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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 54 - July 2010

A highlight of this month has been the first Faraday Course on Science and Religion to be held in Ireland. Around 50 delegates from all parts of Ireland, plus some from other countries as well, such as Romania and Sweden, enjoyed a crammed 48 hours of talks and discussion on a wide range of subjects. It was especially good to have local speakers from Ireland for the Course, such as a world expert on Galileo, Prof. Ernan McMullin; Dr Donal O’Mathuna, from the City University, Dublin, where the Course was held, who spoke on medical ethics; Prof. Stephen Williams, Professor of Systematic Theology at Union Theological College, Belfast, who spoke on the relation between science, faith and reason; and Prof. David Livingstone, Professor of Geography and Intellectual History at Queen's University, Belfast, who spoke on the ‘forgotten’ 19th century evangelical defenders of Darwinian evolution.

On the first night BBC Radio Ulster recorded a panel discussion with four of the speakers on the panel. Hosted by the lively William Crawley the pre-recorded show was broadcast last Sunday morning and can be listened to by going to BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence.  The discussion raced from one topic to another, in the way that such panel discussions do, but hopefully some useful points were communicated along the way.

Our last Faraday Research Seminar of the term was given by Dr Noah Efron from Tel-Aviv, Israel, who gave a fascinating account of the reasons, in his view, why Jews are so over-represented in the scientific community. His seminar was later written up for an article in the Times Higher by their features editor Matthew Reisz. As usual it is of course possible to listen to the seminar on-line at

This month sees the Faraday Summer Course which has been full now for some time. We will be welcoming back many previous speakers, but also some new speakers as well. Every year we try and introduce new faces into the repertoire of our Faraday Course speakers, and this will certainly be the case as well in 2011 as we plan our Course Programme for next year. Besides the usual Cambridge-based repertoire of Courses, we are also hoping to hold Courses in Kerala, India, as well as New Zealand and Australia.

Those who like to plan well ahead may be interested to know that we are organising ‘The Georges Lemaître Anniversary Conference’ at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, Thursday 7th April – Sunday 10th April, 2011. In collaboration with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Gregorian Pontifical University in Rome, the Conference is being held to mark the 80th anniversary of the publication of Lemaître’s seminal work on the ‘Primeval Atom’ (which we now know as the Big Bang). A veritable galaxy of well-known speakers in the field have agreed to speak at the conference, including four Templeton prize-winners. Full details and registration details will be posted on the Faraday web-site later on this summer.

The Test of Faith project continues to gather pace and gain wide public attention. Two dates have already been booked for the next leg of the Test of Faith UK tour, in Leeds (27th October 2010) and Stratford Upon Avon (6th November 2010). If you would like the tour to visit your area, you can find details on Test of Faith has now had 23,000 hits on its new YouTube videos. You can find them at And a new series of video clips has been added to the Test of Faith website, from molecular biologist and bioethicist Professor John Bryant of Exeter University

The past month saw the Director speaking at the Templeton Journalist Fellows summer programme here in Cambridge and participating in a workshop on theistic evolution held in the Catskill Hills of New York State, USA. The Course Director spoke on ‘God and the Big Bang’ to a University of the Third Age group in Hunstanton, Norfolk.

Book and chapter manuscripts to be completed, grants to be submitted and conferences to be attended, all mean that we will not be bored during the summer months.

Denis Alexander    Bob White

[Director]               [Associate Director]