Gareth: So, you’re two of the longer standing members of St. John’s we’ve interviewed so far, not sure we’ll fit everything in!
Gill: Well one thing must go in: we can’t thank the church family enough for all the help they’ve given us in the last year whilst I’ve been ill. We’ve had so much help and support it’s been wonderful.
Gareth: That’s great to hear; it’s a significant part of church family life. Now although, you’ve been a part of St. John’s for many years, tell us about life before that.
Gill: I was born in Stockport, but we moved lots with my dad’s job. We ended up in Hertfordshire and went to the local Anglican church. I stayed there until I married George, who I had met at a dance at a hotel in Richmond Surrey.
George: We hadn’t met before that day but got on well and started meeting up in central London each week. Eventually, we got married in Gill’s church in Hertfordshire and then to cut a long story short ended up in Wilmslow in 1970 when I got a job at Alderley Park.
Gareth: OK so as this magazine has a focus on science and faith, let’s briefly track your career George.
George: Well, it’s a very complicated story! I graduated in Chemistry in 1962 and went to work at Guys and then St. Mary’s medical schools in London, researching in steroid biochemistry . I went on to Brunel to study Steroid Hormone Chemistry, but the funding then dried up and so I got a job with Twyford’s labs which was owned by Guinness while carrying on with part time study.
Gareth: The Brewery?!
George: Yes, I had to walk through the Brewery each day to the labs! But after 6 years Guinness closed it down and so I looked for another job and I got a job with ICI up here.
Gareth: And what was your focus with ICI?
George: Well I moved around a lot within different research area. At first I worked on animal health drugs (preventing animal disease), but then moved into: diabetes, obesity, preventative cardiovascular medicines and towards the end, rheumatoid arthritis and transplantation drugs.
Gareth: Wow! That’s quite a range and didn’t I hear you had a side-line which included collaborating with Nobel Prize Winning Chemist?
George: Yes, Sir Fraser Stoddart, would sent some PhD students (from Sheffield Uni) for me to supervise the industrial side of their research. In 1991 he sent a student who was working with him on the area of research for which he won the 2016 Nobel Prize; it was quite exciting to have been a part of that.
Gareth: And tell me how you see the relationship between science and faith in terms of the existence of a creator God?
George: Some people consider the existence of lots of chemicals, such as DNA, sugars, vitamins, hormones etc., as giving the need for a creator. I don’t see the diversity of chemical structures as pointing so clearly towards a creator. Few people realise the extent and complexity of chemical substances throughout the planet from those in flora, fauna, fungi and marine organisms for example. Everything I see in chemical structures is so complex that, for me, it doesn’t provide clear evidence for God. I’m happy with the idea of God being the origin, but less so with the idea of him being in control of all of the processes.
Gareth: So, would you describe yourself as a Deist, someone who believes God started the universe but then stepped back from involvement since then?
George: No, I wouldn’t be comfortable with that concept. If you accept Deism, there is no Bible, prayer or hope at the end.
View from the Pew is a termly feature in our magazine, In Touch, in which we get to know someone in our congregation a little better. This article came from a conversation between Gareth Crispin and George & Gill Brown.
Taken from the Winter 2016 edition of In Touch