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CLHG e-reminder

From: Damian
Sent on: Thursday, January 12, 2012 4:51 PM
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Central London Humanist Group
Affiliated to British Humanist Assoc. Join us on MeetupFind us on Fracebook
Associate member IHEUConsultative member EHF


Wednesday 18th January
6:30 PM

Central London Humanist Group

All are welcome!
We're doing great, but surely we could do better.
We need your help.
Whether supporter, Non-voting member or Voting member
come along and take part in our brief review of the year with an eye on the future.
See more  here
Note: Please RSVP (particularly if you are a voting member) either on the meetup site or to me [address removed]

followed at
7:30 PM
Professor of Moral Philosophy
on Humanism for a Better World

Richard Norman taught philosophy at the University of Kent for many years, working mainly in the areas of moral and political philosophy, including both theoretical and practical ethics, and is now Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy. His books include The Moral Philosophers (a critical introduction to philosophical ethics from Plato to the present,  Free and Equal (a defence of an egalitarian conception of social justice),  Ethics, Killing and War (which explores the difficulty of justifying participation in war but stops short of an absolute pacifist position), and On Humanism (Routledge, 2004).

He is an active member of East Kent Humanists and a Vice-President of the BHA, and was a founder-member of the Humanist Philosophers' Group in 1999, as well as of the Humanist Peace Forum and Humanists for a Better World. He participated in many Humanist Philosophers Group conferences including the 2001 conference "Is Nothing Sacred", the 2002 conference "Death, a Live Issue", the book "Thinking about Death" was based on the conference,  the 2003 conference "Faith, Community and the Common Good", in the May 2006 celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Stuart Mill, hosted by the Parliamentary Humanist Group in the House of Lords, and in 2009 "Evolutionary Psychology - Is That All There Is?". He gave a keynote address on ‘Killing the Innocent: Humanism and the Just War tradition’ to the World Humanist Congress in Oslo in 2011.

He has contributed to BHA’s philosophical web resources "Countering Creationism" and ”So you think you can live without God?” and to HPG publications including:
Free Speech and Incitement to Religious Hatred (which he edited)
For your own good? - paternalism re-examined
Religious Schools: the case against (editor)
What is Humanism? (editor)
The Case for Secularism (editor)
Some of his recent writing on Humanism can be found here  and here
 Read an interview in which he discusses Humanism with another member of the HPG, Nigel Warburton, here.

Central Talk

Central London


I am really proud to be a member of this group. My fellow organisers/committee members have worked quietly and efficiently on many fronts establishing  the group's identity as the foremost social network (isn't  that just another way of saying community, or extended family, or group of friends?) for  London's growing number of independent thinkers (isn't that just another way of saying, freethinkers, humanists or non-religious?).

How does one grow such a community? In two ways: by doing things and letting people know about them. Then ... OK, in three ways... doing things, informing people and finding new ways to get more people to participate.

  • First level participation is simply by joining us on meetup or facebook or on our mailing list or just coming along to a 'test-the-water' meeting.

  • Second level is some sort of communication. Say you are on facebook, calling yourself "zzzzz!" or "Fred"  then tell people a litle more about yourself, and maybe come  along to a social or to one of our talks/debates/meals/films/walks/celebrations/protests/partner meetings etc.
  • Third level is active participation, making a donation, helping out at a meeting, helping to organise things, joining the committee or a working party (I think we may have another name for working party but can't recall it!)

There are some often with a London connection who live in Australia or France and can't get to many, if any, meetings. They, too, are most welcome.

Sometime I think that maybe we are trying to do too much too quickly, but what the hell we only live once!

If you have any questions/suggestions/criticisms please do let me/us know. I have some myself. For example, how does facebook work? Could we better integrate website, mailing lists, meetup, facebook, twitter, youtube etc? Could we better serve individual members' interests and avoid them receiving duplicate messages, particularly about things they are not interested in.

I think it is good to take all the different online social networking  approaches but, for example, the website needs to have our events and happenings on it. I know from one of our active supporters that they don't have easy (if any) access to meetup or facebook and rely on these mailings to keep them informed. Oh dear, that means,  one bout of indisposition and they won't know that the impressive philosopher Richard Norman  is going to be speaking to us after our AGM.   I must keep taking the tablets!

Most of all the idea is to have fun, and the best fun is had with others, and remember helping others is just another way of doing yourself some good. 
So please  keep on supporting CLHG  and let me know what you think....


Government changes Free School model funding agreement to ban creationist schools

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed a new revision of the model funding agreement for Free Schools by the Government in order to preclude ‘the teaching, as an evidence-based view or theory, of any view or theory that is contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations.’ This highly significant change has been made in order to ban creationism from being taught in Free Schools, and prevent creationist groups from opening schools. The change follows the BHA coordinating the ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’ campaign, which called for this precise change.

