Category: Diary

Bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth

Charles Darwin was born on 12 February 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. He set sail on the Beagle on December 31, 1831 and published The Origin of Species in 1859. He died on 19 April 1882.

This will be the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, a particularly special Darwin Day – Suffolk Humanists and Secularists are planning activities to commemorate this bicentenary… watch this space for more info as we have it.

Pub Lunch in Woodbridge

If you’re interested in joining us, please email by 14 January at the latest, so we know how many to expect.

We can’t book at The Seal, so need to get there early and grab a table or tables.

Varied menu includes vegetarian options.

The Duke of York, Ipswich Road, Woodbridge, IP12 4BY

A Traditional Country Pub in the Coastal Town of Woodbridge. Parking, wheelchair access.

On the corner of Old Barrack Road and Ipswich Road, Woodbridge. Entry to car park in Old Barrack Road.

The Duke of York used to be The Seal, and has been given a make-over. It will be familiar to those who’ve been to previous pub lunches in Woodbridge.

The Seal

What time’s Xmas?

Leap secondThe seasons are determined by the time it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun – just over 365 days – and the way the Earth tilts on its axis. The Summer Solstice is the longest day (Midsummer Day in June), and the two equinoxes (Spring and Autumn) are when night and day are the same length. The Winter Solstice is the shortest day (tomorrow, 21st December 2008), when the North Pole is furthest from the Sun because of the Earth’s orbit and its tilt.

The Spring Solstice has been celebrated through the ages as a festival of new life. The Church introduced a religious festival called Easter (a name derived from an Anglo-Saxon goddess’s name) at about the time of the Spring Equinox; the date isn’t fixed in the ecclesiastical calendar, as Christmas is. The date that Christmas Day falls on has changed because the calendar has been changed. The most commonly used calendar today is the Gregorian Calendar, decreed by Pope Gregory XIII in February 1582. It replaced Julius Caesar’s Julian Calendar, which was introduced in 46 BC, and that replaced a series of Roman calendars that were essentially lunar. The Greeks had other calendars.

Consequently, the year began and ended at different times in different eras, and the midwinter festival that had previously been based on the solstice was claimed as a Christian festival and fixed at 25th December in 237 AD. That’s 25th December in the Gregorian Calendar. In the Julian Calendar it falls on 7th January; Christmas is still celebrated in January by some Orthodox Christians.

The first UK Camp Quest – July 2009

If you have children aged between eight and seventeen, you may be interested in the first UK residential summer camp for the children of atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and all those who embrace a naturalistic rather than supernatural world view. The camp will be at Bath for the week 27th July – 31st July 2009, for an all inclusive £275. They are looking for volunteers to help. To find out more, go to the Camp Quest website. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that the kids will come home exhausted.

Secularists should be afraid, very afraid – Terry Sanderson

This is from Terry Sanderson’s editorial on the NSS’s Newsline, the weekly e-news from the National Secular Society. To read more, go to the NSS website. To get Newsline in your inbox, sign up on the NSS site.

Terry_sanderson_140x140Every person in Britain who values the secular nature of our society will be alarmed and, indeed, frightened, by a publication this week from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR). Entitled Faith in the Nation, it is a collection of essays by “senior faith leaders” which begins with a foreword by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Mr Brown, like most of the other contributors, invokes the census figures as his starting point, which enables him to assert: “One message comes across clearly and consistently: that religious belief will continue to be an important component of our shared British identity as it evolves, and that British society can and does draw strength from its diverse faith communities.” This is the first of many lies and dissemblings in this book.

Universal Rights

A Humanist contribution to a Celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, at the Unitarian Meeting House, Ipswich, 10th December 2008, organised by the local UN Association.

UN-LOGOArticle 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Sometimes, when talking to young people about ethical or political issues, I’ve invited them to consider them from a different point of view – that of an interested, intelligent being from another part of the universe. Suppose there were alien anthropologists, or the equivalent, since they wouldn’t restrict themselves to studying one species – ours. What if they came and simply observed human behaviour. What if they came from a planet where there were no wars, where they’d restricted their population and the damage it might do, where they’d established some sort of harmonious relationship with their environment, where everyone regarded him or herself as part of one society, based on their planet, rather than having national or ethnic boundaries. I think they’d probably regard us as a primitive species.