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23. The Religion of Ordinary Life (Parts 4-5)

INTRODUCTION

How essential is the idea of ‘God’ to living a good / moral life?

Show students the Noachide Code, e.g. from:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah or http://asknoah.org or see the Code at the end of these notes.

Explain that, according to Judaism, Jews should keep the 613 commandments of the Torah [the first five books of the Bible], but for non-Jews the expectation is that they should observe just the seven Noachide laws. Provide some time for reading and reflection. 

ACTIVITY

Show students the trailer for the film ‘Noah’ explaining that the director, Darren Aronofsky, was inspired but not limited by the account of the Great Flood in the Bible (Genesis 6-9): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2sGw3w8_HA 

Explain that the Code is known as ‘Noachide’ because the final version, with the addition of the 7th law was said to have come into being after the Flood.

Ask the students to respond to such questions as:

  • Why do you think the commandment about law courts came in after the Great Flood?
  • What do you think is meant by ‘God’?
  • What is ‘idolatry’ and why do you think the Noachide Code (as well as other religions such as Christianity and Islam) placed such importance on acknowledging One God?
  • According to the biblical account, God destroyed the world because of people’s wickedness. How far do you think belief in one God is needed to prevent the disasters that can arise from human selfishness?
  • What do you think of the seven laws as a whole?

Show students parts 4 and 5 of Don Cupitt’s ‘The Religion of Ordinary Life’ [www.doncupitt.com/ordinary-life] on ‘Faith in Life’ and ‘Solar Living’.[See previous Solarity session for the full document.]

ACTIVITY

Provide some time for reading and reflection and then ask the students to respond to such questions as:

  • Suppose that, as Cupitt says, ‘Life is now as God to us’ and that even ‘The Supreme Good’ is transient, i.e., will pass away in time. How important do you think it is to believe that there may be an eternal ‘God’?
  • What, according to Cupitt, is ‘solar living’?
  • In what ways do the students ‘express’ their lives?
  • Don Cupitt says that ‘We should never complain’. Why do you think he says this? Do you agree?

CONCLUSION

Encourage the students to sum up their reflections on how essential they think the idea of ‘God’ is to living a good / moral life.

  • Are the Noachide Code and Cupitt’s ‘Religion of Life’ trying to do some of the same things?
  • In what ways are they similar / different?

 

Seven Laws of Noah

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah [Downloaded 6 April 2014]

The rainbow is the unofficial symbol of the Noahide Movement, recalling the rainbow that appeared after the Great Flood of the Bible.

Among religious branches of Judaism, the Seven Laws of Noah (Hebrew: ‫שבע מצוות בני נח‎ Sheva mitzvot B’nei Noach), or the Noahide Laws, are a set of moral imperatives that, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the “children of Noah” – that is, all of humanity.

Accordingly, any non-Jew who adheres to these laws is regarded as a righteous gentile, and is assured of a place in the world to come (Hebrew: ‫עולם הבא‎ Olam Haba), the final reward of the righteous

The seven laws listed by the Tosefta (dated to 220 CE) and the Babylonian Talmud (dated to 300 CE) are:

The requirement of maintaining courts to provide legal recourse.

According to Rabbinic tradition, the Noahide laws are derived exegetically from the six commandments which were given to Adam in the Garden of Eden, Gen 2:16, and a seventh precept, which was added after the Flood of Noah. According to Judaism, the 613 commandments given in the written Torah, as well as their explanations and applications discussed in the oral Torah, are applicable to the Jews only, and non-Jews are bound only to observe the seven Noahide laws.

SECONDARY SESSIONS: LIST OF TOPICS
1.  Happiness Part 1: status anxiety
2.  Happiness Part 2: religion and happiness
3.  Happiness Part 3: what is happiness?
4.  Morality Part 1: what is morality?
5.  Morality Part 2: should we live by ‘moral laws’?
6.  Morality Part 3: where does our sense of morality come from?
7.  Are You Religious?
8.  What Is a Religion and what is a Cult?
9.  What does it Mean to be Religious Today?
10. Religion in Numbers Part 1: how many people on Earth?
11. Religion in Numbers Part 2: how many people are ‘religious’?
12. Religion in Numbers Part 3: how did believers got to where they are?
13. Are All Religions Equal?
14. Transactional Analysis: learning how to feel equal
15. Bloom’s Taxonomy
16. Harry Potter and God
17. Without Fear or Favour Part 1
18. Without Fear or Favour Part 2
19. It’s Not Fair
20. Mind, Memory and Justice
21. Karma, Memory, Freedom and Justice
22. The Religion of Ordinary Life Part 1: Religion Without God
23. The Religion of Ordinary Life Part 2: God and Morality
24. The Religion of Ordinary Life Part 3: Is Life Beautiful?
25. Can Atheists learn anything from Religion?
26. What do Buddhists Believe about God?
27. Is Seeing Believing?
28. Are We Being Hypnotised?
29. Sex and Relationships
30. Truth, Proof and Evidence
31. How should we deal with the range of different opinions in today’s world?
32. Is Religion a Force for Evil or Good?
33. Do Religious Experiences Prove God?
34. What Is Evil?
35. God and Evil
36. Can we verify Religious Experiences?
37. How Spiritual are You?
38. What is Philosphy?
39. The Power of Words
40. Art and Beauty

A printable (pdf) version of this session can be found here

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