Chris Clarke (SMN) died on 16 th April 2019. He was a mathematician and theoretical
physicist and was also deeply committed to the mystical side of religion, and in finding ways
of bridging the realms of science and spirituality.
I first met Chris in the late 1960s, together with his wife Isabel, when we became members of
the Epiphany Philosophers, a Cambridge-based group of scientists, philosophers, mystics and
explorers. This group produced a journal, Theoria to Theory to which Chris was a regular
contributor. ‘Theoria’ referred to the direct intuitive mystical experience, and ‘theory’ to
intellectual theories such as those of science. The journal was edited by Professor Dorothy
Emmett, a philosopher who had studied with Alfred North Whitehead. This group was also
grounded in Anglican religious practice, and we went on retreats four times a year in a
windmill on the Norfolk coast, at Burnham Overy Staithe, where we discussed a wide range
of philosophical, scientific and spiritual topics. The Epiphany Philosophers also had a retreat
house in Cambridge, in Marion Close, where we met for Easter retreats, and for several years
the priest who celebrated the Eucharist with our group was Rowan Williams, later
Archbishop of Canterbury.
Chris was born in 1946 and studied mathematics at Christ’s College Cambridge where he
remained as a graduate student until he became a Research Fellow at Jesus College,
Cambridge. From 1974 to 1976 he was a lecturer at York University, and from 1986 to 1999
professor of applied mathematics at Southampton University. Much of his academic research
work was on Einstein’s theory of gravitation and on its relationship to quantum theory,
including quantum cosmology. His technical books included The Analysis of Space-Time
Singularities and Relativity on Curved Manifolds. As well as his technical papers he wrote
several books including Knowing, Being and Doing: New Foundations for Consciousness
Studies (2013) and Weaving the Cosmos: Science Religion and Ecology (2010). He also
wrote many articles on the themes he thought most important: the relationship between
people and the planet, and the fundamental spiritual connectedness of all. He chaired Green
Spirit, an organisation that promotes ‘engaged spirituality for a living earth’, and he was also
chair of the Scientific and Medical Network, in which he played a leading role for many
Chris was kind, friendly and modest but had a passionate commitment to the causes he felt so
strongly about, as well as a keen intelligence and sense of humour. Family life was always
very important to Chris, and he and Isabel have two sons, Leon and Dunstan.
In 2012 he began to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and also suffered from cancer.
Yet despite these ultimately fatal challenges, he remained cheerful and on the occasions when
I met him at Epiphany Philosopher gatherings in the last few years. To my surprise he was
more than cheerful, and seemed radiant. His spiritual life shone out through all his
difficulties. The loving support of Isabel and his family no doubt played a major part in this,
but the way he dealt with his problems showed that his spiritual commitments ran deep. In his
last three years he wrote a series of short blogs in which he reflected on his own experience
of living in the moment, and on the experience of Being itself. Leon has compiled these into a
book entitled Wisdom and Isness.
He is survived by Isabel, to whom he was married for 51 years, and by Leon and Dunstan.