Scotland, hope and power

map of divided Scotland

It is fascinating to see how the British political establishment are increasingly working together as one. Read more...

Old Age: what next?

Rotten apple

My wife Marguerite retired a few weeks ago. She was looking forward to it, but just as it happened we had a succession of funerals to attend. It was as though we were given a reminder: with retirement, death approaches. Read more...

Downs syndrome abortion

Downs syndrome baby

Richard Dawkins has achieved another piece of self-publicity. A woman said she would face a real ethical dilemma if she became pregnant with a baby with Down’s syndrome. He replied ‘Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice’. Read more...

Bishops and governments on Iraq

Observer headline

On the recent fuss about the Prime Minister and the Bishop of Leeds. At the time when this blew up I happened to be reading William Herzog II’s Jesus, Justice and the Reign of God. I could not help noticing the parallels. Read more...

Humanity and nature: who is in control?


The study of anthropology began with nineteenth century atheists who struggled to understand why our hunter-gatherer ancestors all over the world made the same crazy mistake of imagining the existence of gods, for whom – according to those anthropologists – there was no evidence. Read more...

Smug Christians and Jewish sacrifices

Greek sacrifice on pottery

The story goes that the Old Testament had people burning sacrifices and the New Testament abolished them. Jews bad, Christians good. With Christ comes a new relationship with God, a sacrifice-free one... If we ask why people used to offer sacrifices, the reasons are much more interesting and do not justify this kind of contrarianism at all. Read more...

Clergy views on same sex marriages

same sex marriage

I’ve had a request from a medical student for information about clergy views on same-sex marriages. This is my reply.
Clergy who wish to conduct same-sex weddings are currently discussing how to respond to the present situation. Some will conduct them, and some will enter same-sex weddings. Read more...

Demons are bad news: can we do without them?


On a family disagreement on evil spirits, and why it is not a good idea to believe in them.
A short while ago I received this message from a correspondent:

I do not believe in a devil, or demons. This difference in belief has lead to various familial arguments I'd rather avoided, but could not.

The Kingdom of God: what did Jesus mean?

Christ Pantocrator

What Jesus meant by the Kingdom of God has been debated endlessly. The way I was first taught it, it sounded boring and irrelevant. Now I find it challenging and important. Read more...

Who needs moral disgust?

The Sun

Shocking, isn’t it? The popular British newspaper The Sun revealed on Friday that a British girl on holiday in Magaluf performed sex acts on 24 men in a night club.  ‘Binge-drink Brits’ have sunk to a ‘new low’, according to the front page.
The point of the article was that the reader should be disgusted. Two Guardian columnists, Holly Baxter and Laurie Penny, did indeed express disgust, but at The Sun rather than the girl. Read more...

Assisted Dying and the onward march of technology


Assisted Dying bill and the sanctity of life: where are the ethical limits to the uses of new technology?

Next Friday Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill is to be debated in the House of Lords.
Today’s Daily Mail has a long article describing George Carey’s change of mind. The former archbishop, who retired in 2002, has a record of public interventions on topical issues. Unusually, this time he is on the side of public opinion: he now supports a change in the law. Read more...