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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 23 - December 2007

It is with the deepest regret and sense of shock and loss that we heard of the death of Professor Peter Lipton, Head of the History & Philosophy of Science Dept, Cambridge University, and Faraday Institute Associate, who died suddenly of natural causes on the evening of Sunday 25 November 2007. The Faraday Institute wishes to express our condolences to Prof. Lipton’s family and friends. The Cambridge academic community has lost one of its leading members. Prof. Lipton contributed significantly to the activities of the Faraday Institute, speaking in our Research Seminar series, active in asking questions in the Seminar prior to his untimely death, and supervising a PhD student, Wang-Yen Lee, who is another of our Faraday Associates.

The past month has seen the successful completion of the eighth of our Faraday Short Courses, this time for Church Leaders. Coming from a very broad spectrum of denominations, and with different types of responsibility, the delegates enjoyed the intensive mid-week Course, which aims to equip leaders with up-to-date information on science-religion interactions. This form of public education will soon be greatly assisted by new Faraday staff member, Dr Ruth Bancewicz, who is heading up an exciting new project to generate film and print resources for churches on the topic of science and faith.

            There are still a few places left on our next Short Course No. 9: ‘Introduction to Science and Religion’ to be held in Cambridge on Jan 4-6, 2008. There is a very high profile group of speakers for this Course, including Sir John Houghton, the Revd Dr John Polkinghorne KBE, Prof. Roger Trigg, Dr Katherine Blundell, Dr Allan Chapman and Prof. Colin Humphreys, in addition to Faraday Staff members. Apply now why there are still places!

            This month also saw a packed lecture theatre at Queens College for our termly public lecture, this time given by Prof. George Ellis, former President of the Royal Society of South Africa, who spoke on ‘The Multiverse, Ultimate Causation and God’. At the Dinner-Discussion afterwards we were pleased to welcome several well-known members of the Cambridge physics and cosmology community, including Nobel prize-winner Prof. Antony Hewish, Prof. Stephen Hawking CH CBE, Revd Dr John Polkinghorne KBE, and Prof. Keith Moffatt, who also read a poem about the creation that he had composed.

We have also had two well-attended Research Seminars this past month. Prof. Peter Harrison from Oxford spoke on ‘The Doctrine of the Fall and the Epistemological Foundations of Modern Science’, summarizing the pith of his book on the subject shortly to be published by Cambridge University Press. Prof. Tom McLeish from Leeds University gave the last seminar of the term entitled ‘Values and Science Research – what is Science for?’, a broad over-view linking the theological and scientific enterprises.

            This month the Director gave lectures to the William Temple Society in York and to the James Crichton student society at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland on ‘The Dawkins Delusion: Debunking the Conflict Between Science and Religion’. By mistake the lecture title was initially publicized as ‘The Darwinian Delusion’ – an interesting example of how a small mutation can make a big phenotypic difference! The Course Director Rodney Holder spoke on ‘God and the Big Bang’ at the Oxford Ministry Course week-end away in London Colney. He also spoke on ‘Can a Multiverse Provide the Ultimate Explanation?’ at a Day Conference organized by the Scientific and Medical Network on ‘God or Multiverse?’ held at Downing College, Cambridge. Other speakers at this well-attended event included Profs. Bernard Carr, Peter Coles, Keith Ward FBA and Revd Dr John Polkinghorne KBE.

            Bob White will be one of several high-profile speakers at the Winter School organized by the Jubilee Centre in Cambridge, 2-4 January 2008, under the overall title ‘Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living’. The School is warmly recommended and further registration details may be obtained at:

Denis Alexander                                                                   Bob White

            [Director, Faraday Institute]                                      [Associate Director]