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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 11 - November 2006

This month has seen the completion of our final Short Course for this year, this time entitled 'Science and Religion for Church Leaders', which attracted delegates from a wide spectrum of Churches both in the UK and beyond. As usual the Course was given by a multi-disciplinary group of international speakers, ranging from Bill Newsome, Professor of Neuroscience at Stanford University, to Dr Graeme Finlay from the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, New Zealand, to one of our regular speakers from Cambridge, the Revd Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS. Prof. Newsome described the way in which some of the neuronal cell recording experiments performed in his own laboratory had on one occasion taken him straight to basic questions concerning free will and determinism. Dr Gordon Wenham gave a fascinating account to the delegates about the cultural and religious context in which the Genesis creation accounts were composed. This was a popular and successful Course, and we are planning to hold an equivalent Course for Church Leaders in a year's time (6-8 November, 2007).

The Faraday Course Programme for 2007 has recently been completed, and registration is now open on the Faraday web-site for all Courses. There will be six Courses in all during the year, five Short Courses and one 2-week Summer Course. The January Course entitled 'Introduction to Science and Religion' has already been fully booked now for some time and, to avoid disappointment, we would therefore strongly recommend early booking for those who wish to attend other Courses during the year. This might be particularly relevant for the September Course entitled 'God and Biology' when the team of speakers includes Dr Francis Collins (Director of the Human Genome Institute, NIH, Washington); Prof. Michael Ruse (philosopher and prolific author on Darwinism); Prof. Ronald Numbers (Historian of Science, Editor of the Cambridge History of Science series and expert on the history of creationism and ID in the USA); Prof. Jeff Schloss (expert on evolution and altruism); and Dr Ernest Lucas (theologian who has written extensively on the interpretation of Genesis within its cultural and historical context).

We will be printing a Faraday Course 2007 poster (A3 size) during December for wide distribution. If you would like one or more copies to be sent to you for notice-boards in your vicinity, then please e-mail Bekki Pearce at rjp70@cam.ac.uk providing your mailing address and stating how many copies you would like. Faraday Associates and Advisory Board members will receive copies automatically, but if you want more than one copy, please let Bekki know.

With the end of the Cambridge Term this week (yes, Cambridge Terms are very short!), we come to the end of an excellent Faraday Research Seminar series. Prof. Martin Rudwick, whose 840-page book on the history of geology published by the University of Chicago Press last year is now the definitive work on the subject, gave a fascinating overview of the way in which the early geologists operated within a theistic worldview. The first two Professors of Geology at Oxford and Cambridge were both clerics, and Prof Rudwick cited material that thoroughly undermines the older literature in the history of science that suggests a conflict between geology and religious belief in early 19th century Britain. The final Research Seminar of the term was given by Dr Sujit Sivasundaram from the Dept of History here in Cambridge, who spoke on the way in which the early founders of Serampore College near Calcutta established a kind of oriental science which valued both Indian and European scientific traditions.

As usual all of the Seminars and Course Lectures are available on line at www.faraday-institute.org (go to the Multimedia Folder). We have just received our first report on the activity on the Faraday web-pages and were quite surprised, but of course pleased, to discover that, not even counting on-line video-streaming, the Faraday web-pages represent 75% of all the College web-pages accessed so far this year

Best wishes

Denis Alexander [Director, Faraday Institute]   

Bob White [Associate Director]