In this episode we pick up our conversation with clinical geneticist Melody Redman to talk about a new NHS programme in England which is piloting whole genome sequencing of newborn babies. Why are scientists and doctors interested in collecting a child’s entire set of genes and storing them for the rest of their life? What medical benefits might result from this, and what ethical challenges does it throw up? Just because we can now do this, should we? We also consider some of the risks of our increasingly geneticised world and how as Christians we can hold onto our identity in Christ rather than lapsing into genetic determinism.
Each of us carries around in our cells about 20,000 different genes – a unique set of biological code which shapes how our bodies develop. As scientists better understand genes and how they work, genetics is becoming a more and more important field of modern medicine, particularly in diagnosing conditions. But this comes with a brand new set of ethical challenges to think through. In this episode, we interview Melody Redman, a clinical geneticist working in the NHS, about her work, and her perspective on it as a Christian doctor.
Resuming our conversation about suffering, we think through some faithful Christian responses to evil and loss. How can the church reintegrate the deeply Biblical tradition of lament into its corporate and individual life, picking up on the psalms and ultimately Jesus on the cross? And what might a resilient and hope-filled fellowship of believers look like in the light of this?
The problem of suffering has been one of the most intractable and painful theological debates for centuries. But is it perhaps not a problem to be solved, but a deeper mystery to be journeyed through? Is suffering solely a consequence of human sin since the Fall, or were we made to be fragile, dependent and broken? And how does knowing Jesus’s death and resurrection are not simply a response to pain but God’s Plan A from the start change things?
In the week the first images from the new James Webb Space Telescope were beamed back to Earth, we are joined by theologian Andrew Davison to consider the spiritual value of cosmology and astrophysics.
Hello, and welcome to Matters of Life and Death. Today we’re going back to our conversation about simulation for part two of this re-broadcast. Last week’s episode discussed the growth of deep fakes and other digital technologies which allow us to simulate human faces and speech with increasing accuracy.
Could it be that some knowledge – including whether your unborn child has a serious genetic condition – is actually not helpful, and even harmful to us?
Pregnant women today are offered a battery of tests and screening for their unborn child, looking for an ever-increasing range of conditions and risks. But is the onward march of technology in this sphere always an unmitigated good thing?
Demographic trends reveal clearly the next century will be one increasingly dominated by older people. If God is giving us a lot more folk in their later years, what are they for in church life?
The world’s population is rapidly becoming older and older, with many developed nations seeing unprecedented proportions of their citizens in retirement age. Why is this taking place, and does this presage an era of economic stagnation or a utopia of stability?
In the second part of our conversation on robot rights, we explore three Christian responses to calls for robot personhood, spanning the spectrum of hostility to optimism about the development. What Biblical truths and doctrines can we turn to as we wrestle with what is a fundamentally brand new dilemma? And how would our theology and practice as believers change should conscious, intelligent, autonomous robots come to live among us?
If and when autonomous and intelligent robots come into existence, should they be granted rights, or even personhood?
Abortion is a flashpoint issue in both the church and wider culture, with the very language you choose used as a cudgel for either side. So how can Christians talk about it and respond to it in a way which cools tensions rather than inflames them?
This is part two of our re-broadcast of last year’s John Stott episode, to mark what would have been his centenary.
This month marks 101 years since the late John Stott was born, and his centenary last year prompted a flurry of events to mark the centenary of this highly influential vicar, Bible teacher and evangelical leader.
In Britain as in many countries there is a growing campaign to legalise assisted suicide and to make doctors prescribe on request lethal drugs to terminally ill patients. In the second part of our interview with Sarah Foot, a Christian palliative care doctor, Sarah explains why her colleagues are overwhelmingly opposed to this, the ignorance which lies behind many of the arguments for changing the law, and the implications for palliative care should assisted dying be imposed upon it.
Over the past 60 years a new field of medicine has emerged – palliative care. In this episode we interview Sarah Foot, a Christian palliative care doctor, who explains how she treats the physical, mental, social and even spiritual needs of those who are dying, the Christian foundations of the discipline, and what impact her profession has on her.
Following on from our discussion last week on the rise of climate fatalism, we discuss what an authentically Christian response to our environmental crisis would look like. How can we steer a middle path between complacency and despair?
The latest report from the UN’s climate scientists was both incredibly downbeat about climate change and almost entirely ignored by a media fixated on Ukraine. In this episode we consider the communication and changing narratives around climate change, why an unscientific hyper-fatalism has set in with many activists, and what impact this might be having on younger generations terrified humanity itself is going extinct.
In this episode we pick up our conversation from last week about transhumanism and how technology might redefine what it means to be human. We consider what place technology has in today’s social narrative and whether it makes sense as Christians to automatically resist efforts to use cutting-edge science to reshape ourselves.
