Upper Sixth students tackle big theological and philosophical questions at Ethiqa conference

Upper Sixth students tackle big theological and philosophical questions at Ethiqa conference

1 December 2022

Miss Annabel Bond, Teacher of Theology

On Wednesday 30 November, our Upper Sixth theologians enjoyed insightful talks by eminent speakers on big theological and philosophical questions that will be invaluable to them in their A Level studies.

The Ethiqa A Level Religious Studies conference began with Father Andrew Pinsent (who delivered a lecture at Woldingham last year) talking about the problem of evil. Father Pinsent, formerly a physicist at CERN before becoming a priest and professor at the University of Oxford, explained ideas about the place of evil and suffering in the world, how we can understand evil and whether there is a morally sufficient reason to allow evil to exist. 

This was followed by a talk from The Revd Canon Professor Keith Ward, former Professor of Divinity at Christ Church, Oxford, as to whether belief in God is rationally defendable, and how we can justify a belief that there is a transcendent being beyond our conscious reality. 

Author Julie Arliss then asked some challenging ethical questions, and sparked debate amongst the audience, as to where moral value lies - is morality based on actions or consequences? How can we justify a rule-based moral system? Are moral values fixed or do they change? 

Finally, we heard from Professor Daphne Hampson, Professor Emerita of Divinity at the University of St Andrews, on God and Gender. Professor Hampson explained issues around gender politics, religious doctrine and evolving views on gender. She discussed the need to overcome a vertical gender-dichotomy in favour of a horizontal relation between persons, and for religion to move forward from the ancient world view of gender inequality if religion is going to be gender inclusive and thrive in our modern society. 

Our students found the day both inspiring and highly relevant:

Lelia P “Having the insight of professional philosophical thinkers and professors has really helped with my sources for essays and overall knowledge and has put the whole A Level course into perspective.”

Katy N “I particularly enjoyed Professor Hampson’s talk. She made me rethink some elements of the course around gender and sexism."

Millie C “The speakers were great and the conference really helped me look more deeply into the A Level specification.”

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