In September, the BHA came together with thirty leading scientists and science educators including Sir David Attenborough, Professor Richard Dawkins and Professor Michael Reiss, and five national organisations to launch ‘Teach evolution, not creationism!’, which called on the government to introduce statutory guidance against the teaching of creationism and garnered significant press coverage. The BHA also launched a government e-petition making the same call, which has now garnered over 20,000 signatures.
read more

From CLHG friend, Stephen Law
COME HEAR KENAN MALIK ON 28TH JAN - just one of our speakers on blasphemy.
Kenan writes: The idea of blasphemy is closely linked to the concept of the sacred. Detachment from the sacred, the former Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor claimed at the installation ceremony for his successor, has been responsible for war and terror, sin and evil. In this view the acceptance of the sacred is indispensable for the creation of a moral framework and for the injection of meaning and purpose into life.

I want to deconstruct the concept of the sacred and to challenge the idea that without a notion of the sacred there can be no boundaries to human behaviour, no anchor for our ethical beliefs, no meaning to our existence. The sacred, I want to argue, is less about the transcendent than it is about the taboo. ‘The sacred order’, as Leszek Kolokowski, the late Polish Marxist-turned-Christian philosopher, observes, ‘has never ceased, implicitly or explicitly, to proclaim “this is how things are, they cannot be otherwise”.’
The certainties of the sacred, I will argue, provides false hope and in so doing undermine our humanity by denying human choice.
We have just quietly launched HumanAction as a subgroup of the Central London Humanists. It is intended for  members who want  to be more socially active. It will operate a bit like the CLHG Book Group.
To join you need to be a member either on facebook (click on like this) or on  meetup

We haven't decided how best to organise  but it will include both our charitable and our protest/campaigning activities and could include a lot more.
One of our supporters (Jan) talked to people at a recent social meeting and here are some of the ideas that were suggested - we could plan and co-ordinate as part of 
  • BTCV Green gym is looking for people on a Sat pm till April - “we need your help to create a therapeutic garden with Mind in Islington and a community orchard in Camden” (they are also looking for people weekdays for those that are free then) BTCV Kings Cross Sunday lunchtime – wall building, pond clearing
  • Some talked about how their workplace would do a gift tree or gift drive and take gifts they had donated of around £5 to a local charity
  • Some artists in the group who had done Crisis says they set up a room with artists' materials and that was ignored, whereas when they set up a tv with lots of old blockbuster dvds kept visitors glued for 12 hours
  • Doing gardens in more deprived areas
  • Reading to older people or children in schools
  • Clearing a children’s playground
  • Working on a city farm
  • Volunteering with older people eg Holborn Community Association  also helping at a day centre with activities or with outings and events, painting and decorating
  • Some said this could be tied in with celebrating the real meaning of Easter, i.e. the arrival of Spring  - – apparently “Generally humanists probably celebrate Easter by taking a few days off work, turning off the central heating and opening the windows, cleaning and putting away winter clothes, and doing some gardening. More people go to garden centres than to church at Easter – not a bad way to reclaim this spring fertility festival”
Jan said there were many more ideas.
Well, what we now need is for more people to join HumanAction and then we can start to organise - sounds good to me.
There's a question which I think some might ask:
As members of the Central London Humanists if collectively we do some of the above things aren't we in some way being like the religionists who use good works to promote and proslytise? Well, firstly there are religious groups who do things without that intention, but putting that to one side, the humanist worldview is about living well  the one life we have  and there is considerable  evidence  to support the idea that doing things for others is an excellent way to  help ourselves be happy and fulfilled. Why then should we allow our good deeds to be possibly ascribed to other reasons and not to our shared view of a good way to be happy. Belief is far less important than action.  We will not trumpet what we do. We'll just use our meetup site to organise and plan and maybe who knows, we could make some T-shirts just to let people  know who we are - or not?

Let us know what you think.


These are some petitions that I have signed. Maybe you would like to sign too!

Helen Ukpabio is a notorious Nigerian who has hounded  our friend Leo Igwe but worse than that, as he would agree,  she promotes belief in witchcraft, amassing a fortune for herself, and children have been tortured and killed as a result.
She is now planning to visit the USA. Read more from the New Humanist magazine -  here 
Sign Petition -

Indefinite detention without trial is illegal. Close Guantanamo

Protect Hungarian Democracy
I think this is a very important petition. It needs your support, The Hungarian situation is going from bad to worse. The idea that this member of the EU should slip again into dictatorship is unthinkable but quite possible. Act Now!
Support this petition created by a Hungarian protestor


Membership of the Central London Humanist Group is by joining us on Meetup. Membership is free. To be a voting member of the Central London Humanists you need to be a paid-up member of the British Humanist Association. Non-voting members (and guests) are most welcome to almost all of our meetings.
The Central London Humanist Group is a fully independent group which has chosen to define its voting membership by this means.

[Note: you can register as a BHA supporter free of charge but this does not confer voting status of the Central London Humanists]
(Josh, on behalf of The Central London Humanist Group, sent this email - if you would rather I didn't send you
reminder Emails please let me know )

Not already a BHA member? Join now and support the vital work!n
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