Humanist Symposium 47

Welcome to this almost solstice edition of the Humanist Symposium blog carnival! (Dec 21st is the Southern Solstice)

As this is the last symposium of this year, I thought I might take a brief look back. And what a year it has been! In January, the first buses took to the streets of London, UK, bearing the adverts that launched a worldwide movement. Atheist advertising campaigns sprang up all over the globe: the USA, Australia, Italy, Spain, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand. In February, people across the world celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his seminal work On the Origin of Species which presented his arguments for the theory of evolution by natural selection. In May, the world was introduced to Darwinius masillae, a.k.a. Ida, amidst a whirlwind of publicity. This 47 million year old fossil is thought to be a transitional form between the prosimian and simian primates, although this is still being debated. Finally, a recent NASA mission has found significant amounts of water on the moon. This raises the likelihood that bases could be built on the moon, facilitating future exploration of the solar system.

If all this isn’t enough excitement for you, then we have a bumper edition of the Humanist Symposium to keep entertained and informed over the holiday season.

If you’re wondering how to approach the festive season, we have some good advice on How to be an Atheist on Christmas and an atheist’s experience of Hanukkah. If you’re thinking about using your time to help others at this time of year, then read all about Atheists Helping the Homeless for inspiration.

We have an array of posts to engage your scientific reasoning skills. At a time of year when the spectre of brussel sprouts loom large for many of us, a Nadder reminds us to eat our scientific greens, and the evolving mind gives us some debating tips which may improve our social skills at the family table too. The emotion machine introduces the ideas of Dr Thomas Szasz who argues that mental illness is a myth, and Cubik’s Rube has a think about the concept of ‘denialism’ and whether this term is actually helpful at all.

As usual we can rely on our contributors to tackle some of the big questions, and so it is that in this edition we find ourselves asking whom to thank, whether the golden rule is all we need and how sometimes people can come at things from completely different angles. Before we get too pleased with ourselves though, she who chatters has some tough love to share with us on the topic of identity and taking control of your life.

Greta Christina has been investigating the relationship between athiests and non-believers. Her first piece examines the arguments as to whether atheists should try to persuade believers and whether this can be reconciled with the idea of tolerance. Her second post explores the reasons why a believer may visit an atheist blog and how the blog author and readership should respond. Finally, Fish Tells looks at what age a child could be considered to have the reasoning skills to be able to decide for themselves which world views they agree with.

I hope you have enjoyed these posts. The next Humanist Symposium will be hosted by She Who Chatters, and you can make submissions for the symposium here. Guidelines for submissions and more information about the Humanist Symposium can be found here. Have a great new year, everyone!

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