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Hull and East Riding Humanist Group

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


Posted by Tim on 21/10/2019
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What is forgiveness? Is it an act or a process? Should we, or perhaps can we, forgive wrongs done to another? Is it right to forgive wrongdoers too quickly? And (something we should be prepared to consider) are there some things that are simply unforgivable?
Our October meeting was a talk by Dr Stephen Burwood. Dr Burwood’s research interests are primarily in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of human embodiment, though he has also written in the fields of environmental philosophy and the philosophy of education. Stephen is a member of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, the Society for Applied Philosophy and the Humanist Philosophers Group. His other interests include the later Wittgenstein, especially On Certainty. Recent publications include An Introduction to Metaphilosophy (with Søren Overgaard and Paul Gilbert) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Our September meeting was a “hands-on” talk by John Killingbeck on the history, botany, aesthetics and human relationships of a range of familiar British trees. He brought in live specimens of the trees for attendees to look at.

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.