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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 64 - May 2011

With the new term the Faraday Research Seminar series starts up once again with our first speaker of the term being Prof. Nidhal Guessoum [Professor of Physics at the American University of Sharjah] on the topic ‘Science and Religion in Islam Today – a Critical Survey’ to be held on Tuesday 3rd May in the Garden Seminar Room at St. Edmund’s College at 1.00 p.m. preceded by a light buffet at 12.30 p.m. The following seminar will be on 17th May by Prof. Michael McNamee [Swansea University] on the topic ‘Human Enhancement and Human Nature – the Limits of a Human Life’.

The past month saw the highly successful Georges Lemaître Anniversary Conference held at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. The conference began with a sparkling after-dinner address by the new Templeton laureate Lord Martin Rees FRS. This was followed on succeeding days by a series of lectures on the historical development of the Big Bang as pioneered by Lemaître, the legacy of Lemaître’s work for modern cosmology, and closing with philosophical and theological perspectives. In addition to Lord Rees a further four Templeton prize-winners spoke at the conference. The conference proceedings are now in preparation for publication and the filmed talks will be posted on-line on the Faraday web-site over the next few weeks. 

The North American Tour of The Faraday Institute sponsored play ‘Let Newton Be!’ has also just finished and a full report will be posted shortly on the Faraday web site. The play was shown in diverse venues and locations across the region and was extremely well received. Post show discussions were held to engage the audience in the questions raised by the play. The production in New York was held at the New York University Gallatin School, hosted by Professor Myles Jackson, who also moderated the post-show discussion. This performance was attended by a large group of staff from the John Templeton Foundation, which has been generous in its financial support for the play, including the President of the Foundation, Dr Jack Templeton.

At Notre Dame University in Indiana, the play was performed in the highly impressive 19th century building Washington Hall, where amongst other things there resides the Notre Dame ghost, called the Gipper (an American Football player once played by Ronald Reagan during his acting career). The show there was hosted by the History of Science Society, under Prof. Jay Malone. Afterwards, there was a discussion moderated by Professor Katherine Brading, featuring Prof. Rob Illiffe of the Newton Project and Prof. Zvi Biener from the University of Western Michigan. In San Diego the biggest crowd for a performance (250) was on hand for a performance at the Point Loma Nazarene University, welcomed by the Provost.

The finale of the tour took place in Boston with two performances at the Boston University School of Theater co-sponsored by Harvard University Department of History of Science (Professor Janet Browne), and Boston University Center for the Philosophy and History of Science (Professor Alisa Bokulich). Space does not allow mention of all the performances here – see the full report for details. In the interim the play has been filmed professionally and a DVD is in production. The DVD will be sold together with a new guide book on Newton, his life, scientific achievements and the questions raised for science and religion discourse by his voluminous writings.

The Faraday Course in Belfast is open for registration on the Faraday website: This exciting course includes talks by the eminent neuropathologist Professor Dame Ingrid Allen, broadcaster Dr William Crawley and historian of science Professor David Livingstone OBE FBA among others. It will also include a discussion in memory of the late Professor Ernan McMullin.

Those wishing to attend the Faraday Summer Course should note that the Course is rapidly filling up. As usual we have a distinguished array of speakers covering a wide variety of topics from physics to personhood. For details and booking please go to our website at

The latest addition to the Test of Faith website is an article by Prof. Ted Davis titled ‘Christianity and Science in Historical Perspective’

Tickets are now on sale for a forthcoming Test of Faith event in London with neurologist Revd Dr Alasdair Coles at the Pentecost Festival on Wed 8th June

This past month Ruth Bancewicz spent a week visiting two high schools in the far north of Scotland as part of the Test of Faith tour, and more recently spent a morning at a local school in Cambridge giving lessons on science and religion to GCSE Philosophy and Ethics pupils. The Course Director spoke to a meeting organised by Christians in Science and the Chaplaincy at the University of Plymouth on ‘Modern Cosmology, Stephen Hawking, and God’ and at the Lemaître Conference on ‘Lemaître and Hoyle: Contrasting Characters in Science and Religion’.

Denis Alexander Bob White
[Director]      [Associate Director]