General Synod To
Vote On A Boycott Of The Laws Of Physics
Controversy within the
Church of England has intensified today on the
eve of a crucial vote by the General Synod as to
whether Christians should defy some of the laws
We are sick of
scientists not taking seriously our
religious Truths, said one activist.
It will be a wake-up call for them when
Christians stop slavishly following their
The specific laws of
physics to be boycotted remain a matter of debate
among anti-science activists, but gravity seems
to be a likely first target.
This is completely
ridiculous, said a spokeswoman for the
Royal Society. No one gets an option to
disobey the laws of physics. It cant be
done. Its just the way things are.
Such views from the
scientific community have been dismissed by
evangelicals as "arrogant dogma".
Some clarity on the roots
of this debate has been voiced by Professor Harry
Stottle, Senior Fellow in Philosophy and Logic at
Oxford University. The anti-physics
activists have not really grasped the fundamental
difference between scientific and religious
thinking, he explained to BBC News.
Believers base their convictions on an
emotionally driven certainty that what feels true,
is true. There is generally no necessity for such
beliefs to conform to any other framework.
Physics, on the other hand, is an attempt to
describe what actually underpins reality.
Theories about it may change, but that underlying
reality cannot be changed. A confusion between
these two ways of describing the world, he
concluded, appears to have led some
Christians to believe that fervent faith in
something is the only necessary criterion for it
to be real.
Some within the Church are
also sceptical about the ability of activists to
defy the laws of science, but a desire for Church
unity has led to criticisms either being withheld
or couched in conciliatory and diplomatic
language. A senior bishop, who did not wish to be
named, admitted to the BBC that he did not
believe that the laws of physics could be defied.
He and many of his liberal colleagues, however,
felt obliged to only recommend in public that
more time and prayer be devoted to exploring the
Liberal elements within the
church have attempted their usual sidestepping of
fundamentalist beliefs by reinterpreting
impossible ideas as mythology and metaphor. One
liberal bishop supported the activists by arguing
that a resolution to defy the law of gravity was
simply a poetic expression of the need for the
Church to "rise above" secular
criticism. This interpretation became
unsustainable, however, in the face of activists
explicitly stating on national television that
they intended to literally rise up through the
atmosphere and enter low earth orbit.
Evangelicals have claimed that some of their
number have already done this in anticipation of
a positive vote by the General Synod.
Unfortunately, no concrete evidence of such
flights has been made available.
We are not stupid,
said a spokesperson for the lay members of the
General Synod. We realise that, for the
safety of our congregations, laws other than just
gravity will need to be reviewed. It is very cold
in space, there is nothing to breathe, and the
upper atmosphere is being constantly bombarded by
deadly radiation. Many old laws will have to be
revised, and new ones created, in order that
large numbers of the faithful can successfully
enter orbit and then return safely to their
Whilst there is probably a
majority in the General Synod who would vote
against such a plan, the voting system is such
that just one deranged and vociferous individual
is sufficient to carry or defeat a proposal in
opposition to everybody else. The vote against
women bishops and the vote in favour of
reinstating the burning of witches are both
recent examples of this phenomenon.
In response to evangelical
lay activists, the former Archbishop of
Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has locked himself
in his room at Magdelene College, Cambridge and
hidden under the bed. When asked by reporters
today about the vote, he shouted through his door
that he thanked God he had stepped down as
Archbishop at the end of December 2012. Justin
Welby was unavailable for comment, but was said
to be reviewing his employment contract.