Education: topics for consideration

Important: this is not a prescriptive list. Your talk must be personal and should cover the topics you feel comfortable with.

Please read the page on preparation and speaking before deciding what you are going to cover.

  • As the class arrives and is settling down, put you name and the title, "Atheist Humanism" on the white board (or on the first PowerPoint slide.) There are many flavours of "humanism", especially Christian Humanism, so the title makes it clear what you represent.
  • Introduce yourself by name and possibly with a very short biography: where you come from, what your family background is, where you were educated, what jobs you have done, what you are doing now.
  • WARNING: practical work consumes huge amount of time - don't do it if you have only one lesson and you won't be coming back. A talk followed by a Q&A session is the most effective way to get your message across.
  • Why we think the meaning of words is so important: "what a word means when it leaves my brain through my mouth may be completely different when it reaches your brain through your ears".

    Greek "theos" - god. "Theist" - someone who believes in one or more gods. Ask them what they think a "theocracy" is - perhaps even introduce "demos" (the people) and "democracy". "A-theist" - a "not theist" - someone who does not believe in gods.

  • Mention that you will leave the definition of "Humanist" until later.
  • Speak about why and when you became an atheist. Perhaps you have always been an atheist or perhaps there was some event, some book, some idea, or some person that triggered your becoming an atheist.
  • How you answer the big question of life to your own satisfaction: creation, death, meaning.
  • Define Humanism in whatever way you feel comfortable with.
  • Explain that Humanists have no meeting places, holy books, holy men, leaders etc. You don't have to join anything to be a Humanist. Mention the BHA if you wish.
  • Humanists support freedom of religious belief - as long as religious belief causes no harm.
  • Humanists support good RE because they want students to find out about a wide range of beliefs so they can make a free and informed decision about which, if any, they wish to follow.
  • Describe how Humanists celebrate births, marriages and deaths - sometimes just with family and friends, sometimes using a non-religious celebrant. A personal account of such an event, possibly a funeral, might be good here.
  • How you try to lead a good life without god or religion. The topic of "how do you develop a moral code without religion and holy books?" usually comes up.

    Humans are social animals and healthy societies cannot function without moral rules, fairness and justice. "Being good and doing good" sums it up - but we recognise that we all make mistakes and get things wrong from time to time.

  • How much importance you put on science as a way of understanding the world. To some atheists, like Richard Dawkins, science is all-important, to others it is not at all important in explaining why they don't believe in gods - they stick to:

    "God is an unnecessary postulate for which there is no evidence."

  • Higher up in schools you might also like to describe your concerns about some of the things done in the name of religions.

The rest is down to questions, answers and discussion.

We are happy to work with you in drawing up your script or presentation - please contact us if this is what you would like to do.

 

 
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