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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 67 - August 2011

A highlight of this past month has been the Faraday Summer Course at which delegates from 16 different countries heard an excellent set of lectures, ranging over a wide variety of topics in the science-religion dialogue, from world class speakers. We were delighted to welcome speakers new to the Faraday, including Dr Marc Cortez (Theology, Western Seminary, Portland, OR), Prof. Ian Hutchinson (Physics, MIT), Dr David Lahti (Biology, Queen’s College, City University of New York), Prof. Tim O’Connor (Philosophy, Indiana University), and Prof. Ted Peters (Theology, Pacific Lutheran Seminary and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA), as well as many who have previously spoken here: Prof. Katherine Blundell, Revd Dave Bookless, Dr Allan Chapman, Prof. Peter Clarke, Revd Dr Alasdair Coles, Prof. Keith Fox, Prof. Nidhal Guessoum, Revd Dr Ernest Lucas, Prof. Michael Murray, Prof. Jeff Schloss, and Prof. John Wyatt. It was also good to see a number of Faraday course alumni joining our new delegates for this rich intellectual and cultural experience.

Today two new grants awarded to The Faraday Institute from the Templeton World Charity Foundation have come into action and a number of new projects and personnel are involved in these new initiatives as will become clearer in subsequent Newsletters. One of the grants is to fund a sub-grants programme that will in turn fund grants on the topic ‘The Uses and Abuses of Biology’. Further details about this programme will be publicised on our web-site during the coming month. Eleanor Whiteway, who starts work today, is our new Grants Coordinator for this programme. Also starting work today is our new External Communications Officer, Ben White, who will be taking over from Douglas Leckie when he leaves at the end of September, and our new Faraday Development Officer, Jimmy James, who will be helping us to broaden our funding base over the next few years.

A big Faraday event is coming up in September with our Sustainability in Crisis conference (www.sustainability-in-crisis.org) which remains open for registration. The conference will consider the problems of the interlocking crises in climate change, environmental issues and resource shortages, and in particular the role of faiths in promoting action. Prominent speakers from across various disciplines and religions include Bill McKibben of 350.org, leading Islamic environmentalist Fazlun Khalid, professor of energy policy Paul Ekins, economist Ann Pettifor who spearheaded the Jubilee 2000 campaign and Tearfund’s Elaine Storkey.

At 5.30pm on Wednesday September 28, Bill McKibben will give a public lecture on ‘Faith in a Sustainable Future’ at the Kaetsu Centre, Murray Edwards College. All are welcome to the lecture, whether or not they have been at the conference preceding it.

The Test of Faith tour is making its way to the USA in October, with a series of events from coast to coast. Locations include Chicago, Madison, Washington, Fairfax, Boston, Minneapolis, San Diego and Los Angeles. Posters, fliers, and more details when available at http://www.testoffaith.com/tour

The LASAR [Learning About Science and Religion] team report the publication of a paper submitted to Science Education. The paper reports on a preliminary interview study with twelve pupils in four secondary schools. The details are:

Taber, K. S., Billingsley, B., Riga, F., & Newdick, H. (2011). Secondary students’ responses to perceptions of the relationship between science and religion: stances identified from an interview study Science Education, 1-26. doi: 10.1002/sce.20459

In the paper, the authors report that they interviewed twelve Year 9 (13-14 year old) pupils from four different English Secondary schools. They asked them about a range of topics including how they understood scientific and religious perspectives on the origins of the universe and life on earth, miracles, and prayer, as well as their thoughts about these topics. They found a spectrum of ‘stances’ held by pupils, which superficially reflected some of the typologies that scholars have proposed when examining the relationship between science and religion. However, they also found that pupils of this age generally considered the relationship in somewhat simplistic terms, raising questions about how this important issue should be addressed in the school curriculum.

The new version of the FaradaySchools website will be launched in the last week of August in time for the September term. It has been designed for teachers, students and also anyone who is looking for an engaging and accessible way to explore the ‘Big Questions’ from scientific and religious perspectives. The site address is www.FaradaySchools.com.

Among other Faraday staff activities during July, the Course Director spoke to a large crowd on ‘Big Bang, Cosmology and the Finely Tuned Universe’ at the New Wine festival in Wiltshire.  Two other Faraday staff members also spoke at New Wine.

This month the Director will be leaving for Australasia where he will be speaking at a number of different venues listed below, some together with the Associate Director, and further contact details for the main conferences and meetings are posted on the Faraday home-page for those who might be in those vicinities and interested in coming along.


Denis Alexander Bob White

 [Director]  [Associate Director]

 

 Meetings Schedule

2nd, 13th & 18th August
Ruth Bancewicz speaking at Soul Survivor, Stafford/Somerset

26th-28th August 
ISCAST Conference, Launceston, Tasmania

26th-29th August
Ruth Bancewicz speaking at Greenbelt, Cheltenham,

29th-31th August
Science and Faith Conference, Graeme Clarke Institute, Adelaide, Australia

29th August 7pm
Bob White giving Emmanuel College Centenary Lecture on ‘Why care for the environment? The Challenge of Global Climate Change’ at Emmanuel College, Univ of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

1st-3rd September
Conference at Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand on ‘The New Atheism’

4th-5th September
Meetings in Auckland, New Zealand c/o Graeme Finlay [g.finlay@auckland.ac.nz]