Sunday 12 February 2017: Visit to Darwin Lecture in Shrewsbury

On Sunday 12 February 2017, we have reserved 25 seats at £12 each for the Darwin Memorial Lecture at the Walker Theatre in the Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, and 20 seats at The Armoury for lunch beforehand (12.00 noon). Members, partners and friends welcome. The lecture is at 2.00 pm.


Evolution by natural selection is biology’s central idea and arguably its most important one.

That this disarmingly simple notion was independently discovered synchronously by both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace suggests that our focus should be on what they had in common, the milieu – social, cultural, technological, political – in which they lived.

This lecture will review some of the factors underlying the Darwin-Wallace breakthrough, emphasizing the implicit lesson for the history of science – that for a full understanding we need a multi-dimensional reconstruction of the world in which scientists lived and worked.

Dr Berry, educated in Shrewsbury, is a lecturer in evolutionary biology at Harvard University and has published extensively on both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace.

If you would like a lecture ticket and/or a lunch place, contact Margaret Cann as soon as possible.

19 January meeting: Hot Potatoes (open mike) session

Hot-PotatoThursday 19th January 2017 at 7.30pm in University Centre Shrewsbury,

This year we are having a January meeting. We are having a “hot potato” (open mike) session in which anyone can speak for 5 minutes (absolute maximum 10 minutes) on a topic of their own choice that is in some way related to humanism.

The idea is that you talk about something that interests you and then you interest us!  You can use PowerPoint if you wish, but that is not essential.

Some possible topics, both personal accounts or objective reviews, might include: Why I became a humanist; What I like/don’t like about humanism; Why do good people do bad things?; Should humanism be political?; Ethical issues such as assisted dying, abortion, drug use, embryo research, genetic engineering; Human rights; Immigration, asylum and refugees; Sexuality; Faith schools; Humanist celebrants; Humanist chaplains; Should humanists do more “charitable work”; Environmental issues; Do humanists ignore the welfare of animals?; The concept of a “just war”; The paranormal – are we too sceptical?; Inequality, poverty etc – what do we can do about it?; Discrimination and prejudice; A humanist view on death and dying; Should humanists pray (in the sense of critical reflection)?; What do we mean by secular spirituality?

Please email the chairman with the title of your planned talk to prevent duplication. However if you prefer, you can just turn up on the day and tell us then.

Dr Simon Nightingale on BBC Radio Shropshire – Humanist views on forgiveness

Simon_NightingaleDr Simon Nightingale was on BBC Radio Shropshire on Sunday morning (20th November) delivering a ‘Pause for Thought’ on humanist views on forgiveness.

You can listen by visiting  and scrolling on the timeline between 1.19.30 and 1.26.30. The recording will be available for 1 month.

As Simon mentioned on the show, he will be giving a public talk on Humanism at the Engaging Issues Forum in Church Stretton on 29th November. For more information, please visit our blog post on the talk.

Shropshire Humanist Group now on Facebook

Wfb-f-logo__blue_512e have now set up a Facebook Group for Shropshire Humanists. This is a place where we hope you will be able to easily keep up to date on all things Humanism in Shropshire and beyond. We will post information about upcoming meetings and events, as well as helping you stay informed about the work of the BHA (British Humanist Association). We may also from time to time share other posts that we think may be of interest.

Please join the group here: and share amongst your friends and other group members!

29 November: Public talk on Humanism at Engaging Issues forum in Church Stretton

Simon_NightingaleDr Simon Nightingale will be giving a public talk, Humanism, what it is and why it is important, as part of the Engaging Issues series of talks, on Tuesday 29th November at 7.30 pm at the United Reformed Church, High Street, Church Stretton SY6 6BY.
Humanists believe that one can lead a good life and be a good person without religion. The British Humanist Association, with the “happy humanist” logo, is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.
Dr Nightingale, a retired consultant neurologist from the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, has been working for humanism for some years, conducting humanist funerals and weddings. He is the humanist representative on the Shrewsbury SACRE – the Local Authority committee that oversees Religious Education and Collective Worship in our Shropshire state schools and he is the humanist representative on the Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals Chaplaincy Committee and a member of the Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum. Currently he is chair of the Shropshire Humanist Group.
Dr Nightingale says: “I am grateful for the opportunity to explain the basis of humanism and, in particular, to address some of the myths”. Humanists are non-religious, not anti-religious, and support the rights of those with faith to practise their religions. Humanists collaborate with other religions and interfaith groups, such as The Jubilee Debt Campaign, to promote values we share with most moderate religions. Living without religion does not leave a moral vacuum. Humanists are not moral relativists believing that “anything goes”; on the contrary humanists have strong moral beliefs based on normative ethics and our innate moral instincts. Humanists are not devoid of any spiritual sense and do not believe that our lives are without meaning. Dr Nightingale will show that the myths are far from true.
The talk is for anyone interested in humanism, whether or not they call themselves a humanist. For example, those who believe that it is possible to lead a good life and be a good person without religion may find areas of common interest. Those with religious faith may like to learn more of a rapidly growing, influential non-religious world view. Teachers involved with Religious Education may find the talk helpful and informative.
More information about humanism from the British Humanist Association website.

