Welcome to Dorset Humanists

Dorset Humanists is a welcoming group for humanists, atheists and agnostics who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. We meet in Bournemouth for informative and enjoyable presentations, debates and discussions on a wide range of subjects including ethics, science, religion, philosophy, politics, our environment and much more. We also organise regular social events.

Good without God

Source: http://richarddawkins.net/articles/4817 > http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121813448


Humanism — the belief that ethics and morality can be vested in rationality, rather than a supernatural deity — might sound like a departure from faith communities and culture, but according to Greg Epstein, it doesn't have to be.
In his new book, Good Without God: What A Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, Greg Epstein responds to challenges against humanism that spring from atheists and religious communities alike. Epstein argues that so-called nonbelievers actually share many important beliefs, and he discusses the importance of investing in these values of tolerance, responsibility, and morality.
Epstein himself is an atheist, and the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University. Good Without God is his first book. Available at Amazon UK.
Live in Dorset but only express your Humanist views in internet forums? For £1 a month support our vital work and join Dorset Humanists for one year of monthly meetings in Bournemouth.






Can you help Dorset Humanists?

We still have a vacancy on the committee for a press and publicity officer. Without this vital post being filled by an enthusiastic volunteer (or volunteers) Dorset Humanists won't be as well-known in the area as it might be. Please consider what skills, ideas and enthusiasm you could contribute. Joining the team is great fun but it does require a commitment to monthly team meetings.

Live in Dorset but only express your Humanist views in internet forums? For £1 a month support our vital work and join Dorset Humanists for one year of monthly meetings in Bournemouth.





E. M. Forster

At Dorset Humanists November meeting, John Hubbard delighted us with his talk entitled 'The Kindly Heart - Humanity and Humour in ‘A Room with a View’ by E. M. Forster': a comedy of manners with a serious purpose in which Forster espoused many liberal and humane causes. Forster poses the question: “How can a young person grow and fulfil his or her whole human potential, including sexual passion, in a society bound by so many restrictions, snobberies and pretentiousness?”. Through his heroine, Lucy Honeychurch, Forster points the way. More..

Live in Dorset but only express your Humanist views in internet forums? For £1 a month support our vital work and join Dorset Humanists for one year of monthly meetings in Bournemouth.





Dorset Humanists decisively influence Government thinking on the teaching of evolution in primary schools

In July, Dorset Humanist Chris Street met with Desmond Swaine MP to discuss teaching evolution in primary schools and he submitted a proposal to the Government on behalf of Humanists4Science. Chris is absolutely delighted to announce that that on 11 November 2009 the Government passed legislation to make the teaching of evolution compulsory in primary schools (5-11 year olds) from September 2011.

Meeting my MPSubmission to DCSF  (pg 16-17) | Full Story | Campaign to teach evolution in primary schools

Live in Dorset but only express your Humanist views in internet forums? For £1 a month support our vital work and join Dorset Humanists for one year of monthly meetings in Bournemouth.





Godless Morality by David Warden at New Milton Humanists

In his talk to New Milton Humanists, David Warden (Chair of Dorset Humanists) argued that Humanists have no simple, rational method for moral decision-making. Any given moral situation, such as a family faced with the question of whether to move a sick parent into a nursing home, is agonisingly complex. Dissected on the basis of moral theory, it may include elements of egoism, altruism, Kantian deontology and Benthamite utilitarianism. On the other hand, a religious appeal to self-sacrifice may result in a poor moral decision, if not everyone.s interests are given due weight. David denied that there could be a Humanist Ten Commandments. although he suggested a few guiding principles such as Do no harm., To thine own self be true. and Be kind to the people you encounter as you go about your daily business.. He also argued that anti-materialism is a hangover from life-denying religion. The talk transcript is available.



Live in Dorset but only express your Humanist views in internet forums? For £1 a month support our vital work and join Dorset Humanists for one year of monthly meetings in Bournemouth.




