This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Tuesday 4 May 2021, 6.30pm to 7.30pm
  • Location: Online
  • Audience: Open to alumni, staff, students, the public
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Heslington Lecture

Do Jesus's teachings add up to a coherent moral system, still relevant today?

Even if we don't believe that Jesus was the son of God, we tend to think he was a great moral teacher. But was he? And how closely do idealised values such as our love of the family, helping the needy, and the importance of kindness, match Jesus's original tenets?

In this talk, in conversation with author Madeleine Bunting, Julian Baggini  will challenge our assumptions about Christian values - and about Jesus - by focusing on Jesus's teachings in the Gospels, stripping away the religious elements such as the accounts of miracles or the resurrection of Christ. Reading closely this new 'godless' Gospel, Julian will consider how we should understand Jesus's attitude to the renunciation of the self, to politics, or to sexuality, as expressed in Jesus's often elusive words.

An atheist from a Catholic background, Julian introduces us to a more radical Jesus than popular culture depicts. And as he journeys deeper into Jesus's worldview, and grapples with Jesus's sometimes contradictory messages, against his scepticism he finds that Jesus's words amount to a purposeful and powerful philosophy, which has much to teach us today.

Buy a signed copy of the book from Fox Lane Books

About the speakers

Dr Julian Baggini is one of the UK’s best-known philosophers and public intellectuals. He is Academic Director of the Royal Institute of Philosophy (UK) and author, co-author and/or editor of over 20 books, most recently The Godless Gospel: Was Jesus a Great Moral Teacher?.

Julian regularly writes for national and international newspapers and magazines, such as The Times, The Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Financial Times, Prospect, New Statesman, and the Literary Review.

He is co-founder of The Philosophers’ Magazine and has given talks for the World Intellectual Property Organisiation at the UN in Geneva, the Global Education & Skills Forum, the Royal Society of Arts, the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers, the European Parliament and the Dutch Bioethics Association, amongst others.

He has worked with think tanks such as The Institute of Public Policy Research, Demos and Counterpoint.  He is a member of the Food Ethics Council and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kent, which also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 2018.

Madeleine Bunting was for many years a columnist for the Guardian, which she joined in 1990. Bunting read History at Cambridge and Politics at Harvard. She is the author of many non-fiction books, including The Plot: A Biography of My Father’s English Acre, which won the Portico Prize, and Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey, which was shortlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize and the Saltire Non-Fiction Book of the Year. She has also written a novel, Island Song. She was born in Oswaldkirk, North Yorkshire, and now lives in London. Her most recent book, Labours of Love: The Crisis in Care, is an authoritative and deeply reflective investigation into the crisis of care in the UK, with a clarion call for change. 
Madeleine will be discussing her book at York Festival of Ideas in June 2021, to book a free ticket (and view the full Festival programme) please visit from 1 May.