Ernest William Barnes

Bishop of Birmingham

Scientific Theory and Religion

In his series of twenty lectures, Barnes presents an informed philosophical overview of contemporary scientific theory. Detailing common responses to science through the lens of religion, he gives a sober account of the rationality of religious belief while considering the developments of scientific theory. He resurrects the scientific and metaphysical themes in a discussion of soul, body, and immortality, concluding with optimistic reflections on the future of religion.


Ernest William Barnes was born on 1 April 1847 in Altrincham, England. As Bishop of Birmingham, his deviation from traditional Christian doctrine was viewed as unorthodox, isolating him from his peers. Appointed Fellow of Trinity College in 1898, he was made Lecturer in 1902 and Tutor in 1908. He was ordained by the Bishop of London in 1902 and served as Junior Dean in 1906. Leaving his career as a mathematician in 1915, he became Master of the Temple in London, then Canonry of Westminster in 1918, and finally, Bishop of Birmingham in 1924. 

Made Fellow of King’s College, London in 1919, he received honorary degrees from the universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. Making it his mission to provide a worldview based on the natural sciences instead of a traditionally scriptural one, he preached what were known as ‘gorilla’ sermons, supporting evolutionary theory. Important works include Religion and Science (1923), Freedom and Authority (1924), Man (1932), A Christian Approach to Peace (1945), Patriotism and Christianity (1945), The Rise of Christianity (1947), and Religion Amid Turmoil (1949). 

Published/Archival Resources