Saturday, June 30, 2007

17 Million humanists in Britain, 36% of the population - Analysis of MORI poll

Source: BHA

The Mori poll suggests Dorset Humanists should target these people to become members:-

  • younger and middle-aged people (aged 15-54)
  • those in social classes ABC1
  • those with children in their household
  • those working full- or part-time
  • those who read ‘broadsheets’
  • those with qualifications of GCSE equivalent and above

Those who choose only Humanist statements – ‘humanists’ by this survey’s definition - are more prevalent among:

- younger and middle-aged people (aged 15-54) (41%) compared to those aged 55 and over (26%)

- those in social classes ABC1 (43%) compared to those in C2DE (28%)

- those with children in their household (43%) compared to those without (33%)

- those that live in the South (41%) compared to those that live in the Midlands (30%), with those in the North in between (37%)

- those working full- or part-time (42%) compared to those not working (29%)

- those who read ‘broadsheets’ (51%) compared to those that read tabloids (33%)

- those with qualifications of GCSE equivalent and above (42%) compared to those with no formal qualifications (20%).

Analysis of Ipsos MORI polls (released 24/11/06) on the level of humanist convictions amongst the British public and on how many of the British public believe religious groups and leaders are paid too much attention by Government .

Full analysis of the responses is available here (pdf)

Click here for commentary on the polls from BHA staff and Vice Presidents.

The questions and answers in the poll were as follows:

Respondents were asked: ‘If you had to choose just one of the statements which one best matches your view?’ (The * indicates the humanist option in each case: respondents were not shown the *)

Scientific and other evidence provides the best way to understand the universe.* (62%)
Religious beliefs are needed for a complete understanding of the universe. (22%)
Neither of these (10%)
Don’t know (6%)

Human nature by itself gives us an understanding of what is right and wrong* (62%)
People need religious teachings in order to understand what is right and wrong (27%)
Neither of these (7%)
Don’t know (4%)

What is right and wrong depends on the effects on people and the consequences for society and the world* (65%)
What is right and wrong is basically just a matter of personal preference (15%)

What is right and wrong is unchanging and should never be challenged (13%)
None of these (2%)
Don’t know (5%)

Respondents were asked: ‘People often comment on the level of attention the Government pays to certain groups in society. Which, if any, of the following groups of people do you think the Government pays too much attention to?’ and presented with a list of seven possibilities from which they could select up to three responses. Responses were:


Leaders of other countries 44

Religious groups and leaders 42

Newspaper headlines 35

Big Business 34

The Royal Family 20

Trade Unions 17

Ordinary people 3

None of these 9

Respondents were asked: ‘If you had to choose just one of the statements which one best matches your view?’

This life is the only life we have and death is the end of our personal existence (41%)
When we die we go on and still exist in another way (45%)
Neither of these (5%)
Don’t know (8%)


Ipsos MORI interviewed a nationally-representative sample of 975 respondents aged 15+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted face-to-face, in respondents’ homes, between 26 and 30 October 2006. 175 sampling points were covered. Results are weighted to the national GB 15+ population profile.

17 Million humanists in Britain, 36% of the population - MORI poll

Source: BHA site:

17 million British Humanists (24/11/06) (Numbers in brackets below refer to endnotes)

In the 2001 census 7 out of 10 people ticked the ‘Christian’ box but, with church attendance now below 7% (1) and under 1 in 3 marriages taking place in church (2), this figure was clearly more about cultural identity than religious belief (3).

Today (24/11/06) an Ipsos MORI poll has shown that 36% of people – equivalent to around 17 million adults – are in fact humanists in their basic outlook.

36% people agree with all of the following three statements (see pdf for FULL analysis):

  • 62% say "scientific & other evidence provides the best way to understand the universe"
    • rather than the 22% who say "religious beliefs are needed for a ‘complete understanding of the universe"
  • 62% say "human nature by itself gives us an understanding of what is right and wrong",
    • rather than 27% who say " people need religious teachings in order to understand what is right and wrong"
  • 65% say "what is right and wrong depends on the effects on people and the consequences for society and the world"
    • rather than 13% who say "what is right and wrong is unchanging and should never be challenged"
    • rather than 15% who say that "What is right and wrong is basically just a matter of personal preference"
Humanism is a non-religious ethical outlook on life and these answers summarise its key beliefs (click here for more details on Humanism today).

These are the key figures from the poll (the detailed results and further analysis are given here,
along with analysis of the Ipsos MORI poll on how many people believe religious groups and leaders have too much influence on Government):

- Overall, faced with the choice, 62% said ‘scientific & other evidence provides the best way to understand the universe’ against 22% who felt ‘religious beliefs are needed for a complete understanding of the universe’.

- Similarly, 62% chose ‘Human nature by itself gives us an understanding of what is right and wrong’, against 27% who said ‘People need religious teachings in order to understand what is right and wrong’.

- In the last question, faced with three choices, 65% said that what is right and wrong ‘depends on the effects on people and the consequences for society and the world’. The rest split almost equally between two profoundly un-Humanist views: 15% said right and wrong were ‘basically just a matter of personal preference’ and 13% said what was right and wrong was ‘unchanging and should never be challenged’.

Thirty-six percent chose all three of the Humanist answers, and another 30% chose two out of three. Only 13% chose none of them.

41% believe this is our only life

Another question found that 41% endorsed the strong statement: ‘This life is the only life we have and death is the end of our personal existence’. Fractionally more - 45% - preferred the broad view that ‘when we die we go on and still exist in another way’. Of those choosing all three of the ‘Humanist’ answers, 54% said this was our only life, against 38% who believed in some sort of continued existence. And of those seeing this as our only life, 79% chose two or all three of the ‘Humanist’ answers to the other questions. (Interestingly, 22% of those who endorsed the need for religion in answers to other questions also said this was our only life.)

42% say government pays too much attention to Religious groups and leaders

When asked "People often comment on the level of attention the Government pays to certain groups in society. Which, if any, of the following groups of people do you think the Government pays too much attention to?"
  • 42% said "religious groups and leaders"

Commentary (for more click here)

Hanne Stinson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association said, ‘Britain is basically a humanist country, and this poll shows it. We have always been aware that many people who do not identify themselves as humanists, and this includes quite a few people who do not know what Humanism is, live their lives by what one might describe as humanist principles. People who join the Association often tell us that they have been humanists all their lives, or for the last 20 years or so, but didn’t know it. But it is very encouraging to find that 36% of the British population are not simply non-religious, but actually humanist in their outlook and their morality, and that very many others don’t feel they need religion to understand the universe, or to guide their moral decisions. These people may not belong to the Humanist Association, may not have even heard of Humanism, but they share our attitudes and we speak for them in our campaigns.’

