixed results, I have to say.

This year, I am planning a series on the parables of Jesus.  I have not done a series on the parables before so I am rather looking forward to it.  This is the notice going in our Newsletter this week.

Anyone reading this blog who would like to come is more than welcome!

Lent 2009  

February 25 is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.  We will be having our Ash Wednesday service at 7.00pm.  This is a traditional service in which those present are invited to receive the imposition of ashes as a sign of repentance. 

During Lent we will also be having a series of Bible Studies. 

St Mark writes: ‘With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.  (St Mark 4:33-34) 

This year we will be looking together at five of Jesus parables and thinking of how Jesus would have explained his parables to us if we had been one of his disciples at the time.  The studies will be held on TUESDAYS in the Lady Chapel beginning on Tuesday, March 3: 

1. The Parable of the Sower (St Luke 8:5-15) 
Why did Jesus use parables?  

2. The Parable of the Two Sons (St Luke 15:11-32)
How should we respond to the love of God? 

3. The Parable of the Good Samaritan (St Luke 10:25-37)
Who is our neighbour?  

4. The Parable of the Steward (St Luke 16:1-13) 
How should we use money and material things?

5. The Parable of the Talents (St Luke 9:11-27) 
What does God expect of us? 

As in previous years, they will be preceded by a service of Holy Communion at 7.00pm.  People are welcome to come for just the Communion Service or just the Bible Study or, of course, for both!  

Please see Ross for further details.

Monday, February 09, 2009


I am now back after a few days visiting family in the UK. I only just made it! As many will realize, the UK has been in the thick of severe bad weather. Well, that at least is how the news organisations are reporting it. It is true London got 2 to 4 inches of snow and that when I stepped out onto the street, it came to the top of my shoes. However, this resulted in the complete collapse of the transport system. It needed my brother in a Land Rover to get me to the station to go to the airport, because the main routes were blocked. Very strange!

It always takes a little while to clear everything up after being away. It wasn't helped this time by coming back to find that my study computer wouldn't work. I hadn't a clue why not. It had been working perfectly when I left. I also haven't a clue why after a few days it has suddenly started working again. It seems system crashes are flavour of the month at the moment!