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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 129 - November 2016

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November 2016 Newsletter No. 129
St Edmund's College, Cambridge
11-12 January 2017

This professional workshop is designed for church leaders, lay or ordained, and those in training. Come and explore a wide range of science and faith issues and think about their relevance in the context of the local church. A team of leading speakers will address key scientific areas such as cosmology, evolutionary biology, genetics, ecology and neuroscience. There will be plenty of opportunity for group discussion as well as input on practical and pastoral application and examples of imaginative church resources.

The workshop will run from 9.30am on Wednesday 11 Jan 2017 to 5pm on Thursday 12 Jan 2017 and there will be no evening sessions. The cost of this two day workshop is only £50 which includes tea & coffee breaks, a sandwich lunch on both days and all workshop materials. Places are limited to 50.

Click on a speaker's name to obtain brief biographical details.
Revd Prof Alasdair Coles: Pastoral issues in neurological and psychiatric illness
Prof. Keith Fox: Genetics and faith
Revd Dr Dave Gregory: Science and religion with children and young people.
Lizzie Henderson: Science and faith for children and young people
Revd Dr Rodney Holder: Is the universe designed? Cosmology and faith
Revd Dr Victoria Johnson: Science and mission in local congregations
Rt Revd Dr David Thomson (Bishop of Huntingdon): Building Better Bridges – science and faith working together historically, naturally and locally.
Dr Ruth Valerio: Why care for creation?
Prof. John Wyatt: Ethical issues at the start and end of life.

For more information, timings and to book please go to our course registration page.
Deadline for applications 12 December 2016
Public Lecture: Do Scientists Believe in God? Results from an Eight-Nation Study

5.30 pm Thursday November 17, 2016

Howard Lecture Theatre, Downing College CB2 1DQ
Scientists have long been associated with religion’s decline around the world. But little data permit analysis of the religiosity of scientists or their perceptions of the science-faith interface. Prof. Elaine Howard Ecklund presents the first ever survey and in-depth interview data from biologists and physicists in eight regions around the world—France, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Course Director: Part-Time
Do you or do you know someone with a strong academic record, good knowledge of the science and religion field, organisational and personal skills?

An exciting opportunity has arisen to join the Faraday Institute as Course Director. This position has responsibility for the planning, organisation and execution of the Faraday Course Programme, in the UK and World-wide.

For more information please go to
Guest Blog: Joseph Tennant

Project Update: Mystical Seizures and Salience in Temperal Lobe Epilepsy

This week, in collaboration with Dr Sofia Eriksson and Dr Joanna Collicutt, Prof. Alasdair Coles and I begin data collection on what promises to be an informative study on mysticism and epilepsy. As we see in historical cases, there are rare cases in epilepsy in which patients experience intense bliss, senses of revelation, or the sensation of the presence of a higher power during seizure. While there are interesting case studies reporting various brain areas that might be involved in these experiences, our study will seek to identify more precisely neurological sites that are related to these experiences as well as the physiological effects such seizures have on patients. The project team is very excited to begin formal data collection and to begin our investigation, and hope to report detailed findings to Faraday readers in the coming year.
Upcoming Courses and Workshops

12 January
Day Course (Cambridge)
Exploring Science and Religion
Research Seminar Series
Our Autumn Research Seminar series  has been a successful start to the academic year, with only more left in this term....

22 November
"Is Happiness in our Genes?"
Dr Michael Pluess, (Biological and Experimental Psychology) Queen Mary University of London
The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion Research Seminars are held at 1.00 p.m. on alternate Tuesdays during term in St Edmund’s College. A free light buffet lunch and drinks are served from 12.30 p.m. onwards. All are welcome.

Can't make our events in person, don't worry all of our seminars  talks, lectures and events are available on the Multimedia part of our website. We have over 600 talks for you to watch or listen to at your convenience.
Short Film: Pain in the Machine

The short documentary "Pain in the Machine"  as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas and Cambridge Shorts Festival (covering some of our research from our project looking at AI  and Being Human) was released on YouTube on 31st of October and as of 10th November has had 6,337 views. There were only 4 films commissioned by the University of Cambridge to enhance interdisciplinary interactions within the university. It's very interesting, why not
watch and feedback by filling out the survey?

