LEADING scientists will head to church to debate the relationship between science and faith next Friday in York.

They will engage in vigorous discussion at Faith In The Questions at Heslington Church in a 7.30pm event run by York theatre company Riding Lights and Scientists in Congregations that will include a one-act play followed by a question-and-answer panel.

The evening will begin with Riding Lights' Counting The Clouds, an inventive new play by Warter poet and playwright Nigel Forde that grapples with the scientific and personal challenges arising from the debate surrounding belief and scientific enquiry.

In the Q&A session that will follow, audience members will be invited to put their questions to Professor Sue Hartley, professor of ecology at the University of York; Professor Stephen Smye, senior clinical leader in the National Institute for Health Research at King's College London and professor in the school of medicine at the University of Leeds, and Dr Tom Jackson, chief executive officer of Cybula with a PhD in computer science and expertise in neural networks.

Counting The Clouds casts the biblical figure of Job as a modern-day scientist and Christian, who wrestles with the unpredictable as well as predictable structure of the universe, asking if God could possibly be in control? Or is that even a reasonable question to ask? When Job’s personal world is shaken to the core, how can he reconcile the pieces of the puzzle that emerges, both professionally and spiritually?

Compared with the centuries-long hand-in-hand relationship between religious faith and scientific enquiry, recent debate has, for many people, become mistrustful and sharply adversarial. Which side is God on? Or is this the wrong question to ask? This is but one of any number of good and provocative questions thrown out by Faith In The Questions in its combination of theatre and scientific discussion.

Faith In The Questions is a free event and was first held at St Michael le Belfrey Church in June 2017 as part of the York Festival of Ideas. In the wake of that successful debut, Faith In The Questions is touring Britain the UK this January and February, when each venue will have a panel of local scientists answering questions from the audience about reconciling science and faith. A full tour schedule is available at ridinglights.org/faith-in-the-questions.

Free tickets for January 19 can be booked by calling 01904 613000 or online at the above address.