Would you kill a chimpanzee to save a human?

‘Would you kill a chimpanzee to save a human?’ This was one of the questions thrown at the participants of new research carried out by sociologist Professor John Evans of the University of California.

The question asks us to delve into one of the most central and longest running debates in the history of Western thought; what does it mean to be a human? It’s that classic, ‘What am I?’, ‘Who are you?’ question; a question that has perplexed people for centuries, from the likes of Descartes to Alice in Wonderland.

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Assisted dying and the law

On 7th November Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill will return to the House of Lords for scrutiny in committee.

On Thursday I attended a talk by Falconer on the subject. He said his Bill is deliberately restricted as he himself would not wish to go further. It only applies to terminally ill patients of sound mind with a maximum of six months to live, and they have to make the decision and administer it themselves.

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The definition of marriage

I was caught out. On Thursday I was giving a talk on homosexuality to a church deanery readers’ group. I expected differences of opinion, but the big sticking-point was not what I expected.

Nobody argued that intimate same-sex partnerships were immoral. That seemed fine. What was unacceptable, to those who disapproved, was the decision to change the definition of marriage. Gay and lesbian people can do what they like, as long as they do not call it marriage.

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Does the Church still need parishes?

For churchgoers, yet another fascinating YouGov survey by Linda Woodhead for the Westminster Faith Debates. This one is about the views of Anglican clergy. Anthony Woollard comments here.

In this post I focus on the finding that 83% want to maintain the parish system, which divides England into areas served by a priest provided with a vicarage. There are also other interesting findings. A summary is here.

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Thank Heavens for women priests

The survey of 1,509 Anglican clergy, published on 23 October for the Westminster Faith Debates, contains many interesting findings. Our own Linda Woodhead, organiser of this research, has drawn attention to a number of them in the associated press release.

It is little surprise, probably, that clergy are more 'left-wing' than most people in their attitudes to the Welfare State and immigration for example. Nor that, on issues such as same-sex marriage or abortion, they are rather more conservative than average.

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