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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 34 - November 2008

The new academic year got off to an excellent start with the first two Faraday Research Seminars of Michaelmas Term given to packed audiences. Prof. Robin Gill of the University of Kent spoke on ‘The Ethics of Human Enhancement’. Prof. Gill was also interviewed about his talk by Radio Cambridgeshire and some of the discussion from the seminar was included in the broadcast, all thanks to the work of our External Communications Officer Katie Turnbull. The second, equally stimulating seminar, on ‘Does quantum mechanics have any relevance for religious belief?’, was given by Dr Peter Bussey (University of Glasgow).

Our next two seminars take place on 11th November, when the Revd Dr David Wilkinson (Durham University) will speak on ‘Eschatology and the Future of the Universe’, and on 25th November, when Dr Justin Barrett (Oxford University) will speak on ‘Born Believers: The Naturalness of Childhood Theism’. The seminars will take place as usual in the Garden Room, St Edmund’s College, at 1.00 pm preceded by a (free) buffet lunch at 12.30 pm. Details can be found on our website (

Our CiS-Faraday Public Lecture this term will be given by Prof. Sarah Coakley who has just taken up the Norris-Hulse Chair of Divinity in Cambridge. Reflecting her collaboration with Prof. Martin Nowak at Harvard, she will be speaking on ‘God, Providence, and the Evolutionary Phenomenon of Cooperation’. The lecture will be held in the Queen’s Lecture Theatre at Emmanuel College at 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 18th November (see for further details). As usual, there will be a bookstall and free refreshments after the lecture, providing an opportunity to chat to the lecturer and others.

The Faraday course programme for 2009 is taking shape. Apart from the first course, details are not yet up on our website (though will be soon). As usual we are assembling a distinguished line-up of speakers for each course, some of whom are named below. For your diaries the dates decided so far are:

Short Course no. 13: JANUARY 12-14

‘Science, Religion and the Environment’. This course is primarily for the Cambridge Federation of Theological Colleges. However, applications are also welcome for a few places we have set aside for those training for ministry elsewhere. This course can be applied for through our website ( Speakers include: Prof. Bob White FRS; Prof. Richard Bauckham FBA FRSE; Dr Hilary Marlow; Revd Margot Hodson; Dr Jonathan Moo. More unusually for a Faraday course, there will be a ‘field trip’ on the middle day to the Lewknor Chiltern Gateway Project where we shall have input from Revds Simon Brignall and Dave Bookless (A Rocha).

Short Course no. 14: APRIL 3-5

Science and Religion in Schools. This course will be for schoolteachers. Speakers will include Revd Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS; Prof. Simon Conway Morris FRS; Dr John Taylor; Prof. Bob White FRS; Dr Denis Alexander; Revd Dr Rodney Holder.

Short Course no. 15: JULY 3-5

Neurosciences and Religion. This will be a specialised course on issues concerning the brain, mind, soul and cognition. Speakers will include Prof. Peter Clarke; Prof. Warren Brown; Dr Justin Barrett; Dr Alasdair Coles; Dr Nicholas Gibson.

Summer Course no. 4: JULY 12-18

Science and Religion in an Evolving Universe. This will be similar to previous years with topics ranging from historical and philosophical issues concerning the science and religion relationship, through the interaction of specific sciences such as astrophysics and evolutionary biology, to some of the knotty ethical issues raised by science. Speakers will include Revd Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS; Prof. Nidhal Guessoum; Prof. Ernan McMullin; Dr Jennifer Wiseman; Prof. Lawrence Principe; Prof. Roger Trigg; Prof. John Hedley Brooke; Dr Allan Chapman; Prof. Keith Fox.

Meanwhile the Director has been travelling in SE Asia where he gave seminars at the National University of Singapore and in Beijing. Associate Director Bob White gave a talk on ‘Climate change: science & religion' at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts, USA and at a ‘town hall’ Q&A meeting at Woods Hole. The Course Director gave a lecture at Bournemouth University on ‘Nothing But Atoms and Molecules?’, the title of his re-issued book (available, as is the Director’s book, Creation or Evolution – Do We Have to Choose?, from the Faraday shop at He also spoke to the Peterborough Theological Society on ‘God and the Multiverse’.

Rodney Holder                                              Denis Alexander       Bob White

[Course Director, Faraday Institute]            [Director]                    [Associate Director]