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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 53 - June 2010

This month we look forward to the first Faraday Course on Science and Religion in Ireland which will be held at the City University, Dublin, June 25-27. The Course is almost full, but a few more delegates could be taken if their registration takes place in the next few days. Similarly the July Summer Course July 11-17 ‘Science and Faith: Past and Present Perspectives’ currently has more delegates registered than any of our previous four Summer Courses, but we could still squeeze a few more in if the registrations happened very soon. Bursary awards have now been decided and those who have applied for bursaries should by now have heard the outcome of their applications or will do so very soon. The past month has seen two excellent seminars in our Faraday Research Seminar series. Prof. Gareth Jones, Professor of Anatomy and Structural Biology from Otago University, New Zealand, addressed the topic ‘Human Enhancement – Threat or Promise?’ and Prof. Michael Murray from Franklin and Marshall College, USA, spoke on ‘Animal Suffering: Theological and Philosophical Perspectives’. This month has also seen the launch of a new book, Biology and Ideology – From Descartes to Dawkins [eds Denis R. Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers, Chicago University Press, May 2010], the fruit of a Faraday Writers’ Workshop. The volume consists of a collection of thirteen essays, mainly by historians of science, showing how biology has been used and abused for political, social and religious goals from 1600 to the present day. The book is on sale at a discounted price from the on-line Faraday Shop [www.faraday-institute.org]. For those in the Cambridge area there will be a local launch of Biology and Ideology – From Descartes to Dawkins on Wednesday 23 June at 6.30 p.m. in Heffer’s Bookshop, Trinity Street. Denis Alexander will give a brief introduction to the volume and one of the authors, Dr Sujit Sivasundaram [London School of Economics], will give a short talk on his essay entitled ‘Race, empire, and biology before Darwinism’. Free drinks will be provided. As usual Faraday staff have been active in the media this month. Bob White appeared on a BBC1 Songs of Praise programme seen by 1.8 million viewers, celebrating science and Christianity during the 350th celebration year of the Royal Society. The paper in Science from Craig Venter’s group announcing the creation of so-called synthetic life (well, not really) aroused considerable media interest, and on 23 May the Director was interviewed by eight different BBC local radio stations on the topic one after the other. Staff have also been active in various speaking engagements. The Director gave four lectures as part of a conference for Canadian church leaders held at Regents College, Vancouver, and took part in a party to celebrate the launch of Biology and Ideology – From Descartes to Dawkins in co-editor Prof. Ron Number’s home in Madison, USA, on the way back to the UK. The Director also spoke at a Christian Union meeting in Oxford on the topic ‘Has science eliminated God?’ Bob White spoke to a packed meeting in Cambridge on ‘Does Science Disprove Christianity?’ The Course Director spoke at a men’s breakfast meeting at the Pheasant, Great Chishill, on ‘God and the Big Bang’. On 12 May Test of Faith Project Leader Dr Ruth Bancewicz gave a seminar entitled ‘Are Science and Christian Faith really in Conflict?’ at the Christian Resources Exhibition in Sandown Park, and on 26 May she showed the Test of Faith documentary at the European Leadership Forum in Eger, Hungary. New resources on the Test of Faith website include interview clips from Dr Alexander and from Calvin College Astronomy Professor Dr Deborah Haarsma: http://www.testoffaith.com/resources/subCategories.aspx?sub=true&id=13 or http://www.youtube.com/thetestoffaith. Denis Alexander Bob White [Director] [Associate Director]