By Hari Parekh
28th Nov, 2015
What is the need for Atheist, Humanist and Secular student societies at UK and Republic of Ireland (ROI) universities? The decline in religiosity in England and Wales was documented in the 2011 Census. This suggests an increasing need for institutions of higher education in the UK and ROI to provide an alternative point of view to those espoused by traditionalised religious societies, by creating a community for people to belong to. The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS) is the optimum way of achieving this at UK and ROI universities.
The objective of the AHS, to have societies at every institute of higher education in the UK and ROI, is a sound objective to have (and in my role as new societies officer, I am trying to do so!), but what is the significance of this objective? The need to provide students with an alternative view at universities is paramount, as the purpose of having AHS societies on university campuses is to promote rationality, discussion and debate. This is essential to the university experience, and for students! An additional purpose is, for AHS societies to act as a network for people that are non-religious or agnostic: in particular apostates within the apostate-tripartite model. (more »)
By Caitlin Greenwood
6th Nov, 2015
Charity is often considered to be a specifically Christian virtue, which is a tradition dating back at least to Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas stated that charity was the love between god and man, and between man and his neighbour. The 1822 New Catholic Catechism reaffirmed this: “Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbour as ourselves for the love of God”. While some other Christian traditions have defined charity in a more restricted way, better reflecting the modern definition, they are in a somewhat of a minority worldwide.
The origin, then, of “Christian charity” seems to be a conflation of a specific theological term, with a more generally used definition. But what of all those Victorian philanthropists, wasn’t their charity directed by Christian morals? Andrew Carnegie, perhaps the most famous philanthropist, was a member of a Presbyterian church, and surely he stands for so many others, too numerous to name? (Leaving aside, of course, the fact that Carnegie avoided theism for the first half of his life, and joined the church well after beginning his philanthropic efforts.)
Unfortunately, it is not quite so simple as all that. Simply wanting to do good does not mean one automatically does good. (more »)
By Martin Smith (Former AHS Secretary)
1st Sep, 2015
“There can be no progress without head – on confrontation.”
The AHS this year is delighted to be working in collaboration with the International Humanist Ethical Youth Organisation (IHEYO) to bring Non–Prophet Week onto the world stage. The 9th to 15th of November is this year’s Non–Prophet Week. IHEYO are calling it ‘Charity Week’. Why the name change you ask? Well, consider the effect of an international humanist group raising awareness and money for charity under the name of “Non–Prophet Week”. As many of you will be aware, blasphemy is punishable by death in many of the countries that immediately benefit from the AHS’ efforts during Non–Prophet Week. Indeed just a few weeks ago Niloy Neel was brutally murdered for “blasphemy” in Bangladesh.
Non–Prophet Week this year is even more essential because it is in a front line fight. You and I may take a (relatively) secular state for granted but we are the lucky ones.
The AHS’ chosen charity this year is GiveDirectly. You guessed it, GiveDirectly take money from donors and give it to the poor. They can do this because modern payments technology has drastically cut the costs of sending money directly to the extreme poor, at the same time as new research has shown the powerful effects this has on their lives. (more »)
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