16 May:  Introduction to the Bahá’í faith by Pete Hulme

Pete HulmePete Hulme will give an introduction to the faith, but intends the main focus to be on a key aspect of consciousness that plays to his strengths as a psychologist and a Bahá’í. It was one he struggled with when he became a Bahá’í, post qualification as a sceptical agnostic clinical psychologist. The issue concerns whether or not the mind is reducible to the brain, that is, is the mind independent of the brain or simply a by-product or emergent property?

He thinks this is a crucial issue, amongst others, in terms of whether we can truly reconcile mainstream materialistic science and most transcendent spiritual traditions. It can be dealt with without too much psychobabble, and in his view can also be debated by all sides of the argument in a spirit of genuine exploration, but is also a major point of sometimes unproductive contention.

Thursday 16 May at 7.30 pm at University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ. You are very welcome to come for tea and coffee from 7 pm to meet and chat with other members and guests. A voluntary donation is requested towards room hire and refreshments.

A Shropshire Humanist in South Africa

by Simon Nightingale, Chair, Shropshire Humanists

I have recently returned from a two week holiday in Cape Town where I was visiting my son, Sam, who is also a neurologist and is currently doing research there on HIV in the brain.

While there, I met an interesting group of people who call themselves DINK (the Afrikaans word for THINK). They’re all sceptical freethinkers and would consider themselves atheist or at least agnostic. They were keen to hear about humanism and so I gave them a talk. They did a recording of it and you can see it on YouTube.

However, it is similar to the talk I gave given to the Shrewsbury U3A which is rather better recorded.

Interestingly only 17% of the population of South Africa say that they live without religion (in the UK it’s >50%; among young people >70%). Virtually everyone else in South Africa is Christian.

The very large black African community are Christian of one kind or another. The largest group are known as the Church of Zion and it seems they’ve incorporated Evangelist Christian beliefs with a kind of ancient tribal ancestor worship. Very few South Africans call themselves humanist and indeed the members of DINK knew very little about humanism. I encouraged them to consider humanism which is a worldview with positive beliefs and values, rather than just being a negative atheist.

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