Addressing a question that’s surely as old as humanity itself, an enthusiastic gathering of people took on the perennial investigation into man’s relationship with a higher power at the EnlightenNext UK Centre one recent Thursday evening. The discussion was organised by the 21st Century Meetup and was advanced by a panel of six men and women of diverse beliefs and moderator Francis Sealey. The members of the panel were a Muslim, Humera Khan; a Christian, Elaine Storkey; a Hindu, Jay Lakhani; a humanist, Laurie Taylor; a Unitarian, Andrew Pakula; and a practitioner of Evolutionary Enlightenment, our own Chris Parish, Managing Director of the EnlightenNext UK Centre.
The following clips will give you a taste of the conviviality that pervaded the evening.
The evening got off to a lively start when each member of the illustrious panel had five minutes in which to present their position on God. From having no interest in the question of God whatsoever as voiced by the humanist to expressing the joy of a living a life completely surrendered to God, and everything in between, the panelists described their understanding of what the term God refers to. Following this brief introduction, moderator Sealey opened the floor to questions. There was no lack of questions as members of the audience brought their own ideas, predilections and belief systems into the discussion. Always passionate if sometimes contradictory, the conversation covered a gamut of issues and, if not having definitively resolved the question by the programme’s end, the range of opinions that emerged over the course of the discussion provided much food for thought for everyone. Indeed, many attendees stayed on for a vegetarian dinner in the EnlightenNext dining room and further discussions that carried on long into the evening.
What was especially interesting to observe were the affinities that became apparent across certain religious belief systems or within the wider perspectives of some of the panelists. Also, it was fascinating to see how much people cared, whatever their persuasion, about God and the implications of what God’s existence or nonexistence meant. On the part of the audience, there was an enormous amount of genuine interest in seeking a fuller understanding of the ideas espoused by the panelists. Everyone seemed to really want to find out for him or herself what was at the heart of seemingly contradictory positions. If nothing else, the evening was a rousing rebuttal to that long-touted assertion that God is dead. At the EnlightenNext Centre God was very much alive, whether one believed in him or her or not!