Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Can You PROVE Evolution?

Dr Joseph Mastropaolo says it is impossible and is willing to wager $10,000 with anyone who claims they can prove evolution does take place and that science contradicts the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis.

He claims, "They [evolutionists] are not stupid people, they are bright, but they are bright enough to know there is no scientific evidence they can give in a minitrial." 

"It turns out that there is nothing in the universe [that] is evolving, everything is devolving, everything is going in the opposite direction.", Dr Mastropaolo continues.

Indeed Dr Mastropaolo is not stupid either, he has a PhD in kinesiology and taught biomechanics and physiology at a California university for more than 25 years.

Mastropaolo said that he hopes the trials can improve future debates between evolutionists and creationists by addressing the issue in a legal and scientific way.

The majority of scientists reject creationism, but recent showed that 46% of Americans believed in a literal interpretation of the biblical version of creation. Four states in the US are looking to pass law to allow students to be taught a religious version of creation.

How does this contribute to the science vs religion debate? Do you think Dr Mastropaolo is correct to say evolution cannot be proved? Surely there is will a very quick update if the science is as straight forward as many claim?

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/25/creationist-trial-bible-genesis-evolution

Friday, 22 March 2013

Three Parent Embryo?

In reports this week, scientists are waiting for the go-ahead to use the DNA from three people to create embryos for families at risk of incurable genetic diseases.

If allowed, the UK would be the first country in the world to allow this and public opinion seems to support this form of IVF (see here).

The treatment is very controversial on several grounds. Firstly the genetic modifications in the embryo pass down to all future generations, it is hard to predict what this may mean. Secondly, the techniques have never been tried in humans, but have worked in animal studies. However perhaps most importantly it raises ethical questions on parentage of the embryos and rights in this area - who exactly are the parents?

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority recommend that women who donated eggs for the treatments should be regarded as tissue donors, and therefore the child would not have a right to know the donor's identity. However would this law be upheld in the future?

The Guardian points out the reason for this treatment:

"About one in 6,000 people is born with a disease caused by genetic glitches in their mitochondria, the biological batteries that power the cells in our bodies. Mitochondria are inherited only from mothers and contain just 37 genes, held separately to the 23,000 genes that shape our appearance and define much of who we are."

What do you think? Do you think it is worth trying this technique in order to improve the lives of 6,000 babies born each year? What other ethical and moral issues can you see with this? What are the other dangers?

Read more here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/mar/20/britain-three-person-embryos-genetic

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Can Christians and Muslims share a place of worship?

An Aberdeen Church has take the unusual step of allowing Muslims to pray in the church. This is as the mosque is no longer big enough and people were having to pray outside.

The rector of St John's church, Rev Isaac Poobalan said, "One day when I was walking past the mosque, I found 20 or 30 people outside on the ground around the pavements with their hands and feet exposed. You could see their breath. When I spoke to people at the church about the situation, someone actually said to me this was not our problem, but I had seen it with my own eyes, so it was a problem."
The two groups have worked closely together over the years, offering joint services and initatives. Rev Poobalan grew up in India and had many Muslim and Hindu friends. He said: "Religion does not play a role when it comes to friendship and hospitality. They transcend the religious divide."

The Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, the Right Rev Dr Robert Gillies, said: "Internationally, the news speaks of tension and struggles between Islam and Christianity. Yet, here in Aberdeen, a mosque and a church have built bonds of affection and friendship. It must be stressed that neither has surrendered or compromised any aspect of the historic faith to which each holds. But mutual hospitality and goodwill exists."

It's important to remember the common root of Abraham in Christianity, Islam and Judasim:

Do you think Christians and Muslims should be working together more? Why do you think some of the congregation were unhappy? Do you think friendhship and hospitality do transcend religion?

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/mar/18/aberdeen-muslims-christians-share-church

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A Poor Pope? Is It Possible?

This picture has been shared widely on Facebook and Twitter, showing Pope Francis 'Server' (of the poor). It shows Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio kissing the feet of a sick young child in an act of love and solidarity with the poor. However, how poor can the Pope ever be?
Right from the very first moment of being Pope,  Francis declined the use of the ermine mozetta (cape) they provided him, he also kept his bishops crucifix rather than a more ornate Papal version. Additionally he ditched the traditional red shoes for the brown loafers he brought from Argentina.