Billions of dollars are currently being spent by a suite of private firms, mostly in Silicon Valley, pursuing radical research to enhance human capacities. These companies want to put off, or even defeat, aging, upload our minds to computers and give humans new abilities. Is this simply the next frontier for science and something to be welcomed, or should Christians hesitate to endorse research which appears to target our very created selves?
To mark our arrival on the Premier network, we recap how Matters of Life and Death began and what we hope our intergenerational conversations might achieve.
The Omicron variant has in a few short weeks almost taken over the pandemic. This highly transmissible version of covid is raising afresh complicated ethical questions about vaccine distribution and international solidarity between nations. How can we ascertain what is the common good during global crises affecting different countries in different ways?
This week we are resuming our conversation about infertility which begun in our previous episode. If you haven’t yet listened to that discussion, which focused on IVF, we’d recommend pausing this and going back to it as we will build on some of the ideas we explored last time. Today, we moved on to consider new ethical issues among other reproductive technologies.
Today we are delving into a complex and sensitive topic – infertility and IVF. The statistics suggest about one in seven couples will be unable to conceive without some kind of medical intervention, and the most popular form of reproductive treatment is in vitro fertilisation – IVF.
This week we’re digging into assisted dying. A bill to legalise it in England has been introduced to parliament – what does it propose and how likely is it to actually become law?
Mark Driscoll, the hermeneutic of suspicion, Sigmund Freud’s chaise longue, and Paul-Timothy relationships
This episode was inspired by John’s new book – The Robot Will See You Now
In today’s episode we’re returning to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been almost six months since we last dedicated an episode to covid, and since then a lot has happened. Hundreds of millions of vaccine doses have been delivered around the world, but are they going to the right people at the right time?
Last week marked 100 years since the late John Stott was born and there has been a flurry of events to mark the centenary of this highly influential vicar, Bible teacher and evangelical leader.
Today’s topic is simulation. We live in an era when digital technology is making it increasingly easy and cheap to create fake but compelling images or videos of people, or even entirely artificial human-like personalities.
For the next two weeks we’re dipping back into the Matters of Life and Death archive to bring you an episode we first broadcast last year. It’s all about simulation.
This episode explores one of the most significant and potentially long-lasting ways the covid pandemic has affected church life – the shift to digital.
In today’s episode we’re taking a sideways step from the covid pandemic and instead are discussing social media and free speech.
Microchips. Bill Gates. The mark of the beast. 5G cell towers. False positive rates. Big pharma. DNA alteration. It’s been hard to avoid the swirling morass of misinformation and conspiracy theories around the pandemic.
The first coronavirus vaccine jabs have already gone into the arms of people here in the UK, as Britain this week became the first country in the world to actually deploy a vaccine which had completed all its clinical trials and been signed off by the regulator. But there remain lots of questions about the vaccine – how has it been made so fast, can we be sure it is safe, who should get it first, and can Christians be given it without compromising on their religious convictions?
The second coronavirus lockdown started here in the UK on 5 November and is due to last the rest of the month. Unlike the first time round in the spring, we aren’t going into this with our eyes closed – we know the lockdown will cause immense economic damage, as well as impacting mental and even physical health. Is this crude, blunt instrument really the best way to tackle the second wave of the covid pandemic?
We received a fascinating question from a listener after our last episode on vaccines, picking up on the competing and perhaps contradictory philosophies behind the anti-vax movement. So we decided to respond to their question and thoughts with a special bonus episode looking over this issue and other developments in coronavirus vaccines since.
There are about 40 different potential covid vaccines already being tested on humans, with almost a hundred more at earlier stages of development in the lab.
In the second part of our conversation on technology during the coronavirus pandemic, we look into our crystal balls and try to imagine what the world of tech will look like in the future, thanks to Covid-19.
One of the perhaps unexpected results of the coronavirus pandemic is how it has thrown up some fascinating debates about technology.
For many years death has been described as perhaps the final taboo in British society. Rarely it is deemed polite to mention the uncomfortable fact that one day we all will die, let alone try to bring faith or spirituality into that conversation. But in the midst of a pandemic which has already claimed over 50,000 British lives in various ways, is that changing?
Protect the NHS. It has been one of the key government slogans, designed to inspire us to stay with the lockdown so that hospitals do not get overwhelmed by coronavirus patients and services collapse under the pressure. In today’s episode we examine what life in the NHS has been like during the Covid-19 crisis.
First come, first served? Or key workers and politicians before everyone else? How can doctors decide who to treat in a healthcare emergency when there are not enough beds or ventilators to go around?
Our third episode on coronavirus zooms in to focus on how Christians should be thinking and acting during the pandemic.
In this second episode in our series on coronavirus, we explore how Covid-19 is different to plagues in the past.
Our first ever episode of Matters of Life and Death kicks off a short series on coronavirus.