Category: Diary

All the latest from the NSS and the BHA

Both the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association do weekly e-newsletters.

NSS logoThe following is from the latest National Secular Society’s e-newsletter, Newsline. If you’re not already a subscriber and would like Newsline to drop into your inbox every Friday, send a blank email with “Subscribe to Newsline” on the subject line to [email protected].

Quotes of the Week

If all the achievements of scientists were wiped out tomorrow, there would be no doctors but witch doctors, no transport faster than horses, no computers, no printed books, no agriculture beyond subsistence peasant farming. If all the achievements of theologians were wiped out tomorrow, would anyone notice the smallest difference?

Richard Dawkins, quoted in The Guardian

If Europe is no longer big enough for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, we are all in trouble. It is sad that the home of the Enlightenment can no longer cope with her right to free speech.

Jasper Gerard, Sunday Times

Fatally female

Iraq-womanThe women of Basra have disappeared. Three years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, women’s secular freedoms – once the envy of women across the Middle East – have been snatched away because militant Islam is rising across the country.

Link: Independent Online Edition > Middle East

The BBC reported that Iraqi women feared for their rights in July 2005.

Human Rights Watch provides information on the status of Iraqi women before the fall of Saddam Hussein.

US Senate blocks gay marriage ban

The US Senate has blocked a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
President George W Bush had backed the ban, saying marriage between a man and a woman was the most fundamental institution of civilisation.

Link: BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US Senate blocks gay marriage ban

Depends what you mean by ‘civilisation’, Mr Bush. The Oxford dictionary defines it thus:

(also civilisation)
  • noun 1 an advanced stage or system of human social development. 2 the process of achieving this. 3 a civilized nation or region.

Hindu bigotry

The Satanic Verses, Behzti, Theo van Gogh’s Submission, Jerry Springer: The Opera, the Danish cartoons of Muhammad … now we can add the London exhibition of the work of Maqbool Fida Husain to the rapidly expanding list of works of art and satire targeted by militant religion.

Maqbool Fida HusainLink: The Observer | Comment | Yet again we cave into religious bigots. And this time they’re Hindus

It seems that every religious fundamentalist, of every religion, wants to get in on the act. It only takes a few determined trouble makers, threatening the destruction of people or property, and theatres and galleries give in! Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.

Why Religion?

At Suffolk Humanists’ May meeting, Michael Imison talked about the origins of religious belief.

Daniel DennettTwo books relevant to the subject were published this year. The first was by the American philosophical writer Daniel C Dennett, called Breaking the spell – Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. The spell Dennett wants to break is the widespread taboo on subjecting religion to scientific examination, which seems to arise from a fear that, without religion to impose morality, society would fall apart. On the contrary, Dennett argues, “now that we have created the technologies to cause global catastrophe our jeopardy is multiplied to the maximum. A toxic religious mania could end human civilisation overnight. We need to understand what makes religion work so we can protect ourselves.” He points out that the currently established religions are not that old in terms of the history of mankind and that new religions spring up every day, mostly only lasting a decade. He quotes three common explanations for the need for religion –

Meet Rachel Sloane from BBC Radio Suffolk

Rachel SloaneBBC Radio Suffolk presenter Rachel Sloane is doing a series of features about faiths and philosophies in Suffolk for her Sunday morning programme. She's been invited to come and meet us and will record her encounter. Please don't be shy but come prepared to talk about why you're a Humanist, and what Humanism means to you. In return, Rachel will tell us about her work.

Suffolk/Norfolk social

Tea in Halesworth with members of the Norfolk Humanist group. Email for an invitation and directions.

Top doctors v Prince Charles

A group of leading British doctors called today for the NHS to stop using "unproven" complementary treatments such as homeopathy, sparking complaints of "medical apartheid" by proponents of the therapies.

Snake oilLink: Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Top doctors accused of ‘medical apartheid’

It’s reported that ‘groups representing complementary practitioners reacted angrily’ to the call for an end to funding for unproven alternative therapies, but then they would, wouldn’t they?

Postponed – midsummer social

The midsummer social announced for today has been postponed until Saturday, 24th June.