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Pleasure lies not in discovering truth, but in seeking it. — Leo Tolstoy

This session explores the Blake covenant phrase to "seek the truth in love." Through the story of Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), participants discover our Unitarian heritage of seeking truth and our calling to act on our understanding of what is true and right.

Priestley, a scientist and a Unitarian minister, actively combined his theological beliefs with scientific inquiry. He made scientific breakthroughs we recognize today, such as proving the existence of oxygen. Yet, Priestley was ostracized during his time for his freethinking ideas and determined inquiry. Priestley refused to back down from his discoveries even when he and his family were threatened with bodily harm. His story reminds us of the dual importance of seeking the truth in love and following our conscience in standing up for our beliefs.

Goals

This session will:

  • Explore our Unitarian heritage of seeking truth in love through the story of 18th-century scientist and minister Joseph Priestley
  • Demonstrate the interconnectedness of scientific inquiry and religious beliefs
  • Affirm an inherent human need to seek answers to our questions
  • Demonstrate how our Unitarian Universalist faith supports us to seek truth in love.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Consider the example of Unitarian minister and scientist Joseph Priestley, who refused to give up his search for truth even when threatened with bodily harm
  • Identify and ponder their own wondering questions in a guided meditation
  • Experience how science can help us search for truth by conducting simple science experiments.

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For more information contact religiouseducation@uua.org.