I count therefore I am

Science and the Big Questions. PD for teachers of science, philosophy, ethics and religion.

Oxford is one of the world's leading centres for the study of the relation of science and religion. The Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion is one of the world's foremost institutions dedicated to fostering research, teaching and public engagement in the field.

These seminars are run in partnership with the Ian Ramsey Centre, University of Oxford with a focus on ‘doing philosophy'. Teachers will be engaged in philosophical activity applying philosophical knowledge and skill to today’s issues, exploring how even apparently non-philosophical material has underlying assumptions that may be questioned using philosophical tools.

The Programme

Download the brochure

Seminar 1: Can teachers be replaced by Robots?

It is increasingly difficult to recruit teachers to the profession and computers are far quicker, more accurate and cheaper than any human being. So, are digital learning and robo-teachers the future for education? This session will outline the role and nature of knowledge and help teachers explore the concepts, theories, models and techniques that underpin big questions in science as well as the complexity of knowledge and understanding.

For discussion, Einstein's claim that, "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift."

Seminar 2: Is the greatest good to make the greatest number happy?

Jeremy Bentham claimed that ethics can be calculated and be put on a scientific footing, making moral choices a matter of cost benefit analysis. This session will outline some of the social and ethical implications of this approach including reflection on a range of social issues such as environmental degredation and the development of human-hybrids. What are the ideological assumptions and the implications of this for human civilisation? Are there any moral limits to scientific progress? What is it to be fully human in a scientific age?

For discussion, Francis Crick's claim that, "You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of identity and freewill are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules."

Seminar 3

Attendees have a choice to attend either seminar 3A or 3B.

Seminar 3A: The Big 'Why' Questions in Science and Religion.

Why is there something rather than nothing? Why am I here? Why are numbers beautiful? What counts as evidence and how do we judge a good model for understanding the ultimate nature of reality? What counts as an explanation and can science explain everything? Why are some hypotheses more reasonable than others? Does it correspond to the real world? Is it internally consistent? Does it work? Is it simple? Is it elegant/beautiful? Does it illuminate? Does it make sense of wholes not just parts? Does it have a capacity to make predictions?

For discussion, Paul Erdos' claim, "God may not play dice with the Universe but something strange is going on with prime numbers."

Seminar 3B: Does Religion Count in a Scientific age?

Religion doesn't usually involve counting but does it count, and if so why? What do we mean by religion and how does it relate to science? What can grace inspiration miracles and providence mean today? Evaluating the claim that we need more than number and rationality to make sense of the world: discussion of the importance of imagination, poetry and music as well as the second person perspective in both science and religion. The session will conclude with a short, 3-min film summarising the key ideas:


For discussion, Einstein's claim that "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

Sessions led by:

Julie Arliss

Julie Arliss

JULIE ARLISS is Director and Founder of Academy Conferences, which runs events for Gifted & Talented Students, as well as for teachers and headteachers. She has thirty years of experience as a teacher, is a former Cambridge CIE examiner, and is a Fellow at Harris Manchester Oxford University, 2018.

Dr Andrew Pinsent

Dr Andrew Pinsent

Dr ANDREW PINSENT is Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion, Faculty of Theology and Religion, Oxford University. Formerly a particle physicist at CERN, he is a philosopher, theologian and contributor in the media and schools to engagement with science, faith and the big questions of life.


3.30 - 6.00 pm

Siena College
25th July 2018
Concordia College
26th July 2018
30th July 2018
31 July 2018
St Cuthbert's
3rd August 2018

The cost

$95 per person. Schools may be invoiced.


To book with us fill in your full details below:

Book for:Australia and New Zealand. Click here.United Kingdom. Click here.
Teacher's Residential 2016: Buy the DVD. Click here. Buy the t-shirt. Click here.

Proud to work with…

AQA Cambridge International Examinations eduqas edexcel Liverpool Hope University OCR Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion