The McAlpine brothers have spent their lives navigating their similarities - and differences - and those of their various “tribes".

“The twin thing is very important. And I understand that with my wife, who’s also a twin – she has the same relationship with her twin: there’s someone who’s more important than your wife to you, who’s your twin brother. And that’s a funny concept to have, and a big part of our relationship. Our ‘twinniness’.”

David and Stephen McAlpine are identical twins. They sound the same – but are very different! Stephen is a writer and a church pastor; David is a neuroscientist, and he’s not religious. They live in cities on opposite sides of Australia, and believe very different things about the world – but maintain the unique closeness of the twin relationship.

In this fraternal episode of Life & Faith, Stephen and David talk to Simon Smart about growing up between Australia and Northern Ireland – between the beach and a war zone, with complicated feelings about both places – and their experiences of navigating tribes and personal identity, both religious and political. The brothers reflect on how the spectre of loss acts on a relationship this intimate, and also what frustrates them about each other’s beliefs.

“‘Religion is a home game as we say, not an away game, in Northern Ireland. But it’s also that the divide isn’t between those who are perhaps Christian, and those who maybe are not believers. But what type of Christian are you on the spectrum, and are you the ‘good-living’ type, which means you go to church, or are you just the normal who is a cultural Christian?”