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Hull and East Riding Humanist Group

A social group for humanists, atheists, secularists, sceptics and agnostics

Awakening of Planet Earth

Posted by Tim on 19/08/2019
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Humanists reject theistic accounts of the origin of life on our planet in favour of scientific explanations. Is the development of life on earth unique or common throughout the universe and what role does planetary atmosphere play in whether or not life develops? Our speaker for our August meeting was Alan Hunton. Alan says of his talk,

“The Sun, the Earth and the other planets of the Solar System were formed 4.5 billion years ago. In this talk we will examine how conditions on planet Earth have evolved but we will do so by looking closely at our atmosphere. It will be clear that the atmosphere has played a key role in enabling life to develop from single celled organisms to the advanced lifeforms that exist today. The appearance of atmospheric oxygen after about 2 billion years was a real awakening. We will see that the atmosphere has not gradually changed over the history of the Earth but has undergone many quite rapid alterations in response to changes in temperature or the behaviour of the Sun. The listener may wish to consider if the sequence of events is an expected consequence of our planet being in a favourable location: if so, a similar pattern should have occurred elsewhere in the galaxy. Alternatively, is the sequence so unpredictable that it is pure chance that intelligent life has evolved here?”

Our July 2019 meeting was a talk by Dr Jackie Lukes who is a long time contributor to the national debate on education through her work at the University of Hull, contributions to parliamentary consultations on education and work with the Socialist Education Association. Jackie spoke to the group on faith schools ten years ago in September 2009. This time she talked about the thinking behind the creation of a National Education Service, something that is a current Labour Party manifesto commitment. Is this an opportunity to create a cradle to grave education service free at the point of delivery similar to the NHS?

7:30 pm

Our June 2019 meeting was a talk by Dr Christopher Fear on the subject “The Relevance of History to Us”. Dr Fear says of his talk,

“Each autumn, in universities from Cardiff to Sydney, students find themselves in seminar rooms invited to discuss the writings of long-dead European men concerning events and situations that are no longer happening—usually beginning in ancient Athens. But these people are not history students. They are not literature students either, necessarily. They are very often politics undergraduates, who are primarily interested in the political problems of today and perhaps tomorrow. So what relevance does history have to them, and to us, given that history does not really repeat itself, and that no historian has successfully demonstrated that his discipline can provide “laws” which we might use for predicting the future? In this presentation I discuss the way in which this and related questions were tackled in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s by the Oxford philosopher, archaeologist, and historian of Roman Britain, R. G. Collingwood. Collingwood’s answers do not help us to see into the future; they help us to do something much more important: to understand better the problems of the present.”

Dr Fear lectures in Politics at the University of Hull.

Law and Morality

Posted by Tim on 19/04/2019
Posted in Past Meetings  | Tagged With: , | No Comments yet, please leave one

Date:        Monday 15th April 2019, 7.30pm
Venue:    Willerby & Kirkella Parish Institute, 58 Main St, Willerby, Hull HU10 6BZ

Our speaker for our April meeting was David Horsley who was for many years a history master at Trinity House School in Hull and is a former Mayor of Beverley. He is a theology graduate of Lampeter University and continues to be actively involved in local politics. David last spoke to us in March 2017 on Religious Education and schools. On this occasion he will be addressing the issue of Law and Morality. It has been said that Law is essentially a set of rules and principles created and enforced by the state whereas morals are a set of beliefs, values and principles and behaviour standards which are enforced and created by society. Legal and moral rules can be isolated with the former being created by the legislative institution of parliament, whereas the latter have evolved with and through society and are the standards which society in general accepts and promotes. Some laws mirror the majority of society’s moral view such as the prohibition against murder, but other laws such as those relating to same sex marriage, abortion or euthanasia are contested.


Date:        Monday 18th March 2019, 7.30pm
Venue:    Willerby & Kirkella Parish Institute, 58 Main St, Willerby, Hull HU10 6BZ

UN Peacekeeping helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace by sharing the burden and ability to deploy troops and police from around the world, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to address a range of mandates set by the UN Security Council and General Assembly. Nigel de Lee talked to us at our March 2019 meeting where he gave a brief introduction to the United Nations and Peacekeeping, with a focus on the basic principles and matters arising from them.