What’s New? An A Level Digest

Introducing our new Post -16 digest of interesting, useful and relevant books, articles and videos. Whether to develop and improve your own development and understanding, or to bring to the classroom, you will find fresh ideas for A Level. Our first edition brings to your attention some valuable additions to thinking about philosophy and ethics.

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A good book: God: An Anatomy by Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou

I first came across this book through radio 4 Book at Bedtime back at the start of the term. Professor Stavrakopoulou examines how God is portrayed in the bible and how this links to and was shaped by other ideas surrounding God in the ancient world the biblical writers were familiar with. In particular, she discusses how many passages in the bible describe God as being corporeal as he walks, laughs, weeps and gets angry. Having now read the book, I think:

  • This is a very accessible read for A level students and teachers a like.
  • It links nicely to different aspects of the A level specification for different examination boards.
  • I have found it useful as a means to analyse the view that religious language in the bible should be understood analogically or symbollically as well as thinking how this can add to the debate surrounding the biblical view of God in units exploring his attributes.
  • It could also be useful for those exploring issues surrounding feminist theology.


Interesting Research: The Problem of Evil and the Free-will Defence in an article by Erik J. Wielenberg.

In this article Wielenberg adds important considerations not only to the Problem of Evil but also to discussions about the nature of God. He explores whether a God who is morally perfect has freewill if he can only ever do the good. As such his exploration of this problem adds an interesting criticism of the freewill defence offered by Alvin Plantinga. I have used this in my lessons as an extension piece looking particularly at how it might add to a study of the Theodicy of Hick/Irenaeus. Further information on a summary of the piece and for the research itself, follow this link in RE:ONLINE. Some interesting points about the problem of evil and the free-will defence


A good article: Euthanasia/assisted dying, back in the political and legal spotlight

Are you teaching Euthanasia or assisted dying? If this is the case, many articles in this edition of the BMJ is a must read. One excellent piece is by the former archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey and Rabbi Jonathan Romain who argue that there is nothing within their religious scripture which indicates assisted dying is wrong. There are also other articles such as one by Ole Hartling who questions whether patients can make autonomous decisions when they are near the end of their life. Discussion questions include:

  • Should the religious or non religious worldviews of doctors play a role in this debate?
  • What role if any should be given to the voice and views of leading religious figures?
  • On matters of fundamental moral values, is neutrality possible or does any conceptions of the good life and good death necessarily involve articulating some value?

A full copy of the whole issue (the articles on assisted dying are on pages 304-311) can be found through following this link: 1054720 (bmj.com)


A good watch: Can you outsmart the slippery slope fallacy?

Ever used the slippery slope argument as a criticism of a particular theory? A simple and easy to follow explanation of this has been produced by TED-Ed. My students and I watched this before exploring how this has been used as an argument against allowing abortion and euthanasia. It is also really accessible for those discussing these topics at GCSE. The added bonus is that it is very short and it can be applied to lots of different issues you might be exploring. Here is the link: Elizabeth Cox: Can you outsmart the slippery slope fallacy? | TED Talk