Reason and the Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning – Niell (amendment to Article II, which will be placed on the final agenda)

Rachel, I was coming here to make a similar point. You made it better than I could!

I like the addition of reason. But I’m likely voting no because of the “listen to and respect the views” bit. All people are worthy of respect, but not all ideas and views are.


Thanks, Tim! Having served on the Board of my congregation at a time when we had to deal with someone bringing their “views” to coffee hour in a way that was actually frightening people and coming across as threatening, this is a big nope for me. We eventually had to remove him from membership (after engaging in a covenantal process to try to invite him into understanding that he was scaring people–he refused to do anything differently), and that was my real-world experience with why covenant matters, and why we get to have boundaries. We don’t owe everyone our respect, and we don’t have to listen to what everyone has to say.


Having experience with a number of religious traditions, the thing that they have in common is love — there is much love expressed and even when people do things one disagrees with there is love behind the action. One thing that distinguished the traditional UU world is reason. To have love but not reason does not distinguish UU from other religious groups.


I took “listen to and respect the views” as meaning that we respect that other people can choose their views, not that we have to support their views. Do you remember the old adage about what opinions are like?..that everyone has one and they all stink :wink:
It would be sad to see this amendment tanked for the reasoning you state, Tim. Reason deserves a fair shake, and I hope you and Rachel will kindly reconsider your stance, in light of what Greg L says:

Blockquote[quote=“Greg_L, post:43, topic:1456”]
To have love but not reason does not distinguish UU from other religious groups.

When all is said and done, I do respect you, and your views, even if I disagree with them. That’s part of this why this proposed value is a winner for me.


Calling “reason” a value does not give recognition (or permission) to those who believe in a god, or intuition, or pagan beliefs.

*Section C-2.3 Inspirations names “sacred, secular, and scientific understandings” AND “direct experiences of transcending mystery and wonder”. This section has inclusive statements…

I am leaning against this amendment because I believe we should be opening ourselves up to more sources of wisdom, not putting up barriers. In her book, “Who Do We Choose to Be?” Margaret Wheatley suggests that one of the weaknesses of our civilization is over reliance on science/reason as the only valid source of information. We had an Indigenous speaker at one of our services who also stressed the value in opening up to other sources of information – like, what is that animal telling me? It seems that there is still so much mystery! So much still unknown. Why not embrace other ways of knowing?

But maybe I misunderstand the amendment.


Yes, this does not negate any other source, it simply adds back in a source that was dropped, and includes language supporting other sources such as “motivated by wonder, curiosity, and compassion” and “remain open to new ideas”.

I would think that adding this would in fact expand our sources of wisdom, which some feel were curtailed by the removal of reason (which is in the humanist source in the current version).


Because this addition does not negate others? The values are plural, not a multiple choice of one or the other. I’m curious why you think naming reason as an important value would be a barrier.

Reason has long been a hallmark of the UU movement from its earliest roots in earlier centuries. Emphasis on personal experience and openness to many other sacred sources have been integral as well.


I think that William Ellery Channing, Theodore Parker, James Luther Adams, Sophia Lyon Fahs, Forrest Church, and other major figures in the history of liberal religion who championed both reason and closeness to God/the Divine, would heartily disagree that valuing reason does not give recognition (or permission) to those who believe in god(s) or value intuition.


Rache et al, I don’t think that “We covenant to listen to and respect the views of others, and to remain open to new ideas” implies an “all” or an “always without exceptions.” The language is similar to what appears in covenants of right relations, such as the one my congregation adopted, in that it encourages listening, openness and respect for diversity. Certainly there are limits to listening and openness, as in the example of the problematic individual you mentioned. There are some extreme and harmful beliefs that are (obviously?) incompatible with UU values. I don’t think that needs to be explicit.

One can argue, however, that this clause is not really germane to the addition of Reason as a Value, and that respect for diversity and Pluralism are included elsewhere.


Sally, thank you! You have corrected my misconception. I now endorse this amendment!


James, I misunderstood the amendment. Sally clarified for me. I thought the amendment sought to place reason as a value triumphant over all other sources of information. I did not realize the amendment was, rather, to add reason where it belongs as one of multiple sources.

I now fully support the amendment!


It’s wonderful to see the conversation continuing. Your contributions are much appreciated.

1 Like

Science did NOT give us bombs. Technology did. Science gave us the knowledge of nuclear physics. Atomic and nuclear bombs are technology that use the knowledge for destruction. Nuclear medicine is technology that uses the same knowledge for healing. [Sorry for being so pedantic; I get irate when science (literally “knowledge”) gets blamed for technology’s excesses.]


Please use the “Reply” button in the lower right of each comment when responding to it, so we can see what you’re responding to. It gets confusing otherwise.

JD! It’s Ginny Sassaman! Hi to you!

BTW, I think of your Seven Candles presentation A LOT. It remains a powerfully influencer.

I think that having REASON as part of our sources is the best place to mention it. see part of proposed revision below:

Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant

As Unitarian Universalists, we covenant, congregation-to-congregation and through our Association, to support and assist one another in our ministries. We draw from our heritages of freedom, reason, hope, and courage, building on the foundation of love.

Love is the power that holds us together and is at the center of our shared values. We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline of Love.


@CarolA2Z This demotes it to a mention of our heritage. Since Sources were rewritten so drastically, and other important elements have been foregrounded with the new Values, I believe reaffirming the ongoing, key position of Reason in accord with, in balance with, and respecting these other values (part of the whole) preserves what for many is a central tenet of our faith.

As a person marginalized for many years by biases in the health care field, I affirm that what is intended here is the ethical use of Reason, science, and other methods to achieve our goals of justice in the world–not the MISuse.

Adding Reason as an additional Value, to me. best respects what changes were already made to the Sources section while affirming that this is still a distinctive and valuable part of our faith. For me and for many others, without reaffirming our commitment to include reason among our other central ways of knowing would render these Revisions not genuinely representative of our shared values.


AGREED! I think that the A2SC draft handles reason and respect in this revision as presented without this amendment


“We covenant to listen to and respect the views of others, and to remain open to new ideas.”

To me, this in no way says “bring your fascism.” It’s a simple aspiration that we should be open and inclusive — as our communities have always been or tried to be. It feels obvious that there are views and ideas that are incompatible with the progressive Principles and/or Values. As has also always been the case.

For example/comparison, our existing Third Principle: “Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.” We celebrate a “big tent” faith but I don’t think this has ever been interpreted as a mandate to accept every fascist and neo-Nazi or to encourage the explorations of spiritualities like violent Odinism or Christian Identity etc. :thinking: