Andrew Pinsent, A Fragile Inheritance: Science, Truth, and the Broken Covenant


Location: Lecture – London Global Gateway


Andrew Pinsent
Andrew Pinsent

Real science must be an arena where truth is the rule, and hence it is widely assumed that the dispositions required for the practice of science advance the good of both the individual and a given community, insofar as these goods depend on truth. Nevertheless, Bruce Charlton’s controversial claim – “in modern professional research there is just enough narrowly-factual accuracy to render deniable its basic and motivated dishonesty” – seems to have received grim confirmation in the light of recent scientific scandals. In this lecture, Pinsent argues that we are living off the fragile inheritance of truth as a transcendental value, rooted in the medieval conception of truth as a virtue. This conception is, in turn, rooted in a theological view of flourishing in terms of a second-person covenant; one cannot be friends with a liar. Hence there is a deep, though generally unrecognized, connection between flourishing in theology and flourishing in science. As the theological covenant is broken, the decline of regard for truth risks the decay of what is left of the practice of real science.


Fr. Andrew Pinsent is Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at the Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford. Formerly a particle physicist on the DELPHI experiment at CERN, followed by several years in scientific and business consultancy, he has degrees in philosophy and theology and a second doctorate in philosophy. The main focus of his research now is second-person (I-you) relatedness in science, philosophy, and theology. His publications cover virtue ethics, neurotheology, science and religion, the philosophy of the person, insight, divine action, and the nature of evil. At Oxford, he has been Principal Investigator for more than $6M in research grants involving scholars in more than a dozen countries. In the media, schools, and other venues, he is a regular contributor to public engagement with science and faith issues.


Antje Jackelén
Antje Jackelén

Antje Jackelén is Archbishop of the Church of Sweden since 2014 and was previously Bishop of the diocese of Lund. She was Professor of Systematic Theology/Religion and Science at the Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, USA, from 2003 to 2007. Archbishop Antje Jackelén has also been the director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science and president of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT). Her research interests include the dialogue between science and theology, the role of religion in society, and Trinitarian theology. She is an honorary doctor at the University of Greifswald and at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Her most recent book (2016) is Samlas kring hoppet (Together in Hope).

Free and open to the public. Registration through Eventbrite required. 


University of Notre Dame (U.S.A.) in England
1-4 Suffolk Street
London, SW1Y 4HG

This event is a part of the Practicing Science: Virtues, Values, and the Good Life conference. It is made possible by support from the Templeton Religion Trust.



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