HAI e-Newsletter February 2014

e-Newsletter February 2014
In this issue:

Darwin Day Lecture 2014
This year the HAI Darwin Day lecture will be given by Dr Nicola Marples, Department of Zoology and Fellow of Trinity College. Entitled  Altruism and the Oddity of Humans the lecture begins at  7.30 pm on Wednesday 12th February, in the JM Synge Theatre, Trinity College, Dublin. Admission is free, but be sure to get there in good time to secure your seat! You don’t have to be an academic to appreciate and enjoy it.
Altruism is counter-intuitive for individual survival, but it occurs in many species. Darwin saw it as a problem with the theory of Natural Selection. Dr Marples will discuss examples of altruism and demonstration of its benefits to individuals and kin groups. This will be followed by examining the nature of human altruism and the role of an outside persuasive force (‘policing’),   the implications for human ethics at local (kinship) level, and at remoter (international) levels.

Humani Darwin Day Dinner
The Annual Humani Darwin Dinner will be held on Friday 14th February 2014 in the Malone Lodge. Please arrive in reception at 7.30 for 8pm. Guest speaker is Dr Andrew Holmes Lecturer in Modern Irish History, QUB ,whose talk, prior to the meal, will be on The Impact of Science and Darwinism on Ulster Presbyterians. There will be an Open Mike Spot after the meal so please bring along a tune, prose, verse or joke preferably relating to Darwin, Evolution, Science or just humanism.
For more details on the menu and booking click here.

First Sunday Meeting Report – January 5th
Ann James opened the meeting by wishing everyone a productive 2014.
As Ann has retired as Chairperson and moved to the UK, Daphne Wynne made a presentation to her on behalf of the HAI. Daphne, Nic Johnson and Brian Whiteside all spoke of Ann’s immense contribution to our association and of her warmth and friendship to them. She has been our longest serving board member and has done the lion’s share of the work to bring the HAI to where it is today. Ann has been the HAI public face for radio and press and our prime negotiator at government meetings. She founded the Summer School, started Darwin Day and was the first accredited humanist chaplain who was also a celebrant.
In response Ann thanked those who inspired and worked with her to bring us to where we have a good name amongst humanists worldwide.
Ceremonies: Brian Whiteside reported a significant increase in demand for humanist ceremonies for 2014
Chaplaincy: Nic Johnson advised that the April meeting will be devoted entirely to this topic in order to lay down plans for the future.
Summer School: 29th to 31st August. Volunteers are needed to work with the Dublin and N.I. group.
Survey: Jane Haringan, a psychology student, asked attendees to complete a survey entitled Investigation into the relationship of forgiveness on general health is related to religious versus non-religious people. She will send the results in April.
Open Forum How do those of no religion deal with practical life issues? Ann invited people to comment on how we cope with relationships, death, marriage and children. How does christianity impact on our lives. Some contributions were:
People can find it difficult being a humanist in a Christian household. It can cause family dissension and alienate friends in the community.
There was a lengthy discussion on death: Many members expressed difficulty in explaining death to children without the convenient loophole of heaven. One suggestion was that we should teach them the concepts of science and biology – they are more resilient than we think.
As we perform weddings, should we provide pre-marital courses as churches do. Eithne said of the fifty-five couples she has married, only one asked about this. We could compile a listing of suitable counsellors and offer this to couples as marriage is a life skill which requires preparation.
A heated discussion took place around the Irish traditin of saying ‘god bless’, ‘I will say a prayer for you’ etc. Meeting was divided between ‘accept as it is kindly meant and is part of the our culture’ and the opposite ‘we have done enough accepting, shouldn’t we make a stand’.
We have different tolerance levels. Should we devote another meeting to look at ways we can help ourselves and others cope with the emotional side of alienation, bereavement and relationship difficulties.
Sunday Assembly: Elmer Flynn attended their first Dublin meeting which was attended by circa 100 young people. Started in the U.K in 2012, it has spread to 28 cities. As this is the age group we wish to attract, agreed we should liaise with them. Website http://sundayassembly.com/about/.
Meeting report by Maeve Cooling

Letter to the Constitutional Convention
The HAI was invited by the Secretary of the Convention on the Constitution to submit a letter to its members on our views on where the Church and State issue should go from here. Click here to read our response.
News Bytes
From the Guardian
From the UK Huffington Post
From Atheist Ireland
American writer Sam Harris has a new book due out later this year:
From the Irish Times
From the BBC

Local Humanist Groups
The Cork Humanists group meetings are currently suspended. We will update with further details as soon as we have them.
The Mid-West Humanists group includes people from Limerick, Clare, and Tipperary who meet on the third Wednesday of each month at 20:00 in Limerick – the Absolute Hotel, Sir Harrys Mall, Limerick. Meeting notice at www.midwesthumanists.com. For more information contact Peter O’Hara on 086 8155102 or email [email protected].
Serving Humanists in Galway and surrounding areas, Humanists West meet in Galway city on the last Sunday of each month. The venue from Sunday 23 February 2014 will be the OSLO Gastro Bar- Micro Brewery, 226 Upper Salthill. The meetings start at 12 noon. For more information contact Garry O’Lochlainn on [email protected] or 087 2222726.

Humanist Association of Ireland • Rose Cottage, Coach Road, Balrothery • Balbriggan, County Dublin, Ireland Ireland