Sea of Faith Hawke's Bay Group

We welcomes all who are willing to explore religion and spirituality without fear. Radical views and contemporary concerns are debated, traditional doctrines and practices are questioned in order to renew or reject them. Is available to people of all beliefs or of no belief who are searching for and wanting to practice a new kind of open-minded, open hearted faith. *Spirituality can be defined as a sensitivity to the things of the human spirit such as caring , justice, beauty and truth.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Attack on Religion

There have been small and big revolutions in(western) human thought right throughout history.In the sixteenth century Copernicus startled the world by removing the earth from the centre of the Universe, then Darwin showed that we humans were just another animal but of course this has not yet been accepted by everyone.Not two hundred years ago we began to realise that slavery was not right,then a hundred years ago women's rights started to become the norm and just fifty years ago we started understanding the unfairness of racial discrimination and that there was no basis for it.

Then also in the last few decades the Environment has become important.Its not acceptable to kill elephants, rhino and other endangered species like it was just seventy five years ago, nor can ivory and rhino horns be imported. In New Zealand cutting down native timber in Westland is a no no but hypocritically we still import native timbers from the islands,like Kwila for outdoor furniture and that's OK, but hopefully that will change.

Homosexuals have been able to come out into the open and around the world in many countries are having their rights legally supported.Gay Marriages have been legalised. Divorce was severely frowned upon and only whispered about in polite circles, and single parents were almost unknown. All these things are now accepted to various degrees.

Now at the beginning of the twenty first century, which may be the century of religion, one way or another, religion is under attack. Of course there were hardy souls that have attacked religion before but mostly in a philosophical way which most ordinary folk didn't understand anyway. Bertrand Russell was one. Much earlier Giordano Bruno attacked the Church and was burnt at the stake for his efforts. But now suddenly religion is fair game, it can't claim immunity from attack,or from being put under the microscope and dissected and pulled apart. Atheists have been able to come out of the closet and are no longer embarrassed by their ideas and are legally protected, no longer to be burnt at the stake by the Church, in the west at least, though not necessarily in Muslim countries. Lloyd Geering in his talk said that he was attacked for just saying what many before him had already said. Now many in turn have lost their fear of attack from the church and are talking and publishing freely,probably in protest over the fundamentalism in the US ( the fundies)Daniel Dennett discussed here has recently published a book 'Breaking the Spell,Religion as Natural Phenomenon' . It is a philosophical treatment of religion which is difficult to get into and read right through without getting bored I never managed it all and did some skipping. Now Richard Dawkins has come out swinging in his book 'The God Delusion',( another review here) one may say he lost his cool, and is under attack from the fundamentalists in the US where it seems he has just been on tour to Kansas of all places. read here and hereTwo recent books by Sam Harris "The End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation".continue the attack. And then on stage
Letting Go of God more gently,or as a physicist Sean Carrollhas just written.
These are perhaps the beginnings of a massive onslaught by the ungodly.Since the advent of the internet and blogging, scientists and ordinary people have been able to express their views in a way never before available to them, and in a way that anyone can read There is a very good blog by a Professor of Biology PZ Myers which will lead you to many other blogs which tie in with all that is going on, and understood in the light of what Bill Cooke said at the SOF conference in Marton. It all makes interesting and absorbing reading. There is no longer a narrow view or any view about anything that will not come under scrutiny.

I do not know if religion will eventually go the same way as the earth centred universe but maybe we are at the beginning of something enormous. We really are living in interesting times.


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