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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 21 - October 2007

Two important Faraday Institute events have taken place over the past month.  The first is the God and Biology week-end Course when 56 delegates enjoyed a real feast of talks from Michael Ruse, Francis Collins, Simon Conway Morris, Ronald Numbers, Jeff Schloss and Ernest Lucas. On this occasion it was particularly good to welcome not only 18 delegates from the local scientific community here in Cambridge, but also a broad spread of delegates from other countries, especially the Netherlands, and including the Vice-Chancellor of a Nigerian University.  Open only to biologists, the Course led to some vigorous discussion and debate, not least at the Panel Discussion which is already posted in MP3 format at (Multimedia Folder, scroll right down to the bottom of the ‘Science and Religion’ section).
Immediately after the Course we held our first Faraday Writers’ Workshop when 14 authors, mainly historians, met to discuss their chapters on the theme ‘The social, political and religious transformations of biology’.  The Workshop included a reception kindly put on by Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, who welcomed delegates to his Lodge at Trinity College, an environment of particular interest to the historians present.  The idea of the book is to describe the many and varied ways in which biology has been used and abused for ideological purposes from 1600 right up to the present day.  Draft chapters were circulated in advance in order to give the bulk of the time to discussion.  One clear conclusion that came out of the Workshop is that 14 chapters can only scratch the surface of what is a vast and fascinating topic.  The ensuing book will be edited by the Director and Ronald Numbers, and we hope to get it to press by next Spring.
The next Faraday Course will be entitled ‘Science and Religion for Church Leaders’ and will be held at New Hall College, Cambridge, Nov 6-8.  The Course is nearly full, so if you wish to attend please apply on-line as soon as possible.  The Course is open to ordinands and others training for ministry, and to those in lay leadership in churches.  The Course will begin with the termly Public Lecture which this term is to be given by Prof. George Ellis FRS on ‘The Multiverse, Ultimate Causation and God’ at 5.30 pm on Tuesday 6th November 2007 in the Queen's Lecture Theatre, Emmanuel College, Cambridge.  The Lecture is open to all.
The 2008 Faraday Course programme is just being finalised, and Course details will be appearing on our web-site as soon as they are available.  Two Courses already open for booking are: ‘Introduction to Science and Religion’ Jan 4-6 2008 and ‘Ethics on the Frontiers of Science: Religion – Help or Hindrance?’ April 11-13, 2008.  Speakers at the January Course are: Dr Denis Alexander (Evolution); Dr Katherine Blundell (God and the Big Bang); Dr Allan Chapman (Historical Relationship between Science and Faith); Prof. Colin Humphreys (Science and the Star of Bethlehem); Revd Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS (Models for Relating Science and Faith; the Anthropic Principle); Prof. Roger Trigg (Rationality of Religion and Science); Prof. Bob White FRS (Why Care about the Environment?).  Book now while places are still available!
Besides the main events, Faraday Staff have as usual been heavily involved in speaking at various conferences and venues over the past month.  The Director spoke at a Conference organised by the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Sibiu, Romania, held on the theme ‘Transdisciplinary approaches in the dialogue between science, art and religion in the Europe of tomorrow’ (  The science and religion research arena is currently very active in Romania, and the opening meeting of the Conference was addressed by Bishop Daniel, since elected as Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, who is warmly supportive of this discussion.  The Director and Ruth Bancewicz also spoke at a day conference organised by the Catholic Diocese of Plymouth.  Rodney Holder preached in the English Church in Heidelberg, Germany, on 'Can we still believe in a Creator in the light of modern science?' (answer clearly ‘yes’ – of course!). 
Those living in the London area may wish to attend a talk with questions by the Associate Director, Bob White on ‘Climate Change – A Christian Response’ at St Peter’s Barge, 7:00-8:30 pm on Monday 8th October, preceded  by a light supper at 6:30pm (see
Those living in the Cambridge area might be interested in a day conference on Multiverses organized by the Scientific and Medical Network involving Rodney Holder, with Bernard Carr, John Polkinghorne, Keith Ward and Peter Coles as speakers, to be held on 24th November in the Howard Building, Downing College.

Denis Alexander     Bob White
 [Director, Faraday Institute]    [Associate Director]