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The following list gives ideas for exploring humanism and related subjects like religion, belief, critical thinking and ethics.

Humanists UK - www.humanism.org.uk

Humanists UK exists to promote Humanism and support and represent people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs.
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“…a daily content website giving a voice to humanists on all the topics that interest, inspire or concern them. Humanists don’t have to respond to everything they see and do as humanists! But at HumanistLife we share humanist perspectives on current affairs, society, art, science, nature and, well… life!”


New Humanist Magazine

The Rationalist Association is a freethinking publisher responsible for New Humanist magazine (available online). New Humanist is one of the world's oldest continuously published magazines that supports and promotes Humanism and rational inquiry and opposes religious dogma and irrationalism.


On Humanism by Richard NormanOn Humanism by Richard Norman

A timely and powerfully argued philosophical defence of Humanism by a member of the Humanist Philosophers' Group. What is Humanism and why does it matter? It is also an impassioned plea that we turn to ourselves, not religion, if we want to answer Socrates' age-old question: what is the best kind of life to lead? Although Humanism has much in common with science, Richard Norman shows that it is far from a denial of the more mysterious, fragile side of being human. He deals with big questions such as the environment, Darwinism and 'creation science', euthanasia and abortion, and then argues that it is ultimately through the human capacity for art, literature and the imagination that Humanism is a powerful alternative to religious belief.

What is Humanism? by the Humanist Philosophers' GroupWhat is Humanism? by the Humanist Philosophers' Group

This concise and accessible pamphlet considers the historical and philosophical background to Humanism and explores what it means to be a humanist in the 21st century. It re-examines some of the early ideals associated with Humanism - the idea of progress, and its optimistic regard for human beings and human nature - in the light of the atrocities of the last century and the current need for humans to address pressing political and environmental concerns.

Available as an ebook from the BHA

Atheism: A Very Short Introduction by Julian BagginiAtheism: A Very Short Introduction by Julian Baggini

Atheism is often considered to be a negative, dark, and pessimistic belief which is characterized by a rejection of values and purpose and a fierce opposition to religion. Atheism: A Very Short Introduction sets out to dispel the myths that surround atheism and show how a life without religious belief can be positive, meaningful, and moral. It also confronts the failure of officially atheist states in the Twentieth Century. The book presents an intellectual case for atheism that rests as much upon positive arguments for its truth as on negative arguments against religion.

Debating Humanism edited by Dolan CummingsDebating Humanism edited by Dolan Cummings

This book features a cross-disciplinary dialogue among writers who are sympathetic to the humanist tradition and interested in developing a new humanist project through debate. Contributions from Josie Appleton, Simon Blackburn, Andrew Copson, British, Dylan Evans, Anthony Freeman, Frank Furedi, AC Grayling, Dennis Hayes, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, Kenan Malik and Daphne Patai.

Richard Dawkins

The official Richard Dawkins website, is an online community discussing his work and related topics. The Richard Dawkins Foundation is a non-profit organisation promoting the mental and moral improvement of the human race by means of the advancement of rationalism and Humanism.


Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C Dennett

For all the thousands of books that have been written about religion, few until this one have attempted to examine it scientifically: to ask why—and how—it has shaped so many lives so strongly. Is religion a product of blind evolutionary instinct or rational choice? Is it truly the best way to live a moral life? Ranging through biology, history, and psychology, Daniel C. Dennett charts religion’s evolution from “wild” folk belief to “domesticated” dogma. Not an antireligious screed but an unblinking look beneath the veil of orthodoxy, Breaking the Spell will be read and debated by believers and sceptics alike. 

The God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins turns his fierce intellect to the irrationality of belief in God and the grievous harm it has inflicted on society: While Europe is becoming increasingly secularized, the rise of religious fundamentalism, whether in the Middle East or Middle America, is dramatically and dangerously dividing opinion around the world. Dawkins presents a hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of religion of all types in the lucid, witty and powerful language for which he is renowned. It is a brilliantly argued, fascinating polemic that will be required reading for anyone interested in this most emotional and important subject. Watch a one minute summary by Richard Dawkins himself.

The End of Faith by Sam HarrisThe End of Faith by Sam Harris

Sam Harris offers a vivid historical tour of mankind's willingness to suspend reason in favour of religious beliefs, even when those beliefs are used to justify harmful behaviour and sometimes heinous crimes. While warning against the encroachment of organised religion into world politics, Harris also draws on new evidence from neuroscience and insights from philosophy to explore spirituality as a biological, brain-based need. He calls on us to invoke that need in taking a secular humanistic approach to solving the problems of this world.

Religion and Darwinism by Professor Robert HindeReligion and Darwinism by Professor Robert Hinde

An analysis of religion from an evolutionary viewpoint by Professor Robert Hinde, and first given as the BHA Voltaire Lecture in 1997. The booklet explores the different elements that go to make up religious systems: structural beliefs; narratives; and the role of rituals like prayer and sacrifice.

In particular Hinde examines the way that religion provided human communities with a common set of values and standards, and our need, as religion loses its grasp, to find a system of ethics that is valid for us today.

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Lewis WolpertSix Impossible Things Before Breakfast by Lewis Wolpert

Why does every society around the world have a religious tradition of some sort? Professor Lewis Wolpert investigates the nature of belief and its causes. He looks at belief's psychological basis and its possible evolutionary origins in physical cause and effect. Wolpert explores the different types of belief - including that of animals, of children, of the religious, and of those suffering from psychiatric disorders. And, he asks whether it is possible to live without belief at all, or whether it is a necessary component of a functioning society.

