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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 9 - September 2006

Even though most receiving this will not have been able to attend the Faraday Short Course on 'Science, Faith and Society' held last week-end in Cambridge, you can already listen to nearly all the talks in an audio version at Multimedia.php (click on the 'Contemporary Challenges' head-line) and the video version will be coming soon. We were treated to an excellent array of lectures that spanned a wide range of practical ethical issues that relate to the science/religion debate, as well as the way these issues are addressed by the UK political process. The Rt Hon John Gummer MP gave us a very good insight into the way that the Parliamentary system works in practice, and recounted his own campaign to get global warming on to the political agenda, a campaign that has continued unabated since the 1980's. Another of our speakers, Sir John Houghton, has been heavily involved in both  the science and politics of global warming, and gave a fascinating overview of this key contemporary issue. Space does not permit here to summarise all the speakers, but listening to the talks on-line is certainly not to be missed. As usual we were pleased to welcome a very international range of delegates from countries that included Russia, Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, Ghana and South Africa.

We still have a few places left on our forthcoming Short Course entitled 'Science and Religion for Church Leaders' which, we should emphasise, include those training for ministry. As usual we offer 50% discounts for students so this is really good value. The Course will be held 7-9th November at Wolfson College, Cambridge. Speakers include: Revd. Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS (The Universe in a Trinitarian Perspective, and Is Destiny After Death Credible?); Dr Gordon Wenham (Interpreting Genesis); Revd Margot Hodson  (Environment); Dr Graeme Finlay  (Genetics & the Image of God, Creation and Evolution); Professor Bill Newsome (Faith in an Age of Science: the Challenge of the Neurosciences); and Professor Colin Humphreys FIM FinstP (Astronomy and the Date of the Crucifixion). Registration as usual is at

The panel on science and religion at the British Association meeting at Norwich went well with more than 100 in attendance and a continuous flow of questions and discussion from the floor. Three members of the panel - John Durant (Chair), Bob White and Denis Alexander, were interviewed for the BA Festival webcast programme earlier the same day and this can be viewed by going to,com_wrapper/Itemid,72/ and then clicking on the 11.30 a.m. 'Controversies' slot. Those living in the Cambridge area with their 2007 diaries already in hand may like to note that a similar type of panel will be held as part of the Cambridge Science Festival Week activities on Saturday 17th March at 7.00 p.m. in Michaelhouse.

Bob White finished the month giving a talk on 'Can a Scientist be a Christian?' to a packed audience in Tokyo, with simultaneous translation into Japanese.  The answer, in case you wondered, is an unequivocal 'yes'.

Those in the London area may be interested to know that our Course Director, Rodney Holder, will be on a panel to mark the launch of a new book by Professor Paul Davies called The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life? This takes place at Imperial College from 6.00 pm to 7.45 pm on Thursday 12th October and details are to be found on the Royal Institution and Imperial College websites.

With the new Cambridge term starting, our full term programme of Seminars and Lectures is well under way. This coming month Roger Trigg, Professor of Philosophy from Warwick University, will be giving a Faraday Research Seminar on Tuesday, 17th October at 1.00 p.m. in St. Edmund's College on 'Science and Religion in the Public Domain' (a theme that dovetails nicely with our recent Course), and then on 31 October Dr Roger Barker (Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair and Department of Neurology, Cambridge University) will be speaking on 'Ethical and Theological Factors in the use of Stem Cells for Brain Repair', again a topic of great contemporary public concern and interest.

Our main public lecture this term will be given by Dr Graeme Finlay (Auckland University, New Zealand) on "Human Genetics and the Image of God" at 5.30 p.m. Tuesday, November 7th 2006 in the Queen's Lecture Theatre, Emmanuel College. Dr Finlay has research interests in both the field of DNA repair and cancer research, as well as comparative primate genomics.

Best wishes

Denis Alexander     [Director, Faraday Institute]    

Bob White [Associate Director]