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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 36 - January 2009

Following the welcome Christmas break, the Faraday Institute now looks forward to an active New Year, with a whole range of new activities and plans for the year.

We are now in Darwin’s double anniversary year (birth: 1809; Origin of Species, 1859) and will be marking the year with a number of special events. For example, on Saturday March 14th there will be a panel discussion on ‘God and Darwin’ held at 3.00 p.m. in the Queen’s Lecture Theatre at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. Panel members will include Prof. John Hedley Brooke, Prof. Simon Conway Morris FRS and Prof. Michael Reiss.

The Faraday Institute is also collaborating with Theos (a London based theological think-tank) on a project called ‘Rescuing Darwin’ which aims to celebrate Darwin as the great naturalist that he was, not as the icon of a particular ideology. A small book co-authored by Denis Alexander and Nick Spencer (from Theos) with the title ‘Rescuing Darwin – God and Evolution in Britain Today’ will be published in time for Darwin’s birthday on Feb 12th. The book will report on the actual levels of belief in Darwinism and anti-Darwinism in the UK today, as determined by a professional polling organisation. Then on May 12th at 6.30 p.m. there will be a panel discussion on the topic in Westminster Abbey, London, chaired by John Humphrys, a BBC presenter. Panel members will be Lord Robert Winston, Prof. Steve Jones, Prof. Nancy Rothwell and Dr Denis Alexander.

Over the week-end of Jan 16-18 the Director will be at a Writers’ Workshop in Edinburgh where there will be extended discussion of 12 draft chapters written by different authors for a book on theological responses to Darwin, to be published by Paternoster Press later this year. Associate Director Bob White will be giving a keynote address on ‘The Age of the Earth: Science and the Bible’ to the Association of Science Educators meeting in Reading on 9th January.

The usual Institute activities of Courses, Seminars and Lectures are starting up very shortly. A Course on environmental science, theology and ethics for ordinands studying in the Cambridge Federation of Theological Colleges will be held on Jan 12-14. The first Faraday Research Seminar of the new term will be given on Tuesday 20th Jan by Prof. Ross McKenzie [University of Queensland, Australia] under the title: ‘The concept of emergence in the dialogue between science and theology’.
Our main termly public lecture will be held on Tuesday 27th January at 5.30 p.m. when Prof. Keith Ward will be speaking in the Queen’s Lecture Theatre, Emmanuel College, on the topic ‘God, Science and the New Atheism’. Prof. Ward has been publishing extensively on this topic recently, including Pascal's Fire: Scientific Faith and Religious Understanding (2006), Is Religion Dangerous? (2006), Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins (2008) and The Big Questions in Science and Religion (2008). 

The Course Schedule for 2009 is now also posted on the Faraday web-site ( and on-line bookings have already begun. We would draw your attention particularly to the course for teachers, whether of the sciences, philosophy or religious studies, being held over the week-end 3-5 April 2009. This will give informed input by highly qualified experts on some of the latest thinking in the science-religion area, give information about resources available to teachers, as well as tackle some of the thorny issues arising in the classroom. Teachers may be able to apply for CPD funding from their schools for this course.

Now and again we draw attention to the fact that several staff members continue to publish actively in the area of science, as well as science and religion. The Director’s paper ‘Inhibition of the Bcl-xL Deamidation Pathway in Myeloproliferative Disorders’ was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Christmas Day. The paper describes a novel signalling pathway inside cancer cells that might be amenable to therapeutic intervention (

Denis Alexander Bob White

[Director]  [Associate Director]