Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Judge says "Switch It Off!"

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

BBC reports, "A boy with irreversible brain damage should be taken off a life-support machine despite the objections of his parents, a High Court judge has ruled."

This decision is despite his mother saying, "He is still alive... Miracles do happen.", and his father saying, "We know he is reacting to certain things. He still has life. We don't have the right, as parents, as individuals, to take this privilege from him."

They are devout Christians and don't feel they have the right to make this decision, however medical experts do not see a possibility of recovery. The judge says it is in the boys "best interests"

A lawyer for the hospital said, "Her [the mother] deep religious feelings and beliefs lead her to believe... there may be a miracle. Unfortunately, looking at the medical evidence, the miracle the parents hope and pray for is unlikely to happen."

Do you think the right decision has been made? Do you think the parents have allowed their religious belief to overtake medical advice? Do you think they will look back and agree it was the right decision? Why do you think the hospital took this to court?

Read more <here>

Friday, 26 September 2014

Gianna Jessen: Abortion Survivor

Gianna Jessen grew up believing that she was born with cerebral palsy because she had been delivered prematurely in a particularly traumatic birth. However she later found out that actually it was due to the fact she was starved of oxygen during a failed abortion. 

Her mother, a 17-year-old single woman, decided to have an termiation by saline injection when she was seven-and-a-half months pregnant (there is no legal time limit for abortion in America).

The abortion failed. Against the odds, the baby had lived. A nurse called the emergency services and the child was rushed to hospital. Gianna weighed just 2lb and somewhat ironically, it was the abortionist who had to sign her birth certificate. At 17 months of age, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

She is now a full-time disability rights and anti-abortion campaigner. 

Of her mother she said, "I've never been angry with her because she's a stranger... She hasn't said she's sorry and I know that she had another abortion after me. But I don't feel sad or bitter because we can choose to overcome and be sweet or we can overcome and be angry. I want to be the former."

On people's rights to abortion, she has this to say, "It's more comfortable for people to think of abortion as a political decision, or a right. But I am not a right. I am a human being. I am the reality. Gently I put the question, if abortion is about women's rights, then where were mine? There was no radical feminist screaming for my rights on that day... That is why I want to live my life with integrity, having lived what I profess. My job is not to change your mind [if you are pro-abortion]. My job is to present the truth and leave you to decide."

Do you think Gianna has the right approach to her biological mother (who she has not met)? Do you think Gianna's story would change people's mind about abortion? Around 50 babies per year survive abortion in the UK each year, is this significant to the abortion debate?

Find out about the film of Gianna's life <here>
Gianna's personal website <here>
Read more <here>

Monday, 22 September 2014

2014 RPE Essay Competition - Win an iPad..

Image courtesy of RPE 

It's back! The 2014 :


First prize: a new iPad
Four Runners-up receive a £20 Amazon voucher
The winning essay will be published in RE Today magazine
 Following the success of last year, the Religion, Philosophy and Ethics (RPE) course  is pleased to announce the return of the RPE Essay Competition

The competition is open to all those currently studying for any AS or A2-level examinations (or equivalent) in the UK. The first prize is a new iPad, and there will be four runners-up prizes of £20 Amazon vouchers.
Entries must be no longer than 1500 words including footnotes but excluding references and can take any form e.g. essay, dialogue, etc. All sources must be referenced.

The deadline for the 1500 word essay is 5pm on 24st October 2014 and will be judged by RPE lecturers. The winner will be announced on the RPE Blog on 1st December 2014

To enter please choose one of the titles below and email your entry to
dwebster@glos.ac.uk (please note you may only submit one entry to the competition).

Entries must be written in as a Microsoft Word document. Entries will normally be acknowledged within 5 days. In your email, please put your name, the Sixth Form / FE college you attend, and the title you have chosen to answer. The subject of your email should be 'essay competition'.

Choose one of the following titles: 

Q1: What is the proper role of religion in a modern, secular society?

