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Life & Faith: Going Nuclear

Nuclear fusion energy has been heralded asthe answer to the global energy crisis, a virtually endless – and cleaner –source of power that will last several generations.

If there’s anyone who should be singing itspraises the loudest, it’s Professor Ian Hutchinson from MIT, a leader in thisfield. While he’s certainly enthusiastic about the science and technologybehind fusion power, he’s quick to downplay the hype. 

“There is no magic bullet for energyresources for human kind, he says, “so I don’t want to promote fusion as aninstant solution to energy problems that exist.”

There’s still a lot of work to be done, hesays, namely, finding a stable environment on our planet at 100 million degreesCelsius for nuclear fusion to happen – and he’s right in the thick of it havingbuilt such an environment.

“It has the strongest magnetic field of anyexperiment and, I have to admit, starting up that experiment … was very much ahighlight of my scientific career.”

But as powerful as he knows science to be,as much as he finds it intellectually engaging and satisfying, ProfessorHutchinson also believes that science does not hold all the answers.

“Science works by being able to dorepeatable observations or experiments … and we’re find out about the ways in whichthe world behaves reproducibly,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean that that’sthe only thing to find out about the world.”

In this episode of Life & Faith,Professor Ian Hutchinson talks about the latest developments in nuclear energy,and the fusion of faith and science in his work and life.

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Life & Faith: Model Meets Designer

At 14 years of age, Tracy Trinita entered the Elite Model Look Competition - and won.

The Balinese schoolgirl soon found herself gracing the runways of Paris, Milan and New York for the world’s biggest fashion houses. She was living her dream – a life of beauty and glamour, riches and fame. 

But underneath Tracy’s smile and happy exterior, she battled feelings of insecurity and loneliness.

In this episode of ‘Life & Faith’, Tracy talks about her life as Indonesia’s first supermodel, and how re-connecting with an old friend in Paris led her towards a source of true happiness.

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Life & Faith: Where did we come from?

It’s one of life’s biggest questions – where did we come from?

Since ancient times, philosophers and scientists have offered answers – and so has religion. But they don’t often say the same thing.

These differences are often highlighted in the classic science versus religion debate that pit, for example, evolution against intelligent design.

But what if science and faith are less hostile towards each other than we think?

In this episode, Dr Graeme Finlay explores the complex relationship and compatibility of science and biblical faith, and what they can teach us about the origin of the universe and humanity.

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Dr Graeme Finlay is a lecturer in scientific pathology and cancer researcher at the University of Auckland, and the author of Human Evolution: Genes, Genealogies and Phylogenies. He has also completed a degree in theology.

For more information about ‘ISCAST: Christians in Science and Technology’, go to: http://www.iscast.org.

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Life & Faith: Identity Complex

While statistics suggest that religion is in decline across most of the West, being irreligious is perhaps more complex than it seems.

In the UK, for example, only 25 per cent of people who claim to have “no religion” are atheists or agnostics – but even within this group there is a mix of spirituality and beliefs.

“Plurality and diversity define who we are,” Elizabeth Oldfield, Director of Theos, said at a recent public lecture in Sydney. “Many people would like to believe, and belong, but they don't know how.”

In this episode of ‘Life & Faith’, Elizabeth takes us on a tour of the religious landscape in the UK and Europe, and how the West’s religious identity is more complex than we think.

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Elizabeth Oldfield is the Director of Theos, a leading religion and society think tank in the UK. To find out more about Theos, go to: http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk.

For more conversations like this, SUBSCRIBE to ‘Life & Faith’ on iTunes: http://bit.ly/lifeandfaithpodcast

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Life & Faith: Prostitution Narratives

Prostitution is a global industry that generates more than $186 billion worldwide and has more than 13 million “employees”. But these numbers tell you nothing about the people involved in the sex industry – the circumstances that led them to a life of prostitution, the experiences they have in the industry, and the struggle to leave.

A new book changes this. Prostitution Narratives shines a light on the reality of the sex industry through the true stories of women who escaped a life of prostitution.

But it’s done more than raise awareness of the issues and trauma faced by these women. As survivors of the sex industry, the book’s contributors have come to realise that they are part of a global movement of women against prostitution.

“The personal has become political,” Melinda Tankard Reist, one of the editors of the book and a long-time advocate for women and girls, says. “They’ve found strength in turning something devastating into something powerful.”

In this episode of Life & Faith, Melinda talks about how vital it is to hear the voices of women from within the sex industry, to understand that truth and reality of the work they do. 

