Sheffield Cathedral in partnership with the University of Sheffield
God and the Good: Thinking Religion and Ethics
This is a series of interdisciplinary talks, intended for a general audience. The series will consider the relation between religious thinking and traditions on the one hand, and ethics on the other. While most ethical traditions have a religious background, the increasing secularization of modern society has put this connection in question. These talks will consider how far ethical issues can be illuminated by coming at them through a religious context, and vice versa, as well as the history of the interconnection. All are welcome, and there is no need to register attendance.
The Cathedral Coffee Shop is open all day, serving tea, coffee, wine and light refreshments.
Talks and discussion 7.30pm–9pm. Venue: Sheffield Cathedral, Church Street, S1 1HA
Albert Einstein on science, ethics, and religion
Tuesday 15 October 2019 - Alister McGrath (Oxford)
This lecture marks the centenary of the confirmation of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1919 by exploring his far-reaching ideas about the relation of science, religion, and ethics. McGrath will explore Einstein’s rich and rewarding views about the need to hold together God, science, and the quest for goodness in the light of the latest scholarship, and explore how they can help us develop our own ways of thinking about these important issues.
About our speaker
Alister McGrath is the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford. After studying chemistry at Oxford, McGrath gained a doctorate in molecular biophysics before going on to study theology, and gain two further earned doctorates from Oxford University in theology and intellectual history. McGrath is the author of many highly acclaimed works, including his bestselling Christian Theology: An Introduction and his prizewinning biography C. S. Lewis: A Life.
Christianity and morality: the story of an uneasy relationship
Tuesday, 4 February 2020 - Giles Fraser
This talk will focus on those theological voices that do not think religion has much to do with ethics, holding instead that it is more about salvation, for example. Thus, The Pilgrim’s Progress has “Morality” as one of the temptations that can distract the protagonist, Christian, from his path, and forgiveness also has a complex relationship with morality, often seeming amoral or even anti-moral. Kierkegaard is another figure who contrasts the theological with the ethical, juxtaposing Abraham’s faith with conventional moral thinking. It is this uneasy relationship between the two that the talk will explore.
About our speaker
Giles Fraser is an English Anglican priest, journalist, and broadcaster. His PhD was on Nietzsche and he was a Lecturer in Philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford. He is currently the priest-in-charge at St Mary’s, Newington, near the Elephant and Castle, south London. He used to write a column for The Guardian, as well as appearing frequently on BBC Radio 4. He is a regular contributor on Thought for the Day and a panellist on The Moral Maze as well as an Assistant Editor of UnHerd. Giles Fraser was formerly a visiting professor at the London School of Economics, Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, and director of the St Paul’s Institute. As Canon Chancellor, Fraser was a residentiary canon with special responsibility for contemporary ethics and engagement with the City of London as a financial centre.
The lost art of scripture: Rescuing the sacred texts
Tuesday, 26 May 2020 - Karen Armstrong
In our increasingly secular world, holy texts are at best seen as irrelevant, and at worst as an excuse to incite violence, hatred, and division. So what value, if any, can scripture hold for us today? And if our world no longer seems compatible with scripture, is it perhaps because its original purpose has become lost? Armstrong argues that only by rediscovering an open engagement with their holy texts will the world’s religions be able to curtail arrogance, intolerance, and violence. If scripture is used to engage with the world in more meaningful and compassionate ways, we will find that it still has much to teach us.
About our speaker
Karen Armstrong is one of the world’s leading commentators on religious affairs. She spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun, but left her teaching order in 1969 to read English at St Anne’s College, Oxford. In 1982, she became a full-time writer and broadcaster. She is a best-selling author of over 16 books. A passionate campaigner for religious liberty, Armstrong has addressed members of the United States Congress and participated in the World Economic Forum. In 2013, she received the British Academy’s inaugural Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for improving transcultural understanding.
|Previous events and videos||
St Paul's Letters from the Prison - An Ethical Review
3rd July 2018 - Minna Shkul (Department of Philosophy and SIIBS, University of Sheffield)
The lecture will focus on St Paul's prison letters, examining these as a farewell speech that provide Christ-followers with guidance on tradition, godly life and ethics. Having first discussed these instructions in their historical context in the Roman world, the paper will examine if these disputed letters are 'ethical' for 21st century readers, focusing on religiosity, ethnicity and gender, in particular.
5th June 2018 - Paul Faulkner (Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield)
Faith is something that one can gain and lose. In this talk Paul will try to characterise what happens when one is converted, where 'conversion' here applies broadly to the loss as well as the acquisition of faith. Given this characterisation, he will then ask what reasons one has to convert. This is a hard question because insofar as conversion results in one's seeing the world anew, the reasons that become visible to one after conversion cannot move one prior to one's conversion.
Ethics With Confucius
8th May 2018 - Jimmy Lenman (Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield)
In this talk Jimmy will discuss the ethical thinking of Confucius (Kongfuzi, 551-479 B.C.). How are we to make sense of a thinker frequently described as a humanist, yet so centrally preoccupied with the importance of ritual? And does Confucius’ thought have anything to teach us today, in the contemporary West?
Are Things Better With God?
6th March 2018 - Eric Olson (Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield)
*This talk is cancelled due to proposed UCU industrial action.*
The French Revolution and Its Attack on Religion
6th February 2018 - Linda Kirk (Department of History, University of Sheffield)
By the late eighteenth century, the French had taken some tentative steps towards religious toleration. As the Revolution broke out, and reformers proposed changes to anything and everything, including the Church, it was presumed that belief and fidelity would remain plaited into the fabric of French life. But things went further and faster than any reformers expected: before 1792 was over, those ruling France had turned to a full-scale attack on most of its Roman Catholic Church's institutions, hunting down many priests as enemies of the people. This lecture will ask what happened to belief; what understanding of the Enlightenment, and of legitimacy grounded on popular assent, led to puzzled but violent peasants on both sides slaughtering former neighbours and authority figures? And how did they stop?
Idolatry and Objectivity in Ethics
7th November 2017 - Yonatan Shemmer (Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield)
At the start of this talk Yonatan will trace the development of the concept of idolatry from the old testament through to the 20th century. He will argue that in one important sense an idol is a creation that reflects our fears and hopes, but has no basis outside of these. In the second part he will argue that belief in ethical objectivity should be seen as a form of idolatry in this sense. The belief in ethical objectivity is the belief that ethical requirements are universal: that they apply to all people independently of their systems of beliefs, their goals or their desires. This way of thinking about ethics is one of the most common presupposition of ethicists, but Yonatan will suggest that it is an idol that should be overturned.
Religion and Atheism: Beyond the Divide
10th October 2017 - Angie Hobbs (Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield), Julian Baggini, Richard Norman (Philosophy, University of Kent) and Anthony Carroll (Philosophy, Heythrop College)
Part of Off the Shelf Festival of Words
A panel discussion on Religion and Atheism: Beyond the Divide (Routledge, 2017), edited by Anthony Carroll and Richard Norman. The speakers will be the editors, and two of the contributors to the volume – Angie Hobbs and Julian Baggini. The discussion will be of interest to anyone who is concerned about the clash between the religious and the secular, and how to move beyond it towards a dialogue that is more fruitful.
The Logic of the Golden Rule
8 November 2016 - Peter Bradley (Dean of Sheffield Cathedral)
The so-called Golden Rule is a central principle of ethics: ‘do as you would be done by’. This talk will ask the question whether the principle offers a way for Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Sikhs and others a place to develop a shared understanding of morality.