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EXTERNAL EVENT: LAAG Presentation & Discussion: Humanism, A Tour for Atheists

This external event is being run by our friends the London Atheist Action Group, and you need to go to their Meetup site to book a place. 

So that they have a clear idea regarding numbers for this event can you kindly register on the LAAG site. Those registered on the LAAG site will be given priority should the event be fully booked.

http://www.meetup.com/London-Atheist-Activist-Group-friendly-community/events/118875422/

You may also wish to RSVP here too so CLHG friends know you are going, and the committee can see which external events are popular with our members.

The copy below is copied from the LAAG Meetup site, represents their views on this topic and CLHG takes no responsibility for the opinions expressed.

NB: TUESDAY, not Wednesday this month. These midweek talks are popular and often full; this one is expected to be very busy, so do book early to avoid disappointment.

THIS EVENT:

HUMANISM, A brief tour for atheists

(Part 2, of 'The use, misuse (& abuse!) of the basic terms surrounding atheism and its extensions')

After popular demand following the lively debate in May in part 1 of this series, we're delighted that Graham Bell has kindly agreed to give us this follow-up talk. It's a subject that often gets people very heated indeed - the labels we choose to use or identify with. Having covered secularism, agnosticism and atheism in May 2013 (albeit top-level only as yet), we'll be covering mainly Humanism this time.

The talk will suggest, amongst other things, that atheists might look to Humanism (whatever that is!) to provide an ethical outlook on life for individuals and society.

Whatever label you choose to most strongly identify with , this is intended as a frank 'intellectual' exercise/discussion between friends where we hopefully all keep a sense of humour and perspective ...and not take it personally as an attack upon identity (like the religious tend to do)!

ENTRY:

£5  non members/ non RSVP'd members
£3  LAAG/CLHG members, £2 NUS (if RSVP'd)

Please note:

People who are no shows more than twice in a year (from 10/9/13) will not be eligible for discount, so please update RSVP's ;-) RSVP facility will close automatically, at 17:00 on the day of the event. ★★★ If you have a genuine issue after that time, or are a 'maybe' for some reason etc., just please LET US KNOW in the comment boxes below & that'll be no problem ★★★ This is guide only & we won't be draconican in the case of occasional slip-ups, illness etc so don't worry! , but people just showing up or no shows makes organising difficult (& possibly denies others from attending fully booked events) so we do ask for this small courtesy, please.

_________________________________________________

SCHEDULE

19:00- 19:20  Arrival upstairs (please get drinks and order any food DOWNSTAIRS first)

19:30 Discussion /Talk starts PROMPTLY, break and then Q & A usually till 21:30 (but flexible)

Social time at the bar, with some nibbles, till 22:30

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MORE ABOUT THIS EVENT:

Possible discussion points:

What is humanism, exactly? (Shortish definition?) Since humanism seems to give a moral code, shouldn't it be very precise language, and give full details of what is 'ratified' and what isn't? Otherwise it's left to 'interpretation', like religion? Does humanism have any specific goal or remit? Are all who identify as humanists also atheists?, (and vice versa?) Is it 'compulsory' to lack god belief as a humanist, & if so why do some humanists deny they're atheists? What value does the term humanism have in itself, or over and above atheism? Do the terms 'humanism/humanist'  have any negatives? Does humanism itself have any negatives? Humanism is often cited as being "about ethics". How is this claiming of ethics by humanism different to religions' claiming of morals? Are all humanists ethical in all the ways mentioned in the BHA leaflet, or is it a pick 'n mix, like religions - where we can do only those bits that suit us and still call ourselves a humanist? Can someone who doesn't assume the label, be they religious or non religious, not be every bit as 'ethical'? In which case, what is the point of the label? If every ideology needs to be updated eventually - humanism in this official form in the UK has been going for over a hundred years - has it ever been updated? Is the maxim 'good without god' a useful one, a negative one, or just past its best-before date? In religion, the pope, archbishop, top wizard or whatever decides what the latest tenets of its version of 'good and bad' are. Humanism doesn't seem to have any top authority figure (Andrew Copson?!). So who decides what is 'good and bad' given in the official explanation/definition of humanism (as per the BHA leaftlet)? Is it done by committee? Is speaking up against faith/ religion ratified or not? And if not, how is it ethical to "live a good life" yourself but not to challenge faith being forced upon others? Does humanism hold that it is more important that no one can possibly take offence i.e. Is 'PCness' THE most important value of humanism, in effect? If humanism has something positive to offer as an extension to atheism, at least to some, does it need updating and if so, how? 'New humanism' perhaps? What would 'New humanism' look like?

Once again, we stress that this is an exercise/discussion and not an attack upon people's identity. If you're going to take it personally, please avoid this debate. This group is committed to questioning everything on an ongoing basis as we feel constructive skepticism should be part of every thinking person's toolkit. We have had similar discussions previously about the merits or otherwise of terms 'atheism' and 'agnosticism' - this talk is an extension of that discussion, now focusing on humanism. There is little doubt that humanism 1/ was crucial in getting us where we are today regarding the relative freedom we have to at least discuss religion 2/ has good intent 3/ helps some people gain freedom from religion. We also feel that frank discussion is rarely a bad thing and when undertaken without being defensive/attacking,  it can help us challenge our own sacred cows, improve our own understanding,... and maybe even think about improvements/actions! Rarely is anything beyond improvement?!
Feel free to add any specific issues you'd like to include or mention ABOUT THIS EVENT, in the comments box below. Discussions (rather than just brief comments) are better held on our discussions boards though e.g. Here's a thread about "why are you atheists so angry?"