New blog about genetic modification in humans

Faraday Research Associate, Alexander Massmann, has started an online blog about ethical questions relating to the modification of the human genome. Recent, far-reaching advances in genome editing have been widely publicised, notably in scientific journals, but this is often accompanied by calls for a wider public debate. The blog wishes to contribute to this debate by clarifying technical issues and teasing apart the moral dimensions for the non-specialist. Go to If you go to the menu there is an option to be kept up-to-date via e-mail.
Faraday 'out and about' in November and December

19 Nov Ruth Bancewicz will be speaking on "Freedom in the sciences: shaping the agenda" at the Forming a Christian Mind Conference 2016 held at Christ Church,Cambridge.
22 Nov Beth Singler will be attending the Rustat Conference on the Future of Work.
 7 Dec Keith Fox will be delivering the Christmas Lecture "Genomics: the moral maze" at the Southampton Science Park.
13 Dec Andrew Jackson will be giving at talk titled "Does God Exist?" at the December Parks at One meeting (Trinity Centre, Cambridge Science Park)
12-14 Dec Beth Singler will be attending the CSER Conference on Catastrophic Risk: Managing Emerging Risks – Where Next? at Clare College, Cambridge.
14 Dec. Keith Fox will be at God and Big Bang day at Bishop Luffa School, Chichester.
October and November Update

10-12 Oct Denis Alexander was a speaker at the 10th annual workshop of ‘Pastor-Theologians’ held in Chicago. This is a group of friends who all did their PhDs in theology around the same at Cambridge (mainly) or Oxford (some). They are now all pastors of different  denominational churches scattered round the USA but continue to keep in touch and meet every year to tackle an issue of current theological and pastoral interest. This year the topic was science and faith.

22 Oct We were delighted to have a packed lecture theatre of over 130 for our panel discussion "Artificial Intelligence: Its future and ours" at this years' Cambridge Festival of Ideas. It was an animated evening with an expert panel comprising John Wyatt, the Faraday Institute; Abigail Sellen, Microsoft Research Cambridge; Adrian Weller, machine learning researcher; Margaret Boden, cognitive scientist; and Jaan Tallinn, founding engineer of Skype and co-founder of the Future of Life Institute. This led into plenty of discussion and questions from the floor.

28 Oct Several Faraday staff took part in the Science in Education Conference held in Oxford. It was a conference exploring links between education, science and religion, organised by the LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) project with support by the Universities of Canterbury Christ Church, Reading and Oxford.

Chile Course

4 Nov Denis Alexander gave the annual Dallinger Lecture at Plymouth University to an audience of around 100 entitled ‘Are We Slaves to Our Genes? – a Scientific and Christian Perspective’. The Revd Dr William Dallinger FRS [1839-1909] was a Methodist Minister from the Plymouth area who carried out his research on the lifecycle of unicellular organisms under the microscope in parallel with his pastoral duties. Dallinger was one of the first to carry out a controlled evolution experiment to test ‘Mr Darwin’s new theory’ (the results, recorded Dallinger, supported the theory of evolution by natural selection).

10-12 Nov Caroline Tee attended the Ninth Biennial Conference on the Qur’an at SOAS in London. A conference series seeking to provide a forum for investigating the basic question: how is the Qur’anic text read and interpreted? The objective is to encompass a global vision of current research trends, and to stimulate discussion, debate, and research on all aspects of the Qur'anic text and its interpretation and translation.
Faraday Course in Chile
Ciencia y Fe: Desafíos Contemporáneos (Science and Faith: Contemporary Challenges)
At the beginning of November, Keith Fox and Hilary Marlow travelled to Santiago to speak at this course organised by local Christians. Over 50 students, researchers and young professionals gathered to listen to lectures from Latin American scholars as well as the Faraday ones, and engaged in lively and stimulating debate on a range of topics, including bioethics, the Bible and science, and creation care.
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