Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Did God Survive Darwin?

As part of the bicentenary celebrations of Darwin’s birth, and the 150th anniversary of publication of Origin of Species, Dean Morrison proposes to examine the impact of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution on religious belief. He has given his 11th June talk the provocative title "Did God Survive Darwin?".

Did Darwin simply make God unnecessary? Did God need to change to survive? Are there mysteries of the Universe that still need the concept of God to explain? Dean promises an illustrated talk, covering the latest science, and the philosophical implications for us all.

Dean studied Ecological Science at Edinburgh University. His working career has been in environmental protection; for most of the last twenty years organising environmental volunteers in Hastings. He has had a lifelong interest in Evolutionary Biology.

Friday, 15 May 2009

A Most Enjoyable Evening

Thanks to Lesley yesterday's meeting was the best we've held so far. Her presentation, which included musical extracts, was entertaining and informative. The thorough tests that the BHA puts prospective celebrants through are daunting, even for someone committed to becoming a professional. The work itself combines elements of show-business and social work in an unusual way.

Lesley also brought a number of her friends along for support, so that our attendance reached 16 in all, including herself, and we were able to reduce our charge to £1 per person to cover the room hire costs. I hope they will continue to show interest in our future meetings. The two men in attendance were outnumbered. Once again, Rose Austen chaired the meeting. We also welcomed two new members.

Incidentally although I have called people attending our meetings "members" this will not become official until we adopt a constitution and fix a subscription rate, which is scheduled for the first AGM in September.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Our May Meeting

Our next meeting is on 14th May 7pm at White Rock Hotel as usual. Lesley Arnold-Hopkins will tell us the story of "How I Became a Humanist Celebrant". She will describe the BHA courses that are available, and give an account of some of her experiences conducting services.

We failed to get any publicity this time in the Hastings Observer, though I sent a press release at the usual time, a week in advance of publication. Our Newsletter, covering two pages this time, was produced later than usual but I sent it out first class to reach everyone in good time. Perhaps we should look into paying for an advertisement.

I've often toyed with setting up a Zeta Course in contradistinction to the Christian Alpha Course, but with the aim of introducing people to Sceptical thinking -- Zeta standing for Zetetic. The Christians already have an Omega course which teaches about the End Times. I wonder what I could charge for this? Kevin Carlyon seems to get enough from his Tarot readings and spells to pay for an advert every week!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Women and Islam

I thought I ought to draw attention to this article in the Independent by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown with the title "Who'd be female under Islamic Law?".

She says "I am the kind of Muslim woman who maddens reactionary Muslim men and their asinine female followers." and "Female oppression in Islamic countries is manifestly getting worse. Islam, as practiced by millions today, has lost its compassion and integrity and is entering one of the darkest of dark ages." She lists a series of unbearable stories of the unjust treatment of women in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

She concludes: "Disgracefully, there are always vocal Muslim women who seek to justify honour killings, forced marriages, inequality, polygamy and childhood betrothals. Why are large numbers of Muslim men so terrorised by the female body and spirit? Why do Muslim women encourage this savage paranoia? / I look out of my study at the common and see a wife fully burkaed on a sunny day. She sits still. Her children and husband run around, laughing, playing cricket. She sits still, dead, buried, a ghost. She is complicit in her own degradation, as are countless others. Their acquiescence in a free democracy is a crime against their sisters who have no such choices in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere."

This needs to be said by more influential Muslim women. Seeing women in burkas, head to toe in black, with their faces covered, and sometimes also the eyes, was the greatest shock I had when I moved to Leicester ten years ago. I wrote about it to the press, but as an English male I could have little influence. I've not seen this in Hastings yet, fortunately. It is the outward symbol of much more and much worse.