Religion as a human creation – or not?

We (that is the Nontheist Friends Network) say, under our Aims, that we ‘regard religion as a human creation’. But is it?

Humans have created many things – culture, science, technology, music, literature, architecture, society and so on.  There is also a developing view that we have socially created language/s.

One thing we did not create, except in the sense of ‘making babies’, is ourselves. Humans were created, if not by God then by evolution.

A fascinating story on the BBC ‘futures’ website, based in part on the work of the Dutch-American primatologist Frans de Waal, suggests that religion itself ‘evolved’ in co-evolution with biology so that its beginnings can be traced back many millions of years to a time long before humans or even primates appeared. (Much further back than Robert Wright’s sociological perspective in his ‘Evolution of God‘).

It’s quite a long read but worth the effort I think as another contribution to our reflections on matters theological.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190418-how-and-why-did-religion-evolve?ocid=ww.social.link.email

Yearly Meeting Events

BYM 2019, 24-27 May, Friends’ House, Euston, London
We have booked to hold a special interest meeting on Sunday 26/05/19, 12.30-13.30, William Penn room 2, (the room holds 40-50 people)
Title: Unity, Diversity, Boundaries, the case for an inclusive Society of Friends, open to all.
(Further exploration of our Conference theme).
The meeting will be in the shape of a forum with a short introduction by David Parlett and an informal panel discussion.

We have also booked a space to take part in the special interest (Groups’) fair on the same day, Sunday 26th May evening from 5.45 , members of the SG need to be available to man this stall!

A Conference Reflection

A personal view from one of our Steering Group members.
ALL Conference participants are invited to share THEIR reflections here.
(Scroll down to the very bottom to complete ‘Leave a reply’ there. You may leave the ‘website’ field blank and only need enter your name and a valid email address which will not be shared or visible on the site).

It will soon be 3 weeks since our NFN annual conference at Woodbrooke for 2019. Time enough to reflect a little on the experience.

There were about 32 present for all or part of the conference (I don’t have the exact number) and I was somewhat surprised, looking round the Cadbury Room during our final plenary session on the Sunday, that I could name everyone there (but for one surname which I had to look up). That has never happened before.

Of course, there were many ‘old friends’ (as distinct from ‘Old Friends’) who had been to many NFN conferences before but, amongst the 28 there for that final session, there were 10 who had not attended previously.

The lower numbers than previous conferences (when we have had between 50 and almost 100 attending) presented some disadvantages but also created a cosier atmosphere and the feeling by the end (at least for me) that everyone knew everyone else.

I’m sure some of those who had not attended before may feel quite differently and one participant who was rather unhappy with what he saw as ‘unquakerly’ behaviour by some there, wrote and told me about that.

I would be very interested to hear from other participants, and especially those who had not attended before, how they felt about the conference. We only received 10 feedback forms, which were generally very positive with mostly ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ ratings, and this might have been partly because there were also at least two feedback forms from Woodbrooke to complete. I know it can be difficult to find time to complete forms in the hurry to pack and leave on Sunday, but I also wonder whether only those who felt most enthusiastic, bothered to complete the forms!

You can still let us know ‘how was it for you’, either by commenting below (‘Leave a reply’), or by emailing one of the Steering Group, including myself at trevor(at)humber.co.uk (replace the (at) with the usual @ symbol (and no spaces) in your email ‘To:’ field).

Different individuals will have responded differently to different aspects of the conference but I found, as I often do, that the overall effect was very inspiring for me. Any one part on its own might have been less so, but taken together, for me, there was a good balance between our 3 main speakers and other aspects of the conference.

One slightly unsatisfactory aspect was that we did have problems with the microphones, mainly because many, myself included, find them difficult to hold close to the mouth the whole time you are speaking and find them off-putting. Microphone problems affected the short presentations where one speaker could be heard very well and the others only with difficulty. I thought that this might partly have been because the mikes handled some voices better than others.

But apart from those difficulties, I felt the conference overall was excellent. I hope we can add some specific information and reflections on each of our 3 key speakers shortly.

Please do let us know about your experience of the conference and any thoughts about future conferences, local gatherings and indeed the future of NFN as discussed at the AGM.

Trevor Bending

Website and 2019 Conference

I have left the 2019 Conference page (29-31 March – last weekend) as the home page for the time being but enabled comments on it so, if you were there, please use the comment box (‘Leave a reply’) to give us further feedback on the conference.  I will use my discretion as to whether to publish, edit or remove these!

Otherwise I have tried to update the website to reflect recent changes but some areas might still be a bit out of date. Much of the ‘old content’ is still relevant and of interest, so please have a look around (a good browse) and let me know through comments on relevant pages if you feel anything needs updating or refreshing.

Trevor

Last weekend’s gathering at Woodbrooke

It was very agreeable meeting everyone last weekend, even if, in the end, we only had just over 30 participants. Being smaller loses something but I think we also gained from the smaller numbers.

One enthusiastic first-time participant suggested we should have conferences on themes of general Quaker interest rather than just related to non-theism, theological positions and so on – but last year’s conference was on the future of Quakerism – will it survive?

What do other Ffriends think about this?

Feedback from the conference was generally very positive and further details will follow in due course.

Trevor Bending

PS. If NFN is to continue, we really do need some of you to come forward to join the Steering Group. (We can co-opt new members between AGM’s). So, if you feel you could give even just a little time, please email us or use the Contact Form to send me a message.