WHEN WE MEET
We meet at 64
Pinner Road Harrow HA1 4HZ,
8:00pm on the second Wednesday of each month (except July and August).
We also have regular informal coffee mornings
in the cafe at
A Manger, Harrow on Tuesdays between 10:30 and 11:30am
and a Sunday Brunch, at Harrow
Debenhams Cafe, the last Sunday of each month at 11:00am
June 2018 : 'What is Humanism?' An Introduction by Terry Lilley - A public, open, interactive talk where all views are welcomed
"We welcomed members of Harrow Interfaith to this introduction and dialogue on Humanism. In a friendly atmosphere of exchange, members of Harrow Humanists and members of different religious Faiths were able to share human values and understand the need for listening in fostering mutually productive dialogue. We thank members of Harrow Interfaith for joining us and for being so interested and open about Humanism."
April 2018 : Tom Moberly, Healthwatch UK 'Promoting Science and Integrity in Healthcare'
"Tom Moberly, UK editor of the BMJ and member of the charity HealthWatch UK, informed us of the work of Healthwatch in discussing, highlighting and campaigning for evidence-based healthcare. He also ran through many recent examples of harmful practice, including common general practice's habitual use of 'screening'. A great and interesting talk on the complexity and importance of ethics and practise in medicine."
March 2018 : Norman Bacrac (Atheism UK Council member; Trustee of the Ethical Society; former Editor of the 'Ethical Record') - 'The work of Atheism UK and why it's needed in today's world'
"Norman Bacrac outlined the history, structure, and remit of Atheism UK, whilst also projecting its plans for the future. He then opened up a group discussion on key elements and definitions of humanism, in which he generously allowed a full critique of his own views, based as they are on his long experience in this field."
February 2018 : Giovanni Gaetani (Growth and Development Officer with the International Humanist and Ethical Union) - 'The IHEU and the Growth of the Global Humanist Movement'
"Giovanni Gaetani talked in a very informative and entertaining way about the work of the International Humanist and Ethical Union. A good worldwide overview of the development and priorities of humanist groups - and the formidable issues they face in some countries, such as the death-penalty, persecution, and discrimination for atheism and "blasphemy", FGM, anti-LGBT legislation. We also discussed current threats to humanism such as populism and extremism, and the need for cultural change aligned with legislative progress - not least in the UK."
November 2017 : A Video and Discussion - 'Pacifism and Remembrance'
"In Remembrance week we took a look at the secular history of the Cenotaph in London and how Remembrance Sunday has inserted religion into a secular event. We also watched a short video extract (view it here
) of a debate between Prof. Bryan Caplan and Prof. Jan Ting on the merits and de-merits of liberal intervention and the 'Just War', followed by a discussion on war, pacifism and secularism."
September 2017 : Michael Lawrence on 'The Hypocrisy of the Church of England'
"Michael Lawrence spoke on his research into the real motives of the Church of England in its centuries-long excursions into education, slavery, and many aspects of British public life. A video of the talk will, hopefully, be posted here soon."
June 2017 : 'How Do We Understand and React To Terrorist Attack'
"Video viewing and discussion: Maajid Nawaz on his personal journey of reform and the need for the 'conversation' about Islam."
April 2017 : Aliyah Saleem on 'The Hidden Abuse of Apostates'
"Aliyah Saleem is an ex-Muslim atheist who attended an Islamic school in Britain for five years and studied the Quran in Pakistan, Having left Islam at 19, Aliyah has since spoken about ex-Muslim issues as well as advocating for secular education. She is the co-founder of Faith to Faithless which is now an official program at the British Humanist Association. Aliyah has written about her work and experiences for the Times and is a board member of the Atheist, Humanist and Secular students.
Aliyah, without notes, told her story and discussed the general picture of apostacy and closed communities across the UK. She feels the issue has decisively breached into public awareness and that change is happening and inevitable. We thank her for giving so generously of her time and her fluent knowledge of the subject. We overran!"