For further commentary on the results of the poll from Ms Stinson and from BHA Vice Presidents Claire Rayner, Baroness Whitaker and Richard Norman, along with analysis of the Ipsos MORI poll on how many people believe religious groups and leaders have too much influence on Government , click here


(1) Religious Trends 5: 2005/06, table 2.21

(2) 68% of marriages in 2004 were civil ceremonies - National Statistics

(3) For example it was asked in a context of ethnicity and the question was ‘What is your religion?’, rather than ‘Do you have a religion and if so what is it?’

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Being Good Without God

"For the one life we have" is the BHA tagline.

An alternative tagline could be "You can be Good without God!" or "Being Good Without God"

Yes, the universe looks like a fix. But that doesn't mean that a god fixed it

We will never explain the cosmos by taking on faith either divinity or physical laws. True meaning is to be found within nature

Paul Davies
Tuesday June 26, 2007
source: The Guardian

Scientists are slowly waking up to an inconvenient truth - the universe looks suspiciously like a fix. The issue concerns the very laws of nature themselves. For 40 years, physicists and cosmologists have been quietly collecting examples of all too convenient "coincidences" and special features in the underlying laws of the universe that seem to be necessary in order for life, and hence conscious beings, to exist. Change any one of them and the consequences would be lethal. Fred Hoyle, the distinguished cosmologist, once said it was as if "a super- intellect has monkeyed with physics".

To see the problem, imagine playing God with the cosmos. Before you is a designer machine that lets you tinker with the basics of physics. Twiddle this knob and you make all electrons a bit lighter, twiddle that one and you make gravity a bit stronger, and so on. It happens that you need to set thirtysomething knobs to fully describe the world about us. The crucial point is that some of those metaphorical knobs must be tuned very precisely, or the universe would be sterile.

Example: neutrons are just a tad heavier than protons. If it were the other way around, atoms couldn't exist, because all the protons in the universe would have decayed into neutrons shortly after the big bang. No protons, then no atomic nucleuses and no atoms. No atoms, no chemistry, no life. Like Baby Bear's porridge in the story of Goldilocks, the universe seems to be just right for life. So what's going on?

The intelligent design movement has inevitably seized on the Goldilocks enigma as evidence of divine providence, prompting a scientific backlash and boosting the recent spate of God-bashing bestsellers.

Fuelling the controversy is an unanswered question lurking at the very heart of science - the origin of the laws of physics. Where do they come from? Why do they have the form that they do? Traditionally, scientists have treated the laws of physics as simply "given", elegant mathematical relationships that were somehow imprinted on the universe at its birth, and fixed thereafter. Inquiry into the origin and nature of the laws was not regarded as a proper part of science.

But the embarrassment of the Goldilocks enigma has prompted a rethink. The Cambridge cosmologist Martin Rees, president of The Royal Society, suggests the laws of physics aren't absolute and universal but more akin to local bylaws, varying from place to place on a mega-cosmic scale. A God's-eye view would show our universe as merely a single representative amid a vast assemblage of universes, each with its own bylaws. Rees calls this system "the multiverse", and it is an increasingly popular idea among cosmologists. Only rarely within the variegated cosmic quilt will a universe possess bio-friendly laws and spawn life. It would then be no surprise that we find ourselves in a universe apparently customised for habitation; we could hardly exist in one where life is impossible. If Rees is right, the impression of design is illusory: our universe has simply hit the jackpot in a gigantic cosmic lottery.

The multiverse theory certainly cuts the ground from beneath intelligent design, but it falls short of a complete explanation of existence. For a start, there has to be a physical mechanism to make all those universes and allocate bylaws to them. This process demands its own laws, or meta-laws. Where do they come from? The problem has simply been shifted up a level from the laws of the universe to the meta-laws of the multiverse.

The root cause of all the difficulty can be traced to the fact that both religion and science appeal to some agency outside the universe to explain its lawlike order. Dumping the problem in the lap of a pre-existing designer is no explanation at all, as it merely begs the question of who designed the designer. But appealing to a host of unseen universes and a set of unexplained meta-laws is scarcely any better.

This shared failing is no surprise, because the very notion of physical law has its origins in theology. The idea of absolute, universal, perfect, immutable laws comes straight out of monotheism, which was the dominant influence in Europe at the time science as we know it was being formulated by Isaac Newton and his contemporaries. Just as classical Christianity presents God as upholding the natural order from beyond the universe, so physicists envisage their laws as inhabiting an abstract transcendent realm of perfect mathematical relationships. Furthermore, Christians believe the world depends utterly on God for its existence, while the converse is not the case. Correspondingly, physicists declare that the universe is governed by eternal laws, but the laws remain impervious to events in the universe.

I think this entire line of reasoning is now outdated and simplistic. We will never fully explain the world by appealing to something outside it that must simply be accepted on faith, be it an unexplained God or an unexplained set of mathematical laws. Can we do better? Yes, but only by relinquishing the traditional idea of physical laws as fixed, perfect relationships. I propose instead that the laws are more like computer software: programs being run on the great cosmic computer. They emerge with the universe at the big bang and are inherent in it, not stamped on it from without like a maker's mark.

Man-made computers are limited in their performance by finite processing speed and memory. So, too, the cosmic computer is limited in power by its age and the finite speed of light. Seth Lloyd, an engineer at MIT, has calculated how many bits of information the observable universe has processed since the big bang. The answer is one followed by 122 zeros. Crucially, however, the limit was smaller in the past because the universe was younger. Just after the big bang, when the basic properties of the universe were being forged, its information capacity was so restricted that the consequences would have been profound.

Here's why. If a law is a truly exact mathematical relationship, it requires infinite information to specify it. In my opinion, however, no law can apply to a level of precision finer than all the information in the universe can express. Infinitely precise laws are an extreme idealisation with no shred of real world justification. In the first split second of cosmic existence, the laws must therefore have been seriously fuzzy. Then, as the information content of the universe climbed, the laws focused and homed in on the life-encouraging form we observe today. But the flaws in the laws left enough wiggle room for the universe to engineer its own bio-friendliness.

