Philosophy & Religion

Ask the knotty questions about knowledge, reality, existence, morality & what we believe

Can rituals change the world?

Professor Dimitris Xygalatas

Do you ever pray, raise a glass to make a toast, attend weddings or birthday parties? Rituals come in many different forms and are practiced by all cultures around the world. But why are they so important to us?

Tue, 13 Dec 2022 7:30 pm UTC

How did language begin?

Professor Simon Kirby

What makes human speech miraculous is the fact that no other creature in history that we know of has evolved the skill. The origin of language is evolution’s greatest mystery, but how did language begin?

Tue, 6 Dec 2022 7:30 pm UTC

What is the power of silence?

Dr Naomi Woo

Silence is one of the most important elements when writing music and silent compositions like John Cage’s 4’33” can transform our perspective of what music is and help us to develop a more nuanced understanding of the world.

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Should we want to live forever?

Dr Stephen Cave

Many people believe that science is on the verge of fulfilling an ancient dream: stopping ageing and granting us all radically longer lives. But what will this mean for ourselves, society and the planet?

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What makes an artwork good?

Dr. James Fox

Why are some artists famous and others forgotten? Why are some artworks priceless and others worthless? And in an era where so much art is so hard to fathom, how do we know whether a work of art is any good?

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Why are we so fascinated by the devil?

Dr. Mikki Brock

The devil is one of the most recognisable figures in the western world, making frequent appearances on screen, in art and literature, and even in political rhetoric. Why, in our comparatively secular age, does the demonic continue to captivate us?

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What is art?

Dr. James Fox

Art is an essential part of what it means to be human. But what is art? When did we start creating it? And why do we still need it?

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Where did the Easter story come from?

Dr. James Corke-Webster

The Easter story of the death and resurrection of Jesus is central to the religion of millions of Christians around the world, and its key events are recognisable to many millions more. Did Early Christians really believe in a literal resurrection?

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Do you still have free will when your unconscious mind is in charge?

Dr. Uri Maoz

Have you ever arrived at your destination with no memory of the journey that got you there? Your unconscious mind has been at work. Does that mean we don't always have free will over our actions and decisions? And what does that tell us about the brain?

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Did the Roman Empire really wage a war against Christians and their God?

Dr. James Corke-Webster

History remembers the persecution of early Christians as a clash between the Roman state and its traditional gods, and the new Christian cult and its upstart God. But is that really all there is to the story?

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What happened after the first Christmas?

Dr. James Corke-Webster

Many people know the famous story of the Nativity. But what do we know about where it comes from and what happened next?

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At what age do you become responsible for your actions?

Prof. Leah Somerville

The law has to decide at what age someone should be held accountable for their actions. What does neuroscience tell us about when that should be?

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How can psychedelics help us understand consciousness?

Dr. David Luke

How can someone on an acid trip see sounds or hear colours? And why do some people have this same experience all the time, drug-free?

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Did Jesus answer fan mail?

Dr. James Corke-Webster

The Abgar Legend tells the story of the King of Osroene, who (it's said) got into a correspondence with Jesus. Are these letters real?

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