Welcome to DASH
School visits 2023
Following the chaos of "The Covid Years" we are again happy to provide speakers for schools.
All young people have the right to make a free and informed choice about what to believe - without undue pressure and with full knowledge of the alternatives.
All schools are required to study religious and non-religious world views so we hope that faith schools will welcome us just as we are welcomed into non-faith schools.
We strongly recommend reading Prof Ted Cantle's 2023 update to the government report he produced in 2001 about social cohesion, including the vital role played by schools.
We are DASH: Derbyshire Atheists, Secularists and Humanists - a voice for those with no need of god or religion.
- As atheists we reject the god idea because we see no need or evidence for it.
- As secularists we campaign for freedom of belief and a state free of religious privileges.
- As humanists we try to lead happy, fulfilled and responsible lives.
Please click here to find out more about atheists, secularists and humanists.
- a fair and just society,
- everyone to lead happy, fulfilled and socially responsible lives,
- young people to make a free and informed choice about what to believe.
No-one has the right to deny another person's happiness as long as they are contributing positively to society and causing no harm. We are very keen on social responsibility.
Each of us is responsible for our own lives and actions - we should be equally responsible for our own deaths.
We have long supported attempts to legalise assisted dying and voluntary euthanasia for those who have made a clear decision, free from coercion, to end their lives and who are physically unable to do so themselves.
In many cases, the person in question will be terminally ill. However, we do not think that there is a strong moral case to limit assistance to terminally ill people alone and campaign for a change in the law that would be responsive to the needs of other people who are permanently and incurably suffering - physically or mentally.
We believe that the fear of coercion ("greedy or uncaring relatives") has been greatly exaggerated by those who oppose assisted dying because of personal religious beliefs.
Look up, the answer lies in the stars!
This image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows a tiny part of the Universe "speckled with galaxies". There are billions of galaxies, each, like our own Milky Way, containing billions of stars. That's a lot of stars! Our Sun is an average, middle-aged star with about 5 billion years of life remaining before it will be recycled in the ever-changing Universe to eventually become part of a new star. The Universe goes on and on - it simply changes form over time.
Want to find out more about us?
Drop us an email and ask any questions you may have. We can arrange one-to-one chats if you wish to find out more.
Attitudes to religion and an invitation to a chat
These figures are taken from the British Social Attitudes Survey, 2018.
Only 1% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 identify as Church of England and 52% of the UK population say they don't belong to any religion. Religious decline in Britain is generational; people tend to be less religious than their parents, and on average, their children are even less religious than they are.
Religious belief is at its highest amongst those most recently arrived in the UK and lowest amongst those who have been here for generations.
The question about religion in the Census has always been poorly designed (it ends up skewed in favour of "belief") but in November, 2022, the Office of National Statistics published "Religion, England and Wales: Census 2021" which makes very interesting reading. The UK has become not only one of the most non-religious countries in Europe, but possibly one of the most non-religious countries in the world!
Many religious people are concerned about this trend and they are nervous about, or even afraid of, atheists - they think we are "anti-god" and out to "end religion".
Above all, this demonstrates that many religious people have not engaged with articulate atheists and, while they are happy to engage in limited "inter-faith dialogue", they are reluctant to engage with us to clear up the many misunderstandings they may have.
We are great believers in a friendly chat - we don't "tweet" because that rapidly leads to hot-heads shouting at one another - it is counter-productive and encourages entrenched positions. The best way to understand people to to talk to them - face to face.
We are very happy to engage with religious people (we do it all the time!) - so please contact us and we will set something up for individuals or groups.
Don't get us wrong
We recognise that:
- people should be free to believe whatever they wish - with certain conditions - see below.
- good things are done by many religious people - as they are by many non-religious people,
- there are good and bad atheists just as there are good and bad religious people,
- many people are still "searching" for "the meaning of life",
- religious institutions don't necessarily reflect the personal beliefs of religious people,
- many people believe in "something out there" even if they don't define themselves as "religious",
- most people haven't thought about it much.
We have thought about it a lot, we are very well informed, we no longer feel the need to "search" (some of us never felt the need) and we are happy to share what we have found out, and what we believe, with anyone.
Freedom of belief
All freedoms are constrained in one way or another, that's why societies have rules to help us live harmoniously together. Our constraints are:
- Cause no harm.
- Don't call for harm to be caused.
- Don't discriminate based on skin colour, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability.
We have left "religion or belief" out of this list because the law allows religions to discriminate. For example, atheists find it hard to get jobs in religious schools which make up over one third of all schools in the UK.
- Don't force your beliefs onto others, particularly children - allow them to make a free and informed choice.
- Allow people the freedom to change their beliefs.
- Support the Liberal Tradition of freedom of belief, thought and speech.
- Don't expect not to be offended - none of us has the right not to be offended.
- Don't expect "respect" for your beliefs - after all, there are many beliefs (fascism, white supremacy, etc.) that don't deserve respect.
This is covered in more depth in our article on "Moral values - good without god".
I am me!
Many young people ask us: "why do I have to be labelled as an X or a Y, why can't I just be me?"
As far as the author of this page is concerned:
- I am tall, with blue eyes and fair (now grey) hair. These things I inherited through my DNA, I had no choice.
- I am English because I was born here. I am not "proud" to be English - that would be as silly as saying "I am proud to have blue eyes" - I had no choice.
