School Conference debates the problem of evil
Those were just some of the questions posed during an all-day religious philosophy and ethics conference attended by around 250 pupils from Cornwall and Plymouth and held at Truro High School last week. Leading British academic Dr Peter Vardy was the speaker, addressing a range of topics like ethics and assisted reproduction, Catholic natural law, utilitarianism and the problem of evil and suffering and concluding with a debate about whether a belief in God can be justified in the face of horrendous evil.
According to Dr Vardy, it has never been more important for young people to be aware of people’s beliefs and the complex moral dilemmas they are increasingly likely to cause.
“Studying religious philosophy and ethics at GCSE and A level is about learning to understand deeply the arguments that underpin different positions on issues like genetics, war and IVF,” he said. “It is a subject that is academically rigorous and more and more useful for anyone considering careers in fields like medicine, law or finance.”
Dr Vardy’s powerful message certainly struck a chord with the young people present. Most of them took an active part in the debate and there were plenty of questions and discussion throughout the event.
“It’s been really good and made me think about what I’ll do at college,” said Ella, a GCSE student from Poltair School in St Austell. “Mum doesn’t think I should do philosophy at A level but now I’ll be able to tell her how useful it can be.”
“I’ve found the conference very interesting – much more than I thought it would be,” said Maddie, from Truro High School. “I was surprised to hear how much more common IVF is going to become and the issues that raises when it comes to embryonic selection. It certainly makes you think.”
“I’m doing religious studies at A Level because I’d like to become a psychologist or a philosopher,” said Morgan, a Truro College student. “My parents don’t really understand the subject’s value.”
The conference was organised by Truro High’s Head of Religious Philosophy and Ethics Peter Mothersole.
“I’ve been trying to get Peter Vardy here for a long time because I’ve been to his conferences before and know how good he is,” he said. “A lot of people think that RP is all about the bible but it isn’t. Not only does it tackle timeless questions about the creation of the universe, the purpose of mankind and what happens after death, but it also considers the many ethical problems that confront us today.
“Those problems aren’t going to go away. In fact they are probably going to become much more central to our lives. That’s why young people need to be aware of them and why developing the ability to understand and evaluate different perspectives is increasingly crucial in our modern day lives.”
Ends 31 January 2012
Photos (by Bernie Pettersen): The religious philosophy conference held at Truro High School
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