Thus, three centuries after Newton, symmetry is restored: the laws explain the universe even as the universe explains the laws. If there is an ultimate meaning to existence, as I believe is the case, the answer is to be found within nature, not beyond it. The universe might indeed be a fix, but if so, it has fixed itself.

· Paul Davies is director of Beyond, a research centre at Arizona State University, and author of The Goldilocks Enigma

The God Delusion pledge to MPs update

Dear David Williams (Berkshire Humanists),
Cfi Jane Bannister (Chairman - Dorset Humanists), Hanne Stinson (BHA Chief Executive)

Jane Bannister mentioned your call to her this week:-
> 2. David Williams from Berks. Humanists phoned me and asked if anything is
> happening about the gathering at the H of C following the sending of
> Dawkins' books. Has that idea been dropped? It sounded quite a difficult thing
> to organise.

[Chris Street] yes the idea was dropped - only 3 MPs were interested at all in doing a 'PR event' and none of them could arrange a meeting at the same time. Now the impetus has gone and its 'history' to journalists.

>The BHA AGM is coming up and your enterprise really ought to be highlighted as a demonstration of solidarity with Richard Dawkins (and Christopher Hitchens to follow?).

The pledgebank pledge was successful:-

"I will arrange for my MP to receive a copy of Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" but only if 645 other people (one per UK constituency) will do the same for other MPs."
— J Christie

I helped to persuade BHA & NSS & to email their members a week before the deadline. The rate of signup graph shows these emails were successful in gaining a further 200+ pledges thus reaching the 645 pledge target a few days before the 31st March deadline. James Christie (organiser) & Peter Klaver, amongst many others, helped to promote this pledge.

Now, I’m proud to say, all MPs have a copy of Richard Dawkins ‘The God Delusion’ book.

Chris Street, Dorset Humanists

Group Representatives Annual Meeting (GRAM)

BHA - Group Representatives Annual Meeting (GRAM) on the 3rd November 2007. Is anyone from Dorset Humanists attending this meeting?

Savoy hotel Meetings

Savoy Hotel (Bournemouth) Meetings are once a month at 2.30pm on a Sunday. Numbers of Dorset Humanists attending typically range between 6-16. Discussions center around a topic but are quite wide ranging. Recent discussions were:-

  • May 2007: Overlap between Religion and Humanism
  • June 2007: Boundaries of Humanism: should Humanists be militant?

What topics would you like to see discussed? Leave your suggestions in the 'comments' section below.

Monday, June 25, 2007

petition the Prime Minister to ban practice of any particular faith or religion

The Government has replied..

Nofaithinschools - epetition reply

22 June 2007

We received a petition asking:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ban within government-funded schools the promotion or practice of any particular faith or religion."

Details of Petition:

"Faith-based or sect schools encourage and propagate divisions within our society. Schools should be places where our children are taught to think about the world around them and come to their own conclusions. In short, they should be taught, not only about the profusion of religions and faiths but also about how moral and socially responsible lives can be led without them; rather than, at a time before they have sufficiently developed critical faculties, being indoctrinated."

* Read the petition
* Petitions home page

Read the Government's response

The Government remains committed to a diverse range of schools for parents to choose from, including schools with a religious character or "faith schools" as they are commonly known.

Religious Education (RE) in all schools, including faith schools, is aimed at developing pupils' knowledge, understanding and awareness of the major religions represented in the country. It encourages respect for those holding different beliefs and helps promote pupils' moral, cultural and mental development. In partnership with national faith and belief organisations we have introduced a national framework for RE. In February 2006, the faith communities affirmed their support for the framework in a joint statement making it clear that all children should be given the opportunity to receive inclusive RE, and that they are committed to making sure the framework is used in the development of RE in all their schools and colleges.

The Churches have a long history of providing education in this country and have confirmed their commitment to community cohesion. Faith schools have an excellent record in providing high-quality education and serving disadvantaged communities and are some of the most ethnically and socially diverse in the country. Many parents who are not members of a particular faith value the structured environment provided by schools with a religious character.

Rushdie's knighthood

Source: NSS Newsline 22nd June 2006

Quotes of the week
"The idea that [Rushdie's knighthood] is some kind of calculated insult is an absurdity. The real insult – to the intelligence and decency of 'the world's 1.5 billion Muslims, for whom people such as Mohammed Ejaz ul-Haq presume to speak – comes from the ignorance and paranoia of leaders who feel so threatened by a novelist that they'll call for him to be killed."
(Hari Kunzru, writer, The Guardian)

"Do the citizens of Lahore or Karachi regularly scan the Queen's birthday honours list for any dubious awards? Do they scour the Danish press for distasteful cartoons? Do they then, on discovering something they can call offensive, prepare placards and posters before going out on to the streets to create mayhem? No, they are surely too busy for that sort of thing. There must instead be a handful of international busybodies who make it their task to publicise perceived insults to the Muslim religion and to whip up previously oblivious mobs in distant lands into a frenzy of indignation."
(Alexander Chancellor, Guardian)

"What religion and the religious fear most of all is ridicule because what they believe is absurd. Deep down they all know that. We give far too much credence to 'the mirthless cretins of jihad'. Much better to point and laugh at all such fundamentalists of whatever creed. They feed and thrive on our pusillanimous silence and respect for their beliefs."
(Paul Owen, The Times)

Ann Brooker MP comments on The God Delusion to MPs plege

Ann Brooker MP said that "she would take her copy on her summer break to read" according to a Dorset Humanist member.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - Key points

