This Friday the University of Edinburgh Humanist Society and the Humanist Academy jointly hosted a debate entitled “Are we here by Chance, or by Design… or should we ask deeper questions?”. Speaking for Evolution were Professor Roger Downie (Zoology Dept, Glasgow University) and John Wiltshire (Mathematical Physicist,Systems Engineer). Speaking for Intelligent Design were Dr. Alistair Noble (Chemist, Educational Consultant) and Dr. Alistair Donald (Church of Scotland Minister, PhD Environmental Science). Each team of speakers were given 30 minutes to present their arguments, 15 minutes to respond to their opponents’ presentations and then 30 minutes were left for questions from the floor. I was glad to see these issues being properly debated by a well-qualified panel. My only encounters with Intelligent Design theories so far have been the usual extremists and Creationists so I was looking forward to seeing the actual hypotheses presented to the scientific community and their responses.
Archive for November, 2007
Tags: debate, edinburgh uni humanist society, event, evolution, humanist academy, intelligent design
Technically speaking, I am a secular humanist and atheist. That is to say, I don’t believe in the existence of any kind of deity and I choose to live my life without religion or any such belief. Philosophically speaking, I’m a materialist in my approach to the world. My views on the world are based on scientific method and reasoned discussion, and I believe that ideas should be challenged and investigated always. I have absolutely no problem with being a product of evolution and an equal creature to every other on this planet. For me, the world, this universe and the very possibility of life is as beautiful and incredible as I could ever wish for and I don’t feel the need for someone to attribute this to. The world is neither evil nor good but just an accumulation of different forces, needs and events.
All this aside, I still very much believe in the human capacity to be rational and considerate of others. I am not a nihilist nor a hedonist; I don’t seek to live for pleasure alone and I don’t exist in a vacuum without beliefs or purpose. It is my belief that humans are capable of comprehending the consequences of their actions and able to co-operate and work to the benefit of more than the individual and to avoid harming others. I believe that every life has worth and value, and deserves respect and equal consideration. For me, humanism is a philosophy and community where we can discuss ideas of ethics and share a positive view of human life. It is not about humans being placed as superior but about recognising and embracing the capacity in humans to act fairly and rationally, or at least to try. The final humbling part is to accept that we are just human, that we’re not perfect and that at the end of the day we’re just curious creatures who remain a part of this planet and its ecosystem.
This should be an adequate summary of some of the main points. I also recommend looking at the Amsterdam Declaration for a nice representation of Secular Humanism that fits very well with my beliefs. I’ll discuss my ideas about other issues in subsequent posts.
Welcome to my humanist blog!
I have been very much inspired to create this by reading the Friendly Humanist’s blog and also by the weird and wonderful discussions at Edinburgh University Humanist Society meetings. This is where I plan to discuss ethical issues, my life as a humanist and also thoughts about the Humanist movement itself. I hope that some will find it interesting and maybe thought provoking. Just to clarify, I am an atheist and a Secular Humanist and that is what I refer to when I use the words ‘Humanist’ and ‘Humanism’.
Please feel free to submit comments and ask questions!