March 2017 : Tony Thorne on 'GALHA - Why, When and Where?' Subtitle: 'An aspect of Humanism and human progress'
"Tony's talk can be downloaded HERE
February 2017 : A video viewing and discussion - Steven Pinker on the biology of sex differences
"The video is an excerpt from an April 22, 2005 debate between Steven Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke on the subject of under-representation of women in science. You can view the video here
. The debate was at least partially inspired by an incident involving former Harvard president Lawrence Summers, whose public comments speculating on possible explanations for gender disparity in science were widely misinterpreted and taken out of context. The video includes only Steven Pinker's prepared portion. It does not include Elizabeth Spelke's presentation, the dialogue between the two speakers or the Q&A section. You can view the entire 2-hour event 'The Science of Gender and Science A Conversation with Steven Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke April 22, 2005' here
Pinker's argument draws on the metadata which shows, in his judgement, that sex differences in numbers employed in the STEM subjects are persistant because they are innate, not because there is discrimination: "Difference is not Discrimination". There was surprisingly little disagreement with this in the group which means that mainstays of second and third-wave feminism (patriarchy, institutional sexism) were not accepted as credible."
January 2017 : Dr Oliver Scott Curry (Evolutionary Anthropologist) - Morality as Co-operation: How Evolution Explains Ethics
"Dr Curry explained to us his ongoing research in the science of morality. The theory of morality-as-cooperation argues that morality consists of a collection of biological and cultural solutions to the nonzerosum problems of cooperation and conflict recurrent in human social life. This theory predicts that specific forms of cooperative behaviour helping kin, helping your group, reciprocating, being brave, deferring to superiors, dividing disputed resources, and respecting prior ownership will be considered morally good wherever they arise, irrespective of culture. This prediction challenges widely held cultural relativist' views of morality. The present study tests this prediction by investigating the moral valence of these seven cooperative behaviours in the ethnographic records of 60 societies. The results provide strong support for the theory: the moral valence of cooperative behaviour is uniformly positive; and the majority of these cooperative moral values appear in the majority of cultures, in all regions of the world. These findings provide new insights into moral universals and moral variation. And they indicate that morality-as-cooperation could provide the unified theory of morality that the behavioural sciences have hitherto lacked.
This highly engaging and enjoyable talk lead to a clearer understanding of the theory, especially when put to the test of some of our questions on moral relativism."
Click here to see video of the same talk delivered at the LSE
November 2016: Dr Julie Crow - Humanism - A Schools Presentation
"Julie Crow - in an excellent presentation which spawned a long debate - gave us the benefit of her qualification and experience as a BHA accredited schools visior. Our aim was to see what the students see; to get an insight into the teaching of RE in schools. Humanism is still a neglected, though legally required, constituent of the RE curriculum, and Julie's job has been to present an engaging and informative introduction to the positive character and benefits of Humanism in our diversely populated schools."
October 2016: Chris Moos (Secularist Campaigner) - Segregation a new and old challenge for secularists
"Chris Moos informed us of his work researching, campaigning and demonstrating on the situation, in Britain today, of gender segregation. The principally islamist agenda has been testing complacent British law on this subject for some time. The allies of this agenda, on the Left, help bolster the notion that 'separate is equal', often under the euphemistic banner of tolerance; their motives are perhaps naive, perhaps political. It was a detailed and comprehensive talk from a person at the forefront of knowledge on this issue - and the forefront of the 'push-back' against it. "
September 2016: Gus Bell (Medical Researcher; member of Harrow Humanists)- Fire in the Blood: Malaria and other deseases
"Gus spoke on the subject of his research, specifically malaria, but generally pathogens and epidemiology. He gave us a fascinating introduction to the different pathogens, their structure and history. Many questions were raised about the history of treatment and about research efforts, drawing on Gus's informed expertise."