- I am heterosexual. I was born like that. I had no choice.
- I am a son and a brother. You can't choose your parents or your family, but you can choose your friends.
- I am a socialist. I am deeply empathetic. I have a lot of world experience. I have read a lot. I have an understanding of history. My politics, in favour of a fairer and more just society, are a choice.
- I am a business person. I enjoy inventing new things, turning them into products, employing people, working with intelligent people, selling things and having them used all over the world.
- I am rural not urban. I was brought up on a dairy farm and I understand the farming way of life - I like cows! I have lived in the inner city (which influenced my politics) but I prefer life in the countryside.
- I am not keen on sport - doing it or watching it. Probably as a result of experiences at school - and not being good at it!
- I am an individual. I work closely with colleagues but I don't like the artificial enforcement of "team spirit". "Team" can become "gang", "gang" can become "nation", "nation" can become "populist nationalism" - and we see every day what that leads to.
- I am a free thinker. I don't want my thoughts to be limited by what others tell me to think. I certainly don't want foreign, or tax-avoiding, owners of the mass media telling me what to think or how our country should be run!
- I am a creative and inventive person and I have lived off my wits with no constraints on my imagination and creativity.
- I have a strong set of moral values. Probably resulting from my upbringing, my world experience, my politics and a strong sense of empathy.
- I see myself as honest and trustworthy - and I hope others see me as the same. (I don't try to avoid or evade tax!)
- I am not religious. I have never been superstitious. It never occurred to me to believe in the supernatural - it has always seemed unnecessary, illogical and dangerous nonsense to me. I don't object to people being religious - as long as they cause no harm, don't try to force their ideas onto others (particularly children) and don't try to interfere with my life.
- I am an atheist. Since I am not a theist, I am, by definition, an atheist.
- I am not a Christian, a Judaist, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Sikh, a Buddhist, a Jain or a Zoroastrian. Religion isn't inherited, it's a personal choice. Through knowledge, investigation and experience, I choose none of them.
- I am just me!
Are atheists concerned about religion?
Like many of our religious friends, we are upset when we see things done in the name of religion:
- religion used as a political weapon - evangelical Christianity in the USA, Hindu Nationalism in India, Roman Catholicism in Poland (and in many other countries), fundamentalist Islam in Saudia Arabia and Pakistan.
- the USA where no politician would dare come out as an atheist and where most "Christians" are obsessed with the vengeance and violence of the Old Testament and rarely quote from the Sermon on The Mount which says "blessed are the peacemakers", not "blessed are the warmongers".
- Presbyterian evangelical Christian DUP politicians in Northern Ireland denying women the right to control their own bodies and their own fertility. The fact that 93% of young people in Northern Ireland go to schools segregated along religious lines may have something to do with it. Who resists the promotion of social cohesion by pupils learning alongside one another? The leaders of the Catholic and Protestant churches.
- the largest Christian sect, the male dominated Roman Catholic church, embroiled in controversy over priestly abuse, denying women the right to control their own fertility and denying people the right to be happy no matter what their gender or sexuality
- evangelical Christians raising hundreds of millions of dollars to promote their narrow world view in places like Uganda where is is now (2023) a crime, punishable by death, to call yourself gay!
- the kleptocratic, theocratic dictatorship of Wahabi Islamic Saudi Arabia flogging and imprisoning people who dare to question religion. Atheist Raif Badawi was sentenced to 1,000 lashes (reduced to 50 lashes after international protests) and remains in a Saudi Prison seven years after his arrest.
- ethnic cleansing, murder and rape of Muslim Rohingyas in Buddhism Myanmar (Burma).
- the growth of Hindu violence in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
- the rewriting of school history books in India to take out all references to Mahatma Gandi's opposition to Hindu Nationalism and his calls for a secular India. Ghandi was murdered by a Hindu nationalist.
- the murder in March 2017 of A Farooq, who became a rationalist and atheist, in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, by members of a Muslim radical group.
- the state of Israel using the teachings of Judaism to justify its actions against the Palestinian people and against its neighbouring states.
- individuals and groups willing to commit monstrous acts of violence in the name of their god and their religion.
We should all be deeply concerned about how religion, after over 3,000 years, continues to be used to justify intra and inter religious violence and continues to be used against those with no need of god or religion..
A few more stars
The image below, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows two interacting galaxies over 704 million light years from Earth. To give some sense of distance, light takes eight minutes to reach us from the Sun - so get your calculator out - these two galaxies are a very long way away!
The "dust" around the galaxies isn't "dust" - each grain of "dust" is a star! Note the other, even more distant, galaxies shown in the same photo.
The light at the centre of the each galaxy is not some large star - it is the light from billions of stars that, because of the vast distances involved, cannot be resolved as single stars so they appear to shine as a single source of light.
However, we are deceived by our eyes, what we see isn't really there!
The light we see left them 704 millions years ago so we have no idea what has happened since. When we look at the stars we are looking deep into the past - if our Sun ceased to function it would take eight minutes for us to find out. Nothing we see is what it seems!
You are a strange sort of person if this stuff doesn't leave you awestruck!
The video below gives you some idea of where this pair of galaxies is. The bright band across the night sky at the start is our galaxy, the Milky Way. (Go full screen to see it at its best.)
If a god created the Universe, she was certainly very busy!