Earlier this month astronomers announced that they are on the verge of discovering Earth-like planets orbiting other stars.
NASA's new Kepler telescope is discovering previously unknown planets on an almost daily basis. A high proportion of the trillions of stars now appear to be orbited by planets which we had been unable to detect previously. They are calling these 'exoplanets', to distinguish them from the planets within our own solar system. The sheer volume of these exoplanets suggests that sooner or later we will discover hundreds of planets that have the kind of surface and atmosphere and the right location in relation to its star to support life.
Some scientists claim that within the next few years they will discover a planet where all the conditions for life are present and where indeed life may already have developed...
An interesting report from the University of Ulster has found that believing in faith healing could inhibit your recovery from illness.
Dr Tony Cassidy and his research team at the Coleraine campus found that those who put their trust in faith healing might be less likely to stick to the medical advice their GP or consultant has given them. Of the 766 people who took part in the survey those who said they believed strongly in faith healing were also more likely to say they weren’t altogether happy with their GP.
Combine this with the fact, in general, only one-in-three of us properly follows the medical advice we’re given in the doctor’s surgery and about one-in-four ignores the advice altogether, and we’ve got a good number of people who won’t be experiencing the benefits of their prescription any time soon.
Or will they?
My dad is part of a team of people who go out from his church on a Saturday to do ‘Healing on the Streets’. No megaphones or soapboxes, just a small sign saying something like ‘Would you like prayer?’. Men pray for men and women pray for women. And amazing things happen.
Many papers and news outlets are currently reporting an interview Sir David Attenborough gave to the Radio Times about his latest documentary on Charles Darwin, which begins this coming weekend. During the interview the broadcaster said that he receives hate mail from Christians for failing to credit God in his documentaries.
"They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance."
Barack Obama is sure to have angered many Christians when, in his inaugural address, he said that he would "restore science to its rightful place".
Then two days later, reversing a decision made by his predecessor, George Bush, who was heavily influenced by the Christian lobby, he gave the go-ahead for the world's first trial of embryonic stem cell technology on humans.
Over the Easter period a new faith versus science controversy has hit the headlines. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill would allow scientists researching treatments for Alzheimer's disease, MS and similar degenerative diseases to create human-animal hybrid embryos. Stem cell research, which many scientists believe has the potential answer to these diseases, has slowed down recently because of a severe shortage of donated human eggs which allow scientists to collect stem cells from human embryos.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of the Scottish Catholic church, used his Easter Sunday sermon to accuse the government of "an unprecedented attack on the sanctity and dignity of human life", and to warn that the research could lead to the creation of hybrid babies and experiments of "Frankenstein proportions".
I think that the Church needs to be committed to engaging in honest and critical debate over this controversial exhibition. We should not rush to be critical before examining the facts.
Body Worlds 4 is an attempt to combine science with art. It has some scientific significance and raises interesting moral and philosophical questions, not least about human identity. However, the values that underpin the exhibition are questionable for any person of faith.
Gordon Brown provoked plenty of response this week when he suggested that the UK should consider an 'opting out' system for organ donation.
In an opt-out system, consent of the deceased person would be presumed unless they had registered during their life that they did not want to donate their organs. The Prime Minister's remarks have prompted responses about coercion and conscripts.
This sounds like over-the-top scaremongering to me.
An article in The Times on 8th October described the very difficult decisions to be taken by the carers of Katie, a severely disabled 15-year-old.
Katie has cerebral palsy, she cannot walk or talk and is believed to understand little of what is said to her. Katie's mother has requested that Katie have a hysterectomy to avoid the "pain, discomfort and indignity" of menstruation.
186,000 abortions were carried out in England and Wales in 2005.
I think that most people in Britain are generally happy with the status quo - the victory for the pro-choice lobby nearly 40 years ago is seen as part of the liberty and freedom that we enjoy.
The church has always had an interest in this matter so closely caught up with life issues, though I wonder how clear-cut the arguments are.
This summer, the world's first Creationist museum will open in Kentucky.
Its founders, who have invested $25m in its construction (mainly raised from private donations), believe that it will be a tremendous success: theologically, scientifically, spiritually and financially.
The museum is within six hour's drive of two-thirds of the entire population of the US. With 50 million Americans believing that the Bible's account of Creation is literally true, the museum's backers expect to have a big commercial hit on their hands. They are confident of 300,000 visitors a year.