By Bradley Allsop
When I tell people I’ve set up a humanist society, I often get a face of polite puzzlement in reply. People tend to not have much of an idea of what humanism is about beyond it having something to do with, well, humans. The British Humanist Association, in outlining its core values, describes itself as “celebrating human achievement, progress, and potential” and “respecting and promoting freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law”, and Queen’s Humanist Society shall take its lead very much from these principles.
We wish to see debate, exploration and growth for all students at Queen’s University, and to play a small part in providing a space for this to happen in. At times this means putting on large events with exciting speakers on a wide variety of political, religious and social topics, other times trying to set up a space for inter-faith discussion, and, most often, just finding a corner in Parlour on a Tuesday night and having great conversation over a few beers (or non-alcoholic beverages).
We have so far enjoyed the support of the Humanist Chaplain on campus, Ruth Yeo, and are in the process of ratification by the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Societies, a collection of similar societies across the UK that supports the furthering of the values of atheism, humanism and secularism. Follow in the lead of this grouping and the BHA we aim to campaign on a variety of issues to ensure that gender, race, belief or sexual orientation are not reasons to be side-lined in society, to promote freedom of speech and belief and to place reason and evidence at the forefront of societal decisions.
As well as links to atheist communities and a desire to be a place for individuals to feel comfortable questioning their faith and wrestling with the issues of having left a religion, we also aim to be a society very open to people of faith too. Humanism does not preclude a belief in God or an association to other belief systems- all that is needed to be a humanist is a belief in the power of human ingenuity, creativity and freedom, a desire to see this flourish as much as possible and to support making decisions based on evidence, reason and compassion, rather than personal prejudice or unsubstantiated dogma. As a society we believe that we will be much the richer for having a variety of opinions, backgrounds and beliefs in the makeup of our society, and welcome all that wish to explore and support human potential with us.
Some of our immediate plans, aside from our regular meet up in Parlour on Tuesday evenings, include a talk on moving beyond sectarian politics, a talk from Andrew Copson, Chair of the BHA on what humanism has to offer, and exploring the possibility of an inter-faith event that brings lots of different faiths and beliefs together. If you have a questioning mind, want to campaign on equality and freedom issues, are struggling with your beliefs or just want to enjoy some great conversation over a pint- we’re the society for you.
If you’d like to know more please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or search ‘Queen’s Humanists’ on Facebook, or @QUBHumanists on Twitter.
Bradley Allsop is a student activist, writer and founder of QUB Humanist Society.
Published February 2015 – The Gown Independent Newspaper