HOUSEKEEPING NOTES:

Pub can be a little tricky to find the first time - Directions: map showing route here:

http://www.meetup.com/London-Atheist-Activist-Group-friendly-community/photos/9242882/#[masked]

Though these midweek events are usually structured talks/debates/discussions, they are nevertheless fairly informal; so the bar is usually open upstairs in the break and feel free to order food and have it during the event (simple but pretty good we've been told). We start the discussion promptly at 19:30. As a courtesy to others, please try to turn up by 19:20 ... if at all possible :-)  If a late arrival can't be helped, no worries, just come in quietly :-) The usual end time for discussion is 21:30pm, but this is flexible if people want to continue with the discussion, and usually we have some social time afterwards until 10:30pm (or until the pub closes!)

The meetup fee either goes towards costs of running the group, including where applicable, materials, special events, equipment, rooms, prizes, nibbles etc, or towards campaigns and causes.


Join or login to comment.

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi Josh, as per the Amsterdam Declaration (IHEU AD) it says: "1. Humanism is ethical..." and so it goes on. To me this is an opinion, not a definition. Just as "religion is moral" or "Buddhism is enlightenment". On that basis one might be tempted to say "atheism is rationality", but of course being an atheist only confers rationality in that one aspect, i.e. no belief in god. But there are plenty of atheists who are irrational in many other aspects. Can there be anyone who uses a humanist label who is unethical in any way? If so then the description is unhelpful, (not to say immodest, although I don't think modesty is a virtue ;-). So I posit that the IHEU AD should be rephrased "humanism aims to be ethical" - this might be more realistic at least.

    Still waiting for a concise (meaningful) definition... the hunt continues at our meetup!

    November 2, 2013

    • Josh K.

      "There is no god is yesterday's news" - seems like a reason to drop atheism as a label.

      November 12, 2013

    • Josh K.

      "The question is what are we going to do about it?" What is the "it" you are talking about? I can sorta guess but the statement before was that belief in god is yesterday's news. Yu go on to say that humanists don't do anything. Who are these humanists you are talking about? Are all atheists obliged to behave according to your dictat? What if some do want to just attend the equivalent of a vicar's tea party? Actually BHA members do a great deal and the BHA organisation is doing a lot but I would simply suggest taking a look at their site and signing up for their newsletter or better still joining www.humanism.org.uk

      November 12, 2013

  • Ian S.

    Maybe a little way to go before imperfect keyboard operation becomes a factor in natural selection ... unless it affects your capacity to mate!

    1 · November 11, 2013

    • Georgi L.

      Perhaps even inverse to the capacity to mate, judging by how many of us seem to be stuck permanently to online games ;-)

      November 11, 2013

  • Ian S.

    (sorry, thumb got in the way!) I certainly have no problem about being atheist. It is the starting point for humanism. As you say, atheism is what you automatically are if you don't believe in gods etc. Humanism is something that you choose to add on to (indeed to complicate!) your atheism. I know many atheists who are not interested in humanism, and that's not a problem.

    1 · November 11, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I wonder what Darwin would make of your thumb getting in the way!

      November 11, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      That is a jocular remark just in case anyone doesn't realise

      November 11, 2013

  • Ian S.

    Of the humanists I know, I'm pretty sure they'd all be atheists and have no difficulty in saying so. I ce

    November 11, 2013

  • Ian S.

    Adrian's simple dictionary definition of atheism shows why humanists choose to say more about themselves. Of course it then gets more complicated - that's people for you!

    November 11, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      In fact the label humanism as we're seeing doesn't say anything about you save for to say that it has no definition and could mean seemingly anything. So the label is wishy-washy and confusing since it seems to mean whatever you want it to mean. I am an atheist. I suspect you are too. I can't use the label humanist because it doesn't have a clear definition.

      November 11, 2013

    • Josh K.

      Adrian, must all labels have a simple definition? Is simple always better than complex or nuanced? The fact that you can provide a short dictionary definition doesn't necessarily make the label clear. From debates I have witnessed and taken part in, there are many different ideas about what the label atheist means. Are you a strong or a weak atheist? Do you think the fictional gods have played any role in human history. Were they of any value? Do you prefer the Greek gods to the God of the Old Testament? Is it better to act badly ( i.e. immorally, cruelly) but be an atheist than to act well but be motivated by a belief in the supernatural? How should the atheist decide how to behave?

      November 11, 2013

  • David Hill and Margaret S.

    i'm looking for definitions!

    October 29, 2013

    • Josh K.

      I suppose you might describe the Amsterdam Declaration as a wordy leaflet - see http://humanistfedera...­

      October 29, 2013

    • Josh K.

      Sorry, I sent the previous message incomplete - humanism by its nature is a work in progress. If you can generally agree with the points in the declaration then you might usefully use the label "Humanism". Clearly you can be atheist and not a humanist. You might not think human rights important, or democracy, or social responsibility and so on.

      October 29, 2013

  • terence f.

    Sad to miss but I am running an event less than 1 km away.

    October 29, 2013

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