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Chaplaincy and Humanics

June 6, 2024  
Rev Dave Binggeli - Chaplain

As the Chaplain, I’m sometimes asked what my role entails. And there are, of course, different ways to answer the question. But an interesting angle came to mind during our Professional Development session with Professor Matt Bower. The term ‘humanics’ was used to describe a possible area that AI won’t be able to replicate, at least any time soon.

The word stood out to me. Crucial to ‘humanics’ is not only being equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge for life, but also having a clear understanding of why we do what we do; that is, purpose and meaning. The late Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, opens his book, The Great Partnership: Science, Religion, and the Search for Meaning, with these words: “Science takes things apart to see how they work. Religion puts things together to see what they mean.” Both are necessary, he argues, in the same way we need the two hemispheres of the brain to function. Sacks goes on, “Science is the search for explanation. Religion is the search for meaning…It is possible to live without meaning. But it will be a strange, foreshortened, defensive kind of life.”

In a way, my role might be described as being to enrich a student’s ‘humanics’; that is, to help students integrate their knowledge into lives that are purposeful and rich with meaning.

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