17 November meeting: showing of film A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy & Meaning in a World Without God

At our next meeting, US filmaker Chris Johnson will be showing and talking about his film, A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy & Meaning in a World Without God.

Please note we aim to start this meeting at 7.15 pm, earlier than our normal time of 7.30, in order to allow adequate time for discussion. The meeting is at the usual venue, University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ. Free parking after 6pm at the adjacent Frankwell car park.

The film is based on Chris’s book A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God. The film version of A Better Life features a selection of those from the book — atheists from around the world from many different backgrounds and professions. They include best-selling authors, award winning artists and scientists, and many well-known public personalities and figures including:

A.C. Grayling, Philosopher, author and Master of the New College of the Humanities.
Adam Pascal, Musician/Actor, created the role of “Roger” in the musical RENT.
AJ Johnson, Vice president and co-founder, Be Secular.
Alex Honnold, Rock climber, featured on 60 Minutes & the cover of National Geographic Magazine.
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, British Humanist Association.
Cara Santa Maria, Co-host and Producer, TakePart Live on Pivot TV.
Dan Barker, Co-president, Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Daniel Dennett, Philosopher, author, and cognitive scientist, Tufts University.
Donald C. Johanson, Paleoanthropologist, Arizona State University. Discovered the fossil of the hominid australopithecine known as “Lucy.”
Helena Guzik, Online Publications Assistant, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Julia Sweeney, Actress, comedian & author.
Matt Dillahunty, Speaker/co-cost; The Atheist Experience.
Nahla Mahmoud, Environmentalist/Human Rights Activist.
Patricia S. Churchland, Neurophilosopher, University of California San Diego.
Robert Llewellyn, Writer, TV presenter, speaker, actor (Red Dwarf), electric vehicle evangelist.
Sean Carroll, Theoretical Physicist, California Institute of Technology.
Tracie Harris, Speaker/co-cost; The Atheist Experience.

Chris Johnson is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker. He received his undergraduate degree in film production (along with a minor in religious studies) from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. His photography has been seen in various outlets, including The New York Times. He is the author of the coffee table photography book, “A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God” as well as the documentary film version, “A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy & Meaning in a World Without God.” He has travelled the world on a screening/lecture tour about A Better Life, speaking and screening the film in over 60 cities on four continents — from Reykjavik to Shanghai.

For the book and film of A Better Life, he interviewed many prominent atheist figures such as Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Dan Dennett, Derren Brown, Pat Churchland, Julia Sweeney, Penn & Teller, and many more. He has given talks on atheism and his work at conferences, universities, non-profit organizations, and community groups. In addition, he has also been a guest on numerous podcasts, radio and TV shows around the globe.

Apart from his own film and photographic work, he has also collaborated with artists and directors in various roles and capacities for theatre, film, and print. Chris is the recipient of the Kodak Award for Excellence in Filmmaking as well as the B.F. Lorenzetti Scholarship for Excellence in Filmmaking. Additionally, Chris sits on the Secular Board of Advisors, as well as the board of Openly Secular.

15 November: Andrew Copson talking to Ludlow and Marches Humanists on religious education. Car-sharing

On Tuesday 15 November, Andrew Copson, the Chief Executive of the BHA will be taling in Ludlow on ‘Religious Education – an update’. Andrew should be updating us on the implications and reaction to recent moves announced by Teresa May to allow 100% religious selection at faith schools. The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. in the Friends’ Meeting House (St Mary’s Lane, Ludlow SY8 1DZ).

We hope he will have a big turnout, but we know that it can be tiresome and expensive travelling to Ludlow from Shrewsbury, Telford and points north. Therefore we are hoping to arrange car sharing. If anyone would like to offer, or if you need a lift, please contact us through and we’ll try to help.

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