Thursday, 20 December 2012
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Census 2011 – Christianity in Decline?Tucked away under a headline on The Rise of Foreign Born Residents, you might have noticed that the 2011 census statistics on religion have been published today, and they appear to show a marked decline in the Christian population of England and Wales.
Christianity remains the largest religion, with 33.2 million people (59.3 per cent of the population), but this represents a marked drop compared to the previous census, in which 71.7% of the population of England and Wales self-identified as Christian.
Monday, 10 December 2012
Friday, 7 December 2012
One of the most famous thought experiments is The Runaway Trolley Car. It works like this:
Questions to consider:
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
Sunday, 2 December 2012
A solider who is the first Sikh to join the Grenadier Guards features in today’s Mail on Sunday after wearing his turban rather than the Guards’ famous bearskin. According to the Mail, Jatinderpal Singh Bhullar has been given permission to wear a turban while on guard duty outside Buckingham palace.
The British army allows the 25 or so Sikhs currently serving to keep their turbans, except where a hard helmet is required for safety reasons. You can read a little more about Sikh and Muslim soldiers in the British army here.
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
I've uploaded a couple of word games you can use to revise your vocabulary for the Religious Language topic. If you find you have a few minutes in your busy half-term schedule of revising, writing essays, and in-depth background reading, why not give them a try?
The games are Key Word Pairs and Key Word Articulate. You can download them here, or if you have a TES account, from here.
You might also want to take a look at this post on the Via Negativa.
Enjoy your break!
Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Malala Yousafzai was travelling with at least one other girl when she was shot, but there are differing accounts of how events unfolded.The next time you find yourself staring mindlessly out of the window in class, or whinging about that essay on Wittgenstein, remember that the education you enjoy is a privilege that other people risk their lives to secure.
One report, citing local sources, says a bearded gunman stopped a car full of schoolgirls, andasked for Malala Yousafzai by name, before opening fire.But a police official also told BBC Urdu that unidentified gunmen opened fire on the schoolgirls as they were about to board a van or bus.
She was hit in the head and, some reports say, in the neck area by a second bullet. Another girl who was with her at the time was also injured.Doctors who treated her in Mingora initially said she was out of danger. She has now been taken by helicopter to Peshawar for further treatment, officials say.
Monday, 8 October 2012
Abortion law has been in the news over the last few days, with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt saying that he would personally support a significant reduction in the time limit for terminating pregnancies, from the current limit of 24 weeks to 12 weeks.
Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Monday, 17 September 2012
Apologies for the slightly longer than expected period of dormancy over the summer: I've been busy with house moves and getting my brain around being head of my very own RS department. I should hopefully be able to blog a bit more regularly from now on.
I've recenly uploaded a couple of resources to the TES website, based around the idea of Socratic questioning. If you teach RS or Philosophy, you might find these useful as a way of extending the thinking of your students. If you're a student,you could use them as a prompt to help you start an internal dialogue to help you improve your answers to essay style questions.
Links to the resources are below, you'll need a TES account to view them:
Socratic Question Cards
Socratic Question Matrix
Monday, 6 August 2012
Monday, 23 July 2012
For any AS Philosophers out there, here is a link to a useful PowerPoint file that recaps some key vocabulary for the AQA unit on Reason and Experience, plus the views of Hume and Kant. Remember that any of these keywords could come up in AS exam questions, so make sure you know them inside out.
Friday, 20 July 2012
Just a short note to say how much I’ve enjoyed my time at RGS and that I'm really going to miss my fellow teachers and all my amazing students. Thank you for being patient with me when I occasionally lose an essay or two, for your dazzling knowledge of seminal 90s rock bands (even when the exam question wasn’t really about that Nirvana), and for generally being such a pleasure to teach. Thank you also for the goodbyes, cards, chocolate, games making kits, music bucket lists, books, and death metal CDs. They were much appreciated.
Saturday, 14 July 2012
- How strong is the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus?
