Monday, 30 January 2012

Worship & Celebration: Seasons of the Church

Some Busted Halo videos to help with GCSE study on the Seasons of the Church:

£500 A-Level Philosophy Essay Prize

Heythrop Philosophy Essay Prize Competition 2012

Heythrop College University of London is launching a new Philosophy Essay Prize, worth £500 which will be judged by Dr Stephen Law, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College and the editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy's journal THINK: Philosophy for Everyone.

The competition is open to all those studying for any AS or A2-level examinations (or equivalent) in 2012.

Entries should be no longer than 1500 words including footnotes but excluding references and can take any form e.g. essay, dialogue, etc. All sources must be referenced.

The deadline for the 1500 word essay is 5pm on Friday 30 March 2012, and the winner will be announced on the Heythrop website on 29 June 2012.

To enter please choose one of the titles below and send your entry to (please note you may only submit one entry to the competition).

Entries should be written in the Microsoft Word document which includes the entry form (please see below). Entries will normally be acknowledged within 5 days.

Heythrop College/Dr Stephen Law reserve the right to publish entries but entrants will retain copyright over their work.

Title 1: Is there good evidence for or against the existence of God?
Title 2: What is the mind-body problem? Can it be solved?
Title 3: Under what conditions can someone be said to know something?

Entry form:

Original Text:

'There Might Be A God', says Sir David Attenborough

"Sir David Attenborough does not believe that an understanding of evolution is incompatible with faith in God, he will tell Radio 4 listeners on Sunday.

Attenborough, who was invited back to Desert Island Discs to mark the 70th anniversary of the radio programme, explains that, while he is still agnostic, he does not rule out the possibility of the existence of a deity.

"I don't think an understanding and an acceptance of the 4 billion-year-long history of life is any way inconsistent with a belief in a supreme being," the 85-year-old broadcaster and writer will tell presenter Kirsty Young. "And I am not so confident as to say that I am an atheist.""

Read more:
Listen on iPlayer (as of 30/1/12):

Govt Opposes Paralysed Man’s Bid For Euthanasia

"The High Court case of a paralysed man who wants a doctor to be allowed to kill him should be dismissed, the Ministry of Justice has said.

The Government says there are “compelling reasons” for the court not to get involved in Tony Nicklinson’s case, saying that only Parliament can make such a decision.

A medical ethics expert cautioned that cases such as Mr Nicklinson’s are “extremely rare and hard cases make bad law”."

The MoJ are suggesting that as this case is rare, it would be dangerous to allow euthanasia as it would set a precedent. This is what many suggest is the danger of a 'slippery slope'. Do you think in these circumstances euthanasia should be allowed? What would see as the implications if they did?

Read more:

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

BBC Horizon: Playing God

"Adam Rutherford meets a new creature created by American scientists - the spider-goat. It is part goat, part spider, and its milk can be used to create artificial spider's web.

It is part of a new field of research, synthetic biology, with a radical aim: to break down nature into spare parts so that we can rebuild it however we please.

This technology is already being used to make bio-diesel to power cars. Other researchers are looking at how we might, one day, control human emotions by sending 'biological machines' into our brains."

There are some clips from this show currently (26/1/12) here: and the program link is here:

This raises many medical and scientific ethical questions. Is this right? Are the scientists really 'playing God'? 

Struggling with the question of belief? Homer Simpson's got the answer!

"The Springfield philosopher shows us that the issue of God's existence or non-existence is of little importance..."

How does Homer Simpson address the issue of God's existence? This includes useful reference to Pascal's Wager.

Read more:

Look Forward To The Death Of Organized Religion: Richard Dawkins

"Far too much sympathy is shown to people who claim to be motivated by religion - sympathy that would not be shown to people acting from mere prejudice. I have a problem with Santa Claus, baby Jesus and Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, but I can't act on this without being held accountable. I may, on grounds of taste, want to murder a TV personality, but I can hardly do so. And yet, it seems it is somehow acceptable for someone to act without accountability simply because his religious sentiments have been hurt," said Richard Dawkins.

Does Dawkins make some valid points here? Do you think the removal of religion would allow for scientific questions be better answered? Would people treat one another better as he indirectly suggests?

Read more:


"A series of highly personal short films, broadcast daily, reflecting on a broad range of religious and ethical issues, and aspects of our spiritual lives. These 90-second films challenge some traditional views, providing a platform for both scepticism and devout religious beliefs."

Use the search function to find a whole variety of different topics covered. A whole vareity of different issues are covered including medical ethics, euthanasia, abortion, IVF etc.