Dorset Humanists News Flash - Indian Humanist on Hunger Strike

I am very pleased that David Pollock, President of the European Humanist Federation, has responded so quickly.  Please click on the link to see his letter.

--- On Wed, 12/23/09, David Pollock  wrote:

 Subject: RE: Indian Humanist on Hunger Strike – Appeal for Help
To: "'David Warden'"
Date: Wednesday, December 23, 2009, 12:03 PM

- David

From: David Warden
Sent: 22 December 2009 13:56
Subject: Indian Humanist on Hunger Strike – Appeal for Help


Dear friends
Indian Humanist on Hunger Strike – Appeal for Help
I am writing to you with an urgent appeal for help.  For some years Dorset Humanists UK has been friends with the International School of Humanitarian Thoughts and Practice, also known as Kids’ Kingdom.  This secular humanist institute, which is a member of the International Humanist and Ethical Union,  is dedicated to the education and rehabilitation of street children, orphans, dalits and destitute women.  The institute is based in Kurukshetra, a Hindu pilgrim town, in northern India.  The institute premises are next door to a Brahmin community and it has suffered many years of intimidation, hostility and physical violence against premises and persons.
Over the past year, a lot of progress has been made with the construction of a school and orphanage and around 90 children are now receiving some elementary education with an emphasis on secular humanist values.  Unfortunately, this has provoked an escalation in hostilities against the institute.
The director of the institution, Swami Manavatavadi, has received death threats over the years and on several occasions has had to go into exile in fear of his life.  In desperation at the latest situation, he has now gone on hunger strike outside the premises of the Deputy Commissioner in Kurukshetra. He is already 6 days into the hunger strike and he is not taking any food or liquids.
Dorset Humanists will be sending letters and faxes to the Governor of Haryana in order to demonstrate the solidarity of the international Humanist community and we call upon you to take similar action if you can.
What you can do:
1.      Copy the body of the attached letter and paste into your own letterhead format with any suitable amendments you may wish to make.  
2.      Fax it to 00 91 172 2740 557.  If you haven’t got a fax machine, please try to find a friend who has.
3.      Send a hard copy by registered international mail.

Thank you for your help and support.  Please treat this as extremely urgent – literally a matter of life and death.
I will send updates when I can and please let me know what action you have taken.
David Warden
Chair, Dorset Humanists UK





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Prayers at council meetings under fire


7:00pm Wednesday 23rd December 2009


A CAMPAIGN is underway to end the traditional practice of starting council meetings with a prayer.
The tradition – still carried out in many Town Halls – is under fire from the National Secular Society, which says it is out of date and has even put some people off becoming candidates at elections.
“Non-believers and those of other religions are put in the embarrassing position of wondering whether to participate or pointedly not participate,” the society says. “It is intolerable that elected representatives should be put through this in carrying out their duty. A typical reaction to their protests is that they are told they can leave the chamber during prayers.”
Liberal Democrat Cllr Roger West, a member of Dorset Humanists, suggested ending council prayers when he was first elected to Bournemouth council in 1999 but received little support.
He said: “I still do not think the council chamber is the place to have prayers. I think that it should be enough for the mayor just to call for a few minutes’ silence where we can give time to our innermost thoughts.
“Praying as such can be divisive and in some cases would look like hypocrisy. Why pray in the council chamber if we don’t go to a church or believe?”
David Warden, chair of Dorset Humanists, said: “I think it seems very strange when councillors are signed up to diversity that they still practice what seems to be a rather archaic opening to their meetings. It’s specifically Christian in what should be a secular context.” But former Bournemouth mayor Cllr Bob Chapman said: “I think it would be sad to do away with another tradition. Bearing in mind we’re basically a Christian country, I think we need a few prayers to start most of our meetings.”
Christchurch councillor David Jones, who trained as a lay preacher, said: “I think it very appropriate that we start each full council meeting with a prayer. We ask for guidance in the decisions we take for the common good of the people of Christchurch, and it is sobering to be reminded that we answer to a higher authority.
“There is no requirement for an atheist to be present – anyone can choose to come into council after the prayers.
“But I would point out that militant secularism itself is a faith, and while the majority of people in this country claim to be Christian of one sort or another it would be just as wrong to impose secularism on them as it would be to impose any other faith.”
Poole’s mayor, the United Reformed Church clergyman the Rev Charles Meachin, said Britain was a Christian country, with the Queen as defender of the faith. Schools had to teach religious studies and hold a daily act of worship. He said prayers at council meetings were a tradition upheld since the 16th century and he did not expect they would be stopped.






