Sunday, January 20, 2008

If there's a God, why are there so many wars

Ask your father: Kids’ questions you dread


(The Times, Saturday January 19th 2008)

EMMA COOK gets expert advice on what to do when your child turns to you and asks...

Mummy, if there’s a God, why are there so many wars?

Charlotte, 9

After marvelling at your child’s sparkling intellectual curiosity, you may well feel a bit daunted by a question that, after several centuries, still baffles theologians and philosophers.

So where to start? Remember that not being able to offer your child concrete answers isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s pretty integral to the question. As the philosopher Julian Baggini says: “There really aren’t any clear-cut answers to this one. I might begin by asking the child what they think; using it as a way of starting a discussion. If parents can’t give clear-cut answers, they feel they’re failing their kids, but it’s a great mistake to assume children can’t cope with uncertainties. It’s important that they learn that there aren’t clear-cut answers to everything and not feel paralysed by that.”

Of course, your response will depend ultimately upon your religious values. If you’re an atheist, like the philosopher A. C. Grayling, you’ll have no problem pointing out, as he did to his children: “There are no gods, only people; people are a mix of good and bad, though most people are mostly good. Wars come from the bad things that people think and do, which makes the leaders of their countries quarrel with one another – and sometimes those sorts of grown-up quarrels use guns and bombs, and that’s very destructive and bad.”

If, however, you have a faith and hope your child will, too, you would do better to follow the Catholic broadcaster and author Peter Stanford who patiently explains to his children: “Good religion is what stops us having wars. The golden rule is never do unto others what you wouldn’t want done unto yourself. If we followed that rule, there would be no wars based on religion. I would also say that if you’re looking for one thing throughout history that has encouraged us to put people first, and not ourselves, it’s religion.”

You may also want to point out that God gave people free will – and so it’s their choice to go to war. If your child is smart, he may well ask why God didn’t make people nicer in the first place, so they didn’t want to fight one another. You could counter this by saying that if everyone was capable only of being good, they wouldn’t be so free. The philosophical counsellor Tim Le Bon suggests: “The debate may not end there, but a timely ‘What’s on telly’, may do the trick or you could quote Woody Allen who says: “If there is a God, I don’t think he’s evil. The worst you can say about him is that he’s an underachiever.” For Emma’s previous columns, go to

timesonline.co.uk/families

If you would like answers to tricky questions, just e-mail body&soul@thetimes.co.uk



http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/body_and_soul/article3209856.ece

Saturday, January 05, 2008

4 courses in practical philosophy and psychology starting in early January

If learning, personal development or well-being are amongst your new year's goals, then you might like to sign up for one of 4 courses I'm running in the next couple of weeks.
They are:
Frankl and the Search for Meaning
Friday 18th Jan 2008 1030-1730 Location: City Lit, Central London
Viktor Frankl's ideas can inspire everyone aiming to find more meaning and purpose in their life.
This lively and highly-rated workshop will help you start the New Year focusing on this important issue.
Call 020 7831 7831 to enrol or visit the City Lit website

Philosophical Life Coaching
Saturday 19th Jan 2008 1030-1630 Location: City Lit, Central London
"Move over Carole Caplin. The new gurus of self-help are philosophical counsellors from beyond the grave” proclaimed the Independent recently.
Lead a more satisfying and meaningful life by using insights and methods from the great thinkers. This introduction will show you some of the most interesting ways it can be of help.
No previous experience required
Call 020 7831 7831 to enrol or visit the City Lit website


Personal Development through Philosophy

This 10 week course will show how studying philosophy can help you discover how they can be true to themselves, make wiser decisions and develop more enlightened values.


Course Information

Course Code: CE1944
Course Fee: £100
Start date: Tuesday 15 January 2008
Class Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Number of Classes: 10 weekly classes
Accreditation: 10 credits at level 1
Venue : City University, London

To enrol call 020 7040 8268 between 9.30am and 5.00pm.or visit the City Uni website

Positive Psychology


Positive psychology is the growing branch of psychology that focuses on the positive, including strengths, positive states and well-being. This course will have a particular emphasis on how positive psychology can make you more effective in your working life in terms of your strengths, emotional intelligence, creativity, decision making, meaning and purpose.

Course Code: CE1941
Course Fee: £180
Start date: Thursday 17 January 2008
Class Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Number of Classes: 10 weekly classes
Accreditation: 10 credits at level 1
Venue : City University, London

To enrol call 020 7040 8268 between 9.30am and 5.00pm.or visit the City Uni website

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