31 October 2005

It's a long time since I've been to the British Museum in London. It seems they now have a permanent "Enlightenment" exhibition in the former King's Library. (Last time I was there it was fenced off for alterations.) There's an online tour:


I'll definitely go there next time I'm in London. Oddly I found this link on the Internet Infidels discussion forum, an American site!

Modern America seems to have lost sight of the principles of its founding fathers like Tom Paine and Thomas Jefferson, whose views on religion were far more radical than any present-day politician seems prepared to express.

27 October 2005

For anyone who wants to follow the fascinating goings-on at the "Intelligent Design" trial in Pennsylvania, this seems to be a good blog to go to:


ACLU is the American Civil Liberties Union which is supporting the families that brought the case. Judgment is due in November. If the case is lost watch out for a big push by the christian fundamentalists to get it into every school.

The New Scientist (Editorial, in issue dated 29 October) notes that almost everyone involved (on both sides) is devoutly christian, those bringing the prosecution see no conflict between natural selection and their religion.

If only the Church of England would make a statement of this type! I've tried to get a declaration from them but the view given to me is that evolution by natural selection is still a matter of scientific controversy (which it is not). Yet they are willing to make a declaration in support those who maintain that global climate change is due to human activities (where there is still genuine scientific controversy).

26 October 2005

John Hoffman, a member of the Society, and a former Professor at Leicester University, has donated the following books to our Library:

* John Baynton; Aims and Means, The Bodley Head, London, 1964
* H. Fagan; The Commoners of England, Part I, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1958
* Philip S. Foner; The Case of Joe Hill, International Publishers, New York, 1975
* Bill Freund; The African Worker, Cambridge University Press 1988
* Paul Kennedy; African Capitalism: The Struggle for Ascendancy, Cambridge Unversity Press, 1988
* Sam Kushner; Long Road to Delano: A Century of Farmworkers' Struggle, International Publishers, New York, 1976
* Hyman Lumer; Poverty: Its Roots & Its Future, International Publishers, New York, 1965

* Albert Luthuli, Kenneth Kaunda, D. K. Chisiza, Tom J. Mboya, Julius K. Nyerere; Africa's Freedom, Unwin Books, 1964
* Eddie Madunagu; Problems of Socialism: The Nigerian Challenge, Zed Books, London, 1982

* Woodford McClellan; Revolutionary Exiles: The Russians in the First International and the Paris Commune, Frank Cass and Co, London, 1979
* E. Wayne Nafziger; Inequality in Africa: Political Elites, Proletariat, Peasants and the Poor, Cambridge University Press, 1988
* Nzongola-Ntalaja; Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Africa, Zed Books, London, 1987
* Carl von Ossietzky; The Stolen Republic: Selected Writings (ed Bruno Frei), Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1971

* D. N. Pritt; Unrepentant Aggressors: An Examination of West German Policies, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1969
* Wiliam Graham Sumner; Folkways (FP 1906), Mentor Books, New York, 1960

* Weerth, Georg; A Young Revolutionary in Nineteenth Century England: Selected Writings (ed Ingrid and Peter Kuczynski), Seven Seas Publishers, Berlin, 1971
* Jack Woddis; Africa: The Way Ahead, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1963

These are now included in the Library catalogue, which appears on our website.

23 October 2005

I'm getting a bit fed up with the way this Blogspot works (or doesn't!). The message I posted on Saturday 22nd has not yet appeared although it is recorded as "published". There seems to be a delay of up to a day every time. This message is just an extra one to see if it will move the system on a bit. Our meeting today (Sunday 23rd) is a "Headstrong" evening of general discussion on topics raised by those present.

22 October 2005

A welcome to the Derby & Derbyshire Secular Society.


Our new neighbours just to the North. Does this represent the resurgence of Secularism in response to the newly perceived dangers of religious fundamentalism?

A little booklet called Common Sense has just been produced by our member Wilfred Gaunt. In it he writes: "If our culture is not to slide back into a new dark age of bigotry and intolerance, then the secularists within our community must come together, organise, and demand that the voice of reason is heard, and acknowledged."

During the week, thinking of ways we can be more effective politically, I've been looking into the Humanist Party, and to correspond with their London spokesperson.


The people at the BHA are not keen on them, some seem to regard them as a sort of "cult", but the evidence I've seen for this is slight. Apart from their ideas being rather vague and utopian it is difficult to see why other Humanists would object to them. They are in process of reorganisation and perhaps might be guided in our direction. For more details see the discussion I have initiated, as jeepyjay, on the Brights forum.


Last Sunday's lecture, on the US Marines, was not of much secular relevance, but this week is one of our "Headstrong" open discussion meetings, where anyone can bring a subject for debate.

15 October 2005

Religious Nonsense of the Week

It is time exorcism was exorcised! How can the Vatican be allowed to get away with these sorts of crude practices? Aren't they contrary to medical ethics?


Priests queue up to qualify as exorcists - by Richard Owen - "A decline in faith among the young is leading to an increase in demand for rites to ‘drive out the Devil’." --- "About 120 priests and theologians gathered in Rome yesterday, anxious to learn the increasingly demanded rite of exorcism. "There is no doubt that the Devil is intervening more in the life of man these days," they were told."

I was going to post this item on FreethoughtFilter, but it seems to be offline for updating, so I'm using it as the first of a hopefully weekly choice of choice religious nonsense.

13 October 2005

The Sunday 9th October meeting was given over to a sort of party celebrating two years since Frontline Books took over from Little Thorn Books in the bookshop associated with Secular Hall. Wines and nibbles were provided, as well as subdued lighting, cafe-style tables and a book display. Shani Lee gave some brief comments about Radical Fiction, but we ended up with a round-table discussion on secular topics, though we were unsuccessful in getting the youngest people present to join in to any extent.

There has been some difficulty in getting this blog to publish properly; it only seems to appear the next day. Perhaps it will work better if I post something each day. This will mean widening the scope to general issues and personal opinions rather than just to Secular Society news. I've been posting news items on Freethought Filter which is well worth a visit:


This was set up by Tom Morris.

06 October 2005

The Sunday lecture by Colin Hyde of the East Midlands Oral History Project combined a talk with extracts from recordings. One of these was of Mrs Louie Croxtall whose reminiscences of Secular Hall were also reproduced in part in the Newsletter that I published in 2003. She became a member in 1930, at age 16, and as a teenager had actually lived in the Hall where her father was the caretaker. The Society has typed transcripts of these interviews, or they can be heard (on headphones) at the Record Office in Wigston.

From Alan Hayes I learn as follows:
BBC [television] were at the Hall on Monday. They filmed short interviews with Michael, Lyn, Keith, Caroline, Satish and myself, and a group discussion, inside the Hall. Michael was also filmed outside with the Hall as background. They also filmed various aspects of the Hall, including, I believe, dancers in the dance academy and children practising marshal arts [in the basement]. In all they seem to have been at the Hall from about noon until mid-evening. All that will, with luck, give about five minutes in a one-hour programme about humanism/secularism going out to schools early next year.

I, and other members no doubt, would have liked to have been told about this event in advance (such as at the Sunday meeting) rather than four days later. Surely we can manage better organisation and publicity than this?

My own efforts this week were devoted to putting F. J. Gould's 1900 History of Leicester Secular Society on our website. The text was kindly provided on CD by Mr R. W. Morrell who produced the edition published by the Freethought History Research Group in 2004.