Having missed so many of the TTFYA events until now, I can only say that I am glad that, now being 25, I have finally got around to one! My initial impressions were that of anticipation and was really looking forward to the subject of the most recent event: ‘That Thing for Young Adults Goes to Mars!’. As I have already mentioned, this was my first TTFYA event I have attended, but I have been to other similar ones (heavily imbued with philosophy) through my University; one starting with the topic of ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it…’ and flowing straight into a ferocious debate with opinions from all sides. It was with this in mind that I assumed that the topic for TTFYA would be far more in-depth than the title would suggest – I was not disappointed.
Arriving at the venue, there were more unfamiliar faces than ones I knew but, as was to be expected, all were the sort which you could strike up a genuine and effortless conversation with. The guest speaker was Professor of Planetary & Space Sciences, Monica (from Olney Parish) who, throughout the talk presented the amalgamation of scientific fact and theory with religious belief with an unbiased and level view-point, despite having religious beliefs herself. Although the focus was always on the subject of ‘science, religion and faith’, the arguments and background ideas of religion and science – as opposing as oil and water to some – was kept evenly weighted which really gave the talk a true sense of a logical debate. Although the belief in one’s religious views and the belief in scientific fact are, as I say, to some people polar opposites, it was interesting as well to see how they can cross over and interlink in certain situations. For example, the example of the DNA was given to demonstrate the idea that although some see religion as faith without the fact, the average-joe public (myself included in this) will not know how the building blocks of DNA work together, but this is not to say that we would not have faith that it works, even in the absence of the facts before my very eyes.
As well as the breaks in the schedule which were accompanied with all-you-can-drink tea and coffee – which to be honest, were more of a continuation of the subject due to its fascination – there was also a delicious menu available for lunch as the venue was also handily enough a Brewer’s Fayre restaurant. Many other conversations, catch-ups and new friendships were born from this break too!
The second part of the talk was filled more with questions from the former half and the mind-aching debate as to, ‘if there is life on another planet which we are able to live on, do we have the right to colonize it?’ Previous human nature and what we have seen in Sci-fi movies aside, it is a surprisingly hard question to answer, especially when the idea is injected as to the soul; where in us does the soul reside; can we test it; do animals have a soul; would extra-terrestrial creatures have a soul; where does consciousness come into it, and so forth.
The pleasant surprise for myself, who expected a talk only, was the appearance of Joe Lawton who led us into a session of song and praise, strung seamlessly together with the accompaniment of his acoustic guitar. Having not really experienced this kind of song-worship since World Youth Day 2008 in Australia (excluding Church hymns), it was refreshing to be able to do so again yet I could not shake off the feeling of how odd it felt to be able to sing as loud as my voice allowed (my own singing skills being questionable, of course) in a public place with families eating their meals only a room or so away. Do not misunderstand me, this was not a negative feeling; moreover it was one of a living creature stirring deep inside, or of disused cogs beginning to turn once more. My faith has never left me and I am not afraid to say I am a Catholic, but to do so so openly was very welcoming. The day was concluded with a mass led by Father Innocent, which was another pleasant surprise!
My only regret of this experiencing being that I have not attended more of these events, seeing as they are targeted at those from the ages of 18 to 25 (my age). An obvious point to end with would be to anyone who has not been yet, or to anyone who has and knows someone else this may appeal to. In my opinion, if it sounds like something you’ll enjoy then like myself, you won’t be disappointed.
- Ben Miles, Harefield
To listen to parts of the talk please click here
For more photos click here