Jul 16 2012

July 2012 Newsletter

Published by under Newsletters

091011.SOFimageSea of Faith – Dunedin
Exploring Spirituality, Religion and Ethics
Newsletter May 2012


Being Positive about Africa
Prof  Tony Binns

 Tony Binns did his degree at Sheffield, taught at the University of Birmingham and then went to Sussex where he became Reader. He is a past-president of the New Zealand Geographic Society and now holds the Ron Lister Chair of Geography at Otago. He is a keen music fan, especially African music. He has spent a lot of time working in Zambia and Sierra Leone and many of his former students also work in Africa. He is enormously optimistic about Africa. This map shows the size of Africa relative to China, India, USA, Eastern Europe, France Spain and more. See if you can recognise the countries by their shapes.

(Click map to correct shape)

Our Last Meeting 28th June 2012 

25 keen Members braved the wind and driving rain – was it to prove how hardy Dunedinites are? More to listen to the refreshing and progressive ideas from Sarah Mitchell of Knox Church I think.

Sarah admits to having had a problem with much of the traditional language of Christianity (bells were ringing in accord) and having enjoyed music but found difficulty singing the words as they didn’t reflect the particular way she loves Jesus of Nazareth or of the way she practises her Christian faith.

Bruce Sanguin is a Canadian very much involved in progressive Christianity and he has a blog which is worth a read… http://brucesanguin.com/

Sarah read a prayer from his book “If Darwin Prayed”.

Anyone with access to the songbook “Hope is our Song” might like to look up the words to “God dancing in the rain” words by Joy Cowley and music by Colin Gibson. It evokes the transformative possibility of faith.

Transformative? A “radical, uncomfortable, revolutionary, disturbing, not consoling, crossing of boundaries” process. Not a static faith, but one ever changing of itself and of the believer.

If you happen to be in Knox, you might be able to txt her questions about the service on her iPad and be an active participant – now there’s progress.

Sarah summed up her view of the cosmos – “oops or wow?” – Very much WOW! 

Editor’s Postscript: Voltaire wrote “The only sign of life is growth” – Sarah embodies a very-much-alive and growing faith which I’m sure many of us share.


The God Particle 

The British physicist Prof Peter Higgs, whilst teaching at Edinburgh and only 34 years old, postulated that at the beginning of the universe, just after the Big Bang, there must have been something to give mass to the particles so created. He suggested a field of energy, the Higgs Field, in which tiny particles could affect and give mass to some other particles. The tiny particles or bosons, were theoretical, but it seems highly likely that the recent experiments under the Swiss Alps have been able to detect them.

Protons have been accelerated at virtually the speed of light inside a super-cooled tube of magnets and smashed together. Four giant detectors have been able to measure what happened when the protons collided and it seems that the boson predicted by Prof Higgs might have been found. These particles only last for a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second and then decay into something else.

Journalists have called the Higgs particle The God Particle as it is directly involved in the creation of matter, as once particles have mass they link together to form stars, planets and galaxies. This is the start of life as we know it.

Earnest Rutherford was a pioneer in this field, he worked at the atomic level and later scientists worked at smaller and smaller scales to uncover electrons, protons, quarks and they showed that the atom was mostly empty space.

It has been suggested that if we got rid of all the empty space in all the atoms on earth we should have something about the size of a sugar cube.

What does all this mean to us? Knowledge advances and causes scientists to modify their existing concepts of matter and of the origins of the universe. Just as knowledge advances, so our understandings or our beliefs evolve (see David Kitchingman’s presentation of the stages of faith two meetings ago) and we look at our world with fresh lenses and can ask new questions.

Maybe not for the spiritually certain however.

Newsletter EditorAlan Jackson 55 Evans Street Opoho DUNEDIN 9010 Ph: 473 6947 alanjackson@xtra.co.nz

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