Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - Keith Ward: Religious Perspectives on Euthanasia

Interesting - opposing the end of suffering in terminal cases is a severe lack of compassion in my opnion. Hearing a religious leader take a philosophical stance on this is cool. But, as always, how the issue is viewed will depend on the worldview of the individual and which developmental moral stage dominates their perspective.

All the major religions are opposed to euthanasia (in their official statements at least), but why is this?

The most basic religious attitude is one that seeks to preserve the affirmation of life, and it is very fearful of anything which might undermine that. But against this is the seeming negation of the religious and moral decree of compassion and care, by increasing the amount pain and suffering a terminally ill person will have to undergo in a sustained or extended life.

How do the major religions stand on these issues and what help can it offer us in contemplating this political hot potato?


Keith Ward - Emeritus Professor of Divinity at Gresham College, Professor Keith Ward has a BA from the University of Wales, an MA from the University of Cambridge, an MA and B Litt from the University of Oxford, a DD from Cambridge and a DD from Oxford.

He has held Lecturer posts in Logic at the University of Glasgow, Philosophy at St Andrew's, Philosophy of Religion at King's College London. He was Fellow, Dean and Director of Studies in Philosophy and in Theology at Trinity Hall Cambridge, where he was also Lecturer in Divinity. He was the F D Maurice Professor of Moral and Social Theology at the University of London, where he was also Professor and Head of Department of History and Philosophy of Religion.

Professor Ward is an ordained priest in the Church of England and was until 2003 Canon of Christ Church, Oxford. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, holds an Honorary Doctorate from the Free University of Amsterdam, is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge and of the University of Wales.

He is a member of the Governing Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, and a member of the editorial boards of Religions Studies, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Studies in Inter-Religious Dialogue, and World Faiths Encounter. He has been a Visiting Professor at Drake University, Iowa, at Claremont Graduate School, California and at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

He also holds the Regius Professorship of Divinity at the University of Oxford for over a decade. Professor Ward has delivered numerous prestigious public lectures and is the author of many books.

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