On Tuesday 22nd November, students studying GCSE and A Level Religious Studies had the opportunity to attend a conference in London with eminent philosophers and scholars.
The first speaker of the day was Dr James Orr, Assistant Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at the University of Cambridge. He delivered an engaging description of the genealogy of Utilitarian and Deontological ethics as a result of the enlightenment period. “This was effective as it gave us all a deeper understanding of the Kantian moralist argument for the existence of God.” commented one student.
Breaking for lunch and taking in the sights of London, William in the Upper Sixth was particularly excited to see St Paul’s Cathedral after modelling the volume of its dome for his mathematics internal assessment!
On return to the conference space, A.C. Grayling from the New College of Humanities in London spoke on why he is an atheist, humanist, and a secularist. Grayling explained a few common misconceptions that people have about the three stances and the subtle difference between morals and ethics.
The conference concluded with a talk from renowned Christian Apologist, Professor Richard Swinburne of the University of Oxford. Richard delivered his breakthrough rationalist argument for the existence of a monotheistic God, using Occam’s razor as a key tenet in the argument.
Alex in the Lower Sixth, commented “Before going to the conference, I had no idea who Bentham was, or what humanism was about or the difference between ethics and morality. Now, however, I know about all three. It was frankly extraordinary. My favourite part was undoubtedly A.C. Grayling. He was witty, entertaining and poignant, and his topic was extremely relevant especially with its views toward secularism in regard to the current protests in Iran.”
“I think this will help my studies as I now have entirely new views about respect and the way we treat others – as well as the role of religion in the development of society. This is especially relevant to my English as well as History, as in both subjects I am currently studying the civil rights movement and post-Abolition America, where respect and humanity, or lack of, is a key part.”
Another student said, “The philosophy trip was an amazing experience for me to hear renowned speakers discuss God in relation to reason. Going to London and listening to students from other schools ask questions, allowed us to question our own assumptions about the existence of God.”
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