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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 80 - September 2012

Contents
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1 Faraday staff changes
2 Uses and Abuses of Biology Sub-Grants Programme
3 Faraday research
4 Denis Alexander's 2012 Gifford Lectures
5 Staff activities Bob White
6 Staff Activities Rodney Holder
7 Staff activities Diana Beech
8 Test of Faith news
9 LASAR event
10 LASAR news
11 Staff activities Ruth Bancewicz

1. September sees some significant changes in the leadership of The Faraday Institute as mentioned in a previous Newsletter. On 1st October Denis Alexander will be stepping down as Director and his position will be taken by Prof. Bob White FRS. At the same time Meric Srokosz, professor of oceanography at Southampton University, will be taking over as Associate Director. Dr Alexander will continue on the staff of The Faraday Institute at 60% of full-time, mainly in his role as supervisor of the Uses and Abuses of Biology Sub-Grants Programme. In addition our Course Director, Dr Rodney Holder, has decided to retire in January 2013, and this forthcoming vacancy is therefore currently being advertised on the Faraday web-site [www.faraday-institute.org].

2. The Uses and Abuses of Biology Sub-Grants Programme has now awarded 17 grants and the details of the projects awarded may be found at: www.uabgrants.org. There is also an Essay Competition associated with this Programme and the topic for the essay is: 'Explore the ways in which contemporary genetics both challenges and underpins notions of human freedom, value and identity', with a dead-line for submissions of 30th September 2012. An international Panel of Judges will select the competition winners. Up to three prizes for first, second and third place, worth £1000, £500, and £250 respectively, will be awarded by 25th December 2012. Further details may be found at www.uabgrants.org.

3. This time of year when Faraday public activities are at a somewhat lower level than during term time provides an opportunity to highlight some of the on-going research projects being undertaken by Faraday staff members. An overview of current Faraday research is available at www.faraday-institute.org [in the Activities pull-down list].

4. Denis Alexander is currently carrying out research, ably assisted by Nell Whiteway, for his Gifford Lectures to be given at St. Andrew’s University on the theme ‘Genes, Determinism and God’ on 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th of December, 2012. The lectures will address the way in which the essentialist language of ‘genes’ and ‘environment, or ’nature’ and ‘nurture’, needs to be replaced by models of human development that do greater justice to contemporary biological insights, arguing that, as a matter of fact, these newer insights into the construction of human personhood are more consonant with the notion of humankind made in the image of God than previous biological understandings of the human.

5. Bob White is currently working with Jonathan Moo finalising a book for IVP with the working title of ‘Radical Hope in an Age of Despair’. It will be published in 2013. He is currently in Hawaii at a workshop studying the earthquake and volcanic hazards of this highly active volcanic island.

6. Rodney Holder is currently working on an update, at a more accessible level, of his earlier book on fine-tuning of the universe, God, the Multiverse, and Everything, and which has the provisional title Big Bang, Big God: A Universe Fit for Life. His book, jointly edited with Dr Simon Mitton, Georges Lemaître: Life, Science and Legacy, is at the proof-reading stage and should be published by Springer in the Autumn. Dr Holder’s article ‘Lemaître and Hoyle: Contrasting Characters in Science and Religion’ will appear in the October edition of Science and Christian Belief.

7. Diana Beech is currently editing the extensive survey she has created to examine the main drivers behind science and research policy in Europe. Diana has also set up a ‘Facebook’ group for the project, entitled ‘Restoring Spiritual Values to European Science – The New Renaissance’. Should you be interested in following the project’s progress and contributing to online discussions about related issues, please join the group at: https://www.facebook.com/RestoringSpiritualValues?ref=hl

8. Another new Test of Faith resource, Science and Christianity: An Introductory Course for Homeschoolers is now available. This 3-8 week course for high school students delves into the hot topics introduced in the Test of Faith documentary. More information, free download and e-flier are available from http://www.testoffaith.com/homeschool/. We are also offering the Test of Faith resources for UK Secondary Schools at a special price of £10 during August and September. Details and how to order can be found at http://www.testoffaith.com/schools/.

9. “Robots, God and Free Will and a Big Bang: Exploring the Big Questions in Schools” is a one day event organised by the LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion) team which will take place on September 25th at Reading University. Science and Religious Education teachers from 16 schools together with about 300 teenagers will discover from top scholars just how like themselves robots can be: Humanoid? Human-like? Or even ... Human. In the afternoon a panel of Theologians, Scientists and Philosophers, chaired by Professor Mary James, the President of the British Educational Research Association, will consider whether science can be consistent with a religious perspective on what it means to be human. The rationale for developing the event stems from the findings of a four year research study looking at how students’ interests in themes which bridge science and religion are handled in secondary schools in England. Details about the event are on the FaradaySchools website (www.faradayschools.com).

10. The LASAR team have also recently updated the FaradaySchools website to include a video with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. The Archbishop is responding to questions from 13 year-old students about, for example, how he understands the story of Adam and Eve and whether he can explain why Natural Disasters happen in a world that a loving God created. Currently the site is offering free posters for classrooms – please visit to take a look.

11. This month Dr Ruth Bancewicz spoke on science and faith to 400 young people at a youth camp in North Wales.

Denis Alexander Bob White
[Director]  [Associate Director]