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Church recruiting drive targets two-year-olds

Children as young as two are to be targeted as part of a new campaign to recruit young people back to the church, the Guardian has learned.

The Church of England is planning its first concerted drive to engage under- 18s after admitting that it is comprehensively failing to connect with children and teenagers, reports The Guardian.

Proposals will be put before the general synod in February that include a blueprint to set up breakfast, homework and sports clubs in schools as well as working in publicly funded toddler playgroups to spread the Christian word.

I've added my own comments under 'crabsallover' signature saying that it is both immoral and should be illegal under the European Convention on Human rights to teach religion, belief or non-religious belief to children, without parents explicit written permission.

Going for Growth full report.



Live in Dorset but only express your Humanist views in internet forums? For £1 a month support our vital work and join Dorset Humanists for one year of monthly meetings in Bournemouth.




British Humanist Association oppose faith schools

The British Humanist Association (BHA) want "an end to the proliferation of maintained faith schools; discrimination in admissions and employment in faith schools outlawed; a comprehensive curriculum across all subjects, including beliefs and values education, sex and relationships education, and citizenship education to be taught objectively in all schools. Ultimately, all faith schools should be absorbed back into the secular schools sector, becoming inclusive community schools. We campaign against ‘faith schools’, and for an inclusive, secular schools system, where children and young people of all different backgrounds and beliefs can learn from and with each other."


Dorset Humanists are affiliated to the BHA. What do Dorset Humanists think about the British Humanist Association and the National Secular Society views about faith schools? Leave your comments below.


Live in Dorset but only express your Humanist views in internet forums? For £1 a month support our vital work and join Dorset Humanists for one year of monthly meetings in Bournemouth.





A message from Richard Dawkins about Science & Reason



A message from Richard Dawkins, Vice President, British Humanist Association. Dorset Humanists are affiliated to BHA.


Dear friends,
One of the wonderful things about www.richarddawkins.net is the enormous variety amongst its regular contributors. Old, young, in-between, highly educated, less educated, affluent, less affluent, male, female, straight, gay, serious, fun-loving, angry, mild-mannered, confident, timid, open about their atheism, unable to be open about their atheism, previously religious, never religious ... it is this depth and breadth of life experience and personality that keeps comments fresh and lively, and ensures that we all learn more about the world each time we visit the site. 

And yet, for all the contrasts, the vast majority of contributors here are totally united in one key area: a commitment to reason, a sense of awe and excitement at the knowledge that has already been achieved through science, and a passionate desire to see reason and evidence-based thinking at the heart of our societies. We listen to the music of the spheres. We gaze into the Hubble Deep Field and intoxicate ourselves with images of distant galaxies in the act of formation, close to the dawn of time itself. We dive through the tube of a microscope and immerse ourselves in a wonderland of the intricately small. Reality is where we are. It is very large; and also very small, where it matters. It is mysterious; but the mystery is yielding to the methods of reason. Reality is comprehensible. And it is the mission of RDFRS to assist others to that comprehension. Read More






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National Secular Society oppose faith schools




One of the National Secular Society’s primary aims is the secularisation of Britain’s education system. NSS oppose faith schools and want all state-funded schools returned to community control and all religious entry requirements or discrimination against staff abolished. This would be a major undertaking, but one that is increasingly urgent. Do Dorset Humanists agree with NSS views?



