Is God necessary? Can God be known through religious experience? Do religious experiences prove the existence of God? Is morality relative, or are moral laws absolute? Can injustice in
this life be made up for through an afterlife? These are just some of the philosophical enquires our A Level Religious Studies students encountered at the recent Candle Conference led by Dr Peter Vardy.
Having embarked upon their existential journey within RS A Level, our students have become accustomed to the uncomfortable yet necessary requirement to continually examine the underlying assumptions they hold, and face the inevitable paradigm shifts which occur through the development of metacognition. Attending this conference gave our students the opportunity to delve deeper into the philosophical underpinnings of ethical theories surrounding moral law, and to consider whether ethical theories which rest upon a
theistic faith, hold any sway in the realms of within the secular society that we live in.
Mabel Pyne, who attended the conference, summed up her experience as follows: “As a group of five a-level philosophy students we had the incredible opportunity to listen to Peter Vardy at one of his candlelight conferences. This is the second time I have listened to him and he was even better the second time around. We started the conference by talking about revelation, a very interesting topic which includes ideas on religious experiences and key philosophers including Rudolf Otto and William James. This was followed by Vardy discussing the difficult question of “Is God necessary?” bringing in St. Thomas Aquinas followed by Kant’s criticisms. We then discussed moral law and whether or not it is absolute and the absolute moral systems of Kantianism, Situation ethics and Divine Command Theory. Lastly, there was a debate in which the audience could participate, the premise being “This house believes injustice in this life cannot be made up for through an afterlife”. It was interesting to hear the views of so many people, and between the five of us we all had different ideas and reasons for agreeing or disagreeing, making for a very interesting debate! All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable and helpful day enlightening us on many different philosophical views. A massive thank you to Mrs Wreford and Mr Dougan who took the time to take us on this trip.” Mabel Pyne, U6, Bevan.
Head of Philosophy, Religion and Ethics