- How convincing is the mythicist case against the existence of Jesus?
- Why makes some people reject the consensus view of experts in particular field?
- What is the role of ideology in shaping way denial movements use evidence and the conclusions they draw?
- Is mythicism a denial movement?
- Is rejection of human-caused global warming a form of denial?
- Is denying scientific consensus (such as evolution or HIV as a cause of AIDS) different to denying historical consensus (such as the existence of Jesus)?
Monday, 9 July 2012
Monday, 2 July 2012
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Monday, 25 June 2012
Well the good news is that there was enough interest in the Virtually University course I was planning on running on the existence of Jesus for it to go ahead (and so are the other two classes in RS, which is great).
If you’ve already read my introductory post on mythicism, you’ll know that mythicist view of Jesus (that he did not exist historically), is rejected by an overwhelming majority of experts within the field of Biblical Studies.
One of the interesting questions raised by mythicism is how far we should accept the authority of experts, and how far we should consider challenges to their views? An argument frequently made by mythicists is that those who accept the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth do so because they accept the authority of experts without question, and do not consider the evidence fairly or rationally.
And perhaps they have a point: Experts said that the Beatles wouldn’t make it, that Muhammad Ali could not beat George Foreman, that Sadam Hussein had a whole bunch of nasty WMDs. If you’re one of my students, you’ll know that we have a house named after Jane Tomlinson, who ignored the prognosis of her very well qualified doctors that she only had six months to live, and not only lived for another seven years, but also went on to compete in a number of marathons, triathlons, and long distance bike rides.
History is full of examples people who have successfully defied expert opinion, and it has even been argued that science progresses as one accepted theory is gradually challenged and ultimately overturned by a new one. So not only are experts and authority figures sometimes wrong, but those who prove them wrong are often – rightly – the very people we admire most.
However, just because the experts are sometimes wrong, it can’t be the case that everybody who disagrees with the experts is always right. From your AS level RS, you’ll know that there is group we call creationists who disagree with evolution, and if you study A level History, you should have heard of Holocaust deniers, who claim that the systematic murder of the Jews during World War Two never took place. If you study English, you might even have about a theories that William Shakespeare did not write the plays attributed to him. Each of views of these views is rejected by qualified experts in the fields of, respectively, Science, History and English Literature, and (in my view) rightly so.
The problem is then, how do we distinguish between the next great theory that’s going to revolutionise our understanding and theories which are simply nonsense or worse, racist nonsense?
An obvious answer would seem to that if we just examine the evidence ourselves we can tell the good theories from the bad. But it’s not quite as simple as this: very often the evidence is complex or its value is disputed. So unless we are experts ourselves, at some point we have to rely on the authority of experts to interpret or assess the evidence for us.
If you don’t believe me, have a crack at reading Einstein’soriginal paper on the special theory of relativity.
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Monday, 18 June 2012
Friday, 1 June 2012
Firstly to give my own thoughts on some of the topics we study in A Level Philosophy and Religious Studies and to give you an idea of how to approach exam or essay questions on these. Secondly, to highlight other topics or issues in Philosophy and Religion that I find interesting, and that you might find interesting too, particularly if you're considering studying Religious Studies or Philosophy at university.
Comments are welcome (and might even be part of your homework if I'm feeling particularly mean), but please observe the following house rules:
1) Remember that this is a public space. If you are one of my students, or a student at another school, please make sure that your comments do not reveal your surname or any other personal details about you. If you use an online profile to post your comments (e.g. a blogger account), again make sure that this does not contain any personal details, photos, etc. If anybody tries to make to contact with you via the blog, you must flag this to me (or another teacher) immediately. They might seem nice, but they are very probably candidates for a stranger danger warning.
2) If you are not an AS/A level student, then you are still very welcome to post your comments, but please note that any comments that fall below the standards I would expect of my own students when debating an issue (in terms of courtesy, relevance, and academic content) will be deleted.
Thanks and happy reading.