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Monthly Lecture - What is Freethought?

  • Wednesday, June 26, 2019
  • 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM
  • First Unitarian, 605 Morewood Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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What is Freethought? You are invited to a dialogue exploring this question.

Robin Zucker, a Unitarian Universalist minister, embraces a creed-free, dogma-free path of making meaning. Robin finds that theists and humanists alike can be freethinkers.

John Hooper, a retired research scientist, seeks to gain an understanding of the world without supernatural assumptions. John holds that this is what makes freethought free.

Their conversation may open your eyes, challenge your assumptions, provoke questions, and, perhaps, provide some answers.

The Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker

The Rev. Robin Landerman Zucker was ordained to the Unitarian Universalist ministry in 2000 and has served in both congregational and community settings in Boston and in the greater Pittsburgh area. Robin grew up in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community and would now call herself a “Jew-nitarian” and a “mystical humanist.” She graduated with a degree in English from Chatham University and a Master of Divinity from Harvard. Prior to entering ministry, Robin was a journalist and TV producer/writer for PBS. She lives in a brick house on a steep hill with her rescue dog, Miss Billie. Robin loves a vigorous dialogue, especially if strong black coffee is included.

What is a freethinker?

In my view, a freethinker is one who has embraced a creed-free, dogma-free path of meaning making. A freethinker does not denigrate other free-thought outcomes, but engages in open, respectful dialogue about how others shape truth and meaning in a flexible framework and without pre-set guideposts. Theists and humanists alike can be “freethinkers” within this definition.

Dr. John B. Hooper

John Hooper is Treasurer and Member of the Board of Directors of the American Humanist Association and a founding Director of the Pittsburgh Freethought Community. He also serves on the boards of the Institute for Humanist Studies and The Unitarian Universalist Church of the Larger Fellowship. He earned a BA from Northeastern University and a PhD in Chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University. More recently he received a Master of Arts in Liberal Arts from Clark University in an area of avocational interest: epistemology. John retired several years ago after a career as a research scientist and laboratory director. He lives in downtown Pittsburgh with his wife, Dr. Gail Pesyna.

What is a freethinker?

I define a freethinker as a person who seeks to gain understanding of the world without any supernatural assumptions. This is the “difference that makes a difference.” It is what makes freethought “free.” Freethinkers accept the responsibility for the consequences of their actions. They understand that thought and emotion are blended, so human interactions must be carefully nurtured to make sure that the one doesn’t overwhelm the other. Authentic compassion is grounded in empathy and rationality.

P.S. We usually head to Ali Baba's on nearby Craig Street at 5:30 p.m. for a pre-lecture or pre-movie dinner. Please leave a comment below if you are coming to dinner so we can include you in the reservation. Thanks!

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