Embodying Grosseteste


Jack Cunningham has initiated an appeal to the Lincoln City Council for a statue of Robert Grosseteste within the city. The Ordered Universe project support this wholeheartedly, and features within Jack’s letter to the Lincolnshire Echo, copied below.  With the upcoming conference  on Science and Theology in the Thirteenth Century  focused on Grosseteste, the appeal could not be better timed. A conjunction of form and matter to create body is all that is required….


Why no statue of the City’s greatest son?

Lincoln Cathedral

 After showing many a visitor or friend around this wonderful City of ours we repeatedly encounter the same question, ‘Why no statue of Robert Grosseteste?’ To which the frank answer is always- ‘We don’t know!’

Grosseteste was undoubtedly the greatest product of this city. Indeed one of his most famous biographers, Sir Richard Southern, went further calling him the ‘greatest product of Oxford University.’ He has also been called the ‘founder of the tradition of scientific thought,’ and a minor planet was named after him in 2012. Much ground breaking work is at present being conducted by the Ordered Universe Project, a distinguished group of scientists, medieval historians and philosophers at Durham University who are working on Grosseteste’s scientific works. Their discoveries should soon, if there is any justice, initiate a revival of Britain’s forgotten scientist/philosopher. For instance his 13th Century ideas about how the Universe was created are astonishingly close to the Big Bang Theory. He was the first scientist to identify the cause of the Rainbow as refraction. He seems also to have known that the Universe is expanding, centuries before anybody else. Then only last week when the NewScientist  was getting very excited about the recent emerging evidence of a Multiverse they carried a piece telling its readers that Grosseteste had hinted at this very idea in the 1200s.

And these are just a few of the staggering insights he provides in the Latin works the Ordered Universe Project are translating, explaining and publishing. Grosseteste was revolutionary in the history of science because he knew that everything was about mathematics and that good scientists should base their knowledge on what they observe and not what they think. In July this year Bishop Grosseteste University will be hosting its third international conference on Robert Grosseteste. The theme is science and religion and it will be attended by scholars from all over the globe. We’re sure they will have a marvellous time in Lincoln but we will not be at all surprised if many of them go home wondering why there is no statue of the City’s greatest thinker. It is inconceivable that this would happen if Grosseteste had been born in Paris, Madrid or Milan. Heaven only knows what the Americans would have done had he been one of theirs!

We call on the City Council to mark the achievements of Robert Grosseteste properly. A statue or appropriate commemoration of the great scientist and philosopher would not only be a wonderful addition to our City, it would also be a fitting tribute to a hugely important figure. Many people in this country and the wider world don’t even know who Robert Grosseteste was- isn’t it time we in the City of Lincoln told them?

Dr. Jack Cunningham

Rev. Peter Green

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