Saturday, 27 October 2012

Event Report - The Young Atheist's Handbook

Alom Shaha gave an interesting and personal talk about his book the Young Atheist's Handbook and his insights on the matter of religion. He wanted to write a book that would be accessible for young teenagers and answer their questions about atheism, but the idea of incorporating his own story and experiences made the book more personal. Shaha stressed that the book is not anti-religious, but that it aims to make people think about what they believe. However, at the heart of belief is a feeling rather than an intellectual argument - even in the case of atheists. Belief may come from a human need to find patterns and meanings in a meaningless universe.

Many school students have accused Shaha: 'you don't believe in anything!' He counters that he believes in finding your own morality based on justice, equality and empathy. Humans can live as if they have purpose - with the help of love and work they can accept the pointlessness of life.

Shaha stated that he doesn't like debating whether god exists or not, but only has a problem with the concept  of god if it is used to excuse oppression and prejudice.

The fact that he comes from a Muslim background gave Shaha problems when publishing the book. Publishers thought that this combined with atheism would cause controversy and backlash. Shaha believes that this is a reflection of how Muslims are viewed by society - as fundamentalist and all the same. This may be because people don't mix with Muslims enough, as people do not have diverse social circles.

Thanks to everyone who attended! Don't forget to buy society membership to enjoy future events:

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