For this halloween edition of the Humanist Symposium I welcome you to the craggy, grey and gothic city of Edinburgh, Scotland. Some claim that Edinburgh is the most haunted city in the UK and perhaps in Europe too. Indeed, there are numerous ghost tours and the University of Edinburgh itself is renowned for its long established Parapsychology research group. However, Edinburgh also played a key role in the Scottish Enlightment, an explosion of intellectual and scientific accomplishment including great thinkers such as atheist philosopher David Hume who was born in Edinburgh. Today, there is a flourishing humanist community with a local group of the Humanist Society of Scotland and an active student Humanist Society. So without further ado, I bring you to our present contributions…
First off, Funny Jesus shares some of his favourite and inspiring famous atheists, while Letters from a Broad invites us to create a movement of atheist/humanist literature to capture our experiences and perspectives.
Our next set of contributors challenge us to examine our ways of thinking: Uncredible Hallq explores how we define persons or personhood and how this affects ethical considerations, whereas Evolving Mind looks at blind loyalty to groups in his warning about blind partisanship. Homo Academicus grows a thicker skin for her discussion about freedom of expression and the right to be offended, and Rational Moms shares a personal story about teaching children critical thinking skills and allowing them to decide for themselves what they believe.
In this final section, we look at atheist and humanist ways of embracing and coping with life and death. At a dinner with family members of many faiths and none, Open Parachute and family create their own way of expressing gratitude for their shared meal. A walk in the rain provides a time to reflect and think about renewal for Café Philos. Greta Christina interviews author Bucky Sinister whose latest book recreates the 12 step program to deal with addictive and self destructive behaviours for those who might feel alienated by its distinct Christian slant. Finally, An Apostate’s Chapel examines what solace atheism and humanism offer when faced with serious illness and death, and Madman’s Paradise considers atheist and humanist tools for dealing with grief and grieving.