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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 49 - February 2010

The first Faraday Research Seminar of the term drew 75 people to hear the Revd Dr Patrick Richmond speak on ‘Scientific Explanations of Religious Experience and their Implications for Belief’. As usual the Seminar is posted on our web-site (go to the Archives list in our Seminars folder). For those who prefer print versions, the pith of the seminar under the same title will soon be published in Issue 22-1 (pp 23-42) of the journal Science and Christian Belief (www. scienceandchristianbelief.org).

The Faraday Short Course for Ordinands drew a good group of students from the Cambridge Theological Federation at the beginning of January. The Faraday Institute has a particular interest in equipping church leaders with academically solid education, training and resources in the field of science and religion that will be helpful to them in addressing the questions and concerns raised by their congregations.

As mentioned in the last Newsletter, this year marks the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Society, which held its first formal meeting on 28 November, 1660, at Gresham College in London. It is therefore particularly appropriate that our Faraday Public Lecture this term by Prof. Peter Harrison from Oxford University will be on the topic ‘Religious Influences in the Founding of the Royal Society’ (Thursday 4 February, 5.30 p.m., Queen’s Lecture Theatre, Emmanuel College). This promises to be a fascinating lecture and all in the Cambridge area are invited to attend. As usual the lecture will be followed by refreshments and the opportunity to browse an extensive bookstall.

The next Faraday Research Seminars will be on Feb 9 and 23. On Feb 9 Dr Jonathan Topham from the Dept of Philosophy at Leeds University will be speaking on ‘Biology in the Service of Natural Theology’, highlighting the various ways in which this strategy has been deployed in the history of the natural sciences. On Feb 23 Dr Lydia Jaeger, lecturer and academic dean at the Institut Biblique de Nogent-sur-Marne, will speak on ‘The Religious Roots of the Idea of Scientific Laws’.

There are still some places left for Faraday Short Course no. 17 (March 26-28): ‘Science and Religion in Schools’. This weekend course, for teachers of science, philosophy or religious studies, and for those training to be teachers, will give informed input by highly qualified experts on some of the latest thinking in the science-religion area, provide information about resources available to teachers, and tackle some of the thorny issues arising in the classroom. With half-term looming, this is a good time to make the on-line application.

This month the Director and the Course Director will be speaking at science and religion courses in Bangalore and Delhi, which are being organised locally but carried out in collaboration with The Faraday Institute. Further details, for those receiving these newsletters in India, may be found on our web-site.

Test of Faith is going on tour in the UK this spring. Ten events with a lecture and screening of sections from the Test of Faith documentary will be held at Bible Colleges and Theology departments around the country. Speakers will include Dr Denis Alexander, Dr Ard Louis, Prof. Keith Fox, Prof. John Bryant and Revd Dominic Smart. The tour locations are Aberdeen, Bristol, Durham, Glasgow, London, Manchester, Middlesex, Nottingham, Sheffield, and St Andrews. The tour is aimed primarily for those involved in church leadership at any level, but others who are interested in the subject are also very welcome. Further information can be found at: http://www.testoffaith.com/tour/

As usual, Faraday Staff have been out and about this past month on the lecture circuit. The Director’s eclectic repertoire included a talk to the science society at Bryanston School; to a mens’ dinner club that meets in the George and Dragon Pub near Cambridge; to St. Andrew’s Street Baptist Church, Cambridge; to 150+ students at a CICCU meeting in Cambridge; plus a lecture on the history of science and religion to a group of 40 teachers visiting Cambridge from a secondary school in Stockholm.

The LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) Project team (Berry Billingsley, Keith Taber and Fran Riga) delivered a workshop for science teachers at the annual conference of The Association for Science Education, held at Nottingham University on Jan 8. Despite the snow, the room was filled with a capacity turn-out of teachers keen to know more about ‘Science, God or both: Secondary school pupils’ reasoning about science and religion’. The LASAR project now has a website onto which research findings are being posted as the project develops (www.LASARproject.com).

The Test of Faith project leader, Dr Ruth Bancewicz, has been involved in events for younger people: a student event on ‘Has science killed God?’, two workshops for leaders of youth groups at a recent Youth for Christ Staff Conference, and a trial of the Test of Faith children’s material at a local Cambridge church.

Denis Alexander Bob White
[Director]  [Associate Director]