Simon Nightingale on radio Pause for Thought: The one life we have

A humanist Pause for Thought about The One Life We Have on Radio Shropshire on Sunday morning.

Listen on the time-line from 1:16:30 to 1:21:00 for one month after broadcast.

It is followed by a brief discussion on the government’s opt-out organ donation legislation.

Simon has provided the following transcript.

I recently went to the Terracotta Warriors exhibition in Liverpool and it was totally amazing. Over 200 years BC, this guy Qin Shi Huang built massive burial chambers with over 8000 life-sized porcelain soldiers not to mention loads of other stuff – just to ensure his comfort in the hereafter. Then of course, there are the pyramids and other massive tombs all over the world.

Even in the west, elaborate religious rituals have been devised to ensure safe passage to the afterlife – and to try and get preferential treatment once you’re there.

From the beginning of recorded history (and even from some prehistoric studies), mankind has always been obsessed with the after life. At present vast numbers of people around the world believe there is one – or a least they hope there is! Why?

Well, in times past, life was pretty rough and often very unfair (less so nowadays though the fact that there’s still huge and unfair inequality is shameful). So a life that’s “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (a phrase used by a great humanist philosopher of his time) – a life like that may not seem quite so bad if followed by a heavenly bliss for all eternity – and eternity’s a very long time particularly towards the end! A few decades of misery down here on earth would seem as nothing compared to eternal heavenly bliss. And if you saw someone doing wrong and benefiting at the expense of others, well that may not seem quite so horribly unfair if you believe they’ll get their “just deserts” in the hereafter.

The beliefs of humanists, who live without religion, are a bit different. We believe that what we are, as conscious individuals with our unique sense of identity, is entirely the result of the amazingly complex and truly wonderful electrochemical activity in our brain. Death occurs when that activity is irretrievably lost – and so death is the end of who are we and what we are.

Does all this really matter? Well, humanists think it does. We believe we just have the one life and that’s why it is so important to have a good life and help others to have a good life. So if other people are in a bad way – do something about it. The “one life” idea is actually sort of empowering. Life ain’t no dress rehearsal – it’s up to us to make the world a better place, now.

OK, I don’t wanna to die any time soon, ‘cos I enjoy life so much – there’s still so much to do. But when death comes, I can face it without the consolation of religion belief. I hope that like the great humanist philosopher, David Hume, I’ll die in a way consistent with how I’ve lived, with composure and joy for the one life I have enjoyed among those I love in our beautiful and fragile world.

And after I die – what then? I believe I will live on. OK, maybe not in my present form, but I’ll live on in my children and their children; and I’ll live on in the hearts and minds of all who’ve known me and in any small changes I have made to the world. Their memories of Simon Nightingale may last just their lifetimes, but if I’ve influenced even just a bit how others feel and how they view the world, that influence they’ll pass on by their interactions with others and so on. In a sense a little bit of the spirit of Simon will be gradually spreading out like ripples on a lake – over time and generations, long after I’ve gone. Now that’s true immortality; that’s a real afterlife.

Simon Nightingale’s ‘Pause for Thought’ on radio: modern slavery and ethics in business

A humanist “Pause for Thought” on Radio Shropshire on Sunday, with Simon Nightingale talking about modern slavery and ethics in business generally.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p067f61s

Listen on the time-line from 1:18:30 to 1:26:00. This is available on listen-again for a month.

#Humanism: What it is and why it Is important. Video of talk by Simon Nightingale

Simon Nightingale gave his talk at Oswestry Library on 18 May 2018.

Simon’s 2017 talk is also online. He will be giving the talk again on Wednesday 4 July at 7.30 pm at University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ.

4 July: Public talk on Humanism in Shrewsbury

Dr Simon Nightingale, Chair of Shropshire Humanists, will be giving a public talk Humanism: what it is and why it is important on Wednesday 4 July at 7.30 pm at University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ.

Humanists believe one can lead a good life and be a good person without religion.  Humanists UK 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.

At present over 50% of the UK say they live without religion and among young people it is over 70%.

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 a member of the Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum. Currently he is chair of Shropshire Humanists, the organisation that has arranged this talk.

For those who are interested in learning more about humanism, Shropshire Humanists will be running a six-week course in September/October in Shrewsbury.

 

17 May meeting: Teddy Prout of Humanists UK on supporting those who leave their religion

teddy-2-croppoed-230x264Teddy Prout of Humanists UK will be talking about the journey that apostates face when leaving their religion, drawing on the personal experiences of those with whom he works, and his own journey from evangelical Christianity to humanism. He will also discuss the current issues in the UK for apostates, and what Faith to Faithless is doing to help individuals through their own journeys.

Faith to Faithless is a non-profit organisation associated with Humanists UK. It was started in mid-2015 by Imtiaz Shams and Aliyah Saleem to draw attention to the discrimination faced in particular by minorities within minorities, and to give a platform to the faithless to come out in public and speak out against this discrimination.

Thursday 17 May, 7.30 pm, at University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ. All welcome, but voluntary donations requested.

You are very welcome to arrive at 7 pm for coffee/tea and to chat to other members and visitors.

19 April meeting: Buddhism – is it just a way of life?

The Rev Saido Kennaway will give a talk that will attempt to cover the underlying assumptions and principles of Buddhism, give some sense of its diversity and its religious aspects, and present more specifically the Zen tradition of Dogen and how it points to integrating Buddhist teachings into ordinary daily life.

Saido Kennaway is a Buddhist monk from the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, which has its roots in the Soto Zen tradition of Buddhism, and he is disciple of the late Rev. Master Jiyu-Kennett. He lived for many years at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey in Northumberland and for the last 18 years at Telford Buddhist Priory.

Thursday 19 April at 7.30 pm, University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ. All welcome, but voluntary donations requested.

You are very welcome to arrive at 7 pm for coffee/tea and to chat to other members and visitors.

Saido recommends that anyone interested in doing some reading should look at the book The Foundations of Buddhism by Rupert Gethin, and at the following web sites:
https://www.accesstoinsight.org
https://www.accesstoinsight.org/ati/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.065.than.html
http://tbpriory.org.uk
http://throssel.org.uk.

15 March meeting: Karen Williams on Poverty

Karen Williams Karen Williams will talk about poverty in our community. She will discuss the reality of struggling to survive and the problems faced by the lower-paid, both in day-to-day living and in dealing with government and other officials.

Karen Williams is Project Leader of Shrewsbury foodbank PLUS, a holistic range of projects that serve our community often when people are at their most vulnerable. Working with the people of Shropshire they offer hope by recognising the value of each individual, enabling them to make positive choices for their future to play a full role in society and see personal transformation in their lives. Foodbank PLUS is part of Barnabas Community Projects of which Karen is a Director.

Karen will be happy to receive donations of food at the meeting.

Thursday 15 March at 7.30 pm, University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ. All welcome, but voluntary donations requested.

You are very welcome to arrive at 7 pm for coffee/tea and to chat to other members and visitors.

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