13 July 2016
Mars, God and the Big Bang
An astrophsysics PhD student will explore the relationship between science and faith at a conference this week.
Hannah Earnshaw is on the shortlist to make a one-way trip to Mars.
She will speak at a conference for sixth formers on God and the 'big bang'.
Hannah Earnshaw, 24, said: "As a Christian and an astronomer, science for me is about discovering and learning about God's vast creation, so I am looking forward to communicating how science and faith is not only compatible but intertwined.
"I am going to talk about the idea of settling Mars - of how to keep humans alive on the surface of another planet and our responsibilities towards the environments we live in.
"Mars is very much something made by God and has as much inherent value as Earth."
Earnshaw is currently studying at Durham University and has ambitions to be an astronaut.
She said: "Space travel has been a dream of mine for a very long time, and now I have the opportunity for something even bigger.
"Mars is a challenge. It's highly risky, and an enormous responsibility as well as an adventure, and, if chosen, hope to do it justice."
God and the Big Bang aims to equip young people with the tools to form their own opinions about the place for science in God's world – and God in the world of science.
The talks are designed to be academically credible and captivating – dealing both with cutting-edge, mainstream science and personal and honest reflections about the interaction of science and faith.
"These events are a wonderful opportunity to spark discussion in the area of faith and science," said Michael Harvey, executive director of God and the Big Bang.
"By bringing science and faith together in conversation we can find out new things about our world that will benefit and enrich all humankind.
"It all begins with asking questions and exploring the unknown, and God and the Big Bang can contribute to starting us on that journey."
The project was motivated by the research findings of the LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) Project which showed that 16 to 18-year-old students are likely to struggle to view that science and religion as compatible.
Science teachers frequently feel uncomfortable about addressing questions that relate to religion and RE teachers often feel they aren't sufficiently knowledgeable to respond to questions about science.