You may need to register (its free) to see some clips. Please post any videos you think are particually interesting in the comments section of this post explaining why you think it is useful to GCSE/AS/A2 study:

Fighting Famine With Faith Communities

"The common goal of love of God and love of neighbour in the Abrahamic faiths is a strong bond in tackling crises in Africa"

"When Christian, Muslim and Jewish NGOs work together on an issue like feeding the hungry, their collective quest toward a common good can cut across their traditions when they meet others of differing theologies who are doing the same thing."

What lessons can be learned from this work? Why do faith communities show such care and love to 'the poorest of the poor'? Is it just because of Gospel values?

Read more:

Monday, 23 January 2012

What Happened Before The Big Bang?

"What existed before the big bang? What is the nature of time? Is our universe one of many? On the big questions science cannot (yet?) answer, a new crop of philosophers are trying to provide answers."

A really useful article discussing modern thought on the big questions. These do not go away, and after thousands of years of discussion there are few absolute conclusions. Hawking's claim the "philosophy is dead" seems incredibly naive...

Read more:

New Scientist: The Genesis Problem

"How do you get a universe, complete with the laws of physics, out of nothing?"

New Scientist provides links to several articles linking to the Cosmological Argument. Did you know 'big bang' was originally a term of abuse coined by Fred Hoyle in 1949?

Read more:

Jail for Man Aged 79 Who Killed His Dementia-Stricken Wife

This case highlights some of the issues concerned with a persons quality of life, but also of the sanctity of life. Could this be considered a straightforward murder? Was it in fact a 'mercy killing' more similar to euthanasia? Do you think his sentence is correct?

Family anger at jailing of 'devoted and loving' father who killed his dementia-stricken wife
Couple who married 58 years ago were ‘devoted and loving’
But Malcolm Beardon finally snapped when wife Margaret turned on him and accused him of stealing from her
The couple's son said he did not blame his father for his mother's death

Read more:

Virtual Tour of a Catholic Church

To support GCSE knowledge and understanding of the key features of a Catholic Church, the following links may be useful. They are interactive:

Would you be able to guide a stranger around a Catholic Church to explain all the key features?

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Abortion Ads on TV

Apparently there is no reason to stop profit making abortion clinics advertising on TV and radio. Do you think this is right? What are the potential problems?

Friday, 20 January 2012

Gap Year with CAFOD


CAFOD’s Gap Year Programme “Step Into The Gap” (SITG) is a gap year opportunity with a real difference. Successful applicants take part in a gap year which spans across UK and overseas placements, working with young people on aspects of faith, social justice, global issues and stewardship.

Previous countries we have worked in include; Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia. UK placement can be in either Youth Ministry’s (Just Youth, Salford, or YMT – Newcastle), or within schools chaplaincies in St. Mary’s Blackpool. The programme runs from September – July. Training and support are provided throughout the programme.

This fully funded programme is a great opportunity for those aged between 18-30 to explore their faith in an exciting new way, and to build lifelong connections across the globe. We are currently recruiting for opportunities starting in September 2012. Applications to the programme close April 30th 2012.

Application forms and an information leaflet are attached here, or please check our website

Authority of the Bible

This site provides great infographics, this one is on the authority of the Bible:

Compulsory Celibacy for Clergy

"Christians outside the Roman Catholic church, and very many inside, can see what a nonsense compulsory clerical celibacy is."

Do you agree? This writer claims that it has been a success for Protestant Churches and that the Catholic Church "has just stuck its fingers in its ears and chanted la-la-la".

Three Parent IVF

"News that babies with three biological parents could be a reality within three years using a new IVF technique, have been described as 'unethical' and 'macabre' by Catholic scientists and pro-life campaigners."

What are the considerations of such practices? What are the potnetial consequences and issues?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

iPads Instead of Textbooks?

Apple are introducing a "new kind of textbook that’s dynamic, current, engrossing, and truly interactive"

Staggering Abortion Rate Among UK's Teenagers

A previous study conducted by the group “REPROSTAT 2” analysed abortion rates among girls ages 13-19 in 25 European countries and the findings have placed the UK under fire.

The UK had the second highest teen abortion rates at a rate of 22.1 per cent, and it has also been reported that a quarter of all abortions in the UK are from teenagers, according to Mail Online.

How Could God Have Allowed the Holocaust?

An article from the Huffington Post:
How Could God Have Allowed the Holocaust?

What's The Problem With Evil?

A good overview of the topic of 'The Problem of Evil':