Event: Is Rationality the Death of Religion?
Sponsor: Chappaqua Interfaith Council and the Chappaqua Library
Location: Bell Middle School, 50 Senter Street, Chappaqua, N.Y. 10514
Date: May 15, 2011 Time: 4:00 PM
CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. The Chappaqua Interfaith Council* and the Chappaqua Library are launching a new series called “Challenges to Faith in Our World.” The first program, “Is Rationality the Death of Religion?,” will be at the Bell Middle School on May 15th at 4 pm and is free. It will feature Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman, Associate Rabbi at Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester and blogger for the Huffington Post, in a lively conversation with Hank Davis, Professor of Psychology at the University of Guelph and author of the book Caveman Logic: The Persistence of Primitive Thinking in a Modern World.
The program arose when Rabbi Mitelman read Professor Davis’s book, and while he agreed with much of what Davis had written, he disagreed with Davis’s idea that people needed to evolve past religious impulses. So he e-mailed Davis, and over the span of several weeks, they corresponded to explore the nature of prayer, the role of religion in society, and the positives and negatives associated with organized religion.
The resulting e-mail exchange became a post on Huffington Post, “Are Rational Religious People All That Rare?” and ended up on its homepage on February 15, 2011. It generated over 950 comments from around the world. As Rabbi Mitelman says, “What’s been fascinating has been the level of passion surrounding this question, and it comes down to what we see as the purpose of religion. Is it designed to be the sole source of truth and authority? Or should it be primarily a source of meaning and values?”
Reverend Tom Lenhart, Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church and chair of the Chappaqua Interfaith Council, will act as moderator for this discussion. As he noted, “Voices in our culture argue that reliance on science, rationality and analysis are incompatible, indeed inconsistent with belief in God. On the other hand many of the most thoughtful people of faith find a way to embrace both science and religion. The upcoming event will serve as an important and lively opportunity to explore both sides of this debate. I hope and expect those on both sides will be better for it.”
The event is open to the public. Questions are encouraged! Light refreshments will also be served. For more information, please contact Joan Kuhn at the Chappaqua Library (914-238-4779) or Candace Downing (914-419-7216).
* In existence for more than 20 years, the Chappaqua Interfaith Council includes members, both lay and clergy, from eight faiths.