Continually Re-Inventing Ourselves

The Sea of Faith Network's name came from Don Cupitt's TV series in 1986, plotting the ebb of Christendom. The metaphor was from Matthew Arnold's in his poem 'Dover Beach', a lament for religion's demise and also a welcome for its replacement by love.

The Network came into existence as a haven for people who found the prospect of a God-less Universe a cause of lament, but from the start some were glad to be rid of an imagined certainty that ours was the only true concept of an objective, existing God.

Religion as an important and creative human concept, some of us thought, will not die. And indeed, the history of the world over the intervening 20 years seems to bear this out. The tragedy of our world is not the death of Christianity, but its persistence in a violent, fundamentalist and powerful form, in conflict with fundamentalist movements in some other world religions as well as with atheism.

The Sea of Faith's main task, for some of us, has shifted. It is now the offering of a new way of being religious. Like most new ways it is, perhaps, the way religion has always been until it gets corrupted. It is Arnold's view of human love. It is the text shared by every human religion — 'Love your neighbour as yourself — Don't do to others what you would not like them to do to you', and 'This is the Law and the Prophets, all else is interpretation'.

The Sea of Faith's role is in showing how this comes alive in a postmodern world. We want to demonstrate that, for all religious traditions, the humanist agenda — of love between people making a better world of justice and peace — must be primary. All else is the fabric of mythology, ritual and ethics for incarnating this ideal.

There is great value in having a concept, or concepts of God, but that's what they are — human concepts. There is great danger in objectifying our God-concept into a supernatural Being.

All religions are, in their origins and development, products of time and place. The Sea of Faith Network is no exception. We must be continually re-inventing ourselves, and seeking to promote this among all people of faith. In valuing what all traditions can offer of awe and worship, love and tolerance, in science, art and philosophy we seek to promote understanding of how we humans make sense and meaning in our lives, and how we may engage with the world problems of our time...This is the humanist agenda.

"What must you believe in order to join the Sea of Faith?" Perhaps the only answer to this 'Frequently Asked Question' is that you would probably believe that fundamentalist, literalist religion is dangerous. Sea of Faith members have a wide variety of beliefs, and this 'Introduction' is designed to give some examples of what is thought, discussed and done within and by the Network.

These contributions to this introduction are by eight different people; we hope they show how questions may be explored without the need for simple answers or a supernatural deity authenticating our exploration. Our responsibility is to this world, to bring the insights of past and present to bear on our future. No one of our contributors represents 'what the Sea of Faith Network believes', but together they may indicate what the Network seeks to achieve.

Our website and blog sites have a wealth of ideas and discussion. Read the article by Anne Ashworth studies how prayer can make sense within the context of 'Religion as a Human Creation'.

Further information from Sofia, the network's quarterly magazine, or the website

To join the Network, contact the Secretary. To join your local group, just go along.

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