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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 105 - October 2014

Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 105 – October 2014

Over the weekend of 19th-21st September, the Uses and Abuses of Biology (UAB) Programme ( held its concluding workshop. To open the workshop, 170 people heard a public lecture by Prof Alister McGrath, University of Oxford, on 'Darwin, Dawkins and the Divine: why is biology at the heart of the New Atheism?' A mixed group of international journalists and broadcasters, PhD students and academics then spent the weekend discussing and debating the many ways in which biology is used and abused in the social sciences, politics, religion, education and the media. Several of the research groups who have received funding from the UAB programme gave the first public presentations of the data they have collected. The video recording of Prof McGrath's lecture is available on the website, and selected highlights of the conference will be posted in the coming weeks - check the UAB link on the Faraday Institute website for more details.

A date for the diary for those based in the Cambridge area: the annual Faraday reception for scientists who self-identify as Christians will take place at the Guildhall on Monday 10th November. The speaker will be Dr Harvey McMahon FRS from the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology. For more details and to register (registration is required) see: and

The Faraday Institute is working with the God and the Big Bang project, led by Michael Harvey, to run a series of communication workshops. These are for early career scientists who are committed Christians and will train them to speak on science and religion issues in a variety of contexts, including the successful school conferences organised by the project ( The first workshop took place in Cambridge during the last weekend of September. Thirteen primarily early career scientists took part in the workshop practising a variety of skills: giving talks on science and religion, doing science demonstrations and being panel members answering questions. Highlights of the workshop included the science and magic demonstrations by the science magician Dr Matt Pritchard, who then trained the delegates in how to perform a number of science and magic demonstrations that they could use in schools. Two further training weekends are planned for 2015 and 2016, so if you know anyone that might benefit from such training, please put them in touch with The Faraday Institute.

Can a Robot have a Mind?
How schools manage topics and questions that bridge science, religion and philosophy was put under the microscope at the University of Reading last week by the Learning about Science and Religion (LASAR) project.  Over 300 students and teachers from 16 schools from across England visited the University to hear from some of the UK’s leading academics who are addressing these important issues. As well as meeting scientists, philosophers and theologians, they also met scholars with different faith perspectives, in particular atheists, Christians and Hindus. Jessica, a Year 10 student from Reading Girls School, said: “The day was really thought provoking. I came here thinking we were going to learn about religion and science but we learnt so much more such as how similar yet different to us robots are.”
To find out about forthcoming events, visit or email the LASAR events coordinator, Janet Lake at

Faraday will be hosting a stand at the Christian Resources Exhibition North (Manchester) on 7th and 8th October providing an opportunity to interact with the attendees and disseminate our work and resources further. For more information go to

The Faraday Institute, together with local initiatives, is running courses in Argentina and Brazil in October 2014 and in Spain in November 2014. More details and local contact information can be found on our website here:

The Faraday Institute is co-sponsoring a conference in Australia on “Rediscovering the spiritual in God’s creation.” This will take place 10th-13th March 2015 and the director Bob White will be one of the key speakers. For more details see:

On September 9th the Revd Dr Rodney Holder spoke on ‘Big Bang, Big God: A Universe Designed for Life?’ at Christians in Science, Leeds.

Big Bang Big God by Rodney Holder is available from the Faraday Institute on-line shop (

On 1st September 2014 Dr Diana Beech hosted a panel at the 44th annual UACES conference in Cork entitled ‘Exploring the Role of Values and Ideas in the Europe of Knowledge: From Paradigm to Blueprints’. The panel was well attended and included papers on the role of values in the Brussels research system, EU mobility programmes, and other European higher education initiatives.

Rodney Holder’s latest book Longing, Waiting, Believing: Reflections for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany (BRF) was published on 19th September. Dr Holder spoke about the book on Radio Cambridgeshire on 14th September and the book was successfully launched at Great St Mary’s, the University Church, Cambridge, on 16th September. Copies are available from the Faraday on-line shop at the discounted price of £6.50 (

The second revised and expanded edition of Denis Alexander’s best-selling book Creation or Evolution – Do We Have to Choose? [Oxford: Monarch] has just been published. 35,000 words longer than the first edition (2008), the science has been up-dated and the theological sections expanded. The Faraday on-line shop is selling the book at the discounted price of £9. In addition, Denis Alexander's book 'Rebuilding the Matrix - Science and Faith in the 21st Century' [Oxford: Lion, 2001 and 2003] has just been published in Chinese. Copies may be obtained from the the Chinese Amazon web-site at:

We are excited to be launching our SoundCloud, offering podcasts of interviews with famous scientists and theologians and conversations and short commentaries on our public lectures and seminars to download. This will take place on 16th October (Revd Dr John Polkinghorne’s birthday) with a series of Podcasts from John reflecting on his career as well as commentaries on current developments in the world of science and religion and conversations with friends. The link will be released via our newsfeed and social networks on the day.

Note that videos of Faraday courses, lectures and seminars are available from and on iTunes U, as well as on the Faraday web site The most recently available are:
Revd Dave Bookless: The Environment - Ethical and Religious Issues 
John Walton: Origins in Genesis 
Elaine Howard Ecklund: The Faith of Scientists in the UK and US 
Justin Barrett: Psychology and religious belief 
Noreen Herzfeld: Memory and Personhood

Planning is continuing for ‘Talks at One’ to be held at the Addenbrooke’s Hospital / Cambridge Biomedical Campus. The six week series of lunchtime talks will now begin in the new-year. ‘Parks at One’, for those who work on the Cambridge Science, Innovation and Business Parks, has started again for the autumn. For more information visit

Bob White Meric Srokosz
[Director] [Associate Director]