Yesterday was the Refresher’s Fair, where each society sets up a stall, tells people what they do, and hope to attract new members. Thursdays are my stupid timetable days where I have classes at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm, with one hour gaps between each of them, so I was darting in and out all day really. It was great to see so many societies in action; the tango soc gave a few demonstrations throughout the day, and there were quite a lot of societies there that I didn’t really know very much about, like Capoeira (a type of Brazilian martial art), and the Revelation Rock Gospel Choir, which we were sitting right opposite. The PhilSoc stall was also quite interesting, being made up of a woman knitting, a man drinking cans of Strongbow at midday, and a very scary teddy bear with a strange affinity for a bottle of Bitter and Twisted. They did have some flyers at some point as well, or so I’m told.
The fair was held in the Chaplaincy and Potterow, and all the societies were just placed in alphabetical order, rather than in categories like when it was at the Pleasance in September. This meant we weren’t very close to any of the religious societies, which is a shame because we didn’t have nearly as many ‘inter-faith’ (I use inverted commas there because Humanism really isn’t a faith, but a better term has yet to be coined) discussions as we did in September’s Fresher’s Fair and Chaplaincy Fair, which were very interesting.
I’m also quite disappointed at the lack of inter-faith events at the university. Although we only fairly recently had the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Week, very few of the events then were particularly suitable for a humanist audience, so most of us largely steered clear, and the Edinburgh University Student Festival has a grand total of zero religious events. The Jewish and Islamic Societies don’t seem to be doing anything anymore (indeed
the Islamic Society didn’t even have a stall at the Fair – they didn’t at the Chaplaincy Fair either but that was during Ramadan), and the Catholic Union’s events and meetings are separated away from everyone else in their own little Chaplaincy in George Square, which isn’t exactly very social, in my opinion.
Anyway I think I should probably get to the point. We had a decent number of ‘religious apologists’ as Dawkins would probably call them, who didn’t necessarily believe in any particular deity, but thought our society was just god bashing all the time. It’s simply not true. Although a lot of our own events do have religion as their focus, we’ve also been attempting to host talks on other topics of interest to humanists such as language separating us from other animals (we have a large number of linguists among us), with limited success, and we have our regular Humanist Blood Drive coming up on the 1st February (to which anyone is welcome), as well as a panel discussion on Humanist Ethics in the 21st Century. We’re also collaborating much more closely with the Humanist Society of Scotland and the Humanist Academy, as well as the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.
But that aside, it should be noted that if any local religious church, association or society, inside or outside the university, attempts to spread their illogical and irrational doctrines to others, then we’ll be there to challenge it. We wouldn’t be very good humanists if we weren’t, and we encourage those same religious societies to do the same. We have a series of 3 documentaries coming up later in the semester entitled “God’s Warriors”, by CNN, each focusing on Christianity, Judaism and Islam, respectively. We intend to invite moderates from each of these three religions along for our discussion afterwards, to tell us where the documentaries have gone wrong, but seeing as the societies are so inactive, we may be forced to go outside the university and seek experts there.