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Thursday, 20 October 2016, 6:00PM - 7:00PM
Barnard's Inn Hall

The Beauty and the Horror: Searching for God in a Suffering World

The Rt Revd Lord Harries, Professor Alister McGrath


Download the lecture video here

In dialogue with Professor Alister McGrath, Lord Harries (Emeritus Gresham Professor of Divinity) will discuss his new book. Life is at once so wonderful and so appalling. We glimpse something of God in the beauty of the world, but then this seems to be contradicted by the evil and suffering. Drawing on the insights of the Christian faith how can we live with this contradiction?


No reservations are required for this lecture. It will be run on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
Doors will open 30 minutes before the start of the lecture.
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Professor the Rt Revd Lord Harries was the Bishop of Oxford from 1987 to 2006. He was previously the Dean of King's College London, where he is now a Fellow and an Honorary Professor of Theology. He is an Honorary Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge and of St Anne's College, Oxford. He also holds a number of other prestigious positions in other top British Universities. In 2006 he was made a Life Peer as Lord Harries of Pentregarth of Ceinewydd in the County of Dyfed and sits on the crossbenches.

Professor Harries is greatly concerned with social, political and inter-faith issues. As Bishop of Oxford, he was the Chairman of the Church of England Board for Social Responsibility between 1996 and 2001, and the Chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews between 1992 and 2001. He chaired the House of Bishops' Working Parties on issues surrounding Sexuality and Terrorism. He has been a board member of Christian Aid, a member of the Royal Commission on the Reform of the House of Lords (The Wakeman Commission), and a founder member of the Abrahamic Group in Oxford.

One of the many interests of Professor Harries is the question of medical ethics - an area in which he has published numerous articles and held a number of top positions. He chaired the Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research, was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics from 2002 to 2008 and he chairs the Ethics and Law Advisory Group of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
Professor Harries has published 26 books and numerous articles, covering a wide range of interests, most recently, Faith in Politics? Rediscovering the Christian roots of our political values and Issues of Life and Death: Christian faith and medical intervention. His other books include: Art and the Beauty of God (Mowbrays, 1993), Christianity and War in the Nuclear Age (Mowbrays, 1986), Is there a Gospel for the Rich? (Mowbrays, 1992), After the Evil: Christianity and Judaism after the Holocaust (OUP, 2003), C. S. Lewis: The Man and his God (Collins, 1987), and a collection of his contributions to 'Thought for the Day' on Radio 4's Today Programme to which he has been a regular contributor since 1972, In Gladness of Today (Harper Collins, 1999).

For all of Lord Harries' previous lectures at Gresham College, please click here.

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Alister McGrath was the Gresham Professor of Divinity from 2015-2018. He is the Andreos Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford, and one of the world’s most respected theologians.

Born in Belfast, Professor McGrath began his university studies in the field of science, achieving a First Class Honours in Chemistry (specialising in Quantum Theory), followed by a doctorate in molecular biophysics, both at the University of Oxford. He then altered focus and achieved a First Class Honours in Theology, a DD from the Faculty of Theology for his work on historical and systematic theology, and a DLitt from the Division of Humanities for his work in science and religion.

Before becoming Andreos Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford in April 2014, Professor McGrath was Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education at King’s College London (2008-14), and Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Oxford (1999-2008).

He has published 24 books, the most recent of which include: Emil Brunner: A Reappriasal (2014), C. S. Lewis – A Life (2013), Darwinianism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology (2011) and A Fine-Tuned Universe? The Quest for God in Science and Theology (2009). Other books include: Dawkins’ God: Genes, Memes and the Meaning of Life (2004), A Brief History of Heaven (2002) and The Future of Christianity (2000). His books have been translated into 27 languages including Chinese, Arabic, Farsi and Vietnamese.

In line with his unique academic background, Professor McGrath’s main area of interest is in the interaction of theology and the sciences. He is actively engaged in the development and defence of natural theology, and in showing that the dialogue between science and religion can be theologically productive and engaging. As a former atheist, Professor McGrath’s work has established him as one of the world’s leading Christian apologists. He regularly engages in debate and dialogue with some of the most prominent atheists, including through his public debates with the likes of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and Susan Blackmore.

Professor McGrath is a highly sought-after public speaker and has delivered lectures around the world, from Beijing to Massachusetts and from Bermuda to Westminster Abbey. Appointed Gresham Professor of Divinity in 2015, he looks forward to delivering a series of lectures which will offer “a coherent exploration of how Christian Theology can engage with concerns and debates within modern culture, focussing on one of its leading elements – the natural sciences.”

Professor McGrath's lecture series was as follows:

2017/18 Are Science and Faith at War?

2016/17 Religion, Science and Culture: Six Big Questions

2015/16 Science, Faith and God: The Big Questions

All of Professor McGrath's past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.

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