A key point summary of issues in this book
  • Pub. Bantam Press 2006 - numbers at end of line refer to page number in book
    • Be a Humanist (1)
      • Be happy, balanced, moral, intellectually fulfilled 1
      • a brave & splendid aspiration 1
      • dont be reluctant to 'come out' as a humanist (as with gays - more people that come out the easier for others to join them) 4
      • humanists who are not organised display zero political clout 4
      • like trying to herd cats 4
    • Imagine (john Lennon)
      • no 9.11/7.7 / no NI troubles etc if the world was without religion (1)
      • No childhood indoctrination (3)
      • No catholic child or muslim child 3
    • Delusion - a false belief or impression - held even with contradictory evidence 5
    • Undeserved Respect
      • faith should be open to debate & justification just like political views (Douglas Adams quote) 20
      • danish cartoons 24
    • God Hypothesis
      • defined 31 + 38
    • Humanists stand up and be counted
      • numerically strong - lets start punching our weight 44
      • dont be harrassed , shunned by family, loss of job, murder 45
    • poverty of Agnosticism
      • Permanent Agnosticism on Principle PAP -some questions can never be answered no matter how much evidence 47
    • Levels 1-7 of theist to atheist 50
      • russels teapot 51
      • belief in zeus, apollo thor, FSM 53
      • is gods existence probable 54
      • how = science, why = religion 56. No!
    • Prayer proof efficacy 61
    • Obnoxious morals of Ten Commandments and God as role model 237
    • Humanist Ten Commandments 263/4
    • modern morality does not come from the bible 246
      • death penalty 248
        • curse parents
        • homosexuality
        • bestiality
        • working on sabbath
      • religion is an insult to human dignity (weinburg) 249
      • we dont get morals from scripture 249
    • Islam
      • idolatory - punished by beheading 249
    • Child labelling
      • catholic children or protestant children 260
      • segregated faith schools 261
      • taboo against marrying out 261
    • non miltant humanism 282
    • fundamentalism - subversion of science / evidence 282/3
      • unquestioning faith is a virture - should not be 286
      • blasphemy law / Jerry Springer opera 288
      • homosexuality 289
      • Armaggeden 302
      • july 2005 london bombings 302
      • Faith is an evil because it requires no justification and brooks no arguement 308
        • no suicide bombers with out faith 308
        • why is faith of their birth the only truth 314
    • Child indoctrination
      • parents no right 326
      • we should protect children from parents 326
      • grate like fingernails on a blackboard - muslim child or christian child 338
    • replace religion with science or Humanism or Art or Friendship 347
    • fear of death - Mark Twain - dead for billions years before being born 354

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Nursery pupils taught philosophy

source: BBC
Nursery class
Children are taught philosophy in nursery
Children as young as four are being taught philosophy in nursery, BBC Scotland has learned.

The Clackmannanshire Council initiative is believed to be the first run by a local authority in Britain.

New research from Dundee University suggests learning philosophy raises children's IQ by up to 6.5 points and improves their emotional intelligence.

The study tracked progress of secondary school pupils in Clackmannanshire who received philosophy lessons in primary.


Philosophy can be described as rational investigation of existence, ethics and knowledge, experts said.

Teachers use stimuli such as a story or picture to encourage learners to think about things at a deeper level.

They ask children simple, open-ended questions such as "how do you know that? What shows that?".

Paul Cleghorn, the head teacher who spearheaded the school philosophy launch in Clackmannanshire primary schools six years ago, said starting the subject early in life had a profound effect on young people's behaviour.

He said: "The critical thing about it is that it allows the youngster to move to a level where informed choice can be made.

"It is not about the surface level information about something.

"For example in health education, let's say smoking or drugs education, if it is on a factual level youngsters are smart enough to give the right answers but that does not actually impact on their behaviour and the choices they make."

It shows that the time children spend in exploring philosophical concepts ... is a good long term investment for their future
Dr Steve Trickey

The Dundee University research tracked the progress in secondary school of a control group and the children in Clackmannanshire who learnt philosophy in primary.

It indicates it does have a long term impact.

Professor Keith Topping and Dr Steve Trickey said that the self-esteem of pupils and confidence rose.

Pupils were more aware of their own and the feelings of others and classroom behaviour improved, the research said.

Dr Trickey said: "It shows that the time children spend in exploring philosophical concepts through structured inter-active classroom practices such as the 'Thinking Through Philosophy' programme, is a good long term investment for their future."

Clackmannanshire Council is now seeking to extend the approach into secondary schools and nurseries.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

a Free book from the Dept of Education & Skills - to all 11 year old

Which books should the government provide for all


Comment No. 569656

June 23 6:17

An Atheists choice of a dozen books:

- Richard Dawkins - The God Delusion
- Sam Harris - Letter to a Christian Nation: a challenge to faith
- Christopher Hitchins - God is Not Great: how Religion poisons everything
- Victor Stenger - God the Failed Hypothesis: how science shows that god does not exist
- Sam Harris - The End of Faith
- Daniel Dennett - Breaking the Spell: Religion as a natural phenomenum
- Lewis Wolpert - Six Impossible Things before breakfast: The Evolutionary Origins of Belief
- Barbara Smoker - Humanism
- Alfred Hobson - Modern Humanism: Living without religion
- Julian Baggini - Atheism: A very short introduction
- Michel Onfray - In Defense of Atheism
- AC Grayling - What is good: The search for the best way to live.

Faith Schools are Sect Schools petition

To: Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and To: the British public

An open letter and petition.

The term 'faith school' fails to reflect the critical view that many British people take of schools with "religious character". (64% of the adult population thinks "the government should not be funding faith schools of any kind"; ICM, August 2005.)

We propose the term 'sect schools', which gives a voice to common criticism. All schools with religious character are sect schools.

More and sign petition

Dorset Humanists on the map at Brights UK

add your name to the map

Humanism in 4 minutes

This is the script of a talk given by Margaret Nelson of ‘Suffolk Humanists’ in the UK to Holbrook High School on 23 February 1999.

I’m Margaret, and I’m a Humanist. Humanism isn’t a religion. It’s an approach to life based on reason and our common humanity, the Humanist tradition goes back thousands of years, to great thinkers of ancient Greece, like Protagoras, and Epicurus. But Humanism wasn’t founded by one person, or group of people. It has developed over time. It requires us to think and be open minded. There’s no book of rules, no set way of doing things, no complicated ritual to observe.

Many ordinary people are Humanists. Among better known ones are a number of MPs, actors and writers including Roy Hattersley, Jane Asher, and Stephen Fry (currently presenting Comic Relief programmes on TV), Terry Pratchett and Salman Rushdie, and lots of leading scientists, journalists and other movers and shakers. They’ve stood up and been counted to demonstrate that you don’t need religion to be successful or to benefit society.

So why, you may ask, haven’t we heard much about Humanism before? A lot of people, over half the population, don’t believe in god. More and more, when they hear about Humanism, say, “That’s what I am, I just didn’t know it had a name”. Unlike religions, we don’t go round trying to convert anyone, but I spend a lot of my time pointing out that it’s OK not to believe in god; you don’t have to apologise for it.

