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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 40 - May 2009

Those who still wish to attend the Panel Discussion on ‘God and Darwin’ at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday May 12th at 6.30 p.m. should move fast as it appears that the 800 available tickets have nearly run out. Details on how to obtain free tickets can be found on the Faraday web-site at The Panel will be chaired by the BBC Today Programme presenter Sarah Montague and the panellists are Lord Robert Winston, Professor Steve Jones, Dr Denis Alexander, and Professor Nancy Rothwell FRS.

This month the Faraday Institute is organizing a London Faraday Lecture series as part of the London Pentecost Festival. The lectures will be held at the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity with the following schedule, all lectures starting at 7.30 p.m.:

Tuesday May 26th: Prof. Colin Humphreys [Professor of Materials Science, Cambridge University]
Title: ‘Can a Scientist Believe in Miracles Today?’

Wednesday May 27th Revd Dr David Wilkinson [Principal of St. John’s College, Durham University].
 Title: ‘God and the Big Bang’

Thursday May 28th Dr Denis Alexander [Director, The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion]
Title: ‘Creation or Evolution – Do We Have to Choose?’

Tickets cost £5/lecture and may be ordered by clicking on: A poster and further details are also available in the News section of the Faraday home-page. 

A significant event during the past month has been the Darwin Anniversary Conference organized by The Faraday Institute and held in Istanbul. As one of our Turkish speakers remarked: “It was the first time for evolutionary discussions in Turkey that both vulgar positivism and religious fundamentalism were excluded”.  The main two-day Symposium was attended by 50 faculty biologists from universities all over Turkey, 10 PhD students and 10 observers in the field of education, and drew an international platform of speakers, including Prof. Francisco Ayala (University of California at Irvine), Prof. Aykut Kence (Middle East Technical University, Ankara), Prof. Nidhal Guessoum (American University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates), Prof. David Lordkipanidze (Director General of the Georgian National Museum), Prof. Vidyanand Nanjundiah (Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore) and Prof. Simon Conway Morris FRS (Cambridge University). Whereas the main focus of the conference was evolutionary biology, time was also given to the challenge of teaching modern biology today in Turkey and beyond. Details in English and Turkish may be seen at Talks and summaries will be posted at this site as they become available.

On the final night of the Symposium a Public Event was held attended by 430 people, mainly students from different Istanbul universities. The programme included a number of short talks about Darwin and evolution, the first performance of Re:Design in Turkey (the dramatisation of the Darwin-Gray correspondence performed by the Menagerie Theatre Company), and a televised Panel Discussion on ‘The Hard Questions’ in which the audience posed questions about Darwin and evolution to a panel of experts. The event drew extensive media coverage with clips on the Turkish evening news and 17 journalists in attendance  resulting in full-page articles and interviews in publications such as Turkish Newsweek. Some links to web-based coverage are given in the Appendix below for those who speak Turkish.

Nearer to ‘home’ the Faraday Lecture this term was given by Prof. Ken Miller to a full lecture theatre on the topic ‘God, Darwin and Design’. The MP3 of this lecture is already posted in the Multimedia Folder of the Faraday web-site at: Just type in Miller into the search engine if you can’t find the talk. Prof. Miller’s talk attracted press coverage and radio interviews, including the Today programme. Some of the relevant web-links are given in the Appendix.

We are still not finished with Darwin, and the first Faraday Research Seminar of this new term will be given by Prof. Jim Secord (History and Philosophy Dept, Cambridge University) on ‘The Secret History of Victorian Evolution’ on Tuesday May 12th at 1.00 p.m. in the Garden Seminar Room of St Edmund’s College. As usual the Seminar will be preceded by a free buffet lunch at 12.30 p.m.

Those exhausted by Darwin may be interested to know that The Faraday Institute is sponsoring a new dramatisation of the life and writings of Isaac Newton to be written and produced by The Menagerie Theatre Company, the same team who wrote and produced the excellent ‘Re:Design’ dramatisation. The Newton production will be launched in Cambridge in October this year as part of the 800th Birthday Celebrations to mark the founding of the University.

On 3rd July a new series of materials from the Faraday Institute will be published by Paternoster Press. These resources, entitled ‘Test of Faith’, are designed primarily for churches and other groups of people who are interested in discussing science and faith in an informal setting. The ‘Test of Faith’ three-part documentary is the centrepiece of the pack, and is being translated into Chinese (simple characters), Farsi, Arabic, Turkish, French, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese. Details of this project are on

The ‘Test of Faith’ documentary is being previewed in two places in the lead-up to the launch in July: a free public event in London at the Pentecost Festival on Saturday 30th May, and an invitation-only preview at Cambridge on Monday 1st June. If you would like to attend the Cambridge preview please contact James Crocker at Details of the London event are on

As usual the Faraday Staff have had a busy month out and about speaking in various places. The Director spoke on ‘Darwin, Ideology and God’ at a lecture for the Edinburgh Science Festival (attended, amongst others, by Prof. Richard Dawkins) and gave the same seminar on creation and evolution three times spread over a two-week period to a total of around 750 people at the annual Spring Harvest Christian Festival at Skegness. Associate Director Bob White kicked off a 5-week course for the Bedford Ecumenical Lay Institute for Education and Faith which comprises 5 weekly lectures by different Faraday Institute staff members on a wide range of topics in science and religion. There are still 3 to go if you would like to attend ( The Associate Director also spoke to a full meeting in Heacham, Norfolk, on a Christian response to global climate change.

 Denis Alexander Bob White

 [Director]  [Associate Director]


Web-links to coverage of the Istanbul Darwin Anniversary Conference: <> <>

Web-links to media coverage of the Ken Miller Faraday Lecture:

Ken Miller Lecture Podcast:

BBC Radio Cambs interview:
(at 1.46)

Today Programme interview:

Premier Christian Radio interview:

plus a related link: