Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Great Debate

I'd like to recommend this debate. Can Science tell us Right from Wrong:

The answer is Yes, provided we interpret "Science" widely enough to include Reason, perhaps as in the German concept of Wissenschaft.

The speakers are: Sam Harris, Patricia Churchland, Peter Singer, Lawrence Krauss, Simon Blackburn and Steven Pinker, with Roger Bingham in the chair. It's quite a long listen, 2 hours including the questions at the end, but well worth devoting the time to.

Simon Blackburn provides the dissenting voice, as an old-style philosopher. For instance he argues that someone living in a drugged haze, or a deluded fool's paradise, could be said to be living a happy life, so who is to say their values are wrong?

Incidentally Lawrence Krauss cites a number of books and writers who could well be added to our book list: E. O. Wilson on Sociobiology, Franz de Waal on Reciprocity in Chimpanzees, Jacob Bronowski on Science and Human Vales, Philip K. Dick on Reality, Richard Feynman on the Habit of Truth, Aldous Huxley on Brave New World.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Our Book List

The selection of books that have influenced us in our humanist views proved to be surprisingly wide ranging. I list a selection of them in alphabetical sequence of author's names and give links to other sites where more can be read about them.

Adams, Douglas: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Al-Khalili, Jim: Paradox

Asimov, Isaac: Foundation Trilogy + Robot series

Aurelius, Marcus: Meditations
Brigstock, Marcus: God Collar

Carr, J.L.: A Month in the Country

Conan Doyle, Arthur: The Sherlock Holmes Stories

Coyne, Jerry: Why Evolution is True

Dawkins, Richard: The Selfish Gene + The God Delusion + many others

De Botton, Alain: Religion for Atheists

Dennett, Daniel: Darwin's Dangerous Idea

Feynman, Richard: Surely You Are Joking Mr Feynman're_Joking,_Mr._Feynman!

Fortey, Richard: Trilobite

Geldof, Bob: Is That It?

Gleick, James: Chaos

Grayling, A. C.: Ideas that Matter + The God Argument + others

Harris, Sam: The Moral Landscape + The End of Faith + others

Hawking, Stephen: A Brief History of Time

Heinlein, Robert: Stranger in a Strange Land

Hitchens, Christopher: God is not Great
Illich, Ivan: The De-schooling of Society + others

Jones, R.V.: Most Secret War

Keenan, Brian: An Evil Cradling

Kingsolver, Barbara: The Poisonwood Bible
Koestler, Arthur: The Sleepwalkers + Darkness at Noon

Kumar, Manjit: Quantum - Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate ...

Lawrence, D.H.: Lady Chatterley's Lover

Levi, Primo: If This is a Man

Marryat, Frederick: The Children of the New Forest

Michie, David: The Dalai Lama's Cat

Morgan, Elaine: The Descent of Woman

Morris, Desmond: The Naked Ape

Neville, Katherine: The Eight

Ramachandran, V.S.: The Tell-Tale Brain

Roberts, Alice: The Incredible Human Journey

Russell, Bertrand: History of Western Philosophy + Why I am Not a Christian + others

Singh, Simon: Trick or Treatment + Fermat's Last Theorem

Tressell, Robert: The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
Von Daniken, Erich: Chariots of the Gods

The King James Bible

Some of these titles have evidently influenced us in widening our consciousness towards what alternative views might be possible. We suspect that many Christians don't actually read the Bible, they just know bits they have been preached about.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Our Favourite Books

Our next meeting is on the 11th July at the normal time of 7.00pm at the White Rock Hotel

The subject this month is:  Book Reviews

I am sure that all of you have a few books that have been really influential in making you take up the cause of Humanism. Our object is to create a list of good reads that we can post on the Blog. The books may be novels that illustrate the best of being human, or more polemical or philosophical, or scientific, or historical ....

What we would like is  for everybody coming to let us know (in advance if possible) a list of their top 3 or 4 books. Include both the Title and the Author. And for a few to also volunteer to make a 5 - 10 minute introduction to one of their chosen books. Explaining some of the background, what it’s about and why you like it so much (and perhaps read an extract). This to be followed by a short group discussion.

This is another experiment and I am looking forward to seeing what comes out.

Thank you for your support. Stephen Milton (chair).