“Enlightenment Now” by Steven Pinker
Steven Pinker’s 2018 book “Enlightenment Now” makes the case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress.
Mary suggested that I should watch a discussion of the ideas in the book on YouTube.
She also suggested adding information to our website.
The discussion between Steven Pinker and Stephen Fry lasts nearly 80 minutes.
You can find the discussion on YouTube here.
The image shows the hardback version of the book, but a similar paperback edition is available.
Christian School Assemblies
The High Court has given permission for parents Lee and Lizanne Harris, to challenge the Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust.
They say that their children are being religiously indoctrinated during Christian school assemblies, and that after being withdrawn from assemblies, their children have not been provided with an experience of “equivalent educational worth”.
Humanists UK has urged the UK and Welsh Governments end compulsory worship and introduce a requirement that schools conduct inclusive assemblies, which promote the development of all pupils, regardless of their religious or non-religious beliefs.
Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:
“We are the only sovereign state in the world to require schools to hold daily Christian worship, yet 80% of our young people and 75% of people of parental age are not Christians.”
Lee and Lizanne Harris withdrew their children from assembly at Burford Primary School after their children expressed unhappiness at watching various Bible stories, including the crucifixion, being acted out as part of collective worship. They are also concerned that, during assemblies, stories of God and Christianity are presented to pupils as ‘fact’ and ‘truth’ and that visiting church officials express harmful views to children.
The case of Lee and Lizanne Harris v Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust will be heard on 29 November 2019 and is the first case on school worship to reach the High Court. They hope to establish that schools must provide a meaningful alternative to collective worship of ‘equal educational worth’ that instead focuses on advancing the spiritual, moral, cultural, and social development of all pupils regardless of religion or belief. Read more on the Humanists UK website.
52% non-religious – British Social Attitudes Survey
52% of people surveyed were non-religious.
Should the non-religious 52% be represented in law on education, instead of the compulsory, daily, Christian worship imposed on most schools?
Cornwall Humanists do believe in fairness.
See more on the Humanists UK website.
A New Online Course on Humanism
Scientist, writer, and broadcaster Alice Roberts has today launched a new, ‘massive open online course’ (MOOC) on humanism introducing participants to humanists from around the world to hear their stories and explore their beliefs and values.
The course features contributions from well-known scientists, artists, and politicians, as well as humanist campaigners, celebrants, and pastoral carers, including journalist Polly Toynbee, scientist and broadcaster Jim Al-Khalili, rock musician Frank Turner, novelist Natalie Haynes, and writer and academic Steven Pinker.
See more on Humanists UK website
Find more information and register for the course at:
Humanist Marriages – Lower Divorce Rate
Couples married in a humanist ceremony are almost four times less likely to divorce compared with all other types of marriages, according to new official statistics on marriage and divorce data in Scotland released on 10th March. The data comes as a new poll, showing clear majority support and growing demand for legal recognition of humanist marriages in England and Wales.
Divorce rates in Scotland
The new official statistics on Scottish divorces were obtained by Humanists UK through a freedom of information request. The data covers all divorces in 2017-18 split into civil, humanist, Church of Scotland, Catholic, and other type of religious marriages. By comparing these figures to existing statistics on number of marriages, it’s possible to calculate the divorce rate for each group.
This information adds weight to the call by Humanists to have their marriage ceremonies given the same legal recognition in Wales and in England, as they have in Scotland.
Read the full facts on the Humanists UK website
Information about Bereavement Support
A member of Cornwall Humanists has kindly offered some advice, following her own bereavement.
She found that ‘Grief Beyond Belief’ is a very helpful online community for atheists who are bereaved to share their experiences and support one another. Many of the members are in USA but also all over the world. The American members seem to suffer most from people repeatedly telling them their loved dead family members are in heaven etc.
The most helpful books she read were Joyce Carol Oates ‘A widow’s story’ and Joan Didion, ‘The year of magical thinking’.
The Cruse meetings are helpful once a month as everyone there knows how difficult the experience is. There are also one to one sessions, normally 4, and these are also worthwhile.
Painting above by Mary Fletcher
You can see more of Mary’s Grief Drawings as a
(This is a large file – 76MB, and runs for over 6 minutes.)
Bishops in the House of Lords
The presence of the Church of England in the House of Lords entrenches a privileged position for one particular branch of one particular religion.
Only 16% of the population profess affiliation to the Church of England according to the 2013 British Social Attitudes survey, (and only 1.4% being in Church on any given Sunday according to the church’s own attendance figures.)
Did you know that if two members of the House of Lords wish to speak, the Bishop is given the right to speak first?
Cornwall Humanists work towards a fairer society at local and national level.
director of Public Affairs and Policy for “Humanists UK”
Richy Thompson came to give a talk to Cornwall Humanists at their monthly meeting on 18th September.
Richy described six areas of “Humanists UK” activity, to a well-attended meeting.
- Government Contacts – Speaking with central government in London, through contacts with civil servants and MPs. The all-party Humanist group of 100 MPs, led by Crispin Blunt, is very important.
- Research – publicising relevant research and undertaking new research when necessary.
- Campaigns – Encouraging members and supporters to advance campaigns for change, by writing to MPs, writing letters to newspapers, and organising protests.
- Media – Promoting the inclusion of a Humanist perspective in newspapers, television, and other public media.
- Legal – Challenging illegal practices, and supporting individuals who are going to court to fight injustice, such as the refusal of assisted dying.
- Advice – Helping people who are suffering from unfair discrimination in a faith school, or who are struggling with the imposition of Collective Worship.
What can we do in Cornwall?
Richy gave examples of what we could do locally, to advance Humanism.
We could attend the constituency surgery of our local MP to learn about their standpoint, and ask for their support in advancing Humanist ideals.
We can try to influence local decision making through our membership of SACRE, the body advising Cornwall Council on Religious Education.
We can make sure that our views are publicised in local newspapers, and heard on local radio and television.
Religion and Worldviews
(The Observer 9th September 2018)
The subject should be renamed Religion and Worldviews to equip young people with respect and empathy for different faiths and viewpoints, says the Commission on Religious Education in a report published on Sunday.
Content “must reflect the complex, diverse and plural nature of worldviews”, drawing from “a range of religious, philosophical, spiritual and other approaches to life, including different traditions within Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism, non-religious worldviews and concepts including humanism, secularism, atheism and agnosticism”.
The report was welcomed by the head teachers’ union, the Church of England and Humanists UK.
Read full report
The photograph above shows a group of friends of Peter and Barbara Edmead at their home near Nancegollan. The friends met on 26th August to wish Peter and Barbara well as they move to a smaller home near Weymouth. Peter has been a very active member of Cornwall Humanists and has worked regularly as a hospital volunteer. He visits people who are in hospital, to talk with them, adding to the religious pastoral service, for the growing number of people who do not hold a religious belief.
We hope that you both enjoy your new home, and do keep in touch!