Category: Diary

Discussion about assisted dying on BBC Radio Suffolk

Margaret Nelson from Suffolk Humanists & Secularists and someone from the local hospice will be on Mark Murphy’s programme to talk about assisted dying. Listen on air, online or listen again via the BBC website.

Ipswich Science in the Pub

From John Benton:

“Andy Miles has offered to update us on the goings-on at QED con. If you have any scientific curiosities, feel free to bring them along, and no doubt there will be talk of the current and upcoming solar activity.”

8th May meeting – guest speaker Rhea Williams from the Queen’s English Society

The Society campaigns to encourage high standards of written and spoken English, which have been found to be lamentably low among school-leavers and even university graduates. One of its principal campaigns is for better and explicit English language education and regular constructive correction of errors in English language in schools.

Marriage is about love, isn’t it?

Coalition for equal marriage

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has said that plans for gay marriage were a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. He’s a funny idea about what “human right” means. Article 16 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights says:

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Nothing there about gender, though they probably didn’t consider it necessary when it was written.

I didn't ask herThe other week it was the Coalition for Marriage, backed by Lord Carey (former Archbishop of Canterbury), who said that legalising gay marriage would be “an act of cultural and theological vandalism”. In response, Ben Summerskill (chief executive of gay, lesbian and bisexual charity Stonewall) said: “Our strong advice to anyone who disagrees with same-sex marriage is not to get married to someone of the same sex.”

The coalition’s website warns,

If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined. People’s careers could be harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded, and schools would inevitably have to teach the new definition to children. If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?

If you’d like to blow a collective raspberry at the silly old bigoted duffers, click here to sign the Coalition for Equal Marriage’s petition. You know it makes sense, unlike the Cardinal and his Lordship.

March meeting – Religion for Atheists?

Do we want it or need it? Alain de Botton has written a book about it, our member Michael Imison has heard him talk about it, and Michael’s going to tell us about it.

Usual place – the Inter-Faith Centre, West Building, University Campus Suffolk.

Carpe Diem

Sapias, vina liques, et spatio brevi spem longam reseces. dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

Be wise, strain the wine; and since life is brief, prune back far-reaching hopes! Even while we speak, envious time has passed: pluck the day, putting as little trust as possible in tomorrow!

“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge” – Charles Darwin

Darwin and his cousin

The naturalist Charles Darwin was born 203 years ago today, Darwin Day.

In his book, On the Origin of Species, Darwin set out what is probably the most important idea in the history of science. He reasoned that plants, animals and all living things are not static and unchanging, remaining as they were made by a divine creator; instead they change subtly from one generation to the next and those that are better suited to whatever environment they find themselves in prosper and reproduce more, while those that are less well suited don’t. In this way, plants and animals gradually change, eventually developing into new species and producing the huge variety of nature that we see today. Darwin’s theory, evolution by natural selection, is at the root of our understanding about life on Earth: it explains why there is such diversity in nature, why we are here, and why we are as we are.

On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, yet there are still many who reject evolution as an explanation for how we came to be here, prefering the Biblical story of Genesis or another creation myth – there are many – and there are still too many children leaving school ignorant of the theory of evolution.

For more on evolution and ‘Intelligent Design’ (Creationism in another form) click here for our article, We’re all Monkeys.