This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Wednesday 9 June 2021, 8pm to 9pm
  • Location: Online only
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Science and Religion: everyone seems to have an opinion.

They are in direct opposition to one another (and always have been). They are in broad harmony with one another (and always shall be). They actually have nothing to do with one another – NOMA or “Non-Overlapping Magisteria” in Stephen Jay Gould’s phrase – and so are neither in opposition nor in harmony.

Drawing on his BBC Radio 4 series The Secret History of Science and Religion and forthcoming book on the subject, Nick Spencer of the think tank Theos explores how the two have, do and can relate to one another.

Pointing to centuries of complex and colourful interaction between science and religion, he proposes a new idea. Rather than being “NOMA”, perhaps science and religion are actually POMA “Partially-Overlapping Magisteria”, with the overlap being not about Genesis or geology, or the Big Bang, or even evolution but about the nature of human beings, and in particular – who gets to say.

The event will include an in-conversation segment with Vicky Johnson, Canon Precentor at York Minster, as well as an opportunity to ask your own questions.


This event is hosted live on Zoom Webinar. You’ll receive a link to join a couple of days before the event takes place and a reminder an hour before. During the event, you can ask questions via a Q&A function but audience cameras and microphones will remain muted throughout.

This event is part of our Being Human series which delves into the nature of humanity. You may also enjoy Human Dignity: Without meaning or meaningful? on Monday 14 June and Holiness and Desire: What makes us who we are? on Thursday 17 June.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Cheselden t36 prayer


Book sales

You can buy copies of many of our speakers’ books from Fox Lane Books, a local independent bookseller and Festival partner.  In some cases, author signed bookplates are available too.   

About the speakers

Nick Spencer is Senior Fellow at the London-based religion and society think tank, Theos and a Fellow at the International Society for Science and Religion. He works on Christianity in public life, focusing both on political theology, and also on the history of ideas. He has a particular interest in ideas of human personhood, and how they have been informed by science and theology, and have, in turn, informed wider political and social thought in the West. He is the author or a number of books and reports, including Darwin and God (SPCK, 2009), Rescuing Darwin (Theos, 2009; with Denis Alexander); Atheists: the Origin of the Species (Bloomsbury, 2014), and The Evolution of the West (SPCK, 2016). You can listen to his The Secret History of Science and Religion series on BBC Radio 4.

The Revd Canon Dr Vicky Johnson is the Canon Precentor at York Minster, where she leads and oversees the cathedral’s liturgy and music team. Day to day she enables the planning and delivery of worship and music, supporting the work of the Director of Music and the world-renowned York Minster Choir.  She also works with partners in the City of York to explore the development of music outreach in the years ahead.


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