Sunday September 14, 1:00 p.m. Panel discussion of Pat Duffy Hutcheon's book Leaving the Cave with Sheena Sharp, Deirdre Breton and Ben Best. For this month only, the meeting will be held at Cardiff Housing Co-op, 1460 Bayview Ave. at Davisville.
Sunday October 12, 1:00 p.m. Ethics. Meeting will be held at Frankland Community Centre, 816 Logan Ave.
Sunday, November 9, 1:00 p.m. Review of our Association's Constitution. At Frankland Community Centre.
Steering Committee Meetings are held Wednesday October 8 and Wednesday November 5 at 7:00 p.m. at Frankland Community Centre.
NEXT NEWSLETTER DEADLINE is November 22.
HUMANIST CEREMONIES In May 1997 the Humanist Association of Canada finalized a two day training programme for officiants. HAT member Terri Hope completed the course and became the first licensed officiant in Toronto. After an initial blitz of advertising in June, Terri has, as of August, booked three weddings, one memorial service, and a marriage preparation programme. Terri believes that if we were able to advertise, many more people would avail themselves of our services. In Australia, 40 % of services are performed by 'Civil Celebrants'. Terri has established contact with the Australian Association of Civil Celebrants for the purpose of gaining and sharing information and improving the availability and quality of Humanist ceremonies.
Once the public becomes aware how meaningful, unique and beautiful our ceremonies can be, there may be demand for more than one officiant. In that case Terri has agreed to assist in the training of a second officiant. We hope that HAT members will spread the word to friends and family that these services are now available.
Terri Hope can be reached at (416) 461-2090.
Our E-mail address is: email@example.com
Our Web site is: http//www.interlog.com/~humanist/
THANK YOU to Jim Thomas for giving valuable assistance in producing this Newsletter.
This Newsletter is published for people interested in ethics without supernatural beliefs. It is published under the authority of the Humanist Association of Toronto, and edited by Douglas Yardley, who can be reached at (416) 485-2277. Opinions expressed in this Newsletter do not necessarily represent the views of the membership of the Humanist Association of Toronto. The electronic and postal editions of the Newsletter are not necessarily identical.
Novel by Carl Sagan, based on a story by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, published by Pocket Books.
Movie directed by Robert Zemeckis, presented by Warner Brothers.
Having read Carl Sagan's only novel, I was interested to see what Hollywood would make of it. The film is fairly faithful to Sagan's novel, with one exception. Contact traces its origins back to the days of the book and TV series Cosmos and Sagan fans will recognize much of the material. It is based largely on a firm foundation of scientific ideas, as we would expect from a leading scientist. Sagan presents a rivettingly realistic picture of what could happen if humanity received a message from space- an eventuality for which we seem to be poorly prepared. It is about the conflicts between science and religion, and between scientists and bureaucrats. In the friendship between the scientist who discovers the message (Dr. Eleanor Arroway, played by Jodie Foster) and a leading evangelical preacher (Palmer Joss, played by Matthew McConaughey) Sagan suggests that religion and science might unite in the search for truth. Perhaps the most remarkable element in the novel-- omitted from the film-- is Arroway's discovery that the number pi contains a message encoded in its digits. Since pi is an integral part of the fabric of the universe as we know it, the message in pi implies that the universe we know was created by a conscious being. From a rational standpoint I do not understand how this can be. Early in the novel, Sagan mentions that pi can be approximated by a mathematical formula, which presumably forms the basis of Arroway's computer programme. Is it possible for a number to be determined by a mathematical formula and at the same time contain extraneous encoded information?
As a Secular Humanist, I am not troubled by the conflict between science and religion. For me, the issue was resolved long ago. Did Dr. Sagan feel otherwise? Did he sincerely believe this particular aspect of his novel? I could not help thinking of Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End with its disclaimer "The opinions expressed in this book are not those of the author".
The movie, which was poorly attended when I went with an old friend on a Sunday afternoon in August, is competently acted and produced. It is much simplified from the complex and erudite novel. The visual effects are of the standard that people expect today but do not upstage the story and the acting. Jodie Foster delivers a vulnerable performance as a scientist embarking on a terrifying trip into the unknown- no Captain Kirk here. I was also pleased to see realistic portrayals of scientists, something at which Hollywood has not always excelled. Who could do this better than Sagan? We need to give some serious thought to the question Sagan poses: What would we do if we received a message from space?