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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 14 - February 2007

The next CiS-Faraday termly public lecture will be held on 6th March at 5.30 p.m. in the Howard Building, Downing College. This time the event will take the form of a debate between Sir Brian Heap FRS (Cambridge, formerly Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society) and Dr William Hurlbut (Stanford, advisor on bioethics to the US President). This promises to be a lively and informative debate. Not to be missed if you live anywhere near Cambridge. The event will be chaired by Sir Martin Evans, FRS (Director of the Cardiff School of Biosciences).

This has been a busy month of lecturing on science and faith for several Faraday Staff members in many different contexts. Denis Alexander has made two trips to the USA during the month, lecturing at Swarthmore College, Columbia University, Yale University, Williams College, Wesleyan College and at Harvard University under the auspices of the Veritas Forum. Audiences ranged from a few dozen at the smallest liberal arts college to a few hundred at the larger universities. Students and faculty were pleased to hear presentations highlighting the similarities between the scientific and religious enterprises in place of the rather polarised debate that is unfortunately characteristic of the current American cultural landscape.

Meanwhile in the UK Denis Alexander also spoke at the annual Darwin Festival in Shewsbury on ‘Darwin and Religion’; the Course Director Rodney Holder spoke at Downing College, Cambridge, on ‘God and the Big Bang’; Associate Director Bob White spoke at an evening meeting in Cambridge on ‘Why Care for the Environment’; and Hilary Marlow, working part-time for the Institute as she completes her PhD in theology, spoke at the Divinity Faculty Old Testament Seminar on 'The Call of the Wild: The Voice of Creation in the Book of Amos'. Rodney Holder’s paper entitled 'Can a multiverse theory provide the ultimate explanation?' has just been published in the BEYOND on-line journal and is to be found at http://beyond.asu.edu/papers/holder.pdf. Dr Holder has also just had an interview published entitled 'The Compatibility of God and Science' in the journal Cambridge Medicine (Journal of the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Vol 21, pp 52-53, Feb 2007).

In addition to our research activities we continue to be concerned and involved in the public understanding of science and religion.  This month Denis Alexander has been interviewed by Robert Kuhn for three future programmes on the public service US TV series ‘Closer to the Truth’, was interviewed by the Everest Corp. in Boston for a new DVD/TV series on science and religion, and was interviewed live on the South African (Johannesburg) John Robbie Show on Talk Radio 702.

The past month has also seen two excellent Research Seminars by Prof. Wilson Poon from Edinburgh and by Prof. Barbara Drossel from Darmstadt. Numbers this year (45-65) have so far have been consistently higher than last year and this Faraday Research Seminar series has now become an established feature of the Cambridge University Seminar scene.

The month of March sees the Cambridge Festival of Science, an opportunity for the science community in Cambridge to enthuse the general public about science and its benefits. The Faraday Institute has organised a Panel Discussion on Science and Religion as an official component of the Festival and this will be held on Saturday, 17 March, at 7.00 p.m. in Michaelhouse (a poster will be circulated shortly for this event and the poster pdf will be available at www.faraday-institute.org). The Panel will be chaired by Prof. John Durant, Head of the MIT Museum, Boston, and the Panel itself will comprise the Rev. Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS, Prof. Colin Humphreys, Prof. Bob White FRS, Dr Usama Hasan and Dr Denis Alexander. The event is free and open to all.

We are looking forward to our next Short Course starting on 30th March: ‘Science and Religion in Schools’. The application dead-line is 6th March and there may be one or two places left if you hurry! The Course is open to students training to be teachers as well as those involved in the teaching profession. Full details and on-line application are all available at www.faraday-institute.org.

Best wishes

Denis Alexander                                                           Bob White

          [Director, Faraday Institute]                          [Associate Director]