Archived Meetings

Mar. 2009 poster
Film Screening of The God Who Wasn’t There

A documentary film which questions the existence of Jesus, examining evidence that supports the Jesus Myth argument against the existence of a historical Jesus.  The film screening was followed by a philosophical enquiry into the topic organised in collaboration with Philosophy in Pubs (PIPS).
Brian Flemming’s film purports to do for religion what Bowling for Colombine did for the US gun culture.  Mixing irreverent wit and a provocative documentary style, it certainly fits into the same mould!  A lively discussion afterwards featured not only the LHG stalwarts but also a contingent from the local Philosophy in Pubs group which counts both believers and non-believers among its number.
Feb. 2009 LHG Presented its 2nd Annual
Darwin Day Lecture
Professor J.A.J. Gowlett MA PhD (Cambridge) FSA

‘Human evolution 150 years after the Origin.
What do we know about what?’

To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. Professor J.A.J. Gowlett MA PhD (Cambridge) FSA is a Professor of Archaeology and Evolutionary Anthropology at Liverpool University. Details of his research can be found on these web pages: http://pcwww.liv.ac.uk/~gowlett/index.html, and www.liv.ac.uk/lucy2003 ‘Lucy to Language: The Archaeology of the Social Brain’.

As human beings we are alone in studying ourselves (so far as we know) – what we can know in science and arts all depends on the framework of being human.    Research into human evolution – how we got here –  has advanced tremendously since Darwin wrote about it more than a century ago, especially with developments of recent years.  We have more fossils, better dating, much greater insights into genetics and our social nature.   So does knowing more about how we became human affect fundamentally how we think about ourselves?     The talk will use the evidence that we are a fine-tuned particular kind of human to address those key questions – in effect, what do we know about what?
See our Poster
Jan. 2009 What is Humanism?
Members of the LHG presented topics about Humanism.
Bill on the History of Humanism and Why Humanism is important, Megan on Humanist values, Rebecca on Humanistic psychology Peter on Humanism in education.
Dec. 2008 Mustard Seed School in Uganda Appeal
Charity Poetry Fundraiser

All funds raised going to benefit the Mustard Seed School in Uganda.

If you would like to find out more about the school go to the New Humanist web site.

Poets:Alison Down, Theatre director, script writer and performance poet, Scott Thurston, Most recent books are Momentum (2008) and Hold (2006) both published by Shearsman. Colin Watts, Author of poetry collection Human Geography, Curtis Watt, International tours include South Africa, Germany, USA and Czechoslovakia, Glyn Wright, Shortlisted for T.S. Eliot Prize at the Aldburgh Poetry Festival
Nov. 2008 “To style oneself ‘Christian Humanist’ is a nonsense: A Sea of Faith defence for such a label” by Penny Mawdsley
Penny Mawdsley is a former Trustee of the Sea of Faith Network (UK) of which she was Chair last year. She is also a member of Chester Humanists on whose Executive Committee she currently serves as Social Secretary and as Humanist representative on the Chester Interfaith Forum.
She is an ex-Primary school teacher who lived for 37 years in Liverpool/Sefton before moving to North Wales in 2005. She has been busy this summer organising the 21st annual Sea of Faith Conference held this year at Liverpool Hope.
Oct. 2008 “Buddhism vs. Humanism: common ground rather than battle ground?”
by Alasdair Gordon-Finlayson
Alasdair Taisen Gordon-Finlayson became involved in Zen practice in South Africa in 1992, training under a successor of Taisen Deshimaru Roshi, a Japanese Zen Buddhist priest who was sent to establish Zen practice in Europe in the late 1960s.
He is currently a student of David Scott Hoshi, teacher at the Liverpool Zen Group in the lineage of Taizen Maezumi Roshi. Alasdair is active in inter-Buddhist and interfaith activities within Merseyside, helping to found MerseyBuddhists and sits on the Merseyside Council of Faiths. He is currently studying for PhD in psychology at Liverpool John Moores University, examining how and why people are getting involved in Buddhism in the West.
Sept. 2008 Walking on Water: Football and Religious Experience by Rogan Taylor

Dr Rogan Taylor’s main academic interests lie in the history and culture of football and its fans, and the way the football business works. He is Director of Liverpool University’s Football Industry Group where he pioneered the world’s first MBA in football business in 1997.

He has written five football books and is also is the author of the widely acclaimed The Death and Resurrection Show: From Shaman to Superstar. His PhD was in the field of ‘Psychoanalysis and Primitive Religion’.
This was a lively and stimulating talk by Rogan.
July 2008 Open Forum or Pecha-kucha (roughly translates from Japanese as “chit-chat”). This was something different, a change from the formal type of presentation, here people contributed by taking it in turns to talk about topics of interest for a limited period.

Ideas came from a variety of influences – newspaper articles, books, something they had seen etc.

June 2008 Charity Launch Quiz Night Our fun general knowledge charity quiz night was also in order to established the LHG charity for 2008/09.

The winning team choose from a choice of 3 charities the Mustard Seed Secular School, Busota, Uganda. Click to find out more about our charity.