I was brought up by religious parents - not exceptionally religious, but they believed in god. When I was about 13 or so I started questioning the things I was taught in church and RE lessons (the syllabus was a lot different then). I read about science - astronomy, the development of life on earth and so on, and started making up my own mind about things. It seemed to me that some of the people I knew who liked to think of themselves as ‘good Christians’ were actually quite mean and miserable. It also became obvious that some people I knew who weren’t at all religious were good, generous, decent people. I realised I was a Humanist.

It’s only in the last ten years that I’ve become an active representative of Humanism, since I developed ME and had to give up full-time work, leaving me free to be a Humanist officiant. This means that I conduct non-religious ceremonies, mainly funerals, but a few weddings and namings too. The need to mark significant events in our lives with rite of passage ceremonies goes back millennia; the religious have no special claim to them.

My funerals contain no hymns, prayers or religious readings. We use appropriate music and poems instead. They’re all different, just as people are different. I talk about life and death, love and loss, memories and influences, family and friends, but mainly I talk about the person who’s died. I’ll conduct a funeral for anyone as long as I’m not expected to include any religion It might seem a strange thing to say, but I enjoy what I do. Sometimes people ask, “Doesn’t it depress you?”, and I say no, or I wouldn’t do it. It gives me satisfaction to help people come to terms with a loss, and to provide some comfort and consolation.

I’m not afraid to die. I won’t know anything about it. It will be like someone switching off a light. I enjoy life, and intend to make the most of it while I can. Being happy depends to a large extent on helping to make other people happy.

I don’t care what other people believe. Lots of my friends are believers, and they accept me as I accept them. It’s how we behave towards each other that counts. We’re all responsible for our own behaviour, and how it affects ourselves, other people, and the world around us. Whatever we believe, we’ve all got to get along together if we’re to be happy. This is what Humanism’s all about.

Why Do Humanists Celebrate at Christmas?

Atheists, agnostics, Humanists and other non-believers are sometimes asked why they celebrate at Christmas time, or are even accused of being hypocritical for doing so.

source - Humanists.freeserve
The answer, which may be surprising to many uninformed Christians, is that they celebrate at that time for the same reason as the early Christians - because everyone else was already doing so, and had been for centuries before the time of the first Christians.

The last two weeks of December had long been a time of celebration throughout the ancient world in the northern hemisphere. It was associated with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day, after which one could look forward to Spring, to crops, regeneration and new life.

Almost all the customs of the Festive Season pre-date Christianity: the giving of gifts, decorating the house and tree, putting up holly and mistletoe, and eating the flaming round plum pudding - the most obvious solar symbol of all. And the familiar crib scene originated in ancient Egypt.

It was not until the 4th century that anyone claimed to know the exact birthday of Jesus. In 525 AD a claim was made by Dionysius Exiguus, a mathematician and theologian living in Rome. Christian scholars today are all agreed that Exiguus was wrong, and it is generally believed that Jesus was born between 7 BC and 4 BC. In the year 274 AD Roman Emperor Aurelian declared December 25 to be the Sun’s official birthday.

So those who have no religion and who may describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or Humanists, need have no qualms about celebrating at this time of the year.

At a glance Humanism is compared with other popular beliefs

How do these beliefs differ:
  • Christianity, Islam, Judaism
  • Hinduism, Buddhism
  • Humanism
comparing these attributes:
  • Your place in society
  • Mankind's nature
  • Attitude to authority
  • Attitude to Science
  • Cause of world conditions
  • Future of Mankind

Humanist Anniversaries to Celebrate

1 January: E. M. Forster born 1879
2 January: Gilbert Murray born 1866 and, in 1920, Isaac Asimov born
11 January: George W. Foote , founder of ‘The Freethinker’, born 1850
29 January: birth of Thomas Paine 1737

more Humanist Anniversaries to Celebrate

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hanne Stinson, British Humanist Association (BHA) executive director at the birth of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

WASPofScience wrote

Andrew Copson's colleague, Hanne Stinson, British Humanist Association (BHA) executive director, speaking at the launch, said 'she was delighted to be present at the birth of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain as a representative of one of the group's sponsors.'

'When we were approached by the ex-Muslims who initially came up with the idea of this project, we were only too happy to offer our support', she said.

'Our Association has many members who were raised in one religion or another but, until quite recently, we had comparatively few former Muslims amongst our members - perhaps because some of them have been afraid to 'come out' as ex-Muslims. But we are now getting more members from this community, and we need to do more to support them.

'The British Humanist Association's purpose - our mission - is to support and represent people who live their lives without religion, and we should certainly be doing this for ex-Muslims, and for atheists and agnostics who live within Muslim communities, as we do for people brought up in other religions.

'We know that we are very likely to be criticised for supporting the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain - that we may well be accused of Islamophobia - but as far as I am concerned this is not any kind of phobia, it's about human rights: the rights we all have; rights that we should all be defending.

'We all have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and this includes freedom to change our religion or belief. If any religious group claims they have the right to stop people leaving their religion, or threatens people who renounce their religion, shouldn't we all be defending this basic human right?

'As a humanist, the last thing I want to do is cause gratuitous offence. But I believe that if we do not speak out in support of other people's human rights, we all risk losing our rights. And if some people are offended by what I am saying, so be it.'

'The atheists, agnostics and ex-Muslims who are coming together in this new Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain are courageous people. I salute them. And I am proud to count myself, and the British Humanist Association, amongst their supporters.'

I suggest you join the British Humanist Association here:

BHA have only 6000 members and need supporting.

The courage of their convictions by AC Grayling

Source: The Guardian June 19, 2007 11:00 AM
AC Grayling

The courage of their convictions

The launch of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is a torch of hope in a dark quadrant of the world's affairs. Its manifesto should be read by all.

There is an immense difference between understanding something with one's head, and understanding it with one's guts. Think of the phrase, "the courage of one's convictions". This week the true meaning of these words, hitherto eroded into a flat nap-worn cliche by overuse and misuse, comes home with the force of a kick in the belly. For on Thursday June 21 in London, a group of people are going to take a stand for their principles in a way that involves real courage, admirable courage, and which at the same time lights a torch of hope in a dark quadrant of the world's affairs.