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Copenhagen & Climate Change

For the history, science and news about Climate Change post Copenhagen visit Dorset Humanist member crabsallover CATscience blog.
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Nerdstock: Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People reviewed



"It may sound like a silly parody of Christian worship" (Dave W) - but it was really a celebration of science & reason! (crabsallover)
Watch the 22 acts being interviewed backstage. Its good to see some rationalists discussing the show on Christian Forums. Other reviews of Nine Lessons and carols for Godless People on Spoonfed & New Scientist ("Al Murray, in his persona the pub landlord, proved the existence of god with a bacon sandwich, in a well-honed routine that was brilliant, expletive laden and sustained with big laughs.")


My favourite quote '"Science is the new rock and roll!", declares singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock, referring to Richard Dawkins as "Keith Richards Dawkins".

This Christmas celebration of science and reason organised by Robin Ince, the comedian, is becoming quite a phenomenon. The variety performance that brought together the likes of Richard Dawkins, Dara O'Briain, Jim Bob from Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine and Simon Singh sold out five nights at the Bloomsbury Theatre, followed by last night's event at the 3,600-capacity, £25-a-seat Apollo.
Ince's hypothesis that scepticism and the wonder of science need not be dry and dull, and that there just might be a market for jokes about Heisenberg's uncertainty principle (two of them, in fact), has been beautifully validated by experiment. After a similar success last year, Nerdstock, as O'Briain described it, seems certain to become a seasonal fixture.

Ince had the idea for Nerdstock last year, after Ince appeared on a television debate with Stephen Green of Christian Voice and found himself accused again and again, as a non-believer, of wanting to ban Christmas. "I wanted to do events around Christmas for people who don't have any belief, to show that they're not bitter, Scrooge-like characters," he explained.
Despite the show's title, there was very little overt atheism in Nine Lessons. A few jokes at the expense of creationists apart, this was pro-science rather than anti-religion. Chris Addison's take on T. Rex's proficiency at slapses was followed by Richard Dawkins comparing the ridiculous claims made for crystal therapy with the majesty of crystal structures as revealed by science. Gavin Osborn rhymed knickers with Copernicus, Simon Singh extracted prophesies of Princess Diana's death from Moby Dick, Al Murray mused on the brain's bacon receptor, and O'Briain diluted his homeopathy gags to make them funnier.
Baba Brinkman, the Canadian rap comedian, delighted with his "peer-reviewed hip-hop" on natural selection.. And Brian Cox awed the audience with his lyrical explanations of fundamental particles and the Hubble deep field.
This is the sort of show that everybody should see. It is just the way that science can and should be communicated to the widest possible audience.
POSTED BY MARK HENDERSON ON DECEMBER 21 in the times, 2009 edited by crabsallover


Live in Dorset but only express your Humanist views in internet forums? For £1 a month support our vital work and join Dorset Humanists for one year of monthly meetings in Bournemouth.



Let's End Council Prayers Now! campaign




South Devon Humanists have a 'Lets End Council Prayers Now!' campaign. The National Secular Society reports here.

Should Dorset Humanists campaign to end prayers at Dorset Councils? If so, what should be our strategy? Discuss.

Not already a Dorset Humanist member? Join now and support our vital work.



Dorset Humanists & 100 Bournemouth Activists - Copenhagen Climate Change summit - Target 350ppm CO2


BOURNEMOUTH THREE-FIVE-O

Damp but undaunted! People from local organizations including Dorset Humanists, East Dorset Friends of the Earth, Poole Agenda 21, Christian Aid, Bournemouth and Poole Greenpeace, Transition Towns, East Dorset Green Party,  gathered in steady drizzle and wind on Bournemouth beach. 

The time for complacency is long past. The latest scientific advice is that to prevent the danger of catastrophic the global warming CO2 level should be no higher than 350 ppm. However it is already 389 ppm and rising. Real and urgent action is needed now to address the problem. photos: Manuela Boeckle


More really amazing photos http://www.350.org/ of 5200 events from 181 countries On 24 October, for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet's history.



Copenhagen summit Dec 7 – Dec 18: http://en.cop15.dk/