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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 126 - August 2016


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August 2016 Newsletter No. 126


16 -18 September, Cambridge

Can machines express emotions? What would happen if robots replaced human beings? What is the future of artificial intelligence? Where do science fiction and reality overlap? Come and explore these and other questions about artificial intelligence and robotics at the next weekend course:
Reality, Robots and Religion: Human Identity in an Age of Machines
16-18 September 2016, Robinson College, Cambridge.

Speakers include: Prof. Lord Martin Rees, Prof. Susan Eastman, Prof. John Wyatt, Dr Michael Burdett.
For more details and to book see the Faraday Website: Reality, Robots and Religion
Introduction from a New member of the Faraday Team
Andrew Jackson
Director of External Affairs

I am delighted to join the Faraday team as Director of External Affairs. This is a newly-created role to help take the institute into the next phase of its growth and will involve significant strategic planning, fundraising and external engagement - so no pressure!

I’m not an academic, but have a background in commercial research & development.  After taking a MA in zoology and a PhD in biomaterials, I spent 20 years working for the UK’s leading woundcare and orthopaedics company, Smith & Nephew, managing research programmes on breakthrough technologies such as biodegradable tissue adhesives, high strength implantable polymers, tissue engineering and adult-derived stem cell therapy.  Over the last 10 years I worked in technical business development, at first helping S&N sell its internal research competencies outside the company, and then working for two of the leading Cambridge product development companies, TTP and Sagentia, in both cases holding senior outward-facing roles involving colossal amounts of travel to sell R&D services to many of the world’s largest medtech companies.

Ever since becoming a Christian in the early 80s I have had a life-long interest in apologetics and issues at the interface of science and religion, so I am really pleased, at last, to be combining my commercial experience with my passion for integrating and applying God’s special and general revelation.
Overseas Course: Santiago, Chile
Science and Faith: Contemporary Challenges
29 Oct - 1 Nov 2016
To give the opportunity for integrated discussion on a range of topics in science and faith, which have traditionally been regarded as in conflict in the Chilean context.
Find out more here
Upcoming Courses

16-18 September 
Short Course 36
Reality, Robots and Religion 
(Robinson College, Cambridge)

Last week for applications.

12 November 
Day Course (Norwich) 
Exploring Science and Religion
Research Seminar Series 
Our Autumn Research Seminar series will recommence on 11 October, we have four great speakers to look forward to.

11 October
"Living Forever: a worry for religious belief?"
Professor Julian Hughes  (Old Age Psychiatry) University of Bristol

25 October
"How science learns about unobservable entities" 
Professor Hasok Chang (History and Philosophy of Science) Cambridge

8 November
"Scientific and Religious Definitions of a Human: Their impact on Human Rights"
Professor John Evans (Sociology)
University of California, San Diego, USA

22 November
"Is Happiness in our Genes?"
Dr Michael Pluess, (Biological and Experimental Psychology) Queen Mary University of London
The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion Research Seminars are held at 1.00 p.m. on alternate Tuesdays during term in St Edmund’s College. A free light buffet lunch and drinks are served from 12.30 p.m. onwards. All are welcome.
Faraday 'out and about' in August and September

18 -19 August Beth Singler will be travelling to Belfast for the Affective Apocalypses and Millennial Well-Being Conference, Queens University Belfast"It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)": An Ethnographic Comparison of Existential Hope and  Existential Distress in Transhumanist and Apocalyptic Artificial Intelligence Groups."

5-7 September Beth Singler will be at the British Association for the Study of Religion Conference for which she has organized (and is also presenting) a Panel on "AI and Religion: An Initial Conversation. My paper: The Possibility of A Religion: Artificial Intelligence, Science Fiction, And New Religious Movements."

13 September Ruth Bancewicz will present "The Wonders of the Living World: Biology, Belief, and the Search for Meaning and Purpose in the Universe" at an evening session, open to the general public, at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds.
New Book: The Gulen Movement in Turkey

The movement led by US-resident imam Fethullah Gülen has been in the headlines in recent weeks, accused of being behind a failed military coup that took place in Turkey on 15 July 2016. For decades, the Gülen Movement has exerted influence over Turkish politics and society from behind the scenes. All the while, its primary area of activity has been secular, science-focused education – which it effectively reconciled with both Muslim piety and market success. Beginning in Turkey in the late 1960s, the movement spread to over 120 countries worldwide and became extremely affluent and powerful. In her forthcoming book, ‘The Gülen Movement in Turkey: The Politics of Islam and Modernity’ (London: IB Tauris),
Faraday Institute research associate Dr Caroline Tee analyses the engagement of the movement with modern science, drawing on sustained ethnographic fieldwork in Turkey. She shows how the Gülen Movement’s Islamic philosophy of science and education underpinned an ambitious project with profoundly political implications, the consequences of which are now being witnessed in Turkey and on the international stage.

The book will be available here at the end of the month.
July/August Update

Mid July saw three Faraday Research Associates present papers at the Ian Ramsey Centre Conference on “A Post-Secular Age?”, in Oxford. Beth Singler presented  "Less Wrong = Less Religious?: Secularity as Moral Boundary Making in Future Technology Focussed Groups" Caroline Tee "Religious Creationism in a Secular Age: Anti-evolution movements between Turkey and the USA" and Amy Unsworth presented data from her national survey "Surveying the Dawkins Effect: Science, Religion and 'New Atheism'  in a Post-Secular Age" The conference was attended by around 100 people from various countries – many from the USA – and keynote addresses were given on topics related to secularity and post-secularity by Alistair MacGrath (Oxford), Matthew Engelke (LSE) and Courtney Bender (Columbia).

Amy Unsworth also presented other parts of her national survey with the research paper entitled "Evolving attitudes: Changes in Acceptance of Evolutionary Theory amongst Non-Religious, Christian and Muslim Publics" at the Science in public conference at the University of Kent.

On August 1-3 Roger Abbott attended the Oxford Symposium on Religious Studies at the University Church of St Mary, Oxford. He presented on "Friendship without compromise? Exploring social cohesion between Protestants, Catholics, and Vaudissants in Haiti" to an international gathering representing a range of faith interests and none. The presentation seemed well received and Roger reported it was good to meet and converse with such a mixed gathering.
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