The occasion is the launch of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, following the establishment of such groups elsewhere in Europe, notably Germany and Scandinavia. The British branch is led by the outstanding Maryam Namazie, Iranian-born champion of (among other things) human rights, women, and refugees from religious persecution. The manifesto of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain eloquently speaks for itself, and I hope Maryam Namazie and her fellow-members of the council will not mind if I quote it here in full, because it deserves the widest publicity, not least because the 10 demands appended to it constitute a bill of rights which is absolutely necessary for everyone, non-religious and otherwise, to adopt and observe now that the world is again experiencing, with such bitterness, widespread religion-generated difficulties.

One point that has to be kept in mind here, because it illuminates the following document with the burning light of urgency, is this: apostasy (abandoning one's religion) by a Muslim is to this day regarded as a crime punishable by death in countries governed by Islamic law (it once likewise invited death in Christianity). This is why the council is the embodiment of courage, and why the principles in its 10 demands are so vital.

Manifesto of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain

We, non-believers, atheists, and Ex-Muslims, are establishing or joining the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain to insist that no one be pigeonholed as Muslims with culturally relative rights nor deemed to be represented by regressive Islamic organisations and "Muslim community leaders".

Those of us who have come forward with our names and photographs represent countless others who are unable or unwilling to do so because of the threats faced by those considered "apostates" - punishable by death in countries under Islamic law.

By doing so, we are breaking the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam but also taking a stand for reason, universal rights and values, and secularism.

Whilst religion or the lack thereof is a private affair, the increasing intervention of and devastation caused by religion and particularly Islam in contemporary society has necessitated our public renunciation and declaration. We represent a majority in Europe and a vast secular and humanist protest movement in countries like Iran.

Taking the lead from the Central Council of Ex-Muslims in Germany, we demand:

1) Universal rights and equal citizenship for all. We are opposed to cultural relativism and the tolerance of inhuman beliefs, discrimination and abuse in the name of respecting religion or culture.

2) Freedom to criticise religion. Prohibition of restrictions on unconditional freedom of criticism and expression using so-called religious "sanctities".

3) Freedom of religion and atheism.

4) Separation of religion from the state and legal and educational system.

5) Prohibition of religious customs, rules, ceremonies or activities that are incompatible with or infringe people's rights and freedoms.

6) Abolition of all restrictive and repressive cultural and religious customs which hinder and contradict women's independence, free will and equality. Prohibition of segregation of sexes.

7) Prohibition of interference by any authority, family members or relatives, or official authorities in the private lives of women and men and their personal, emotional and sexual relationships and sexuality.

8) Protection of children from manipulation and abuse by religion and religious institutions.

9) Prohibition of any kind of financial, material or moral support by the state or state institutions to religion and religious activities and institutions.

10) Prohibition of all forms of religious intimidation and threats.

Spiritual departures by Andrew Copson, British Humanist Association

Andrew Copson

Spiritual departures

Today's launch of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain is a brave move, which will provide support for those who wish to leave the faith.

June 21, 2007 4:15 PM Reposted from The Guardian

"I recall being very frightened at the time as it was explained to me that to reject Islam was one of the worst things one could do and that the penalty for that was death. This incident and others which contribute to an intimidating and hostile environment for me and others in my position have meant I have been unable to openly express my humanist convictions to my family and other Muslims."

This extract is from the longer testimony of one former Muslim, published (pdf) by the Cabinet Office's Equalities Review earlier this year.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, launched today, is, as others have pointed out, a brave move by those raised in one religion to stand up against religious tenets which they feel oppress them and to campaign for freedom of belief. The problem that they highlight by launching this group is undoubtedly a growing one, exacerbated by the increasing tendency of the media and of the government to define people in religious terms, and too often according to the religion of their upbringing or of their family.

Just as importantly, however, the new council will offer former Muslims - like the former Muslim quoted above - a network of support. To depart from the culture or religion of your own upbringing can be an alienating and traumatic experience - it can leave you feeling rootless and isolated. Salman Rushdie may have been recognised with a knighthood only last weekend, but by and large, people who have moved away from Islam, as a group, are off the public radar, and perhaps the recent reaction to the honouring of Sir Salman the "apostate" tells us something of the reason why.

When the British Humanist Association was approached by the former Muslims who conceived of this project, we were happy to give it our support - not in a spirit of anti-religious animus, but because it is clear that non-religious people in this position need our help. It is the absolute human right of everyone to make up their own minds in matters of religion and to have freedom of thought, religion, conscience and belief - if the child of two humanist parents grows up to decide that he or she is a Muslim, or the child of two Muslim parents decides that he or she is a humanist, they have the right to be so, free of intimidation or threat.

Britain has a long-evolving tradition of freedom of conscience, and the enjoyment of that right belongs to everyone; forces that impinge on that freedom have to be countered and individuals seeking that freedom have to be supported.


Launch of YouTube UK

Viewed 104,000 times (22nd June 2007). Which Dorset Humanist will appear first on YouTube UK?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

new petitions on the Number 10 website

From NSS Newsline 15th June 2007

From Robert Ager:
Here is a selection of new petitions on the Number 10 website that Newsline readers might want to consider. Ban overt religious symbology make illegal the operation of any sharia court in the UK outlaw all forms of body mutilation including but not limited to genital mutilation If Intelligent Design is Scientific fact then so should all other Supernatural occurrences abolish the compulsory R.E lessons for year 10 students and allow them to take an extra GCSE Put pressure on the Pakistani Government to protect minority Christians from extremists The Government should not fund any organisation unless they abide completely with anti-discrimination legislation and the Human Rights Act. Ban the use of public money to fund the training of imans or any other pro muslim cause. Cease the proposed funding of Islamic studies in Universities. not fund Iman training with £1m of taxpayers money but instead prosecute extremist Imans to make christmas themed advertising and decorations in commercial outlets before November illegal

National Secular Society website analysis

Links to NSS pages from NSS Home Page - 21st June 2007
NSS Home page format 21st June 2007

Humanist Heritage - mapping Britain's long history of Humanism, Secularism, Scepticism and Freethought

Great Resource for Humanism etc

BHA Home page - Summary

British Humanist Association Home page
updated 21st June 2007

Protest about Government plans to hand over Public Services to religious groups

What YOU can do to help BHA Campaigns
source: BHA News - May / June 2007
Write to your MP

Write to him or her to protest about Government plans to hand over Public Services to religious groups. Example: employment or health services.

