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.

Embryology 2: Psalm 139, reconsidering ‘ensoulment’, the language of right and wrong, and co-operation with evil

5 Oct 2022

Building on last week’s whistlestop tour through the latest ground-breaking embryo research, in this episode we consider what we should do as Christians about all this. Do we continue to hold onto the position that every embryo is a distinct and prec...

Embryology 1: A stem cell ‘Mini Me’, CRISPR, Brave New World, and extending the 14-day limit

28 Sep 2022

There has been a flood of highly significant if poorly reported developments in embryo research in recent years, all of which raise new and confusing questions for Christians and non-Christians alike. Is it acceptable to use stem cells to create embr...

Evolution 2: Tracking coronavirus variants, the immorality of mutation, roughly one thousand hominids, and intelligent uncertainty

21 Sep 2022

Our second episode on the evolution debate considers three more bones of contention: where do different species come from? Are we all commonly descended from a single source, or does God intervene? Then we consider homo sapiens, and whether science s...

The Queen: Monarchy as service, astonishing the President of Ireland, the changing Christmas Speech, and a testimonial faith

14 Sep 2022

In this special one-off episode, Tim speaks with Mark Greene from the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity about Queen Elizabeth II, her faith and decades of service. We consider her own particularly Biblical vision for how constitutional m...

Evolution 1: Finding common ground, the cosmic watchmaker, interpreting Genesis, and a 6,000-year-old Earth?

7 Sep 2022

Evolution vs creationism. It's been one of the most divisive and contentious debates within Christianity. But is there a way to tackle these questions without falling into rancour and accusation? In this episode we tentatively attempt just that, expl...

Archie Battersbee 2: Doubts over the brain scans, the end of ‘doctor knows best’, sucked into the culture wars and protective power of attorney

31 Aug 2022

Archie’s case underlines the growing crisis over the lack of trust many ordinary people have in medical professionals. Nobody wants to go back to absolute deference to doctors, but is there an alternative to furious hostility and judges having to rul...

Archie Battersbee 1: The invention of ‘brain death’, a breakdown in trust, the child’s best interests, and how to turn off life support

24 Aug 2022

Twelve-year-old Archie Battersbee died on 7 August, after months of legal wrangling between doctors who believed he was brain dead and wished to end life support, and his family who resisted this. This tragic case has captured a lot of media attentio...

Genetics 2: Whole genome sequencing, Gattaca, de-identification versus anonymity, and Big Data Towers of Babel

17 Aug 2022

In this episode we pick up our conversation with clinical geneticist Melody Redman to talk about a new NHS programme in England which is piloting whole genome sequencing of newborn babies. Why are scientists and doctors interested in collecting a chi...

Genetics 1: Rare diseases, libraries of recipe books, BRCA1, and precision medicine

10 Aug 2022

Each of us carries around in our cells about 20,000 different genes – a unique set of biological code which shapes how our bodies develop. As scientists better understand genes and how they work, genetics is becoming a more and more important field o...

Suffering 2: Rediscovering lament, reciting psalms in bomb shelters, the Gethsemane prayer, and the realism of Christian hope

3 Aug 2022

Resuming our conversation about suffering, we think through some faithful Christian responses to evil and loss. How can the church reintegrate the deeply Biblical tradition of lament into its corporate and individual life, picking up on the psalms an...

Suffering 1: ’Adamah’, mystery and presence, the ever-smiling Buddha, and the lamb slain from the creation of the world

27 Jul 2022

The problem of suffering has been one of the most intractable and painful theological debates for centuries. But is it perhaps not a problem to be solved, but a deeper mystery to be journeyed through? Is suffering solely a consequence of human sin si...

Space 2: Astrobiology, 16 billion billion Earth-like planets, LUCA and the non-competitive Imago Dei

20 Jul 2022

In the second half of our conversation with theologian Andrew Davison, we ask what the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe would mean for Christian faith and teaching. Whether it is single-celled organisms or fully-fledged intelligent sentien...

Space 1: The James Webb telescope, extra-terrestrial life, hobbits of the universe and the doctrine of creation

13 Jul 2022

In the week the first images from the new James Webb Space Telescope were beamed back to Earth, we are joined by theologian Andrew Davison to consider the spiritual value of cosmology and astrophysics. Andrew is a theologian of the sciences and espec...

Simulation 2: Zoom’s face-smoothing, chatbot therapists, Trinitarianism, and evil as counterfeit

6 Jul 2022

Hello, and welcome to Matters of Life and Death. Today we’re going back to our conversation about simulation for part two of this re-broadcast. Last week’s episode discussed the growth of deep fakes and other digital technologies which allow us to si...

Simulation 1: Deep fakes, David Beckham speaking Mandarin, Jean Baudrillard’s four phases, and image as sacrament

29 Jun 2022

For the next two weeks we’re dipping back into the Matters of Life and Death archive to bring you an episode we first broadcast last year. It’s all about simulation. We live in an era when digital technology is making it increasingly easy and cheap t...

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