Friday, 17 September 2010

Is 'God Dead'?

Dear Friends
I was once quizzed by my high school R.E teacher about religion. I replied very intuitively that it is something that 'happens in day to day life'.
Religion especially spirituality has been and will remain a major part of my life. I am some what 'spiritually promiscuous' and my late Spiritual Mentor / Director sowed the seeds of exploration and reflection. I have travelled the globe in search of the 'truth' and been equally disappointed and enlightened whilst meditating in Zen Temples and Churches.
Thus I was aghast when I first encountered Nietzsche who claimed that 'God is dead' however his insights perhaps visions correctly foretold the World Wars and atomic age. And paradoxically in the post-modern and secular age people seem to be aching even more for meaning and contentment.
This week one of the PgCLTHE participants gave an interesting presentation about the University Multi Faith centre and its facilities. We cannot escape the fact that students have faith and no-faith which has to be respected and acknowledged. However I feel that it is not my role to formally facilitate or influence their faith or choices, and I am deeply conscious that there is a fine line between pastoral care and preaching. Furthermore University should be an opportunity to mix with people / fellow students or colleagues from different faiths or no-faith. Surely humanity and human rights are superior to any religious nomenclature or organised religion?
I am reminded of the great American poet Walt Whitman who exquisitely stated the following:
''We consider bibles and religions divine.
I do not say they are not divine;
I say they have grown out of you,
And may grow out of you still,
It is not they who give the life,
In the recent public furore regarding the book by Stephen Hawkings, 'The Grand Design' which argues of the 'obsoleteness of God'.  Tom Wright, former Bishop of Durham and Professor of New Testament at the University of St. Andrews beautifully stated,
''Knowing God is more like experiencing and playing music or falling in love or deeply knowing another human being''.

Rishi Faisal


  1. Hi Rishi Fiasal,

    Nice to see a new blog, especially that of an educator...

    I believe that as an educator your obligation lies in impacting the student’s psyche and knowledge base, thereby initiating change, development and growth.
    The idea to not “formally facilitate or influence (faith or [indeed] choice)” espouses an attitude or opinion that relegates the true value of an educator, be that a Professor or a Kindergarten teacher.
    Be it preaching or pastoral care, the presentation of options to widen the mind of the student and knowledge to allow the creation and sustenance of depth of thinking, surpasses the educators idiosyncrasies, whether professional or personal in nature.

    The asset of ‘wisdom through experience’ is the component that most educates a student, adding to the milieu of the ‘human dimension’ resident at university campuses.
    It is the micro dynamic human entity amassing to create a macro dynamic body that affects mass and micro change. Since it is the dynamic nature of the human that allows claims to greatness, this nature requires stimulation and challenge.
    As an educator, you constitute an important micro dynamic in the larger macro environment. Your actions, and all that comprises your being will subject your students to their own ‘butterfly effect’ – Your responsibility is great, since your very function at the most fundamental level is to instigate change in the human mind....maybe the heart.
    Faith is also slave to human dynamism, as we grow and develop as beings, our opinions and interpretations also change. Change is effected by the environment and certain people in key positions...such as yourself – Your responsibility is great...

    Your religious education teacher’s question triggered a reflexive response to a belief and understanding that required formal recognition, causing your own ‘butterfly effect’. Even if delivering mundane basic accounting, the transfer of a little wisdom can inspire change putting educators in the highly sensitive and responsible position of ‘Educator’.

    From a lecturer I would simply demand purity of intention...let your opinions flow, polemic or otherwise, preach...but encourage discussion (knowledge transfer)....and above all remain dynamic.

    This reminds me of what a great poet once said:
    An opinion is akin to an ar**-ho**, everyone has one...[but yours matters]


  2. Hi Totz...Wow you are some intellectual heavy weight! I sincerely appreciate your view and am reminded of Bertrand Russell who astutely stated that ' teachers are the guardians of civilisation'. I believe that it is not my remit or duty to decide what constitutes civilisation since that is the job of educational policy makers employed by the government.

    The reality is that I live and work in a secular and multi-cultural society thus it would be 'criminal' to favour any religion over another especially as even believers not agreed what is the truth and the nature of the God Head.

    On the otherhand I will endeavour to introduce 'a-political / religious' techniques such as visualisation or deep relaxation to my students so that they can be effective students and gain high grades. Also I will attempt to instill a love of learning in general and particular for accounting. Last night I explained to an amazed class that accounting is thousands of years old and the priciple that is the foundation of accounting namely double-entry is approximately 500 hundred years old. Ironically the latter technique was invented by the great Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli who was a monk!!!! : )

    Thanks for the valuable feedback...Faisal

  3. Hi Faisal,

    I dunno about intellectual heavy weight...overweight maybe.

    I think everyone’s ethical framework, governed by their Super –Ego, reflects society and personal values and ultimately civil values. Those values will inevitably be ‘pushed’ and promoted by people in your position...or you are in the position to do so.

    To be quite honest with you, religion...religious dogma of any sort....even the Almighty Himself should not enter the lecture theatre. However, you as the vessel of His knowledge will be instrumental in affecting your student therefore you must remain the central focus.

    Exercises to attain clarity of the mind are very under-rated and I think that is a great tool to integrate into your teaching practice...since the student is unaware of what he/she is getting into and any addition to the student’s toolbox is always welcome.

    Love of learning...hmmm, i think to start off students need to be told how fortunate they are in that they have the great opportunity to learn in a UK University where costs have become material and it would also make sense to instil a sense of duty and obligation.

    I endeavour to keep my responses succinct...