Fri. March 4th The Salem Witch Trials in Fiction and Fact – Rose Little and Gary Loyden

In 1692 nineteen people were accused and hanged for the crime of witchcraft in Salem Village, Mass. In all more than 150 people were accused and twenty five died. This catastrophe has captured the imagination of novelists, playwrights and historians ever since.

Rose will be looking at two fiction texts, Lois the Witch, a short story by Mrs Gaskell (1859) and The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller, a century later (1953). By focusing on individuals, these authors help us to understand the terrible events that unfolded in 1692.

Gary will be presenting the historical facts of the calamity that befell these settlers. In doing so he hopes to explore the fears and motives that spawned this tragedy, to consider what lessons we can learn from it, and whether a similar event could happen today.

Rose asks that we put links to the two short texts she will be discussing.

 (There are a few blank pages at the start)
And here is the play on YOUTUBE
(You may also find the 1996 movie on YOUTUBE)

Fri. 26th Feb. Chris Turner – Kan Kraig’s Kalam Kosomological Argument for GOD be Kountered? Or Why is there Something rather than Nothing?

Theists and theistic ideas can have a hard time at the Philosophical Society, especially if they stray into the world of science. But not tonight – the philosopher William Lane Craig has taken the ultimate cosmological discovery – that the Universe came into existence  13.8 billion years ago, and turned it back on the atheists and challenged them to explain why God is not the most reasonable explanation.

On Friday 26 Feb 2016, theists can sit back and watch with glee as the atheists and skeptics squirm trying to answer the ultimate question – just why is there Something rather than Nothing? Do they have any good arguments against the Kalam?

Craig’s argument goes like this:

  • Everything that begins to exist has a cause

  • The universe began to exist

  • Therefore the universe has a cause

  • (…………) → GOD!

So simple to state, so hard to refute!

So, will we see the tables turned – skeptics and atheists frantically grasping at quantum mechanical straws to explain how the universe just popped into existence from NOTHING?

There’s only one way to find out – bring your best arguments to the Quaker Meeting House, Eastrop Hill, on the 26 February 2016, 7:40pm.

Fri. 19th Feb. A Video – Why The West Rules….For Now – Prof. Ian Morris


For several centuries, historians have tried to answer the question: “Why is Western Europe (and later, North America) the dominant world power?” Past explanations cited culture, or “great men” who influenced the course of history. Stanford historian Prof. Ian Morris casts doubt on those explanations, instead taking a data-driven approach to the question that attempts to measure “social development” over history and find explanations for it.

In the middle of the eighteenth century, British and other European entrepreneurs unleashed the astounding energies of steam and coal and the world changed forever. Factories, railways and gunboats then propelled the West’s rise to power, and computers and nuclear weapons in the twentieth century secured its global supremacy. Today, however, many worry that the emergence of China and India spell the end of the West as a superpower.

How long will the power of the West last? In order to find out we need to know: why has the West been so dominant for the past two hundred years? With flair and authority, historian and achaeologist Ian Morris draws uniquely on 15,000 years of history to offer fresh insights on what the future will bring. Deeply researched and well argued, Why The West Rules – For Now is a truly original history of the world.

POSTPONED – The Politically Incorrect Science of Human Nature – Steve Miller

In association with Swindon Humanists.

Western philosophy has been cogitating upon what is that makes us essentially human for the past 2,500 years. Religions have been doing it longer than that. Yet it is only in the last few decades that science has turned its mind and methodology to the problem. And the picture it is gradually revealing not only contradicts many of the assumptions we’ve traditionally relied upon, but is also posing challenging questions as to how we should be organising our society and living our lives. Utilising the latest research findings in social and evolutionary psychology, neuroscience and genetics, Steve Miller tries to uncover what we now know about the role of inheritance in intelligence, personality development and even in the way we vote; the evolutionary origins of sexism, sexuality and sexual attraction; of racism, tribalism and xenophobia; of violence and criminality; and how far our parents, social connections, culture and life circumstances shape the way we think and behave. And some of the answers are not only extremely surprising, but also deeply disturbing.

Fri…Feb.12th…..A Video… Unfit for the Future -The Need for Moral Enhancement….Prof. Julian Savulescu


Unfit for the Future argues that the future of our species depends on our urgently finding ways to bring about radical enhancement of the moral aspects of our own human nature. We have rewritten our own moral agenda by the drastic changes we have made to the conditions of life on earth. Advances in technology enable us to exercise an influence that extends all over the world and far into the future. But our moral psychology lags behind and leaves us ill equipped to deal with the challenges we now face. We need to change human moral motivation so that we pay more heed not merely to the global community, but to the interests of future generations. It is unlikely that traditional methods such as moral education or social reform alone can bring this about swiftly enough to avert looming disaster, which would undermine the conditions for worthwhile life on earth forever. Savulescu maintains that it is likely that we need to explore the use of new technologies of biomedicine to change the bases of human moral motivation. They argue that there are in principle no philosophical or moral objections to such moral bioenhancement. Unfit for the Future challenges us to rethink our attitudes to our own human nature, before it is too late.