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Auckland Academics Ask: 'Why Religion?'

A group of academics asked the question, "Why religion—given science, tragedy, secularism and materialism?" at University of Auckland on Tuesday May 28.

The public meeting was organized by New Zealand Christians in Science and took place at Maclaurin Chapel on the university campus. Carolyn Kelly, chaplain of the University of Auckland, hosted the event.


Dr Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye, a senior lecturer in Asian Studies, Cultures, Languages and Linguistics—and also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—was one of the panelists.

She told attendees that she "wasn’t just a mildly religious person, but a super religious person."

She cited her membership in the Church, her mission to Taiwan earlier in her life, and her faith focus with her husband and children, and in her congregation.

The title of her talk was “Thoughtful Marginality: Faith in a Secular Institution.”

She argued that while academic inquiry is based on rational arguments alone, there was a place for people of faith in society and even in the University.

"This is because religious communities, be they Latter-day Saint or Muslim or Catholic or Buddhist, are antidotes to the siloed, segmented, virtual character of so much interaction in the twenty-first century. In our communities we see our neighbours face to face. We know of their joys and sorrows." 

She continued: "Religious communities, with their networks of intertwining relationships, force us to learn to live with each other, and to try to accommodate each other’s differences.

"Some people may find it easy to have faith all by themselves. But, as I discovered when I was dealing with colon cancer two years ago, in the midst of despair it is sometimes easier to have faith in others’ faith than in your own. In this sense my community, the Latter-day Saints, not only saved me as they brought my family meals and watched my noisy children and went with me to chemo appointments, but also as they prayed for me, and blessed me, and had faith."

Read more about the event and view more pictures by Nick Thompson on Facebook.

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