A reminder that this series of symposia evenings at The Idler Academy began on Monday, and it is easy to join in as and when you want!

Monday 16th April

Can you prove God exists? We began with the ways that believers have attempted to prove the existence of God, or not, examining cosmological and design, ontological and moral reasons for faith. What do they show? What do they fail to achieve? And why do people go on believing for all that no ‘proof’ convinces everyone?

Monday 23rd April

Why science and religion aren’t really at loggerheads. The relationship between theology and the natural sciences is often presented as a zero sum game: if you go with one, you must reject the other. In truth, though, the relationship between the two is much more intimate and it is only in recent years that a great divide has been proposed, one that is arguably narrowing again in our time.

Monday 30th April

Is the Bible true? Fundamentalism is a product of the twentieth century. It rides roughshod over the rich traditions of reading holy scriptures which perceive the truth of the text as in between the word on the page and the life of the believer. Interpretation is not an optional extra. The literal truth used to mean that which is true in life, not in a book. So what went wrong?

Monday 14th May

If God exists, why is there suffering in the world? The problem of evil, as it is called, the question of how an all-powerful, all-good God can allow suffering, is probably the number one reason that people find it hard to believe. And yet, for our forebears, it seems that the opposite was the case. Suffering led people to turn to God. ‘Religion is the wound, not the bandage,’ as Dennis Potter put it.

Monday 21st May

Is nature the new divine? Or to put it another way, is God green? Many increasingly think so. Ecological movements are some of the most energetic and imaginative spiritual movements thriving on the planet. So is traditional religion the enemy of the environment, or does it have resources within it to mobilise the masses of people required to save the planet?

Monday 28th May

Can you be good without God? Most people, these days, know an atheist who lives an inspiring moral life. The link between God and goodness seems to have be severed. Indeed, many would argue that it needs to be severed, for fear that morality might go the way of theology in people’s lives. And yet, is there any truth in the notion that without God, everything is permissible?

Monday 11th June

Can you be spiritual without being religious? Religion is a bad word in many people’s vocabulary. It conjures up memories of school chapel, flawed parish priests, or bloody crusades. Who wants to be tied to one tradition when there is meditation and yoga, shamanism and tantra to chose from, to learn from? Or maybe there are risks in a consumerist approach to spirituality?

Monday 18th June

Is the heart of all religions roughly the same? It’s called the perennial philosophy, the idea that behind all spiritual traditions lie timeless, universal truths. Often cited is the so-called Golden Rule. But what is the perennial philosophy, and how did it come about? And does it really stack up, or risk leaving you pursuing the spiritual dimension in a kind of religious no-man’s land.