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Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey
"A journey of discovery and transformation"
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Saturday, 25 December, 1999, 11:02 GMT
Archbishop takes aim at science

planet Dr Carey: Space exploration is impressive - but science can't explain everything

By BBC News Online's Alex Kirby

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, has used his Christmas sermon to attack the view that there is a scientific explanation for the entire natural world.

The archbishop, the senior prelate of the Church of England, was preaching in Canterbury cathedral.

Recalling the Biblical account of the announcement by angels of the birth of Jesus to shepherds in the fields around Bethlehem, Dr Carey said the shepherds must have been terrified, and then filled with awe.

The contemporary science that drives such change can also strip it of some of its sense of wonder
Dr George Carey
"We live in a world where our sense of awe has been somewhat anaesthetised," he said. "The awesome seems increasingly circumscribed.

"Few people are totally indifferent to what we call the advances of science - from the exploration of space to the mapping of our genetic make-up."

But human ingenuity was changing life so fast, the archbishop said, that much of what people like HG Wells and Jules Verne had imagined was already reality, little more than a century later.

"The contemporary science that drives such change can also strip it of some of its sense of wonder.

"We increasingly bring with us the expectation that whatever is revealed can be explained - if not now, then later."

cathedral Dr Carey was preaching in Canterbury cathedral
Dr Carey told his congregation that the shepherds' journey of faith was one that people today needed to make themselves.

"It is this journey that makes sense of all the journeys of this life. One that you and I share at this moment is the journey into the new millennium.

"The future is unknown, and the challenges of a new age may daunt the most intrepid explorer.

Traditional message

"What we shall find there we cannot know. But the Christmas message of the shepherds, with its transformation of fear into belief and then into wonderment and praise, points the way for us."

The sermon is a forthright restatement by the archbishop of the traditional Christmas message, and will have struck a resonant chord with worshippers in the cathedral.

But those on the margins of faith, who do not share Dr Carey's wholehearted Christianity but still look to him as one of the country's moral leaders, may find it harder to comprehend.

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See also:
07 Dec 99 |  UK
Church backs Bond-style nativity
16 Apr 99 |  UK
'Support for Christianity on Millennium Eve'
15 Dec 99 |  UK
Carey puts faith in Dome

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