About SOF

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There has to be
a better way

to talk about the
things that matter

If you somehow see yourself as a religious person but don’t believe in a supernatural power behind creation, if you’re pretty certain about what you don’t believe but you’re less certain about what you do, and if you’re wondering where to go for support and sympathetic company when you’ve left formal religious belief and practice behind, SOF is there for you, the perfect place to explore your stance among friends.

Not conventionally religious but fascinated – and concerned – by the phenomenon of religion and how it shapes society? SOF is a place for lively discussions about the endless variety of religious manifestation world-wide.

Do you feel you’ve outgrown your earlier religious affiliation or have you never had the time to think where you stand on religious matters? Come and join SOF in the fascinating business of discovering – and learning how to articulate – where you stand, alongside others engaged in the same task.

If you regard religion as a human creation – for better or worse – and supernatural beings as the product of the human imagination or poetic genius, then you will be in good company in SOF Network.

Opposing fundamentalism, SOF explores our common treasury of religious traditions and stories as a vital element in the making of humanity. Here we may find wisdom, not dispensed from on high, but requiring human and earthly assessment.

What is SOF?

Sea of Faith is a network of groups and individuals who share the understanding that religions and religious faith are creations of the human imagination and who explore together the implications of such an understanding for their moral, spiritual, and social values.

Who we are

SOF has no creed. It welcomes people from all faith and humanist communities, and those with no involvement in any organised religion. The membership reflects a range of experiential, intuitive and intellectual concerns.

What we do

Within this informal network, in local groups or by personal contact, in national conferences, magazines and newsletters, mailings and through the Internet, members support each other, share their experiences, and explore the implications of their shared view of religion as a human creation.

Why we do it

All human endeavours are, in their origins and development, products of time and place. The Sea of Faith Network is no exception. We must be continually reinventing ourselves. In valuing all traditions we seek to promote understanding of how we make sense and meaning in our lives, and how we may engage with the world problems of our time.

What do the groups do?

These are autonomous bodies, some meeting monthly, some quarterly, some preferring open, unstructured discussion, others organising lectures, workshops and one-day events.

So why is it called SOF?

The Network originally took its name from a BBC television series The Sea of Faith, presented in 1984 by philosopher Don Cupitt, then Dean of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. The  series and the accompanying book drew their title from Matthew Arnold’s poem, Dover Beach.

A Reasonable Faith is an introductory booklet written for SOF by David Boulton. It was first published in 1996 and, while a little dated, is still very relevant. He writes:

  “Most of us think of ourselves as seekers, seekers after knowledge, seekers after truth. If our lives have purpose, we would like to find it. If life has meaning, we would love to know what it is.
  If you are looking for clear-cut answers, absolute truths, moral and spiritual certainties, then read no further. SOF offers none of these. Life just isn’t that simple! We make our own meaning, create our own purpose. Not alone, as isolated individuals, but together, in conversation.
That’s a tall order, a challenge, and an adventure.
If the adventure appeals, you may find that SOF has something to offer you and that you may have something to offer SOF.”

Agenda for Faith “The rituals of faith are worth bothering with”, writes Stephen Mitchell, “in so far as they fire our imaginations and empower us to work through the human issues” which face us all. Agenda for Faith was published by SOF in 1997 and was reissued with a new introduction in 2011.  In Stephen Mitchell’s hands, faith becomes a hugely exciting business, challenging our ideas of God, self, history and reality itself.

Dover Beach — The poem by Matthew Arnold from which Don Cupitt’s seminal book, and the network, takes its name.