Food for thought

In the 1630s, the Great Tew Circle met to champion the use of reason in the religious polemics of the time. At Wychwood Circle we try and draw on religion as well as reason in the political, moral and technological upheavals of our own time.

Is Religion Irrational?
The clash, if so it is, of faith and reason has taxed thinkers from the days of the Roman Stoic Epictetus (“I am a rational creature; so I must sing hymns to God”) to the present day. Foremost amongst contemporary theologians and philosophers is Professor Keith Ward, a prolific and wide-ranging author, who was recently at the Village Hall to stimulate many of us into facing the issue head-on.

In January 2018 we will be further challenged by Oxford philosopher Tom Simpson (formerly an officer in the Royal Marine Commandos and now resident in Chipping Norton) on the issue of trust, and not so much what we can believe, as who we can believe. His topic will be Can We Still Trust Experts? – never so relevant as in our post-referendum and Trumpian world of post-truth and alternative facts.

And are robots people too?
We need to think hard about the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and humanoid robots that might soon not only drive our cars but offer home care and even medical advice. What impact will these developments have on our identity and self-understanding? In December we will watch a recorded lecture by Professor John Wyatt and discuss the massive ethical and other implications of AI.

In other upcoming events, as usual open to everyone and anyone, whatever their standpoint, we will look at poetry under the heading of Only Connect (November 12th) and, back at the Village Hall, play host to local (and international) Yoga teacher Ruth White who will consider How To Turn Adversity into Advantage (March 11th). Most of our meetings take place in Wychwood Library, warmly welcomed by Ruth Gillingham, on the second Sunday of the month: but check www.wychwoodcircle.org for occasional changes of date or venue.

David Soward

October – November 2017