The Sixth Form Symposium restarted on Wednesday lunchtime, this time in its lockdown incarnation: ‘Zoomposium’. The words of the monk and theologian Harry Williams provided the backdrop to the discussion: ‘All religious fanaticisms are the result of repressed doubt’.
The group of intellectually curious Sixth Form students discussed the interrelatedness of faith and doubt. Can they co-exist? Does doubt preclude faith or are they essential components of one another? Is religious conviction really tenable in the modern world? There were comments from the students on the relationship between science and religion, the value of interfaith dialogue and the importance of personal authenticity.
More broadly, the discussion moved once again to timeless questions about knowledge, certainty and belief. There were reflections on the uses of doubt in religious experience and the dangers of blinkered certainty which rejects tension and conflicts in thought. We closed with a focus on the difficulty of occupying a space of ‘unknowing’ – something we are encouraged to do by a host of religious and non-religious thinkers, from Socrates to Thomas Merton.
As has become a customary feature of these events, the students spoke eloquently and candidly about their views, their shifting perspectives and many felt able to voice their unresolved questions.
The group will discuss a different topic every Wednesday lunchtime at 1.30pm, and is open to all students in the Sixth Form.