On Feb 14th Prof. Jürgen Moltmann, one of the most influential European theologians over the past half a century, addressed a packed Cambridge lecture theatre, at the termly Faraday public lecture entitled ‘From Physics to Theology – a Personal Story’. An audience of over 200 in Emmanuel College took advantage of a unique opportunity to hear Prof. Moltmann share insights from his own extraordinary life story, as well as to ask their own questions. Growing up in a secular home, Moltmann had been keen to study science and mathematics, an education interrupted by the Second World War. The formative experience of his life came when he was taken prisoner, and spent time as a German POW in Belgium, Scotland, and northern England. It was during this period that Prof. Moltmann began to reflect on the Christian message for the first time, reflection born out of his own profound experience of death and suffering, and after the end of the war he switched to a career in theology. The other major theme of the lecture was the relationships between science, beauty, truth, and wisdom.
Moltmann discussed how science and religion belong together as twin means of searching what holds nature together in its innermost being. Moltmann spoke of how science ought to seek beauty, on the basis that beauty is a sign of truth and simplicity, and science is a truth-seeking exercise. Beauty, simplicity and unity are signs that what we are seeing is from the creator, well illustrated by some of the greatest discoveries in the history of science. Moltmann also argued that science should be pursued for its own sake and not primarily for its utilitarian value. Moltmann concluded with a warning that the ethical power of humanity is still underdeveloped, compared to the increase in scientific and technological power. “Truth is what we seek in both science and spirituality, and the beauty of both may sometimes redeem the world.” Full audio and video of the lecture is available here.