Straight after this he declined the arranged car and jumped on the bus with all the other cardinals.

The next day, he returned to the hotel where he stayed pre-Conclave to bill his bill, as it was the 'right thing to do' and would 'set a good example'.

As people got to know the new Pope, various stories began to emerge from his life in Argentina. Swapping his Bishop's Palace for an ordinary flat, taking the bus and tube rather than a chauffeured limousine, flying economy class and carrying his own lugagge:

The question is, to what extend can a Pope really live in poverty?
What do you think? Can Pope francis really live up to St Francis of Assisi? Can be live out his Jesuit commitment to poverty? Is a poor Pope possible?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Habemus Papam: Pope Francis

At 7.05pm on Wednesday 13th March 2013, the white smoke came out of the chimney (video) on the Sistine Chapel and the bells of St Peters began to ring, "Habemus Papam" (We have a Pope!).

French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran announced the newly elected Pope as Pope Francis on the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica. Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as the 266th Pontiff and will lead the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.

Cardinal Bergoglio had made few 'favourites' lists, and was a suprise for many. Here are a few key facts:
Born: 17 December 1936 in Buenos Aires
Ordained Priest : 13 December 1969 as a Jesuit.
Ordained Bishop: 20 May 1992 as Bishop of Auca and Auxiliary of Buenos Aires.
Ordained Archbishop: 3 June 1997 as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Ordained Cardinal: 21 February 2001 by Bl. John Paul II.

He is the FIRST Francis, the FIRST American (North or South), the FIRST Jesuit and the FIRST non-European in over 1000 years!

So what is a Jesuit?
  • A member of the Society of Jesus, sometimes called colloquially "God's Marines”.
  • Founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola who had a military background and still today members must show a willingness to accept orders anywhere in the world and live in extreme conditions.
  • Jesuits are known for their work in education, academic research and for their missionary efforts.
Why Francis?

This may show us three things: 
  • his desire to be a force of unity in a divided Church (Franciscans were seen as ‘rivals to Jesuits)
  • his heart for the poor 
  • his intent to "repair God's house, which has fallen into ruin"... that is, to rebuild the church.

"Live Simply": His Life As Cardinal
  • He chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop's palace. 
  • He gave up his chauffeured limousine in favour of taking the bus to work.
  • He cooks his own meals.
  • He flies economy class to Rome.
  • He's known locally simply as "Fr Jorge.“
  • He told Argentinians not to travel to Rome to celebrate if he was appointed but to give their money to the poor instead.

Growing Up:
  • One of the five children of an Italian railway worker and his wife.
  • Taught literature, psychology and philosophy.
  • Trained as a chemist.
  • Had a tough life under the military Junta of Argentina.
  • Has lived for more than 50 years with one functioning lung. He had the other removed as a young man because of infection.
  • He speaks fluent Italian, as well as Spanish and German.
Life In the Church:
  • In 2001 he washed and kissed the feet of Aids patients in a hospice.
  • Was very close to being elected as Pope in 2005. He was only beaten by Cardinal Ratzinger who went on to be Pope Benedict XVI.
  • He has co-written a book, in Spanish, called Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra (On Heaven and Earth).
  • He has criticised priests who refuse to baptise babies born to single mothers.
  • He believes that condoms "can be permissible" to prevent infection.

  • The first prayer Pope Francis I lead in the Vatican was the Our Father. A sign of united Christians around the world.
  • A Prayer from the Missal:
O God, who in your providential design
willed that your Church be built
upon blessed Peter, whom you set over the other Apostles,
look with favour, we pray, on Francis our Pope
and grant that he, whom you have made Peter’s successor,
may be for your people a visible source and foundation
of unity in faith and of communion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.



