Around Shropshire: Ludlow and Marches Humanists and Engaging Issues

In South Shropshire, North Herefordshire and the Welsh border areas there is another humanist group, our neighbours the Ludlow and Marches Humanists. A copy of their latest newsletter can be downloaded here and their website is here.

They always have an interesting programme, and the following meetings are planned:

20 February 2018 – “Telling people about Humanism” by Dr Simon Nightingale. Simon is a semi-retired neurologist and chair of  Shropshire Humanist Group. He has given many talks on Humanism and is occasionally heard on Shropshire Radio. He participates in inter-faith discussions and will be considering techniques, tactics and pitfalls when communicating Humanist  messages to people of different outlooks.
Thursday 8 March 2018, special meeting – on Brexit legislative programme by Lord Jeff Rooker: Please note that this meeting only will be in the Zion room at the Methodist Church Hall, Broad Street, Ludlow. Jeff Rooker will be concentrating on the progress of the legislative programme through the House of Lords, full title yet to be revealed.
20 March 2018 – The Reverend Kelvin Price, Rector of Ludlow. Talk title to be agreed. We have not had a formal talk from the Church of England for many years now, and it will be interesting to see his approach to falling numbers and alternative uses of church buildings, as well as the continuing relevance of the C of E as a state religion.
17 April 2018 – Christine Hyde on Greece ”Changed or Unchanged” – Chris and Hugh spent several years in Greece and grew to appreciate the culture, albeit different in many ways from our own. Chris will be concentrating on
the village (Elaia) and area they know best, quote: “I will talk about customs still practiced from Dorian times, the Orthodox Church, and the Evil Eye, ending with a few photos of the wild life. Hence the suggested title”.
15 May 2018 – AGM. As usual, we will try to make this an interesting evening, with cake and refreshments and either a video or a special discussion to follow the AGM.

Engaging Issues is a church-based group in Church Stretton, but its talks are often of interest to humanists and others.

Tuesday 6 February – “Can Christians talk with one voice about God?”. Dr Benjamin Wood is a Quaker ethicist and theologian, interested in the relationship between faith & society, secular politics and the Church.
Tuesday 27th February – “Britain’s Housing Affordability Crisis”. Chrissie Pepler
7:30pm in the United Reformed Church, High Street, Church Stretton. A £3 donation is requested to defray expenses.


To be a Humanist: questions from a Christian

The following contribution by Peter Bellingham, a committed Christian, was made at our Hot Potatoes open mike night on 18 January. Several listeners asked for it to be made available, and Peter said he was happy for it to be posted here. He poses some fundamental and difficult questions about the nature of man, consciousness, causation, determinism, free will and the meaning of life. Humanists may attempt to answer these questions differently from a Christian, such as Peter, but they are questions we all find a challenge.


Do I have to be human to be a humanist?


What is a human?

Is a human a certain arrangement of atoms?

Is your chair a certain arrangement of atoms?

Is a leaf a certain arrangement of atoms?

Is your dog a certain arrangement of atoms?


Are you more valuable than your dog?

Are you more valuable than a leaf?

Are you more valuable than your chair?



Is your conscious experience just the product of atoms?

Are your thoughts and choices just the product of atoms?

What turns a human into a humanist?

Is it a choice, or can cosmic radiation cause the change?

How do we know which atoms are in control?

How do you know which atoms are right?


Are you disappointed by anything in life?

Are you upset by any injustice in life?

Why be disappointed?  Why be upset?

Some end up happy, some sad; why expect anything different?


Isn’t everything just the purposeless product of atoms in motion?


Is a human more than atoms in motion?

Is a humanist more than atoms in motion?


Is that why you’re here tonight, thinking?

Introducing Humanism: Non-religious Approaches to Life (Online course starting 19 February)

Learn about humanism – a non-religious, ethical worldview shared by millions across the world.

Humanism is a non-religious, ethical world view shared by millions of people around the world. Humanists believe that this life is the only life we have, that the universe is a natural phenomenon with no supernatural side, and that we can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.

However, there is widespread misunderstanding about what it means to be a humanist or to live a life without a religion. On this course you will learn more about humanist beliefs and values, and discover how humanists attempt to answer life’s big questions.

  • The humanist understanding of human beings: our nature, capacities, and responsibilities
  • How humanists answer questions about the world (science, reason, scepticism) and the consequences for a humanist understanding of reality
  • A humanist approach to making life meaningful and the value of individual freedom
  • The origins and evolution of morality and a humanist perspective on how to be good
  • The humanist vision for society (secularism, freedoms, and human rights) and the motivations behind their goals
  • Different definitions of humanism, its history, and its diversity

Ludlow and Marches Humanists meeting: ‘Telling people about Humanism’, 20 February

Our neighbours, Ludlow and Marches Humanists, present a talk ‘Telling People about Humanism’ by Dr Simon Nightingale.

The meeting is on Tuesday 20 February 2018 at 7.30pm, at The Friends Meeting House, St Mary’s Lane, Ludlow SY8 1DZ

Note that the Ludlow and Marches Humanists have a new web site at

Simon is a partly retired doctor, a clinical neurologist with a particular interest in philosophical aspects of neuroscience – consciousness, free will, the neural substrate for empathy and morality and so on.  He has been a humanist for many years and since 2015 he has been chair of the Shropshire Humanist Group. He contributes short talks on Humanism to local radio, and participates in inter-faith discussions; he will be considering techniques, tactics and pitfalls when communicating Humanist messages to people of different outlooks. He is also a keen metagrobologist and won prizes for it! (Metagrobology is the study of puzzles.)

All welcome.

Humanists UK: Help save a fellow humanist’s life

Save HamzaAn appeal from Humanists UK, the national organisation for humanists:

By now you’ve probably heard the harrowing case of Hamza bin Walyat, the humanist who is being deported to Pakistan for failing a test of his ‘non-religiousness’ that required him to ‘identify classical philosophers’ like Plato and Aristotle. Because Pakistan is one of 13 countries where non-religious people are executed, we need your help today to save Hamza’s life.

Hamza’s life is now in serious danger because the Home Office has completely misunderstood the nature of humanism and seems to have forgotten that non-religious people have equal protections from persecution on the grounds of their beliefs. This is unacceptable, and now we must act quickly to save Hamza’s life.

Please, take a minute from your day today to sign our petition to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, backing our demands to save Hamza’s life and re-educate the Home Office about humanism and the basic human rights non-religious people are entitled to in law.

Thank you again for your support,

Andrew Copson
Chief Executive

Simon Nightingale on radio: should there be a carol service in a shopping centre?

On the Danny Kelly BBC West Midlands programme on 6 December there was a phone-in on the pros and cons of holding a carol service (with prayers) in a local shopping centre.

Simon Nightingale was asked for a humanist response, which you can hear at between 26.00 and 30.00 on the time line, for the next month only. Note that he expresses his own views.


Help us celebrate Humanism in 2018

Our regular 21 June meeting in 2018 coincides with World Humanist Day. We would like to recognise this in an appropriate way.

We have provisionally booked the Square in Shrewsbury between 9 am and 5pm on 21 June for an event highlighting humanism.

We welcome artists, musicians, poets, dancers, craft workers, photographers and any others who wish to display their talents in keeping with the spirit of humanism.

Please note we are not allowed to sell goods, unless the profits go to charity.

If you would like to help, please contact Mal Brown or Margaret Cann, or inform any member of the committee.


%d bloggers like this: