The Rev Arthur Peacocke AM BST 25 Oct The Reverend Canon Arthur Peacocke, who died on Saturday aged 81, made a significant contribution to the understanding of the structure of DNA during his early career as a scientist, though he became better known, after his ordination as an Anglican priest, as a leading advocate of the proposition that the antagonism between science and religion is based on a fallacy. In more than papers and 12 books, Peacocke argued that the divine principle is behind all aspects of existence. He proposed a theory, known as "critical realism", which holds that both science and theology aim to depict reality and must be subject to critical scrutiny; and that Scripture, Church and religious tradition cannot be held to be self-authenticating. He believed that, in the modern age, any theology is doomed unless it incorporates the scientific perspective into its "bloodstream".
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Peacocke attended the prestigious Watford Grammar School for Boys. Peacocke then received a doctorate in physical biochemistry from Oxford in During the s, while working at the virus laboratory at the University of California , he was part of a team that identified properties of the recently discovered DNA molecule.
He received a doctorate of science from Oxford in A self-described mild agnostic during his college years, Peacocke later found himself searching for answers to questions he considered too broad for science alone to answer. He began theology studies and received a bachelor of divinity degree from the University of Birmingham in , when he was also ordained a priest in the Church of England.
Beginning in , he taught biochemistry and theology and served as dean of Clare College at the University of Cambridge before returning to Oxford, where he served two terms —88; —99 as director of the Ian Ramsey Centre, which promoted teaching and research in science and religion.
He received a doctorate in divinity from Oxford in Peacocke became honorary chaplain of Christ Church Cathedral in and in became honorary canon. An early adherent of the anthropic principle —the notion that the universe contains conditions ideal for the development of living beings—Peacocke concluded that a likely explanation for the existence of life was the existence of a supreme being.
As advances in astronomy shed new light on what scientists knew about the creation of the universe and advances in genetics forced scientists to grapple with new ethical considerations, Peacocke maintained that it was time for science and theology to work together to draw meaning and guidance from what was being learned.
Most scientists dismissed attempts to integrate faith and science because of a lack of proof of a supreme being, but Peacocke countered that theologians had successfully used supporting evidence for their claims in the same fashion that scientists did for theirs. Peacocke compared the relationship between science and religion to that of two helical strands of DNA. He felt that the searches for intelligibility and for meaning were necessary, complementary approaches to answering the same questions about the nature of existence.
Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription. He was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in
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He returned to Oxford the following year, becoming Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre , and again from until Apart from one year during which he was Royden B. Davis Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Georgetown University , he spent the rest of his life in Oxford , living in St John Street , just across the road from another eminent theologian, Henry Chadwick. In he was awarded the Templeton Prize. Arthur Peacocke married Rosemary Mann on 7 August They had a daughter, Jane born , and a son who is the distinguished philosopher Christopher Peacocke.
The Rev Arthur Peacocke