Playing God: Bishop of Manchester opens science and religion film series

A unique film series exploring the interaction and conflict between science and religion is being opened by the Bishop of Manchester at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation today.

The Playing God film series – which is free and open to the public – will feature six screenings of historical movies including 1935 ‘blasphemous’ cinema classic The Bride of Frankenstein, the original Planet of the Apes, and legendary horror flick The Exorcist.

Bishop David Walker explained exactly why he wanted to be involved in the event, which was organised by The University of Manchester’s Science and Entertainment Lab and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

“As someone who trained originally in maths and theoretical physics, I’ve always found science and religion fit together well,” he told MM.

“Both are about the quest to understand and celebrate the created universe around us and both ground our behaviour and actions.

“Yet misunderstood, both give rise to fear and suspicion and I look forward to this series exploring these issues through film.”

The series offers screenings with expert speakers ranging from film makers to theologians, who will provide a brief introduction for each film before leading a post-screening discussion with the audience.

Key organiser Doctor David Kirby explained the intention of the film series and stated that he was delighted to get the Bishop of Manchester on board.

“We wanted to look at all six films in a new and different way, asking fresh questions about the content and challenging audiences to consider the nature of and connections between science and religion,” he said.

“We’re also delighted that Bishop David will open the series.

“Often the relationship between science and religion is painted as a conflict, but it is really more of a dialogue.

“It is always a good idea when we can bring the two worlds together for a discussion.”

Professor Peter Scott, Head of the Department of Religions & Theology at The University of Manchester, will be leading 2009 film Creation and revealed he was highly anticipating the event. 

“I’m interested in any attempt that tries to make more complicated the standard story that says science and theology are opposed and that in most of the arguments between them science is the winner,” he said.

“The conversation between them ought to be richer and more complex than this. And the film Creation does at least reach for this richness and complexity.”

The screenings will be held on different Thursdays until the end of May and the schedule is listed below: –

March 5 at 18:30: The Bride of Frankenstein, with an introduction by the science studies scholar Dr David A Kirby from The University of Manchester.

March 19 at 18:30: The Exorcist, with an introduction by film scholar Professor Mark Jancovich from The University of East Anglia.

April 16 at 18:30: Planet of the Apes, with an introduction by science fiction expert Dr Amy C Chambers from The University of Manchester.

April 30 at 18:00: Solaris, with an introduction by filmmaker Sean Martin.

May 14 at 18:30: Creation, with an introduction by theologian Professor Peter Scott from The University of Manchester and historian Professor Joe Cain from University College London.

May 21: at 18:30 Altered States, with an introduction by historian Dr William R Macauley from The University of Manchester.

Pre-booking is not required.

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox via YouTube, with thanks.

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