This term we had two very interesting events,
both at the Friends Meeting House, 43 St Giles, Oxford 
from 2.00 pm to 3.30 pm:

Wednesday 7th May: Peter Stribblehill on
Hans Küng said that there will be no survival of democracy without a coalition of believers and non-believers in mutual respect. 
What is our obligation to interfaith dialogue in helping to bring this about?
See article in Sofia, the Sea of Faith magazine, No 111 Easter 2014 www.sofn.org.uk

Abstract: "Interreligious dialogue is a matter which is ever more accepted as being of
international importance, in terms of its impact on people around the world. The concept of
Religious Pluralism and its rival interpretations now dominate the field. Non Realists have
had a mixed, often hostile reaction from those of more traditional persuasion when they try
to explain their theological positions and contribute to modern theological debate.5
Against these two backgrounds, this work poses the question of what the non realist
approach has to offer to interreligious dialogue. It starts by examining the history of
discrimination against those of non realist persuasion and then setting it against evidence
of non realism in other religions. It then examines the development of religious pluralism
and the alternative theories of interreligious relations.
The work then takes a practical look at examples of what non realists have accomplished in
the field of interreligious dialogue, often over a period of decades and in various guises. It
seeks evidence of both positive and negative experiences and reactions to the practitioners.
It also examines how the individuals concerned see the subject from their non realist
perspectives and whether they perceive non realism as being advantageous to their

The analysis seeks to explain the non realist’s position on interreligious dialogue as being
constructive as part of the overall debate; not as a proposal that all should adopt it as an
approach, but rather seeking acceptance that it has a proper place and a role to play which
can be of value to the international progress on promoting understanding between religions.”

Wednesday 28th May: Graham Richards on Overlooked Faults in Creationism
Also from Portholes:
 From a publication of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches
comes a press release from Kate Taylor, Press Officer for the Lindsey Press, Essex Hall, 1-6
Essex Street, Strand, London, WC2R 3HY (Tel. 01924-372748, email kate@airtime.co.uk). It
informs readers of a new book on Creationism which shows understanding of the attractions
of the concept while demonstrating its fallacies: Creationism: Design Errors and Cross
Purposes by Graham Richards, formerly Professor of the History of Psychology at the
University of Staffordshire and Director of the British Psychological Society’s History of
Psychology Centre. It is published on 14th April by the Lindsey Press. Kate writes that this
retired academic has produced a wide ranging, lucid, accessible and witty read.
Disquiet at suggestions that Creationism and Intelligent Design should be taught in school
Science classes as acceptable alternatives to the theory of evolution has prompted Richards
to respond. He places the concepts of Creationism and Intelligent Design in their cultural
contexts, showing how they have evolved from the 17th century onwards as fundamentalist
responses to rational scientific thinking, Biblical criticism, and the evolutionary account of
the history of life on earth. He considers the social and psychological factors which have
influenced their continuing popularity. He also considers their contemporary value to
right-wing, especially American, politics. He exercises a philosopher’s skill in examining the
meaning of some of the terms which are associated with Creationism and ID such as ‘design’,
‘complexity’, ‘law’ ‘cause’ and ‘faith’. He looks at some of the anomalies within the ‘strong’
Creationist camp including its inability to accept that the Cosmos is much more than 6,000
years old - yet its readiness to refer to eternity. He comments on the enduring value of the
Bible and other sacred texts for their moral and symbolic spiritual meaning rather than for
their scientific insights.
The book points up the essential cross-purposes between material science and Creationism
or Intelligent Design, the one exploring the mechanism and processes governing the physical
world, the other trying to find human meaning in an apparently totally indifferent universe.