TANSA 2014: Perspectives on Human Nature
The contemplation of human nature and personhood has occupied theologians, philosophers, scientists, poets, painters and writers, not mention the everyday person, throughout history. Developments in both natural and social sciences continue to redefine how we might thing of ourselves as human - resulting in what one scholar calls "conflicting ontologies of the person" making themselves felt in the everyday world. At one level, reductionist outlooks reduce the human person to a complex relationship of organic material - the flesh is all we are - while other approaches recognise human qualities and dimensions - seen in cultures, in our communities and in our minds - that transcend reductionist approaches.
The 2014 TANSA seminar series will explore the ongoing questions of what it means to be human. From theological perspectives such as human beings made in the image of God, the increasing colonisation of human and non-human life by technology, debates over human rights, and through to philosophical and scientific portraits of human existence, the seminar series will bring theological reflection into dialogue with these various understandings of human nature in order to aid us in understanding our place in the world.
Final event for 2014
THURSDAY DECEMBER 4 | 7-9 pm | Laidlaw College
Prof. Margaret Bedggood, Law, University of Waikato. Human Rights and the Human Person
What are ‘human rights’? Where do they come from? How are they to be connected to theological/religious ideas about the nature and purpose of human persons and their relationship to God?
This paper makes some attempt to address these questions. It looks at the origins, both theoretical and historical, of the modern human rights framework, in particular those connected to religious or theological traditions, such as CST, and at the commonality of such terms as emancipation, responsibility, community, justice, humanity. It examines the centrality of the human person, each human person, as made ‘in the image of God’.
It considers some myths and misrepresentations about ‘human rights’, especially those commonly held by Christians: the relationship between rights and responsibilities, an emphasis on individuals or groups, the importance of community and the common good; remembering always that ‘human rights’ is a tool towards social, or Kingdom, justice, and not a philosophical or religious system in itself.
Finally, it gives a brief overview of modern human rights standards and processes.