What we’re about
Secular Bible Study is a joint effort between religious believers and atheists in the Twin Cities to study and discuss the Bible and Religion -- not to engender any specific religious or non-religious view, but to explore their historical context, societal impact and cultural relevance. SBS invites expert speakers to lecture on particular topics and lead discussions; and facilitates respectful and constructive reasoning dialogues between people of many different (or no) beliefs, providing the opportunity for folks who may deeply disagree to build relationships with one another.
Upcoming events (1)See all
- ZOOM Plurationalist Dialogue 128: Are Humans Elevated Over Other Forms of Life?Link visible for attendees
The reasoning, theists, atheists, liberals, libertarians, and conservatives of Secular Bible Study, Circle of Ijtihad, First Minneapolis Circle of Reason, and Winnipeg Circle of Reason join Inter-Belief Conversation Café for our 128th Plurationalist (Interbelief Reasoning) Dialogue, “Are Humans Elevated Over Other Forms of Life?”
Genesis 1:26–27 attributed the following quote to God: “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” But earlier in Genesis 1:22, God supposedly blessed the creatures themselves, telling them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth,” and Genesis 2:15 said, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it, and take care of it.” But then we lost Eden by supposedly eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. Since then, have we presumed that, as an “Imago Dei” or Image of God, we should emulate His mission of Caretaker of Earth, our only remaining Garden of Eden? Or have we presumed that just “looking like” God (and sometimes pretending to act like God) is all of His mission that we still have left?
Ayn Rand, in her novel Atlas Shrugged, scripted the following claim as that of an unthinking human, not a thinking human: “Private property is a trusteeship, held for the benefit of society as a whole.” About environmentalism, Rand proclaimed, “Now observe that in all the propaganda of the ecologists -- amidst all their appeals to nature and pleas for ‘harmony with nature’-- there is no discussion of man’s needs, and the requirements of his survival. Man is treated as if he were an unnatural phenomenon. Man cannot survive in the state of nature that the ecologists envision -- i.e., on the level of sea urchins or polar bears…In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals. From the most primitive cultures to the most advanced civilizations, man has had to manufacture things; his well-being depends on his success at production. The lowest human tribe cannot survive without that alleged source of pollution: fire. It is not merely symbolic that fire was the property of the gods that Prometheus brought to man. The ecologists are the new vultures swarming to extinguish that fire.”
So, is God Green? And was Rand just worried about antirationalists and neo-Luddites pretending to be Green? If so, why are some followers of God and followers of Rand apparently on the same anti-environmentalism page? Did Adam and Eve bite off too much of the Apple of Knowledge -- or too little? Or are we still waiting under the tree for it to fall and knock some more common sense into our heads? Is the best human civilization can do today for our fellow non-human Earthlings just greenwashing? Or are true “libertarian ecowarriors” and “evangelical environmentalists” something to look for and encourage in our future?
Meanwhile, why are our wealthiest Barons of Industry buying up island, mountain and wilderness retreats? Why is one of the most effective forms of stress relief for all human beings “forest bathing”-- immersing ourselves in nature? Thoreau exhorted us from his Walden Pond cabin to “Look at what is to be seen,” and, “One must love that of the wild just as much as one loves that of the good.” If humans are indeed elevated over other forms of life, why do we obtain such joy in directly experiencing life’s diverse ecosystems (as long as they’re not, as Tennyson noted, “red in tooth and claw”)? Why does Joyce Kilmer’s, “I think that I shall never see…A poem lovely as a tree,” still capture our hearts? Why did the journeyman Jack Dawson yell, “I’m King of the Word!” while perched on the prow of the Titanic, gazing down upon the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean? (After all, as one particular “Imago Dei,” Jack didn’t remain elevated over the fish of the sea for long.) What respect, or even deference, do we owe to all our fellow journeymen on this third planet of Sol, human and otherwise?
On Monday, December 18, 2023, 7–9 p.m. by Zoom, we will examine the Line of Succession to the Kingdom of Earth. Meanwhile our humanity will be preserved by our reasoning dialogue’s agreements of open-mindedness, acceptance, curiosity, discovery, sincerity, brevity, and confidentiality. So, if you’re a tree looking to lobby for your civil rights, you’re out of luck. But if you’re a human? Join us. (And if you don’t like our reasoning dialogue, you’re still free to “make like a tree and leave.”)