Q2: If you had a time machine, would it be wrong to travel back and kill Hitler?

Q3: Does science give us an accurate picture of 'how the world is'?

·       1500 words maximum
·       Your essay must include the title/your name/contact email at the top of the page
·       The essay must be an attachment to the email as a Microsoft Word document
Any essay that does not satisfy these three conditions will not be considered by the judging panel.

The panel decision is final, and no correspondence will be entered into.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Murderer Allowed Euthanasia Rather Than Prison

Image courtesy of The National Post

Frank Van Den Bleeken is a 50-year-old Belgian serving life in prison for sexual assault and murder. He has successfully argued that he is living a life of  unbearable psychological suffering and has been granted the right to die under Belgium’s liberal euthanasia laws. At least 15 other inmates are considering making requests as a result.

Since 2002, the people of Belgium can ask doctors to end their lives if a panel of medical experts agree that their physical or mental suffering is, "unbearable and irreversible".

Ven Den Bleeken has argued that he would never be able to overcome his violent impulses and as a result would spend his life in prison, “I’m a danger to society... What am I supposed to do? What’s the point in sitting here until the end of time and rotting away? I’d rather be euthanised.”

He asked to end his life three years ago. The board that assesses each case said he had to seek psychological help first but after he failed to find such treatment, his request was granted on Monday.

Do you think this is an acceptable use of euthanasia laws? Is this similar to allowing capital punishment? Is this an easy way out of his jail sentence? Is this a result of the 'slippery slope' of euthanasia opposition talk abut?

Read more:  <here>

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Born At 24 Weeks

Image courtesy of The Mirror

"Parents release photo of daughter born at 24-week-old abortion limit saying 'She's not a foetus, she's a fully-formed human being'" says the headline in The Mirror.

The argument for changing the abortion law as foetus' are able to live from less than 24 weeks continues to gather momentum. One family who have gone through a tragic series of pregnancies have decided to go public with photos to make people think about their actions.

They lost their first baby at 23 weeks, and this one was 24 weeks but didn't survive. They are pregnant again now, but want to raise awareness of the issue.

Read the fully story <here>
Image courtesy of the Daily Mail

The youngest ever baby to survive was 22 weeks and was born in 2008. Read the full story <here>.

The UK law was originally put in place as foetus' could not survive pre-24 weeks.

Do you think the law needs to change? Would it have much effect given most abortions take place before 12 weeks? Do you think that it matters whether it can survive or not? Is the most crucial factor?

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Islmaphobia via Social Networks

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Social networks have undoubtedly changed the way we use the internet. However it is too easy to just click 'Share' or 'Retweet' without really thinking.

If it sounds very un-probable and totally unbelievable, it probably isn't true!

"An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true, and often possess horror implications that are believable to their audience." <link>

The best thing to do is to put a story into Google. If you get a number one hit for Snopes.com you can be sure the story is probably not true. Always do this before sharing a story or photo via social media. It's really important.

This is a great example that has been shared on Facebook...

Organisations such as Britain First have been particularly guilty of scaremongering about Muslims and immigrants.

Will you help stop this? THINK before you reshare.

Monday, 8 September 2014

9/11 Remembered

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The 11th September 2014 marks 13 years since the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. 

I often refer to 9/11 when looking at the problem of evil in philosophy. It seemed irreconcilable to many that an all-knowing and all-loving God could allow such an action, especially in the name of religion. I have blogged about this before, see <here>.

Ross Mackechnie, a 9/11 survivor, claimed: “In less than two hours Aquinas’ proofs of God were blasted, seared, chocked with arid smoke and snuffed out forever along with more than 3000 lives now reduced to powder in the rubble of Ground Zero.”

However the important thing now is that many young people are unaware of the full devastation of 9-11. This excellent video from TrueTube explains the terrible events of the day:

It also includes an assembly plan for teachers or students: <here>

A prayer at Ground Zero:

Or <here>