Reason Week update

Last night we had an inspiring talk by David Bothwell on the topic “Searching for the Alternative.” David gave a brief history of non-religious thinkers and the development of humanism, arguing that religion fulfills a need in humans to belong to a group and to have a foundation for their morals and proposing humanism as the alternative. The talk generated a lot of discussion about the role that religious education should have in schools, what the best way to promote humanism would be and whether it is a good idea to promote humanism at all.

After the talk, we went back to Atheist Society HQ (i.e. the house of three out of five committee members plus one other Atheist Soc member) and continued our discussions. We did the Christian Union’s weekly “Text-A-Toastie” which is where you text a question to them, which they come to answer in person, bringing with them a tasty toastie with the fillings of your choice, one question and toastie per mobile number… we were a little cheeky in that we called their mobile, telling them that the Atheist Society required eight cheese and ham toasties, but that it would take far too long to text them all the questions we had, though we could assure them we had plenty! They were very obliging and we discussed various topics with them for several hours, ranging from whether prophesy was cold reading to whether prayer worked (Tom and I managed to convince one of them that prayer doesn’t actually make any difference) and the old favourite, why does God hate amputees.

At lunchtime today we watched Derren Brown’s “Messiah” in which he convinces five professionals in different “supernatural” fields that he has each of their gifts. As with much of Derren’s work, it really made us think!

Now for the upcoming events…

Tonight, we will be listening to philosopher Dr Andrew Pyle talking about “Religion and Science”, a topic which we spend a lot of time thinking about as a society. Is science really compatible with religion? On Monday, Professor Keith Fox argued that they had to be compatible because he knows that God exists and he has tested scientific claims and knows that they are true… I look forward to finding out what Andrew has to say at 7pm in Building 46, Lecture Theatre B.

On Friday, we have the big one – Dr Simon Singh is speaking at 12pm in Building 2 Lecture Theatre J (the Annex theatre) on the topic “Big Bang: A History of the Universe in 60 Minutes”. We are all really excited about this and we hope you are too!

On Friday evening, we have Crispian Jago, founder of the Winchester Skeptics in the Pub, giving us a talk entitled “Irrational Nonsense”. This will be in Building 46, Lecture Theatre B. Crispian is a very funny guy – check out his blog at

We would love to see as many of you as possible at any/all of these events!


About Jess Vautier

Previous President of the University of Southampton Atheist Society
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