Here’s more information about Plymouth Humanists, and some FAQs about Humanism in general and the group in particular
In February 2010, Devon Humanists organised a talk by Professor Susan Blackmore in Plymouth University, examining the question: “Are religions dangerous memes?´ Afterward there was a discussion about setting up a Humanist group in the city. Seventeen people volunteered to help, and the first meeting of Plymouth Humanists was on the 18th March, at which the group was formally established.
Martin Lavelle (Chair)
Martin is a theoretical physicist based at Plymouth University. He has lived and worked in Ireland, Germany and Spain before coming to the city. Martin took over as Chair from Ben Kerr in June 2015 and occasionally tweets under @MartinJLavelle. The Plymouth Herald wrote an article about Martin and the group, which you can find here
Tim Purches (Secretary)
Tim works in IT and is a keen amateur botanist. As well as being Secretary, he also looks after the web site and organises the conservation walk (with Joe) and book club. You can find him on twitter as @TimPurches
Treasurer - vacant
Ben Kerr (Committee Member)
Ben was Plymouth Humanists Chair from November 2011 until June 2015. He is currently temporary Treasurer until a permanent volunteer for that role can be found.
Rhiannon (Committee Member)
Rhiannon is events manager
Stephen (Committee Member)
Stephen has served as Treasurer and now uses his expertise in accounting to provide support for that role.
Q. What do Humanists believe?
A. Humanists value rationalism, scientific thought, ethics and creativity, and make these the centre of their lives. They do not believe in God (and so are atheists or agnostics) or other claims made by religions about the origin and workings of the universe. They also reject superstitious and pseudo-scientific beliefs
In the UK today, many people are very sceptical of religious claims to truth and hold values which are broadly Humanist. There is a growing community of people who explicitly use the term ‘Humanist’ of themselves. In doing so they refer to their positive affirmation of life and nature, and our place within it all.
Q. What do Plymouth Humanists do?
A. We represent non-believers on the local Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE), as well as to the wider public and media. We organise a talk each month, for which we bring in an external speaker, as well as holding social events, discussions and outdoor activities. We take an active interest in all other local groups that have a similar outlook, such as Skeptics in the Pub and Scibar. One Sunday a month is spent clearing up local woodland for the benefit of others and we are always looking for additional volunteering opportunities to help the local community. We also work to set up and support other Humanist groups across the city and region.
Q. When/where do Plymouth Humanists meet?
A. Our regular talk is held on the evening of the fourth Tuesday of the month, usually at the B-Bar in the Barbican Theatre on Castle Street. For special events we sometimes use the Devonport Guildhall or other locations.
We also meet on the second Tuesday of the month at the B-Bar for a social. This is either a pub quiz, a games night or a discussion group. On the second Sunday of most months we go to Warleigh Point in Tamerton Foliot for a conservation walk, meeting at the reserve entrance at the west end of end of Station Road at 11am.
As part of our Culture Club we have a bi-monthly Book Club and also go to see films and plays.
Q. How many Humanists are there in Plymouth?
A. According to the last census around a third of people in Plymouth explicitly say that they don’t hold religious beliefs, and there will be many more who have either not thought about it or are merely nominally religious. A substantial proportion of these people, who come from all walks of life, will hold beliefs that are broadly Humanist, even if they do not use that term. Nationally this is fairly typical.
Q. Are there Humanist organizations?
A. The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.
The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world union of more than 100 Humanist, rationalist, secular, ethical culture, atheist and freethought organisations in over 40 countries. Their mission is to represent and support the worldwide Humanist movement.
Q. Who are some famous Humanists?
A. Among the best-known Secular Humanists in history are Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, as well as many Nobel-prize winners. Contemporary Humanists include, Stephen Fry, Dr Sue Blackmore, Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Sandi Toksvig, Professor Brian Cox, Professor Alice Roberts and Tim Minchin.
For a more comprehensive list see the BHA’s List of Distinguished Supporters.