Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Kevin Brown on Theodicies

In our lessons on atheism and post-modernism, my Year 12 class has been looking at reasons for the rise of atheism, and one of these is the problem of evil. Put simply, this is difficulty of reconciling the evil and suffering we see around us with the religious claim that an all-powerful, all-loving God exists: if such a God really did exist, wouldn't he act to prevent evil?

Kevin Brown of the blog Diglotting has written this useful post on different theodicies, or religious attempts to resolve the problem of evil.

Of particular interest for looking at modern responses the problem of evil, is his outline of J├╝rgen Moltmann's theodicy, which arose from Moltmann's experience of the suffering which occurred during World War 2 (Moltmann was a soldier in the German army). Brown writes: 

[I]nstead of focusing upon the traditional theodicy question of “Why does God allow evil”, Moltmann instead concentrates on a corollary: “Where is God in the midst of all this suffering?” He finds the answer in Jesus’ death cry: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15.34)...

Furthermore, in Moltmann’s theodicy, the cross is not just the suffering of the man Jesus, nor merely the ‘death of God’, but it is also death in God. God takes up suffering and death into himself and then overcomes it on Resurrection Sunday through the limitless divine life.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Dawkins: The Motion Picture

One of my fellow teachers pointed this out to me via the magic of facebook. Atheist Richard Dawkins is to feature in a new documentary film, The Unbelievers

According to the official site:
'The Unbelievers' follows renowned scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss across the globe as they speak publicly about the importance of science and reason in the modern world - encouraging others to cast off antiquated religious and politically motivated approaches toward important current issues. 

The film includes interviews with celebrities and other influential people who support the work of these controversial speakers.
I can't find any details of a UK release date, but to whet your appetite, here's the trailer:

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Peter Singer: Religion's Regressive Hold on Animal Rights

In this 2010 article from the Guardian, Peter Singer (who one of my University lecturers referred to rather sniffily as a "minor ethicist") discusses the influence of religious views on our attitudes to animals. 

Last week, the chief minister of Malacca, Mohamad Ali Rustam, was quoted in the Guardian as saying that God created monkeys and rats for experiments to benefit humans...

The chief minister's comment is yet another illustration of the generally regressive influence that religion has on ethical issues – whether they are concerned with the status of women, with sexuality, with end-of-life decisions in medicine, with the environment, or with animals. Although religions do change, they change slowly, and tend to preserve attitudes that have become obsolete and often are positively harmful.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Russell Stannard on Free Will

If you were in my AS class last year, you might remember me showing you a couple of clips featuring the avuncular Russell Stannard, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the Open University.

In the OU video below, Stannard discusses the problem of free will.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Philosophy Essay Competition

One of my ex-students shared a link to the Lloyd Davies Philosophy Prize. The £250 prize is awarded for the best essay written by Year 12 (or equivalent) students. The closing date is the 14th June 2013 and to enter you need to write a 2,000 word essay on one of the following titles:

1. What does morality have to do with happiness?
2. Is knowledge intrinsically valuable? Why?
3. Why can you affect the future but not the past?

Full details can be found here.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Allegory of the Cave: Claymation Version

Below is a great claymation adaption of The Allegory of the Cave, the parable that Plato uses to convey his views on the human condition and the nature of reality. 

There are a few differences from the Plato's version, which you can read here.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Freud and Jung Need to Just Hug it Out, Apparently...

One of my students has her own blog, and has written a post here on the perils of trying to make sense of A Level RS.

It definitely wins a prize for the most original way of resolving the conflict between Freudian and Jungian accounts of religion:

If I could go back in time, I would make Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung have a massive cuddle. I would give them both a bottle of Freud’s favourite drink, vodka, and hope that they’d get so wasted that they would fall into each other’s arms and decide that they agree with each other on anything. I dream of a day that this is possible, because if it happened, then the AS RE course would be so much easier.