You can say this is objectionable in principle and offensive in practice: why should Muslims be forced to go to a Christian enterprise to get a job; why should Humanists have to pass intimate details to a Catholic run health service?

You can say it amounts to a subsidy for religious organisations who are bound to profit by it.

Let BHA know of any reply you get (advise Naomi Phillips, Public Affairs Officer:, 020 7079 3585)

Background to the Religious Takeover of Public Services?
The Government is moving forward with the plan to contract out services to churches. Display advertisments have been published encouraging religious organisations to tender to run the employment service and Jobcentre Plus - the advert barely mentions that other voluntary groups may also tender. The probation service is also at risk of being handed over to the churches under a current bill.

BHA have responded in detail to the Freud report on contracting out services, concentrating on opposing contracts with religious groups - this paper is on BHA website:
  • BHA letter 'Response to the Government’s proposals for welfare reform and to the Freud report, from the British Humanist Association, May 2007:
  • Work and Pensions Minister Jim Murphy replied with bland generalities ot Hanne Stinson's letter
More information
For further information: Naomi Phillips, Public Affairs Officer:
020 7079 3585on. BHA recommendations:-

BHA recommend that the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions):
• does not contract out or sanction the contracting out of the supply of welfare services to religious organisations
• does not privilege religious over inclusive secular organisations in any circumstances
• reviews its reasons for proposing to contract out welfare services to religious suppliers
• bases its welfare policy on clear and testable evidence and not on dogma or spurious assumptions about the role of and ‘need’ for
religious organisations in welfare delivery
• ensures that all contracts and funding agreements will specify that suppliers will be bound by the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) and equality and non-discrimination legislation, with no exceptions
• does not award contracts to any organisation which seeks to manifest and/or promote religion or belief through its delivery of welfare or in its hiring practices.
• addresses the problems we identify throughout this submission and then re-thinks its welfare reform policy, specifically in relation to the inclusion and public funding of religious organisations in the areas of welfare and public services more broadly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Insisting that Humanists be recognised

Government and others talk about 'Religion' or 'Faith' instead of relevant law which states 'Religion or belief' where 'belief' includes non-religious beliefs such as Humanism.

National Strategy for RE

BHA welcomes National Strategy for Religious Education which if implemented by Department for Education and Skills will replace the current local arrangements administered via SACRE

Humanists in the Lords Debate the Non-Religious - BHA News - May / June 2007

On 19th April 2007, the House of Lords held a debate about the non-religious. Hansard report and WASP summarised the debate.

BHA News - May / June 2007 - 2011 Census - BHA makes progress

The 2001 Census question - "What is your relgion?" produced a 72% response rate of Christian, and was flawed not only because it was a leading question, but because, coming straight after the question on ethnicity, it encouraged respondents to give a 'cultural' response as much as a religious one.

The BHA has argued that the figure fails to give an adequate picture of the real nature of religious and non-religious beliefs, identities or observance among the population and that - because the data is widely used as authoritative - the need for it to be accurate is very great.

BHA will work with the Office of National Statistics to come up with a fairer question.

BHA News - May / June 2007 - In Brief

Warning - Bible may cause offence
In Hong Kong 838 citizens have called for the Bible to carry a label warning that it contains 'indecent content' for verses referring to rape, violence, cannibalism and incest. If the complaints, registered with Hong Kong's Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, are upheld, the Bible will be sold only to those over eighteen years old

The judge and the crucifix

Luigi Tosti, the italian judge who refused to sit in the presence of a crucifix while dispensing secular justice, has lost an appeal he launched against a gaol sentence. Mr Tosti had his sentence of seven months' imprisonment confirmed and was also exclued from public buidlings for one year. Tosti intends to pursue appeals right up to the human rights court in Strasbourg.

BHA News May / June 2007 - Dorset Humanists have 2 entries

British Humanists Make Connections Abroad
On the front page of BHA News David Wardens' visit to India gets a mention with a link which describes his visit in full.

Groups Round-up
this blog has a link

Best bits of BHA News

BHA News is a great bi-monthly resource from British Humanist Association. I will summarise what i consider to be the highlights here which should allow discussion by Dorset Humanists. If you want to add your own posts to this blog leave your email address in the comment section below or email Chris Street.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

What are your Top 5 books on Humanism or Atheism?

Please list your Top 5 books on Humanism or Atheism in the comments section below.

BHA Position on National Curriculum for RE


Parliamentary briefing 2003/10

A national curriculum for Religious Education?

BHA welcomes Ofsted report on RE, calls for national curriculum

The British Humanist Association has expressed its support for a national curriculum for RE, to replace the current system where syllabuses for RE are drawn up by committees in each local authority in England and Wales . This call comes in light of the Ofsted report on RE released today, which demonstrates the variable provision of RE in schools in the absence of a national syllabus.

Andrew Copson, BHA Education Officer, said, ‘We know that many non-religious parents and young people are concerned about the quality of RE provided by their school. Although in some areas RE is good, makes room for the humanist perspective to be included, and contributes to the development and education of non-religious pupils, in others it can exclude their perspective and undermine their developing values. RE needs more resources for the training of teachers and the development of innovative pedagogy, but we don’t believe any of this will achieve a lasting change without a statutory national syllabus against which to measure standards and attainment.’

In 2004, a Non-Statutory National Framework for RE was issued by DfES and QCA to encourage good practice in the drawing up of local syllabuses for RE and it included a recommendation that ‘secular philosophies such as humanism’ be included at all key stages. It was welcomed by humanists at the time as being a big step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, as Mr Copson continued, ‘Research commissioned by the BHA, and in the process of being presented as a final report for release later in 2007, has shown us that the current system of locally determined syllabuses has presented a major barrier to the inclusion of the humanist perspective in RE. It seems that without a statutory national syllabus, we will not achieve the best RE for all our children.’


For further comment, email Andrew or telephone on 07855 380633

Further information on the BHA’s position on making RE part of the national curriculum can be found here

Monday, June 18, 2007

Polkinghorne lecture to The Royal Society

John Polkinghorne lecture to The Royal Society.

Type rest of the post here

Al Gore Speaks of a Nation in Danger

In “The Assault on Reason” Al Gore excoriates George W. Bush, asserting that the president is “out of touch with reality,” ...