May 2008 Cloning, Chimeras and Stem Cells
Talk by Dr Patricia Murray

School of Biological Sciences
University of Liverpool

What are stem cells? Why do we study them? Why have they received so much media attention? What are the future health implications of stem cell research? Patricia Murray, a lecturer based at the University of Liverpool, will discuss these and other challenges facing stem cell scientists and highlight some important questions in the ethical debate over new stem cell technologies.
April 2008 Should Religion be Given Respect? A debate for and against the question.
Yes: Tom McGlinchey
No: Bill Dawson, The Happy Humanist at http://happyhumanist.blogspot.com/

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reaffirmed his predecessor’s line on cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, saying free speech should respect religious sensitivities.  The Church of England has warned that Labour’s latest equality law will deprive them of the right of free speech – the right to oppose homosexuality.

If all those who speak, write, express their views have to respect all religious sensitivities, then what can anyone say? Is this a dangerous atmosphere for those of us who believe in free speech?  Does this mean the sanitisation of public debate, an anathema to free thinking. Are we in danger of sleep-walking into censorship?
Respect religion? Yes. Make it sacrosanct? No! Respect entails freedom of conscience, worship and expression, not sacrosanct – above or beyond criticism, change, or interference, rather it should be about being open to debate, criticism.and contradiction.
March 2008 ‘The God Delusion’
Prof. Richard Dawkins is making two visits to Liverpool, in the light of this we discussed and debated the ideas in his book. Introduced & led by Chris Hassall
In The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that belief in a god qualifies as a delusion, which he defines as a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.

He is sympathetic to Robert Pirsig’s observation that “when one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.”

Feb. 2008 Steering Group Meeting This meeting was for the officers of LHG to plan the direction and future events for the LHG.
Event
Feb. 2008
Darwin Day Celebration
Day out at Chester Zoo & Talk
Talk: ‘Darwin: The Man and his Influence’
by Dr. Ian Harvey, School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool.
Debate
Jan. 2008
Losing my Religion – Is there meaning in life without God? A lively discussion in a humanist forum about the meaning of life with and without God.

The debate was introduced by a member who was brought up with religion and no longer believes – he described how this has this affected his life and search for meaning in life? The group was mixed, in terms of peoples beliefs, although more none believers present.

Debate
Nov. 2007
The Work of a Humanist Celebrant?: by Bill Dawson a BHA accredited Humanist Celebrant.

Celebrations and ceremonies of the important occasions in our lives are a major part of what makes us human, be they joyous or sad events.

Bill’s entertaining approach will describe his work in delivering non-religious weddings, baby naming and funerals.
See a review here of his most recent talk.

One in 20 families now rejects a church service in favour of a celebration of life, according to the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), which represents 85 per cent of the industry.

Debate
Oct. 2007
Faith Schools in Britain

The Government ‘joint vision statement’ document praises the contribution to cohesion, integration and understanding that, it says, faith schools make and suggests the need to expand the number of state-funded faith schools, especially for minority religions.

The BHA today condemned this document, and called the way the Government has behaved in its development and launch ‘absolutely disgraceful’.

All are welcome to this discussion where we will also be looking at way to take action & respond.

For the Gov. docs. & BHA press release Click here to go to our Humanism for Schools page.

Talk Sept.2007 The Neuroscience of Religion

By Hilda Reilly, a LHG member who is currently doing post-graduate work in this area.

Is God a creation of the human brain? Or was the brain created by God, and with structures specially designed to enable communication between God and man?  We will examine the evidence in light of the latest research in the burgeoning field of neurotheology – the neurobiology of religion and spirituality.
Debate
July 2007
What is Humanism? Looking at the various ideas on Humanism, is there a difference between Humanism and Atheism – and whether we should we look for common ground?
Debate
June 2007
“Fear to criticise: the real Islamophobia?”

The very concept of ‘Islamophobia’ is a fundamental challenge to secularists and humanists – the idea that fear or dislike of a religion is a bad thing, and amounts to dislike of its adherents.

Wahhabism and the Right-wing political ideology of Islamism is increasingly presenting itself as representative of Muslims, at the same time as it is responsible for gross human rights violations, mainly against Muslims.
We take the right to disbelief and free thought somewhat for granted, but our fellow humanists/atheists from Muslim backgrounds too often face the threat of execution as well as social excommunication.

Is it all the more unacceptable that people who are able to criticise do not? whether because of fear of racism, in deference to the BNP’s motives, or simple fear of retribution. The real ‘Islamophobia’ is the fear of criticising Islam and Islamism, lest it be interpreted as ‘demonising’ an entire group of people. Some web sites:

A Secular Muslim Manifesto

Women Living under Muslim Law – An international network that provides information,solidarity and support for all women whose lives are shaped, conditioned or governed by laws and customs said to derive from Islam.

Debate
May 2007
Personal choice and responsibly – the effects of religion on issues such as contraception & abortion? The importance of making informed choices in life, does religion inform or take away our personal responsibility?
Debate
April 2007
‘I don’t believe in god, but I have ‘Christian’ moral values.’ What are the foundations of our currant moral code? Where does our morality come from, is it based in religion?
Debate
March 2007
Is there any place for religion in schools & universities, or should we follow a secular system of education? Faith vs Secular Curricula

Guardian Article 23/05/07
Sneaky, unfair, divisive: welcome to church schools
A bastion of middle-class educational privilege

Quiz Night
Feb. 2007
Darwin Day Celebration Click here to see are fantastically designed poster
Quotations
“I do not understand those who take little or no interest in the subject of religion. If religion embodies a truth, it is certainly the most important truth of human experience. If it is largely error, then it is one of monumentally tragic proportions – and should be vigorously opposed.” Steve Allen
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