• James Gregory Lecture: John Chryssavgis on “A Christian response to the ecological crisis” Watch
  • James Gregory Lecture: Simon Conway Morris on the Emergence of Life Watch
  • James Gregory Lecture: “Theology, Spirituality and Hope: Reimagining Mental Health” Watch
  • Will a particular form of religion dominate the world in this century? Watch

Publications, Reports and Articles

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Report: Can we Find a Shared Vision for Biotechnology?

Vision is something which motivates us, rooted in certain values we hold. Scientists, companies, governments and regulators have positive differing visions about biotechnology - like discovery, prosperity, sustainability, competitivity. Such visions may not however be shared by the public, especially concerning food, agriculture and the environment. The vision of progress through technology has been increasingly challenged in Europe. A more sceptical attitude has emerged, which may construct innovation in terms of risk as much as benefit. To be accepted by society, biotechnology has now to fulfill certain conditions, an invisible social contract. For example, if an application is unfamiliar, it must be in control of people who are trusted and whose motivations are shared; it must not challenge fundamental values, or present high consequence risks unless there is a comparable benefit to the end user… Read More

Report: Genetic Risk Regulation; Society & Ethics

In recent years genetic engineering has emerged on to the threshold of becoming a practical technology in agriculture and medicine. As it has done so, it has posed many complex questions regarding risk, regulation, societal structures and ethics. But these are apt to be treated too much in isolation in their separate disciplines. There has been a general recognition of the need to integrate risk assessment with other disciplines, and this paper is an attempt to do this, by considering the interrelation of these facets. It arises out of the membership of its three authors on an expert working group into the ethics of genetic engineering, being run by the Society, Religion and Technology Project of the Church of Scotland, of which I am Director. I am a chemist formerly a nuclear inspector, now turned ethicist, John Eldridge is a sociologist with special interest in media and risk studies including the BSE situation, and Joyce Tait works in environmental management, with a background in risk perception and regulation. We do this in the context of an analysis of the two different types of regulation applied to the potential risks associated with applying genetic engineering to agriculture - the precautionary and the reactive. Read More

Report: Living With Uncertainty - Risk And BSE

First it was sheep cloning, then pigs hearts for humans, then it was BSE. Animals have been big news of late. Keeping pace with these developments is the SRT Project’s work on genetic engineering in non-human life forms, now nearing completion. In this edition of the SRT Bulletin we look at some of these topical issues. Read More

Report: Human Stem Cell Patents would be Unethical

The working group on bioethics of the Conference of European Churches and its predecessor EECCS has for several years been engaging with the issues surrounding the patenting of biotechnological inventions. The group consists of specialists drawn from European Protestant and Orthodox churches in Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland and the UK. Our range of expertise includes biochemistry, chemistry, genetics, law, medicine, medical and technological ethics, and practical theology. Read More

Report: Patenting Life?

Once upon a time we knew that animals were products of nature. We used them and “owned” them, but it was different from owning a pair of shoes. Animals could get up and walk away; shoes couldn’t. And unlike patent leather, you couldn’t patent a cow. Patents are about inventions, and since when had human beings invented an animal? Read More

Report: What Future for Nuclear Power?

It is our view that the future prospects for nuclear power cannot properly be assessed in isolation from an overall understanding of energy production and use in the UK. In this respect we are disturbed that the Government’s assessment of the different sectors of the country’s energy requirements is apparently being done on a piecemeal basis - coal, nuclear, renewables, etc. Many experts, as well as ourselves, have repeatedly stressed to the Government that in an area so strategic to the country’s well being - not only economic, but also environmental, and in health and safety - it is profoundly lacking in foresight to assess the prospects in any particular sector of energy, without setting out an overall, long term energy policy. This should address not only the balance of energy supply methods, but the necessary portfolio of investment incentives and fiscal policy to reduce energy consumption, encourage energy efficiency. Read More

Report: Hasn’t Science Disproved Christianity?

For many people, to suggest that science and belief in God belong together would be greeted by blank amazement or suspicion. No one in their right mind would question the power of science to tell us what is true about the universe around us. Science is the way to see the world. Religion is, at best, unnecessary - a private matter, for those who are into that sort of thing. If there’s a conflict, it’s automatically decided in favour of science. To go on believing in God today, because you had to in order to make sense of the world, would be as outdated as the British Empire or steam trains. Read More

Report: What The Churches Are Doing on Climate Change

The Church of Scotland SRT Project has been active in addressing climate change at national and international levels for a number of years. In 1989 SRT produced a booklet ‘With Scorching Heat and Drought’ to explain the issues to the churches, followed by sections in its booklet ‘Seeing Scotland from the Summit’ in 1993. It has contributed to various reports to the General Assembly and a number of submissions to the UK Government. Read More

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image A short history of SRTP has been prepared by Dr. John Francis.
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