Horsham Humanists talk with C of E Minister Hadge Hughes (November 2012)


We began by discussing the attendance by atheist Simon Clare (of Horsham Skeptics in the Pub) at an Alpha course. Simon said that he could not judge the course without understanding its content and intention. Simon explained that the course began with a promise to answer all the questions attendees had, yet his own questions had never found an answer. Hadge shared his own similar concerns about the Alpha course, finding it to be a prescriptive rather than an explorative process.

It was clear from the outset that Hadge was a secularist and so the discussion turned to a more personal view of religion and belief.

Hadge talked of the importance of people being able to learn and choose their path, which echoed previous discussions held by members; the difference seemed to lie in whether faith was felt or not.

Hadge continued by explaining more about his own faith and the journey that he has taken to reach the place where he is now, making it clear that he expects this very personal process to continue as a journey rather than reach a conclusion. He explained that a simplistic way to explain God is to nominate the idea as a person, also that a thread of Christianity exists known as 'Progressive' whose members endeavour to avoid a gender basis such as 'He/Him' for their concept of God. He continued this thread with mention of Paul Tillich (German-American Christian existentialist philosopher and theologian) and his explanations of 'ground of our being' as God.

Hadge continued to explain God as a creator of the Universe who came in person in Jesus, and that he feels he came to faith in a logical way in that there has to be a creator of the Universe."The more I learn about science the more I learn it's too much of a coincidence we are here at all"  and "Good has to come from somewhere"  and "I believe that my essence will not die, my mind or persona will continue". One member commented that these opinions appear to be common to many religions.

Hadge further explained that he came to his faith through fairly conservative means that indicated a welcome to Jesus was needed for acceptance by God, but that he had had to acknowledge that he didn't believe God would promise eternal life because he found no evidence that heaven was promised by Jesus.

The talk turned to discussion of what prayer is, with suggestion that there are various interpretations of the activity; for instance Buddhists consider it'mindfulness', Quakers 'centering'. Hadge considers that prayer can be wordless and for him it is about stillness rather than articulation. He stated that tangible evidence existed within hospitals of the benefit of prayer, but this was disputed by one of our members. Two visitors from a local Baptist church felt strongly that words were necessary in prayer and that it is a direct conversation with God which He then answers.

Hadge commented on the links between the various Abrahamic religions but this was doubted by our Baptist visitors, particularly regarding whether Muslims could be considered Abrahamic due to their lack of belief in the Son of God. The latter concluded that this was where Muslims were wrong.

The meeting gradually worked itself to a natural finish, and Hadge concluded by sharing his belief that over the next 100 to 200 years there will be a move toward faith being in dialogue with itself and hopefully people from all ideologies and philosophies will come together, and finished with the comment that either we will work it out or all kill each other.

Members chatting informally afterwards agreed that it had been an interesting and enjoyable evening with a welcome guest who spoke well, and that many aspects of humanism without the capital H had been evident in what Hadge had shared with us.


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