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7 November 2016: Book ‘Matter and What Matters’ by Lionel Sharman Chapts 8 & 9 – led by Ian

Chapt 8 is titled ‘Stories’.  We are creators of meaning from nature and history.  Reality is only what is perceived by our senses and then ‘interpreted’ by our brain.  (The story of a blind person trying to interpret the form of an elephant through touch.) This led to the thought that the reality of the physical world is ‘more’ real as it is a shared experience; our feelings, experiences, relationships form our personal reality – and therefore can’t be challenged or really known by others.  Hence the difference of views of witnesses to the same event.  There is no absolute truth!  Humans can and do justify events; they really believe that bad things haven’t happened.

So how ‘real’ is science?  Our ‘materialism’ influences our values and vice versa.  Teleology is the interpretation of a purpose in physical events.  We need to keep up to date with the possible implications of technology – can’t undo once the ‘genie is out of the bottle’.  Morality is now being set by corporations – not Governments, rulers or people. [Exception ISIS.]   We noted that Millennials are more tolerant with less ‘hate’, greater acceptance than previous generations.  This could be a consequence of more diverse communities which engender more understanding through greater interaction.

Chapt 9 ‘History & Meaning’.  Humans don’t learn from our negative/bad experiences so seem predetermined to repeat them!  Arguably though, there has never been a better time to be alive – world-wide the level of general health/life expectancy, availability of food assistance from technology has never been greater.  [Will it continue to improve – if so for how much longer?]  We make stories to give meaning => we need to modernise our myths to make them speak to today’s situations and experiences or let them go to invent new ones.  Children need myths to work with, journey with or they may be unable to see any future.

Why read the Bible?  The stories are still relevant because they are about people and we haven’t changed in basic behaviour or instincts since the stories were developed.  They are not about the science of understanding, but making sense, interpretation of events and the meaning of life.