Download the TalkingDonkeyRE from TES or from GoogleDrive

Archbishop Vincent Nichols' reaction:
Fr Paul Keane on Sky News:
Further Reading:
  • Lots more resources from the truly fantastic Dublin Archdiocese Education site - <here>
  • Pope Francis' first day as Pope - an inspiring read! - <here>
  • Prayer Resources - <here>
  • A Father Like Francis - A lovely refelection from LifeTeen - <here>
  • Inside Conclave - An account of what went on in the Sistine Chapel - <here>
  • Who are the Jesuits? - <here>
  • TES Article - <here>

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


GCSE RE students at SHoM are attempting to create a Wiki of model answers for Unit 3 and Unit 10 from their EdExcel syllabus.

Students can login at school or from home and contribute or improve answers.

Visit http://gcsere.wikia.com to see their work or help them improve!

It's very simple:

1) Choose a topic from the homepage
2) On the topic page, click the blue 'Edit' button.
3) Add an answer, improve an answer, correct an answer - or even add a futher question!
4) Once you have edited the page, simply click 'Publish' on the far right hand side.

A wiki is a website which allows its users to add, modify, or delete its content. Most are created collaboratively, with people working together as a team. The most famous Wiki is of course, Wikipedia.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Conclave: Pictures & Infograms

The above image is NOT a secret photo from inside the Sistine Chapel (however fun that would be!). 

There are a lot of words being said and written about the Conclave that will begin tomorrow (12th March 2013). Instead, we're going to look at some pictures and infograms.

An interactive guide to conclave is <here>.

An excellent poster from the fantastic Life Teen site:

Some really brilliant infograms from the Catholic News Agency:

This diagram positions some of the potential candidates for Papacy, from Channel 4 News

Please email any more that you find to TalkingDonkeyRE@gmail.com 

Thursday, 7 March 2013

One For Ten: Against the Death Penalty

"The death penalty was re-instated in the United States in 1976. Since then for every ten people that have been executed, one person has been released from death row after spending an average of ten years in isolation. They have been released because new evidence has proved that they were innocent."    

A new social media campaign has been launched, with the organisers using easily available technology to produce a series of videos:

'One For Ten' is an online series of campaign films that will be produced and broadcast over five weeks in April and May of 2013. During those five weeks, we will travel the width of the US and interview ten individuals who have been freed from death row. Driving from New York to California, we will film with a different person every few days and produce a new short film for release online every Tuesday and Friday.   

This is an interesting campaign which will hopefully encourage people to review their opinions on the death penalty.
Is the death penalty a barbaric way of dealing with criminals? Is it worth 1 innocent life being lost for every 10 'deservedly' executed? Do you think that this campaign will have any success?
Find out more: www.oneforten.com

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Is it REALLY a better Easter Egg?

Christians all over the UK have been  celebrating! A 'REAL' Easter Egg which celebrates the story of Jesus' Resurrection, the absolute focal point of the Christian faith. Not only does it tell the Easter Story inside the box, feature Christian imagery on the outside, but it is also Fair Trade AND makes a donation to charity.

The Bishop of Hereford said that he expected for there to be a "real demand for an egg explaining the religious understanding of Easter on the box" and he encouraged Christian shoppers to "hunt out a Real Easter Egg and complain if they are not being stocked."

Vicky Beeching, has written about her views on this in the Independent, from the context of her experience of living in 'Bible-Belt America'. She says: "The problem is this: creating a choice for people of faith between a 'Christian product' and a 'regular' one merely reinforces the sacred-secular divide in society."

Reflecting on the Bishop of Hereford's comments, she replies that to be saying, ""Hi Waitrose, let me yell into your ear about your lack of Christian branded Easter eggs" seems like an oxymoron if our faith is about love and graciousness towards others."

She feels that it is yet another small brick, which contributes to a big wall, whereby Christians are working towards ghettoising - increasingly living in a separate world from the secular society, as she says, her Christian faith encourages her to "engage with the world in a spirit of love."

However on the flip side to this, Easter is an increasingly secular time of year (see also, Christmas!). Is it not right that Christians should be promoting these eggs and reminding the population that Easter is a time to celebrate, not just over indulge for the sake of it?

What do you think? Should Christians be searching out and questioning supermarkets not selling The Real Easter Egg? Is it creating a sacred-secular divide? Will non-believers be drawn to the eggs?

Read more: