Jul 24 2008

July 2008 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters

Sea of Faith                   Newsletter       


    Dunedin                                   July  2008



First, we needed to make a decision about our meal arrangements. Geoff proposed that we consider the following possibilities:
1. Abandon food etc altogether and just have our Meeting, starting at 6.30 pm finishing at 7.30 – 7.45 pm.
2. We have supper after the meeting, roster of members each month to carry out.
(Bought biscuits, tea – coffee) Meeting to start at 6.00pm, concluding at 7.30 pm for Supper.
3. Continue to have a meal at 5.30pm. A roster from within the Group to provide this meal, or find an organization to undertake it for us.

After that, Margaret Feist  led us in looking at Steven Pinker’s paper:
The Moral Instinct

Margaret explained:
Steven Pinker is Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. Until 2003 he taught in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is widely published. On January 13 2008 the New York Times published an article, or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a paper, on The Moral Instinct.
It covers questions such as: Do human beings have a moral instinct? If so, how did we come by it? How does it function? How do we know? Can we improve on it?
I will introduce the paper. There will be plenty of time for discussion, and since we probably all have both experience and views on the subject, it should be animated.

In response to the Editor’s invitation last month, Pen Whitaker has sent in this; I hope other people will follow her example and offer me their thoughts:

Since cutting the painter that tied my boat to theological shores, I have found new horizons and new destinations as I sail on the secular sea.

The person of Jesus has remained for me the model, a man of total integrity, wisdom and compassion. Jesus has shown the full potential of humanity, though, of course, there are other men and women who have been singular examples of nobility. Moving away from orthodoxy has not been easy but in my search for honesty and truth it became inevitable.

As I have pondered on what it means to be fully human, I have become increasingly aware of the profound responsibility each one of us carries. Our actions have infinite repercussions, either for good or evil. Each of us, though insignificant as an individual, is part of a greater community that is influenced by the behaviour of its members. Indifference, unkindness and violence wither and destroy. Love, warmth and compassion nurture and inspire. It matters how we live. Our obligation to promote the well-being of the earth and all life on it is immeasurable.

No longer do I believe that what I do will condemn or reward me in a life hereafter.
No longer do I believe that by faith and prayer I will receive support from a supernatural being.
No longer do I believe that human beings are intrinsically sinful, but are people of potential for better or for worse.

Knowing that cruelty and degradation are rife in the world need not make us despair, but can lead us to look humbly into our own, often mean, hearts and resolve to do better, encouraged by the ideals of a Christian secular humanism, fearlessly seeking the truth through reason and experience.

Our religion can be to care for each other, the earth, and the cosmos. To quote Thomas Berry: “We must move beyond a spirituality founded simply on the divine and the human, to a spirituality concerned with the survival of the natural world in its full splendour, its fertility and its integral well-being as the larger spiritual community to which we belong.”

National Sea of Faith Conference:
This year’s conference will be in Blenheim, 26-28 September.
The theme: “The Ecological Imperative – Is Tomorrow’s God Gaia?”
Lloyd Geering is one of the keynote speakers. Information and a registration form are on the national SOF website or available from Don Feist

Does Science make belief in God obsolete? There are 13 very readable short essays on this question [“Yes”, “No”, “It Depends” etc]
at: The John Templeton Foundation 
Or if you prefer, they will post you, free, a booklet containing them. 
Don will order it for you if you ask him.

Chairman: Geoff Neilson – Phone 489-6727 – Geoff
Newsletter Editor: Donald Feist – Phone 476-3268 – Don

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