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 opens from 6.30pm, serving tea, coffee, wine and light refreshments.
Talks and discussion 7.30pm–9pm. Venue: Sheffield Cathedral, Church Street, S1 1HA
Diatribe, dialogue and difference: reflections on Christian-Muslim relations
2 October 2018 - Mona Siddiqui
Throughout history, the encounter between Christianity and Islam has been largely polemical driven by theological, political and sociological differences. The lecture will explore how doctrinal differences on a range of issues such as the nature of God, law and salvation led to serious intellectual engagement between Christian and Muslim scholars but also a gradual cultural and civilizational distance. Many of the historical tropes are being revived today in our Euro-Atlantic politics leading to new shifts and rifts in this most complex relationship.
About the speaker
Mona Siddiqui joined the University of Edinburgh’s Divinity school in December 2011 as the first Muslim to hold a Chair in Islamic and Interreligious Studies. Her research areas are primarily in the field of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) and ethics and Christian-Muslim relations. Amongst her most recent publications are, 50 Ideas in Islam (Quercus, 2016), Muslim Christian Encounters 4 volumes, (Routledge, 2016) Hospitality in Islam: Welcoming in God’s Name (Yale UP, 2015), My Way: A Muslim Woman's Journey (IB Tauris, 2014), Christians, Muslims and Jesus (Yale University Press, 2013) and The Good Muslim: Reflections on Classical Islamic Law and Theology (Cambridge University Press, 2012). Professor Siddiqui is also well known internationally as a public intellectual and a speaker on issues around religion, ethics and public life, known especially for her appearances on Thought for the Day and The Moral Maze. She has also been a guest on Desert Island Discs and Private Passions. In 2011, she was awarded an OBE for her contribution to interfaith services.
Religion, atheism and the varieties of the good life
19 February 2019 - John Gray
It is commonly claimed that atheists can be as moral as practitioners of traditional religions, and no doubt this can be so. However, John Gray suggests that atheists have promoting a wide variety of conceptions of the good life. Examining the history of atheism over the past several centuries, he will argue that it has not been a single intellectual movement but a diversity of contending sects adhering to divergent and often conflicting values and advancing very different ways of life. The question is therefore not whether atheists can be moral, but: Which morality should atheists follow?
About the speaker
John Gray studied at Oxford, where he was then a Fellow in Politics at Jesus College, and Professor in Politics from 1996. Between 1998 and 2007 he was Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics. Since 2008 he has been Emeritus Professor at the LSE. He has published many books, including most recently: Gray’s Anatomy: Selected Writings (Penguin, 2009, 2010, 2016), The Silence of Animals: Thoughts on Progress and other Modern Myths (Penguin, 2013), The Soul of the Marionette: A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom (Penguin, 2015) and Seven Types of Atheism (Penguin, 2018).
Seeking the Welfare of the City: What Can the Church Contribute to the Common Good?
26 June 2019 - Bishop Pete Wilcox
This talk will explore how, in pursuit of the common good, the church has something to offer in policy-making as well as in project-delivery, in what might be called a prophetic role and not merely a pastoral one.
About the speaker
The Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox has been ordained for over 30 years and has been Bishop of Sheffield since the summer of 2017, having been the Dean of Liverpool for the previous five years. He trained for the ordained ministry at Ridley Hall in Cambridge, after completing a degree in modern history at Durham University. Theological education and ministerial formation remain key interests for him, along with Bible teaching and expository preaching. He is the author of three books which attempt to make bible commentary accessible: Living the Dream (2007), Walking the Walk (2009) and Talking the Talk (2011).
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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.