Oxford Brookes University Mission – Day 3

Late night, early morning. After the disappointment of yesterday’s decidedly disengaging performance, I went back to the drawing board on the science talk. When I got to bed, I couldn’t sleep because my mind was spinning with Richard Dawkins quotes. And they’re hardly designed to lull into a deep slumber even the most committed Calvinist. The alarm clock had a five on it when I woke up. And I hadn’t even set it that early.

The talk title for today is Outdated: Has science disproved God? It was pretty stressful until late last night, when in God’s kindness it all started to come together. I just couldn’t work out what I was trying to do in terms of answering the question. But God gave me something to say that may even be quite helpful! And, God willing, it’ll do the job. I hope it provokes a few more questions than yesterday’s talk on the historical reliability of the Gospel accounts. In hindsight, it could well have been that I gave the seminal twenty minute talk on the trustworthiness of the biblical testimony to Jesus, and everyone was simply left speechless. I’m just saying it’s a possibility. It’s not what I think happened. Something else accounts for the tumbleweed moment when I asked for questions.

One of the things I’ve discovered in preparing these talks is how little I enjoy leaving stuff out. If the art of a good talk is knowing what to leave on the desk, then I’m artless! I quite like showing what I know. And if I’ve just learnt something then I want to show it before I forget it! Leave nothing of my extensive research out tends to be my modus operandi. But I’m repenting of that and the talks are much better because of it. I’ve read some terrific treatments of the science issue, among the best of which has been Andrew Sach’s UCCF booklet. I’m stealing one of his illustrations because it makes the point about the abuse of science so well. It’s the one about the light machine, if that means anything to you.

The effort that the Christian Union has gone to in running this week of events has been hugely encouraging. This is a big week for them. And they’ve done a great job. Both the UCCF student worker and a local pastor have clearly provided invaluable assistance to the Committee, and especially to the President. There’s been momentum building throughout the week and the numbers at the lunch bars have held up well. There must have been 50 or 60 in attendance yesterday.

The lunch bar concept is a great one. Occasionally people have 12pm lectures and so they can’t make it.  But lots of people have been able to get along. Brookes is a split campus university. But we’re on the main one. Though I’m amazed how quiet it is. At Warwick (back in the day) the Students’ Union was heaving. The SU at Brookes is pretty quiet. I suspect that the student life is located in Oxford. When you live in a place like Oxford, that’s your campus. We didn’t have a resource like that on our doorstep. As much as I’m fond of it, who wanted to spend an evening in Coventry? Especially as a student. No, the SU was where we headed. But even though it’s quieter than I might have expected, I’m struck by how lunch bars are a great way to reach students. I suspect in a London context, like ours at CCB, lunch bars are a brilliant way to reach student who commute to university each day from their homes.

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