Tome truths

AC Grayling BHA Vice President

The publication of just six anti-religious books has managed to provoke outrage from the devout - this reveals a profound insecurity.
AC Grayling

June 11, 2007 1:00 PM

To the annoyance of many, the alarm of some, and the satisfaction of others, the half dozen books recently published that powerfully set out the case against religion and religious beliefs - books by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Michel Onfray - have all sold in large numbers. At time of writing Christopher Hitchens' excellent and comprehensive dismantling of religious pretensions is at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Among the reasons for the large sales of these books is doubtless the desire by believers to see what the opposition is saying; but the main reason is the hunger that the undecided and the hitherto misinformed have for a clear statement, no punches pulled, of the indictment against religion.

The appearance of these books shows that the immunity of religion to forthright questioning and challenge is over, and with it its claim to automatic respect, privilege, sensitive handling and a place at the high table of politics and public life. Remember what happened to the dictators of eastern Europe in 1989: they turned out to be cardboard figures, who suddenly turned soggy and collapsed into nothing at the first dose of real opposition. A 1989 is in process of happening to religion. The hard truths spoken about it in these books and the public debate surrounding them are as genies freed from the bottle: they cannot be put back.

Half a dozen anti-religious books; what is amazing is how little, if anything, is said about the many thousands of pro-religious books published every year all round the world. The magazine Publishers Weekly reported earlier this year that the member publishing houses of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association between them produced 13,400 new titles in the two years 2005-6 alone. This is just one segment of the religious publishing industry in just one wing of one of the world religions; the mind boggles at the extent of forests being felled for purveyance of religious doctrine, opinion, exhortation and polemic in every shade, nuance and type.

A trawl along the shelves of any major bookstore is enough to reveal the vast output of every conceivable specimen of religious view, though admittedly much of it consists of saccharine would-be uplift merely. There they are in their dozens and score and hundreds, where is the outrage, the condemnation, the complaining about this? Non-religious people simply ignore such books; they may feel contempt for them, but most grant the right of others to publish almost any kind of book (almost: there are obvious exceptions, though very few), and merely exercise their (hard-won, by our ancestors) right to ignore them.

Yet a mere half dozen anti-religious tomes have stirred up all the hornets in their nests, have offended and outraged the devout, and between them have exposed religious claims and beliefs for what they are. To me this suggests a profound insecurity among the religious. It is obvious why. They are not used to being under pressure somewhat after the fashion of a Honecker, a Ceaucesceu,
a Wizard of Oz - this latter, remember, unmasked behind his screen, a knock-kneed pigeon-chested frightened little chap in his underpants, furiously pulling the levers and knobs to keep himself hidden. In the chorus of outrage at the books by Dawkins, Hitchens and others, one hears the furious squeaking of just such levers.

Perhaps that squeaking is the opening chord of a music of hope for a world too long oppressed by the superstitions of its infancy, too long forced to live whole litanies of lies, too wounded and wearied by the violence and hatred that they have loaded upon it. If so, it would be a sweet music indeed.

Humanists: stand up and be counted

Atheists: stand up and be counted

Recently on these very pages, Theo Hobson called me pretentious and cowardly. It was not directed personally, but to all atheists, and particularly to those he describes as "militant".

One of those so-called "militants", AC Grayling, a BHA Vice President dealt quite adequately with Hobson's muddled and unnecessarily straw-clutching logic, and I need not add to Grayling's reply or the staggering 971 responses that the original comment generated.

But Hobson's rhetoric exemplifies a cultural position of mistrust towards atheism, that this default and rational position has negative connotations, associated with amorality and pessimism. This, of course, is nonsense. Wanting to live a life free of superstition is not cowardly, but increasingly brave under the government's burgeoning endorsement of faith. Realism is inherent in atheism, in contrast to the false promises of life eternal, and if morality simply follows a divine command, it is not moral at all.

Mercifully, although many of our politicians may be openly religious, Britain's political landscape is such that candidates do not have to be overtly religious to even stand a chance of election. There is even a cross-party Humanist Group. Compare that to the US, where in 2006 atheists were not represented in Congress at all. Perversely, the US has secularity protected by the constitution, whereas we Brits are subjects of the Defender of the Faith. But as Andrew Copson (BHA Education and Public Affairs) pointed out, the UK is moving at a menacingly creeping pace towards a government that is in thrall to religion.

The indoctrination that occurs at the ever-increasing faith schools can only promote the mistrust of atheists, and move us towards the deplorable situation in North America, where a 2006 survey revealed that atheists rank lower than "Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in 'sharing their vision of American society'."

I recently gave a talk to science students at a secondary school about the risible promotion of intelligent design and creationism as an alternative to the theory of evolution in science lessons. One of my biggest worries before delivering this lecture was not the validity of my arguments, or whether I might offend any of the faithful, but is a bunch of 17-year-olds really going to give a shit?

I was pleased and relieved to find that they did. In conversation with some of them afterwards, they revealed that creationism was indeed a topic in science and religion classes, and the (admittedly self-selecting) audience was largely opposed not only to ID, but also all forms of Biblical literalism. I made a point of asking students what they think of Richard Dawkins, and to my horror, the vast majority had not heard of him.

Now, I support Richard Dawkins in his words and his manner, which while forthright, is also polite and thoughtful, as this video of him chatting to the Bishop of Oxford shows. It is a very rare occasion for me to disagree with anything he says. But it is shocking to think that in schools atheism's most vocal defender is unknown. I can only assume that Professor Grayling and Christopher Hitchens are similarly unheard of. While this debate bats back and forth in the pages of Comment is free and in the grand halls of the Royal Society, schoolchildren are being fed government-endorsed indoctrination into religion, and conversely are not exposed to the intellectual freedom that is inherent in atheism.

I call upon atheists everywhere to stand up and be counted. Take pride in being rational. I'm a humanist and a Darwinist, but not all atheists are. There is a positive message in atheism, which is that it is a position of intellectual curiosity, and our children should not be subjected to the bullying negativity of faith schools towards the atheist. I live a full and moral life. It is untroubled by fear or deference of supernature, and I am proud of that.

Atheism Reads for the 21st Century - Top 10 List

A Listmania! list by Roshan Kamath
1. Atheism: A Philosophical Justification by Michael Martin
$31.12 Used & New from: $18.00
Average Customer Rating:

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Top 10 Atheist Books List

A Listmania! list by Ben Felden (Sydney, NSW, Australia)
1. The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
$16.20 Used & New from: $13.69
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