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Portraits: Sir John Houghton
Martin Amis Margaret Atwood Mary Gordon Colin McGinn David Grossman Anne Provoost
Martin Amis Margaret Atwood Mary Gordon Colin McGinn David Grossman Anne Provoost
Richard Rodriguez Salman Rushdie Will Power Pema Chödrön Sir John Houghton Jeanette Winterson
Richard Rodriguez Salman Rushdie Will Power Pema Chödrön Sir John Houghton Jeanette Winterson
Web Exclusive Sir John Houghton on the forgotten classic, FLATLAND. Watch the full interview with Sir John Houghton

Widely recognized as one of the world's preeminent climatologists, Sir John Houghton has become as well-known for his theories on the compatibility of science and religious faith as his scientific achievements.

"Augustine recognized that [the Bible] wasn't a scientific textbook. John Calvin said, 'If you want to learn about astronomy, go to the astronomers. Don't go to the Bible.' It's not a scientific textbook. They understood that."
--Sir John Houghton

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A former professor of atmospheric physics at Oxford University, Houghton has devoted much of his career to researching the effects of global climate change on the environment and urging the international community to examine and address problems such as ozone depletion and global warming in a comprehensive and meaningful way. Human-induced climate change, Houghton has argued, kills more people than terrorism.

Over the past 25 years, Houghton has held a number of important scientific and administrative posts, having served as Director General of the Britain's Meteorological Office, as Chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, and as Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Scientific Assessment Committee.

As a committed evangelical Christian and the author of DOES GOD PLAY DICE?: A LOOK AT THE STORY OF THE UNIVERSE (1988) and THE SEARCH FOR GOD: CAN SCIENCE HELP? (1995), Houghton has often voiced the belief that science and religion, rather than being opposing forces, actually complement one another - an idea that has rankled many conservative and fundamentalist religious groups.

"There is widespread suspicion of science, fostered by the feeling that science goes against the Bible," Houghton has said. "This is very unfortunate; it takes a very small view of God, and a very inadequate view of science."

During his distinguished career, Houghton (who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991) has received the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics, the Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal, and the International Meteorological Organization Prize, among others. He is an honorary scientist at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research and in 2006 was awarded the prestigious Japan Prize for his lifetime work on climatology.

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  • Sir John Houghton on FLATLAND


  • Find out more
  • About St. Anselm and the Big Bang theory — matters under discussion in the interview

  • About faith & science

  • The battle over evolution

  • FAITH & REASON booklist


  • Resources
  • "Reason and Light," Sir John Houghton, NEW STATESMAN

  • "Looking After Creation," Sir John Houghton, CHRISTIANITY TODAY

  • "Global warming is getting worse - but the message is getting through," Sir John Houghton, THE GUARDIAN


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