On 7th December, the Sixth Form religious studies students went to visit Bloomsbury Baptist Church to attend one of Julie Arliss’ annual Academy Conferences. We heard four insightful lectures by accomplished theologians including: Professor Alister McGrath, Professor Daphne Hampson, Julie Arliss and Professor Keith Ward.  Julie Arliss began the conference discussing animal ethics in a speech entitled, ‘Do snails have consciousness?’ Arliss illustrated a balanced argument as to whether it is morally acceptable to treat all animals as inferior. Following Arliss was Professor Ward who explained the conscience and whether or not it is an appropriate moral guide. His lecture named, ‘Was Jiminy Cricket right? Conscience’ outlined different secular and religious views of the conscience, allowing us to individually consider our own ideas about it.

After a short break, Professor Hampson presented her views on ‘Gender and Theology.’  Hampson delivered an inspiring talk on the place of women within Christianity, which we collectively agreed was our favourite talk. The last speaker of the day was Professor McGrath. Having studied McGrath’s work throughout our Religious Studies A Level, we were eager to listen to his perspective of how science and religion are compatible. As we expected, McGrath delivered a fantastic talk which resulted in us understanding the harmonic nature that science and religion can share. Finally, Julie Arliss and Professor Ward concluded the day with the big debate: ‘This house believes that free will is an illusion.’ The debates began with the speakers arguing for and against the motion and closed with the audience presenting their ideas in response.

Christina, Year 13