June 2016: Jay Harman (BHA Education Campaigns Officer) - Humanism and Religion in Schools
"Jay spoke to us on the whole field of religious education - RE, SRE, GCSE, national curriculum - and also the broad picture concerning Faith schools. The current climate is quite hostile to humanist or non-religious inclusion in the teaching of faith in schools, but a change of government might prick the Westminster bubble and diminish the influence of a religious clique currently holding sway."
April 2016: Luke Donnellan Why Humanism? Putting the non-religious into religious education
"The BHA's Head of Education spoke to us about the How, the When and the Why of teaching Humanism in schools. He also spoke to our questions about the state of RE and its future prospects, the situation of under-trained but committed teachers, and the opportunity for humanism to play it's role in opening young minds to the diverse reality of modern Britain."
March 2016: John Holroyd on the history and structure of religious education in England
"John is has been a teacher of Religious Studies and Philosophy in London for the past twenty years. He gave us a very interesting, detailed talk followed by a mostly philosophical questions session. Historically, there was a move from the traditional 'nurture' theological approach of religious instruction to a 'thematic' sympathetic approach in the 60s and 70s. The Conservative government re-established the primacy of Christianity in the 1988 Education Act, and the Tony Blair 'Academy' project of 1998 re-introduced a more religious ethos through the setting up of Faith schools."
January 2016: Humanism in schools and living with difference - group discussion
"It was agreed that the regulations governing both the teaching of RE in schools and the assembly for an "act of collective worship" are hopelessly out of date and not fit for purpose in 21st century Britain. There have been a number of independent reports relating to these issues published in 2015 and the major points arising from these reports were discussed. We concluded that school assemblies should include a time for reflection on moral and ethical issues rather than religious worship and that Religious Education should be replaced by a more inclusive approach such as Philosophy, Religion and Ethics which would include non-religious world views such as Humanism and would be on the National Curriculum."
November 2015: Jeremy Rodell The Big Change in Religion & Belief in Britain - A Humanist Response
"Jeremy Rodell is the Dialogue Officer for the BHA. The number of Anglicans is steadily declining but the number of evangelical Christians and of Muslims is increasing, as is the number of people with no religious affiliation. There is thus a potential for societal polarisation. Dialogue with 'other' groups is important with promotion of universal human rights and secularism. Multiculturalism where different groups are leading parallel but separate lives does not encourage assimilation and understanding of others points of view. Interculturalism with integration would be better."
October 2015: Tehmina Kazi Secular Muslims: On Building Inclusive Religious Spaces
"The Director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, talked on the need and possibility of religious (specifically muslim) secularism. This was followed by a wide-ranging discussion."
September 2015: Barbara Smoker Can Capital Punishment ever be juistified?
"a well-known Humanist and Secularist, Barbara discussed whether Capital Punishment can ever be justified using her detailed researches into the Moors Murders as examples."
June 2015: Dr Bill Thompson So What is Human Nature?
"Dr Thompson is a philosopher, architect and environmental psychologist. He led a wide-ranging discussion on defining human nature."
May 2015: David Savage Humanist Pastoral Care
"David is head of pastoral support at the BHA. He came to tell us about his pioneer work in hospitals and prisons and on the plans to train others to carry out this important humanist role in an increasingly non-religious society."
April 2015: John Edwards Does Climate Change Matter?
"John Edwards has a background in applied science specialising mainly in applied thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. He gave us his views on Climate Change, the real dangers from Carbon Dioxide and Methane, and the wisdom of nuclear energy."
March 2015: Rachel Wright from Voluntary Action Harrow Co-operative.
"This is a nonprofit workers co-operative which helps the voluntary and community sector achieve its objectives through training, guidance and information. Rachel and her colleague Alex talked about this work and the work of co-operatives nationally and answered the many questions from our members."
February 2015: Professor Tim Crow on Beliefs and False Beliefs
"Tim recounted documented beliefs of four famous historical characters and invited us to guess who they were. We guessed Joan of Arc and Adolf Hitler but not Isaac Newton or Auguste Strindberg. The following discussion ranged widely and included the concept of delusions and how this affected these four people."