Morality without religion – the ‘dangerous woman’ who proposes it
Monday 4 May, 2020
“Don’t let this woman fool you. She looks – doesn’t she – just like the typical housewife; cool, comfortable, harmless. A dangerous woman. Make no mistake about that.” Not a quote about Alice Roberts, but what the Daily Sketch said in 1955 after psychologist Margaret Knight presented two talks on BBC radio on the theme of morals without religion. It added “The Unholy Mrs. Knight is a menace.”
But does history repeat itself? For Alice Roberts, the extraordinary backlash experienced by Margaret Knight, when she dared to express a humanist perspective on education, is shockingly familiar.
In this illustrated talk Alice will reflect on Margaret Knight’s messages, showing the intellectual weakness of the case for theism, combating the view that there can be no true morality without supernatural direction. Margaret Knight argued at length that the “social, or altruistic, impulses are the real source of morality, and that an ethic based on these impulses has far more claim on our allegiance than an ethic based on obedience to the commands of a God who created tapeworms and cancer-cells.”
With faith schools proliferating and the Church of England extending its power and influence in state education, Knight’s philosophy is just as relevant today.
Bristolian Alice Roberts is an anthropologist, biologist, television presenter and author. Since 2019, she has been President of Humanists UK.
Alice grew up in Westbury-on-Trym, attending Westbury Church of England Primary School and Red Maids’ School. She studied medicine at Cardiff University, graduating in 1997, after which she was briefly a junior doctor in the NHS. From 1999 she worked as an anatomy lecturer at Bristol University. She received a PhD in paleopathology from Bristol University in 2008 and from 2009 to 2012 was a visiting fellow in both archeology and anthropology. Alongside this, until 2016, she was Director of Anatomy at the NHS Severn Deanery School of Surgery. Since 2012 she has been Professor of the Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham.
A familiar face on British TV, Alice has presented many science documentaries on the BBC and Channel 4 including Coast, Time Team Live, The Incredible Human Journey, The Day the Dinosaurs Died and Britain’s Most Historic Towns. In 2018 she co-presented the famous Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.
She is also the author of many books including the forthcoming “The Little Book of Humanism”, co-authored with Andrew Copson. There will be a book stall and Alice will be signing books purchased.
The rise and rise of Flat Earth belief
Monday 6 July, 2020
In 2013, Michael Marshall interviewed the Vice President of the Flat Earth Society for his podcast Be Reasonable. At the time, such ‘true believers’ were extremely rare. But in the seven years since, Flat Earth belief has gone mainstream, spawning thousands of hours of YouTube videos, widespread international media coverage, and countless followers. In the age of science, reason and rationality – how did we get here?!
In this talk, Michael will talk through his experiences of the Flat Earth movement, take a look at the leaders and some of their reasoning, and report back from the weekend he spent at the UK’s first ever Flat Earth convention.
Michael Marshall is one of the UK’s highest-profile Skeptics. He is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society https://goodthinkingsociety.org/, Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society, and co-founder of the annual QED conference. Michael’s work has seen him organising international homeopathy protests, going undercover to expose psychics and quack medics, and investigating extraordinary claims of all types. He has written for The Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.
Michael also co-hosts the popular Skeptics with a K podcast, the official podcast of the Merseyside Skeptics Society.
The Good Thinking Society is a small charity that is pro-science and anti-pseudoscience, and actively involved in promoting maths teaching. It was founded (and is chaired) by the mathematician and physicist Simon Singh, well-known for his best-seller Fermat’s Last Theorem and for having been sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association, a case which he eventually won
Our meetings are open to all, whether or not you are a humanist or have been to our events before. There is no need to book or reserve a ticket beforehand, just show up!
The entrance fee is £3 (reduced rate £1), although members of Bristol Humanists attend free of charge. Membership costs £20 pa (or £5 reduced rate). If you wish to become a member, please download the form at this link. http://bristol.humanist.org.uk/membership/.