The AHS Launch

February 24, 2009

I fully intended to write this as soon as I got back from London, but one thing and another have stacked up and I’m doing this to take a break from essaying. It’s a relief to write my own opinion on something I care about instead of just the opinion that will get me marks on something boring.

So on Thursday, Andre and I travelled down to London to represent the Humanist Society at the official launch of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies at Conway Hall, home of the Ethical Society. The AHS is the umbrella union we were talking about creating a year ago in order to share ideas and resources with all the other irreligious societies around the UK. We held the inaugural conference in David Hume Tower over the summer, and Stuart and Greg attended the second conference in Leeds. It was a superb venue, and one that the AHS will be able to use again for other big events in the future.

The launch itself was attended by such prominent figures such as Richard Dawkins, AC Grayling, Polly Toynbee and Maryam Namazie. I already had Dawkins sign my copy of Unweaving the Rainbow at the Edinburgh Science Festival last year, but that’s who most of the others were really excited about. Instead I got a nice message in my copy of AC Grayling’s Against All Gods.

Each of the speakers gave really supportive messages of the idea for the AHS and encouraged us to work as an ideas factory for the movement as a whole. Dawkins also spoke about how evangelical religious organisations did not belong on university campuses as they poisoned minds and disrupted education. Perhaps more importantly, he said that the AHS would be well place to apply for funding from the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Apparently this was a particularly difficult charity to set up, and at one point he needed to clarify to the government what benefits science and reason bring to society, as opposed to religious groups which have no problem.

In any case it was good to finally meet the people I’ve been corresponding with over the internet for some time. We’re thinking the next conference should be in Warwick, but we’ll see. Keep your eyes peeled for media coverage (although a lot of it has already passed – we got a 2 page spread in the Independent and a fair bit of coverage on BBC Radio). More information at:

Be prepared for another post soon as I’ll crave procrastination and this is at least mildly useful.

Humanists in Education

April 23, 2008

One thing that a lot of humanists like to get worked up about is education. I don’t know if it’s the terrifying thought of all those little kiddies being brainwashed in faith schools or what, but something about it makes our blood boil. But as one of the key functions of the state, the education system is something secularists of all types like to concentrate on.

This year education has become a big feature of Scottish humanism. The Humanist Academy has been slogging at the issue for a while under the enthusiastic June Maxwell, and has a humanism course available for the national curriculum for 16 year olds in the Scottish education system.

Seeing her getting things done, the HSS have doubled their efforts to outdo her (for some reason I don’t fully understand the HSS and the HA don’t get along too well) and are making education their prime target, launching their education programme this weekend at Our Dynamic Earth (what a venue) which, as an officer of the Student Humanist Society, I’ve been invited to.

And whilst these two heavyweights battle it out, the rest of the humanists in Scotland sit back and reap the benefits. Magic!

Hopefully the BHA will get moving on it so these benefits can be nationwide. What they need is an arch-rival counter organisation right on their patch to motivate them. Maybe we should start a fake one just to annoy them. We’ll call it… the People’s Front of Judea! Even better, the Judean People’s Front! Maybe not.