Presidential welcome

Article for Ilford Recorder ‘Spiritual Life’ column celebrating the Humanistic values represented by new and past presidents of Humanists UK (for publication 24.1.19).

“Humanists UK began 2019 with a brilliant new President. Appointed for 3 years, Professor Alice Roberts steps into the shoes of the previous president, Iranian born comedienne Shappi Khorsandi. Other former presidents include Iraqi born physicist and broadcaster Professor Jim Al Khalili and agony aunt Claire Rayner.

Alice is an evolutionary biologist. She is the first appointed Professor of Public Engagement in Science at Birmingham University and is also well-known as a TV presenter. The BBC recently broadcast her Royal Society Christmas lectures. Alice has long been a supporter of Humanists UK and was prominent in our campaign against the teaching of creationism, a creed which flies in the face of scientific evidence and has no place in our schools.

Alice said on taking up her new position: ‘As an anthropologist I strongly believe in our common humanity. We can rise above the tribal divisions that have caused so much anguish and damage in the past. The real hallmarks of humanity are curiosity and an amazing ability to cooperate. If we can use science wisely and work together, I believe we can overcome the huge challenges facing us this century.’

A question often asked when talking to schools in East London is ‘who leads the Humanists?’ I explain that Humanists think for themselves and that there is no leader as such that we follow. However, any organised group needs spokespeople. Alice, like those presidents before her, ably represents the diversity, passion and values of the Humanist movement. “

Paul Kaufman
Chair East London Humanists

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