Previous Talks

Dr. Miriam Klein-Flugge: Neuroscience, Decision-making and Mental Health

4 May 2020

Dr. Klein-Flugge is a neuroscientist interested in how the human brain enables us to perform complex decisions. Her PhD focused on the mechanisms by which decision signals reach motor regions to enable implementation of the resulting actions. Dr Klein-Flugge’s current work, as part of her postdoctoral fellowship, continues to build on this, whilst she also seeks to research which aspects of these computations are impaired in disorders, affecting decision-making and potentially resulting in changes to mental health.

Dr. Elaine Storkey: Philosophical and Theological Sociology

18 May 2020

Dr. Elaine Storkey is a prolific thinker, writer and broadcaster as well as being involved with multiple NGOs and advocacy groups, especially ones pertaining to poverty in the global south. She has written extensively about feminism and sexual violence against women, as well as about climate change, art and technology. Here, she shares about her upbringing and faith-development, about her book, “Scars Across Humanity: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against Women,” about what difference Christianity makes to feminism and to art, and about being called to a life of witness in whatever contexts we’re in.

Dr. Mirjam Schilling – Fear Not, Sneer Not: A Healthy Christian Response to Covid-19

27 April 2020

Dr. Mirjam Schilling is a virologist at the University of Oxford and a Dphil student in theology, in the Science and Religion stream, studying the theological aspects of viruses under Alister McGrath. Here she discusses what viruses are from a scientific viewpoint, as well as how to make sense of them theologically, touching on such questions as the problem of evil. She explicates the resources available to Christians to be able to think about and respond well to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Megan Loumagne: The evolution of sexual difference and theologies of sin

Christian thinking about original sin and sexual difference have been entangled since the earliest attempts of Augustine of Hippo to articulate a doctrine of original sin. Despite significant efforts on the part of theologians in recent decades to integrate the doctrine of original sin with developments in evolutionary biology, there has been comparatively little effort devoted to rethinking the gendered contours of traditional expressions of the doctrine in conversation with up-to-date information about the biology of sexual difference. In this talk, I will share some of the insights from my D.Phil thesis, which has sought to fill this gap in the theological literature.

Panel: Teaching in the University as a Christian

Teaching in the University as a Christian

Wk 6 MT: 12/11/2018

Andi Wang, Georgina Prineppi, Kezia Gaitskell, and Sam Brewitt-Taylor will discuss their reflections on their teaching experiences (in a university context and beyond). Lessons learnt on teaching well, how Christianity has impacted how & what they teach, how teaching has influenced their Christian growth, and tough times as a teacher.

Jonathan Jong: The psychology of religion – Experimenting with gods

The psychology of religion: Experimenting with gods

Wk 3 MT: 22/10/2018

I’ll be speaking about how scientists study religion. I’ll give a quick history of the psychology of religion from the turn of the 20th century until the present day, and then turn my attention to the current major research programme that applies cognitive and evolutionary theories to explain religion. Then I’ll end by saying something about whether it’s possible to be religious and work on this stuff.

Will Donaldson: Living differently as a postgrad – Lessons from the Beatitudes

Living differently as a postgrad: Lessons from the Beatitudes

Wk 2 MT: 15/10/2018

How can we be entirely faithful to Christ and entirely involved in the places where God has placed us? How can we be in the world of the university, but not of it? The Beatitudes help us to navigate this tightrope and know how to live differently in order to make a difference for the sake of Christ.

Carl Hildebrand: Weakness of Will – Some Philosophical Reflections on St. Paul’s Body of Death

Weakness of will : Some philosophical reflections on St. Paul’s body of death

Wk 8 TT: 11/06/2018

I will offer some philosophical reflections on Romans 7, in which St Paul explains that he doesn’t do the good thing he wants to do and instead does the bad thing he doesn’t want to do. Philosophers discussing the problem of weakness of will often refer to this passage for a classic articulation of the experience of what people take to be weakness of will—classic philosophical discussion often focuses on whether weakness of will is possible in the first place and if so, how.

Here I assume that weakness of will is possible. I will suggest that there are several ways in which this weakness might manifest itself—there are at least several ways the will might be weak. I will also suggest that there is a certain pattern of progression these weaknesses might follow, or a way that one weakness tends to lead to another in a progressively vicious (& progressively difficult to detect) process of habituation. I will refer to these several weaknesses, respectively, as straightforward weakness of will, indirect weakness of will, & insidious intellectual error. I will develop my reflections on the basis of accounts from Socrates, Aristotle, & R.M. Hare.

My intention is to provide a more open-ended and somewhat creative, philosophical reading of the text, after the style of someone like Joseph Butler (in his sermons). In keeping with the more personal & formational nature of this forum, I’ll conclude with some brief pastoral reflections on this passage.

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Joe Martin: The Purposes of Old Testament Law that are often Neglected

The purposes of Old Testament law that are often neglected

Wk 7 TT: 04/06/2018

In the New testament, certain misuses of the Old testament law required correction. But, unfortunately, discussions of the purposes for which God gave laws to the people of Israel often stop with those corrections.

I want to provide a broader understanding of the laws of the Hebrew scriptures to help us appreciate not only their meaning for the ancient Jews but also their relevance for people today.

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Leslie Marsh: What is the point of Romans? An unraveled translation of Paul’s letter

What is the point of Romans? – An unraveled translation of Paul’s letter

Wk 3 TT: 07/05/2018

An ‘unraveled translation’ translates Romans in a way that brings out the logical progression of thought, and shows the whole to be one compelling piece.

Leslie Marsh read history at Cambridge before doing a degree in theology at Bristol, and prior to being engaged on an unraveled translation of Romans he had published “Jesus Decoded: a historical translation of Luke’s Gospel”, and “Revelation Unpacked: an unpacked translation of Revelation”.

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