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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 128 - October 2016

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October 2016 Newsletter No. 128
We are delighted to be in contact again with lots happening this term to tell you about.

We would especially like to highlight our termly, public lecture by Prof. Elaine Ecklund, which takes place on Thursday 17 November at 5.30pm at Downing College as well as our Annual Cambridge Reception for Christian Scientists on Monday 28 November.  For more details see below.


According to Prof. Stephen Hawking, artificial intelligence is "crucial to our future, the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity.  We do not yet know which". So, the topic of our course last month, "Reality, Robots and Religion" is in line with a University-wide theme, which has a launch event on 19 October at the David Attenborough Building of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI).  Beth Singler, Research Associate on the Faraday project "Human identity in an age of nearly-human machines" is currently in New York attending a conference on "The Ethics of AI".
 
Michaelmas Term Seminar Report
The first Faraday seminar of the academic year on Tuesday 11 October was given by Julian Hughes, RICE Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at Bristol University. Speaking on Living Forever: A Worry for Religious Belief?, Prof. Hughes described the various scientific positions on ageing, including the view that it is a curable disease. Far from seeing increased longevity as a threat to religious belief, Hughes dealt instead with the philosophical and practical problems raised by the idea of living forever in human society. The issues discussed include tedium, quality of life, language and sense of self, and - most importantly – in which sort of society would we want to live forever?
Watch out for the recording coming soon on The Faraday website.   
We are delighted to welcome two Visiting Scholars to the Faraday this year.  Both Cesar Navarro (Panama) and Dr Jonathan Moo (Whitworth University, USA) are well known to us and we are delighted that they are pursuing their independent study whilst at the same time joining our Cambridge Faraday community.  There will be more from them both in future issues and Jonathan will be one of our Seminar Speakers next year.
Out and About with Faraday Staff

Earlier this year Director Bob White was elected as a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.  This is a premier professional body in his research area and this honour is awarded to only one in a thousand of the membership.

Dr Denis Alexander spoke at a Workshop for Pastor-Theologians in Chicago 11-12 October. This is a group of US pastors who all did their PhDs in theology in Cambridge and Oxford in the early 2000s and thereby built friendships which have lasted. This led to these annual workshops, now in their tenth year, and this year was on science and faith. Denis will be speaking at the Jubilee Centre Lounge, Cambridge, October 20, on the subject of genetic determinism, and will be giving the annual Dallinger Lecture at the University of Plymouth on November 4 under the title ‘Are we Slaves to Our Genes? A Scientific and Christian Perspective'. On November 10 he will be speaking on ‘Christianity and Science - Friends or Foes?’ at Wilmslow, Cheshire

Dr Hilary Marlow led a study morning on "Greening the Faith" in the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.  Together with Prof. Keith Fox she will be in Chile from 29 October - 3 November for a Faraday Overseas Course "Science and Faith: Contemporary Challenges"  

Dr Ruth Bancewicz has been out on the road a lot in recent weeks: Locally and further afield including Leeds and Worcestershire.  Here is a link to one of Ruth's recent blog posts:  with Advisory Board member, Harvey McMahon's recent Cambridge Paper.  Here is a link to a podcast with our colleague, Research Associate, Dr Caroline Tee.

Faraday's Research Associate Alexander Massmann has started a new blog about ethical questions relating to the possibility of modifying the human genome. Recent, far-reaching advances in genome editing have been widely publicised, but this is often accompanied by calls for a wider public debate. The blog will contribute to this debate by clarifying technical issues and teasing apart the moral dimensions for the non-specialist. Please point your browser to http://www.genethicsblog.wordpress.com. A click at the menu also points you to an option to be kept up-to-date via e-mail.
 
Research Seminar Series

25 October
"How science learns about unobservable entities" 
Professor Hasok Chang (History and Philosophy of Science) Cambridge

8 November
"Scientific and Religious Definitions of a Human: Their impact on Human Rights"
Professor John Evans (Sociology)
University of California, San Diego, USA

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.
Congratulations to Lizzie Coyle who married Hamish Henderson on 1 October. It was a wonderful celebration witnessed by many of the team and it's a good enough reason not to have too much to report on the schools' work since the last issue....Several members of the team as well as Cesar Navarro (Visitor) will be at the LASAR/Faraday Schools conference in Oxford on 28 October.
Many of us from the team will be supporting Beth Singler at the public screening (premiere!) of The Festival of Ideas "Cambridge Shorts" award-winning film "Pain in the Machine" at the Arts cinema on 24 October.
 
Events to look forward to
Saturday 24 November
Expert Panel  "Artificial Intelligence: Its Future and Ours"
A Faraday event as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas

Saturday 12 November
Upcoming Regional Event - Day course in Norwich
Exploring Science and Religion

Thursday 17 November
Our termly public lecture in conjunction with CiS, this Michaelmas term is entitled “Do Scientists Believe in God? Results from an Eight Nation Study”.  It will be delivered at 5.30pm at the Howard Lecture Theatre, Downing College, Cambridge CB" 1DQ. Professor Elaine Ecklund, Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, Rice Univeristy, Texas, is a  long time collaborator of The Faradey.  All welcome, no tickets needed.  Followed by drinks reception.

Monday 28 November
Annual Reception for Christians in the scientific community in Cambridge.
Venue:  URC, Trumpington Street, CB2 1RR
Speaker Prof. Russell Cowburn FRS.  Book online here


Wednesday - Thursday 11-12 Janaury 2017
We will be holding a non-residential two day workshop in Cambridge at St Edmund's College entitled "Science and Religion in the Local Church".  It is aimed at church leaders, lay or ordained and those in training. More details here.

Saturday 26 November 2016
Foundations and Freedom: Serving God in Academia Today, Day Conference in Cambridge organised by the Jubilee Centre.
Dr Ruth Bancewicz of the Faraday Institute will be speaking on "Freedom in the Sciences".