Charles E. Raven

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Charles Earle Raven QHC FBA (4 July 1885 – 8 July 1964) was an English theologian, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and Master of Christ's College, Cambridge. His works have been influential in the history of science publishing on the positive effects that theology has had upon modern science.[10]

Charles E. Raven

British King's spiritual adviser. Washington, D.C., March 21. The Revered Charles Earle Raven, D.D., Chaplain to King George VI of England, Canon of Ely Cathedral and Regius Professor of LCCN2016875292.tif
Raven in 1939
Charles Earle Raven

(1885-07-04)4 July 1885
London, England
Died8 July 1964(1964-07-08) (aged 79)
Cambridge, England
TitleVice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge (1947–1949)
  • Margaret E. B. Wollaston
    (m. 1910; died 1944)
  • Ethel Moors
    (m. 1954; died 1954)
  • Hélène Jeanty
    (m. 1956)
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Anglican)
ChurchChurch of England
Academic background
Alma materGonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Academic work
School or tradition


Raven was born in Paddington, London on 4 July 1885.[11] Raven was educated at Uppingham School.[12][13] He obtained an open classical scholarship at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge,[11] after graduation he was lecturer in divinity, fellow and dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.[14] In 1932, he was elected Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, a position he held until 1950.[11] He was Master of Christ's College, Cambridge (1939–1950).[11]

During the First World War he served as a chaplain to the forces and what he witnessed led him to take a pacifist position, a subject which again he wrote on extensively for the rest of his life. As a pacifist, he was an active supporter of the Peace Pledge Union and the Fellowship of Reconciliation.[15]

He married Margaret Ermyntrude Buchanan Wollaston in 1910, with whom he had four children.[13] Raven was the father of John Raven, the classical scholar and botanist, and grandfather of Andrew Raven and Sarah Raven.[5] He won the James Tait Black Award in 1947 for his book English Naturalists from Neckam to Ray.

He was a clergyman in the Church of England and attained the rank of canon. He was the Gifford Lecturer for 1950–1952 in Natural Religion and Christian Theology, Edinburgh University.[13]

He was president of the Field Studies Council from 1953 to 1957 and of the Botanical Society of the British Isles from 1951 to 1955.[16]

Some of his writings have been described as an early example of ecotheology.[17][verification needed]


Raven was an advocate of non-Darwinian evolutionary theories such as Lamarckism. He also supported the theistic evolution of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.[18]

Historian Peter J. Bowler has written that Raven's book The Creator Spirit, "outlined the case for a nonmaterialistic biology as the foundation for a renewed natural theology."[18]

List of selected publicationsEdit

  • What think ye of Christ? (1916)
  • Christian Socialism, 1848-1854 (1920)
  • Apollinarianism: An Essay on the Christology of the Early Church (1923)
  • In Praise of Birds (1925)
  • The Creator Spirit (1927)
  • Women and the Ministry (1929)
  • A Wanderer's Way (1929)
  • The Life and Teaching of Jesus Christ (1933)
  • Raven, Charles E. (1950) [1942]. John Ray, naturalist: his life and works (2nd ed.). Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521310833.
  • Science, Religion, and the Future, a course of eight lectures (1943)
  • Raven, Charles E. (1947). English naturalists from Neckham to Ray: a study of the making if the modern world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781108016346.
  • Raven, Charles E. (1947). English Naturalists from Neckam to Ray: A Study of the Making of the Modern World. Cambridge University Press. p. 162. ISBN 978-1-108-01634-6.
  • Alex Wood: the man and his message (1952)
  • The Theological Basis of Christian Pacifism. London: The Fellowship of Reconciliation (1952)
  • Natural Religion and Christian Theology (1953)
  • Science, Medicine and Morals: A Survey and a Suggestion (1959)
  • Paul and the Gospel of Jesus (1960)
  • Teilhard de Chardin: Scientist and Seer (1962)

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b c d e f Randall 2015, p. 22.
  2. ^ a b Randall 2015, p. 35.
  3. ^ a b Randall 2015, p. 21.
  4. ^ Randall 2015, p. 40.
  5. ^ a b Pepper, Simon (10 October 2005). "Andrew Raven". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  6. ^ Randall 2015, pp. 29–30.
  7. ^ Randall 2015, pp. 31–32.
  8. ^ Hefner 2001, p. 234.
  9. ^ Randall 2015, p. 36.
  10. ^ Klaaren 1977, p. 4.
  11. ^ a b c d Randall 2015, p. 20.
  12. ^ Butler 1965, p. 254; Randall 2015, p. 21.
  13. ^ a b c Poon, Heidi. "Charles Earle Raven". The Gifford Lectures. Retrieved 5 November 2017.
  14. ^ Randall 2015.
  15. ^ Brock & Young 1999, p. 101.
  16. ^ Butler 1965, p. 256.
  17. ^ Bouma-Prediger 2017, pp. 145–158.
  18. ^ a b Bowler 2004, pp. 61–62.


Bouma-Prediger, Steven (2017). Early Ecotheology and Joseph Sittler. Lit Verlag. ISBN 978-3-643-90837-7.
Bowler, Peter J. (2004). "The Specter of Darwinism: The Popular Image of Darwinism in Early Twentieth-Century Britain". In Lustig, Abigail; Richards, Robert J.; Ruse, Michael (eds.). Darwinian Heresies. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. pp. 48–68. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511512179.003. ISBN 978-0-521-81516-1.
Brock, Peter; Young, Nigel (1999). Pacifism in the Twentieth Century. New York: Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-8125-0.
Butler, F. H. C. (1965). "Obituary: Charles Earle Raven (1885–1964)". The British Journal for the History of Science. 2 (3): 254–256. doi:10.1017/S0007087400002259. ISSN 1474-001X. JSTOR 4024940.
Hefner, Philip (2001). "Evolution". In Fahlbusch, Erwin; Lochman, Jan Milič; Mbiti, John; Pelikan, Jaroslav; Vischer, Lukas (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Christianity. 2. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. pp. 228–236. ISBN 978-0-8028-2414-1.
Klaaren, Eugene M. (1977). Religious Origins of Modern Science: Belief in Creation in Seventeenth-Century Thought. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-8028-1683-2.
Randall, Ian M. (2015). "Evangelical Spirituality, Science, and Mission: A Study of Charles Raven (1885–1964), Regius Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University". Anglican and Episcopal History. 84 (1): 20–48. ISSN 0896-8039. JSTOR 43685075.

Further readingEdit

Dillistone, F. W. (1975). Charles Raven: Naturalist, Historian, Theologian. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by
Alexander Nairne
Regius Professor of Divinity
at the University of Cambridge

Succeeded by
Michael Ramsey
Preceded by
Charles Galton Darwin
Master of Christ's College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Brian Downs
Preceded by
Henry Thirkill
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
Sydney Castle Roberts
Preceded by
Niels Bohr
Gifford Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh
Succeeded by
Arnold J. Toynbee
Preceded by
Richard Aldington
James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography
Succeeded by
Percy Scholes