Matters of Life & Death

In each episode of Matters of Life and Death, brought to you by Premier Unbelievable, John Wyatt and his son Tim discuss issues in healthcare, ethics, technology, science, faith and more. John is a doctor, professor of ethics, and writer and speaker on these topics, while Tim is a religion and social affairs journalist. We talk about how Christians can better engage with a particular question of life, death or something else in between.

Science and religion 1: The myth of conflict, Charles Darwin’s beetle research, epistemic humility, and English country churchyard or Californian fridge?

22 Nov 2023

This week’s guest is Nick Spencer, senior fellow at the faith thinktank Theos, and recent author of Magisteria: The entangled histories of science and religion. Nick joins us to discuss the complicated backstory to how we all came to believe science...

Q&A: The ‘myths’ leading women to choose abortion, and is digital slavery underpinning breakthroughs in AI?

15 Nov 2023

This week we dip back into the postbag to look at some more listener questions. First up we return to our episode looking at recent shifts in abortion rates – is the narrative of ‘it’s my body and I’ll do what I want’ what is truly driving increase...

Friendship 3: Ruth and Naomi, ‘chesed’, trips to the theatre with John Stott, and an unorthodox rabbi

8 Nov 2023

We last tackled the idea of friendship when we explored the so-called ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ – that cloud of concern that today hangs over any close relationship between two people. But friendship in the Bible was not inevitably corrupted by sex,...

The Fall: Bad actor theory, a malevolent voice in the Garden, Total Depravity and Original Sin, and the ‘Christian heresy’ of liberal humanism

1 Nov 2023

Creation. Fall. Redemption. New Creation. This is the grand narrative of scripture and the theological foundation we use to try to probe into the ethical challenges thrown up by advances in science and technology. We looked at creation in September,...

Baby loss 2: Rising abortion numbers, pills by post, ‘the pregnancy remains’, and Schrodinger’s fetus

25 Oct 2023

We spoke last week about the hugely welcome shift in how society talks about miscarriage and cares for women (and men) who have experienced it. And yet at the same time in Britain, we desperately avoid using the same language and narrative establishe...

Baby loss 1: Elsie’s story, one in five pregnancies, names missing from the family tree, and the power of ultrasound

18 Oct 2023

We have just finished Baby Loss Awareness Week here in the UK. While the event is not hugely well known, it is indicative of an enormous cultural shift in recent decades around how society talks about miscarriage and stillbirth. Today, the messaging...

Women and Christianity: Purity culture, beyond complementarianism, baggy t-shirts over swimming costumes, and recovering Tamar’s voice

11 Oct 2023

Christianity is sometimes described as ‘bad news for women’. Clearly we would all disagree with this epithet, but why does it have cultural currency right now for a growing number of particularly younger women? In this episode we’re joined by Ellidh...

Origins of covid: Gain of function research, zoonosis, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and truth over tribe

4 Oct 2023

When the pandemic first spread beyond China there was a straightforward message from scientific elites: the virus came from a wild animal accidentally spilling over into humans, and any suggestion it might have instead been manipulated in a lab and t...

Q&A: Should Christians use homeopathic medicine and why are climate scientists self-censoring in academic journal articles?

27 Sep 2023

A listener has emailed in to ask where we stand on alternative medicine, such as homeopathy or chiropractors. Is it fine for believers to partake in these kinds of complementary treatments and therapies, alongside traditional evidence-based scientifi...

Creation: The Brethren’s suspicion of the ‘world’, an explosion of joy, Eric Liddell’s sprinting epiphany, and celebrating beauty

20 Sep 2023

Today we start a new series unpacking the theological foundations of much of what we talk about on Matters of Life and Death. Many Christians, going back to church fathers, have understood the grand narrative of scripture through a four-part journey:...

Q&A: The science of the billions-of-years-old Earth, has God deceived us, and are philosophers so useless after all?

13 Sep 2023

Our latest episode tackling questions from the listeners starts by considering whether we can harmonise a belief in modern science and a literalistic reading of the Genesis account of creation. Did God really create the universe in six days only 6,00...

Lucy Letby: Murder on the neonatal ward, Munchausen’s by proxy, doctors versus nurses, and the banality of evil

6 Sep 2023

Britain has been gripped by horror by the recent conviction of a neonatal nurse called Lucy Letby, who murdered seven premature babies and attempted to kill six others at the hospital where she worked. In this episode we discuss this horrifying and t...

Q&A: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, psychosomatic disorders, AI acing exams, and the limitations of true creativity

30 Aug 2023

We have another episode of listener questions today. First, we respond to feedback from a listener with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (also known as ME) who queried how we spoke about the condition in our previous episode touching on Long Covid. What exac...

Space: The James Webb Telescope, hobbits of the universe, astrobiology, and 16 billion billion Earth-like planets

23 Aug 2023

This week we have another classic episode of Matters of Life and Death from the archive. We invited theologian Andrew Davison to join us to talk through the spiritual ramifications of cosmology and what light thinking about the wider universe sheds o...

Evolution: The cosmic watchmaker, a 6,000-year-old Earth, the immorality of mutation, and intelligent uncertainty

16 Aug 2023

Evolution versus creationism is the internal Christian argument which doesn’t go away. We recorded an episode last year exploring this knotty problem and how believers might go about trying to debate it respectfully even if they disagree. We look at...

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