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Life & Faith: Extravagance Part 2

The FirstMonday in May is a new documentary that takes viewers into the opulent world ofart, fashion and beauty via the Met Gala. As the beauty and glamour unfolds onthe silver screen, two conflicting responses may arise: on the one hand, youmay feel a sense of appreciation towards this form of fashion and art; on theother hand, this extravagance can seem excessive and almost obscene.

What is the role and value of art in our society? Is it frivolous tospend money on beautiful things, or spend time enjoying or pursuing art, whenall of that time and money could be spent on feeding the hungry or saving alife?

In this episode of Life & Faith, John Dickson and Simon Smart joinNatasha Moore in a discussion around form and function, beauty and utility –and whether we can justify art and culture.

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Life & Faith: Extravagance Part 1

Earlier this year, we posted a link on Facebook to an interview we did about a new museum being built in Washington DC, the Museum of the Bible. It’s a Smithsonian-sized project that will cost around $400 million.

In the comments, someone wrote: “Surely it is better to spend the time, money and energy required for this project on putting what Jesus said into practice. What about feeding the homeless on the streets of DC.”

It’s a fair point – $400 million could alleviate a lot of human suffering. But it’s a slippery slope.

If we’re truly paying attention to the poverty in our local communities and around the world, how can we ever spend money on a pair of nice shoes, an expensive holiday, or even our morning coffee?

In this episode of Life & Faith, John Dickson and Simon Smart join Natasha Moore in a discussion around poverty and luxury – can we ever justify spending money on ourselves, instead of on people in need?

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Life & Faith: Spotlight - 15 Years On

In 2002, the Boston Globe’s investigativereporting team, Spotlight, published a series of reports exposing clergy childsexual abuse, and a cover up by the Catholic Church. As the horrific andheartbreaking instances of abuse and betrayal came to light, more stories ofclergy sexual abuse and the Catholic Church’s effort to hide it began tounravel across the US, and all around the world.

“I don’t think any of us understood thatthis was a global phenomenon,” says Mike Rezendes, one of the Spotlightjournalists who reported on the original cover up of clergy child sexual abusein Boston. “None of us could’ve foreseen it, none of us did foresee it.”

Fifteen years on, a film about the originalSpotlight investigation has, importantly, brought this issue to the fore onceagain.

“There’s no doubt that the Spotlight moviehas inspired another wave of victims and survivors to come forward,” Mike says.“I think a lot more needs to be done, and I think the movie is letting peopleknow that more work needs to take place.”

In this episode of Life & Faith, MikeRezendes talks about his work on the Boston Globe investigation into the coverup of clergy sexual abuse, and the aftermath. He’s still a part of theSpotlight team at the Boston Globe, and continues to have a strong sense of socialjustice – which has a surprising origin.  

Plus, we have a bonus interview withProfessor James O’Toole from Boston College. He explains the complexrelationship between the prominent and powerful Boston archdiocese and thepeople of the city, and why some local parishes grew stronger after the scandalbroke.

“I think what was going on in people’sminds there was they had completely lost confidence in Cardinal Law, they’dlost confidence in the hierarchy and the leadership of the institution, butthey were committed to their local parish church,” Professor O’Toole says. “Ina sense they were saying, even after everything that’s gone wrong, they’re notgoing to take my church away from me.

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READ MORE from the Spotlight investigation: http://bit.ly/29NHrIL

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Life & Faith: How Would Jesus Vote

Religion plays a significant role in every US presidential election – and this year is no exception. The candidates on either side of the aisle, and the religious leaders who back them, claim to know where Jesus stands on various issues, or what the Bible says about the hottest political topics. But do they?

In his latest book, ‘How Would Jesus Vote?’, Professor Darrell Bock that the Bible challenges simplistic conclusions to complex issues, and encourages people to engage in respectful, passionate and peaceful dialogue instead.

“Something is valuable not because it’s in Scripture, but it’s in Scripture because it has something valuable to say,” he says.

In this episode of Life & Faith, Professor Bock tackles some of the most contentious political topics of today – immigration, welfare, race, and more – and examines them through the lens of the Bible.

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Life & Faith: Live Long

Research suggests that doing good is actually good for you. Stephen G. Post, author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People, explains why.

Stephen G. Post is Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University, and Director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics. He is recognised internationally for his work on unselfish, compassionate love at the interface of science, ethics, spiritual thought, and behavioural medicine. He was in Sydney to speak at HammondCare’s international dementia conference in June, 2016.

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