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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 70 - November 2011

Paragraph Contents
1.  Bangalore Course October 2011
2.  Kerala Course October 2011
3.  Test of Faith US Tour
4.  US Tour Links
5.  Faraday Seminars
6.  Festival of Ideas Panel Discussion
7.  Madrid Conference November 2011
8.  Faraday Schools activities (LASAR project)
9.  Faraday Courses in 2012

1. The past month has seen a number of Faraday events taking place in both East and West. The Director and Course Director lectured on science and religion in two very different contexts in India. Along with Professor Ross McKenzie, Professor of Physics at the University of Queensland, Australia, they delivered a course module of 12 lectures on ‘Science, Religion and Apologetics’ to Masters degree students at the South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies (SAIACS), Bangalore. They then lectured at a day seminar entitled ‘When Science Knocks on Heaven’s Doors’ for members of the Indian Institutes of Science and the general public.

2. This was followed by a Faraday Course in Cochin, Kerala, hosted by the Higher Education Commission of the Mar Thoma Church at which two lectures were also delivered by Professor Babu Joseph, former Professor of Physics and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cochin. The venue was the idyllic location of the Shanthigiri Ashram, Aluva, Cochin. The team was greeted by the Metropolitan and Suffragan Metropolitan of the Mar Thoma Church, and was also treated to a cultural evening of traditional Kathakali dance. The course was organized in Kerala by Prof. George Varghese, assisted by Prof. Roys P. David, both alumni of Faraday courses in Cambridge.

3. Meanwhile Ruth Bancewicz was touring the USA in order to present at a series of meetings to promote the Test of Faith materials, with a total of 8 public events and 21 other meetings in 23 days. Each public event involved showing an episode of the Test of Faith documentary followed by a panel discussion and presentation of the Test of Faith resources. At MIT (Boston) it was standing room only as 190 graduate students and others from the area packed in to participate in discussion with three MIT professors. At Point Loma University a very diverse crowd from the university and local community including university students, pastors, and high school pupils, engaged actively in debate. 28 panellists took part in the tour events, including professors, pastors and clinical psychologists.

4. There were also some timely opportunities during the tour for Dr Bancewicz to present at other meetings across the US, including the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion workshop on Science in Seminary Education (http://www.aaas.org/spp/dser/index.shtml), a church participating in the ‘Scientists in Congregations’ program (http://www.scientistsincongregations.org/) and Calvin College & Seminary’s ‘Ministry Theorem’ project, which is part of the John Templeton Foundation Science for Ministry Initiative (http://www.templeton.org/templeton_report/20091007/). Also during this month, Dr Bancewicz’s blog, http://scienceandbelief.wordpress.com was a finalist in the UK Christian New Media Awards (http://www.christiannewmedia.com/awards_finalists.php).

5. Meanwhile back in Cambridge the Faraday Research Seminar programme has got off to a flying start. The next seminar will be given by Dr David Lahti [City University of New York] on Tuesday, 15th November at 1.00 p.m. on ‘The Evolution of Morality’. This will be followed on Tuesday 29th November by a seminar from the Revd Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS on ‘A Destiny Beyond Death?’

6. The panel discussion under the title ‘Science and Religion – Friends or Foes?’ that took place as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas last month saw a packed lecture theatre with 170 in attendance to fire questions at the distinguished panel members. There are always far more questions on such occasions than can possibly be fitted into the allotted time, but a broad-ranging discussion was generated.

7. This month sees an important science and religion conference being held in Madrid 10th-11th November under the title ‘Science and Religion in the XXI Century: Dialogue or Confrontation?’, being a collaboration between The Faraday Institute and the Fundación Ramón Areces. Under the direction of the local organizer Prof. Emilio Chuvieco, the Conference will have several overseas speakers familiar to those who attend Faraday events in Cambridge [Francisco Ayala, John Hedley Brooke, Jennifer Wiseman, John Wyatt and Denis Alexander] as well as a wide range of distinguished speakers from Spain. Further details may be found on the Faraday home-page [www.faraday-institute.org].

8. The Faraday Schools.com website produced by the LASAR team continues to grow. The team is currently adding resources for teachers, quizzes and games. The website address is www.faradayschools.com. Planning is underway for the final year of the LASAR interview-study. After Christmas, the team will be working with eight research schools to explore how pupils' thinking about the relationships between science and religion has developed during the period of the project. In the past few weeks the LASAR team has presented papers describing findings at two international conferences for education.

9. The Faraday Course schedules for 2012 are in process of being finalised. Details of the Ordinands' course, taking place 11-13 January, are already posted (at www.faraday-institute.org), and the details of other courses will be posted shortly. Cambridge courses in 2012 include ‘Science, Religion and Atheism’ (30 March – 1 April), ‘God and Genetics’ (14-16 September), and the Summer Course ‘Science and Religion – the View Both Ways’ (8-14 July) – courses not to be missed!


Denis Alexander Bob White
[Director]  [Associate Director]