Bad Thoughts by Jamie WhyteBad Thoughts by Jamie Whyte

An entertaining and vigorously argued guide to clear thinking. Philosopher Jamie Whyte exposes respectable bigots, including priests, in his guide to spotting bogus reasoning. This book lists the crimes against logic used to gain our votes, money or devotion - or simply to change the subject - in an appeal for the application of reason to pubic and private debate.

Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy by Simon BlackburnThink: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy by Simon Blackburn

This is a book about the big questions in life: knowledge, consciousness, fate, God, truth, goodness, justice. It is for anyone who thinks there are big questions lurking out there, but does not know how to approach them. Written by the author of the bestselling Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Think sets out to explain what they are and why they are important.

The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking by Stephen LawThe Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking by Stephen Law

Stephen Law's new book The Philosophy Gym: 25 Exercises in Philosophical Thinking contains 25 short, free-standing chapters each dealing with a different philosophical question and explaining key positions and arguments along the way. Law is editor of the philosophy journal Think and author of the popular children/adult introduction to philosophy The Philosophy Files.

Being Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics by Simon BlackburnBeing Good: A Short Introduction to Ethics by Simon Blackburn

This is a very short introduction to ethics. It divides into three parts: first, introducing and discussing reasons for skepticism about ethics; second introducing themes of birth, death, happiness, desire and freedom to show how deeply our lives are interwoven with ethics; third, introducing attempts to found ethics, due to Aristotle, Kant, and the contractarian tradition.

An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Ethics by Mary WarnockAn Intelligent Person’s Guide to Ethics by Mary Warnock

Mary Warnock debates today's most difficult moral issues, exploring the nature of ethics and the ways that we make moral decisions. She explains how to distinguish right from wrong in areas ranging from euthanasia and abortion, Down's Syndrome and education, to genetic engineering. Drawing on remarkably lucid examples from her personal and political life, Lady Warnock illustrates difficult cases to support her points, clarifying her standpoint in relation to the philosophers of ethics in a concise and thought-provoking way.

The Origin of Virtue by Matt Ridley The Origins of Virtue by Matt Ridley  

Why are people nice to each other? What are the reasons for altruism? This text explains how the human mind has evolved a special instinct for social exchange, offering an argument about the paradox of human benevolence.

The War for Children's Minds by Stephen LawThe War for Children's Minds by Stephen Law

This book, by a member of the Humanist Philosophers' Group, argues forcefully against an authoritarian moral education, including that offered by some religions and some faith schools. Law reveals the fallacies in the reasoning behind the authoritarian outlook, and argues instead for non-relativistic liberalism (and disentangles these two frequently conflated concepts very clearly). Children, he argues, should be educated to question and to think and reason about moral issues for themselves - and so say most humanists. Phillip Pullman says this book "Should be read by every teacher, every parent and every politician".

Humanism for Schools

Some excellent teaching resources from the British Humanist Association


Billions and Billions by Carl SaganBillions and Billions by Carl Sagan

This collection of essays covers a range in subject matter from the invention of the game of chess to whether there is life on Mars, via discussions on the abortion issue and Greek mythology. It highlights the major issues faced at the end of the 20th century.

Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code by Matt RidleyFrancis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code by Matt Ridley

Traces the colourful life of the man who discovered the structure of DNA, the building blocks of life. Matt Ridley's entertaining account traces the colourful and entirely original work behind one of mankind's greatest discoveries and displays the life of a scientist considered to be of the very first rank.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Thursday lunchtime the Earth gets unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. For Arthur Dent, who has only just had his house demolished that morning, this seems already to be more than he can cope with. Sadly, however, the weekend has only just begun, and the Galaxy is a very strange and startling place.

What is Humanism? by Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young

An excellent children’s book that seeks to ask and answer “how you live without a god, and other big questions for kids”.
£13.99 - available  via the BHA’s Amazon affiliate link (the BHA makes a small commission)

Little Owl's Book of Thinking: An Introduction to Thinking Skills by Ian GilbertLittle Owl's Book of Thinking: An Introduction to Thinking Skills by Ian Gilbert (ages 5 and over)

Seven short stories in which Big Owl teaches Benny the Owlett about how to think and think well. Ideal for teachers, parents and older children, this book is an excellent method of introducing the concept of thinking skills and why they are so important.

Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide for Young Skeptics by Dan BarkerMaybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide for Young Skeptics by Dan Barker (ages 8 and over)

Using a fictional story, this title encourages having an open mind and checking things out to find the truth, rather than blindly accepting everything we hear.

The Philosophy Files by Stephen LawThe Philosophy Files by Stephen Law (ages 9 and over) 

This superb book is filled with an awe-inspiring enthusiasm for thinking and arguing some of the biggest questions. From "Should I eat meat?" to "How Do I Know The World Isn't Virtual?" and the Big One: "Does God Exist?", each question is dealt with in a thoroughly modern manner that brings in the teachings of famous philosophers alongside broad philosophical arguments that are as entertaining as they are challenging. 

How Do You Know Its True?: Discovering the Difference Between Science and Superstition by Hy RuchlisHow Do You Know Its True?: Discovering the Difference Between Science and Superstition by Hy Ruchlis (ages 11-14) 

This title encourages critical thinking. It discusses the difference between science and superstition, the basic nature of science as a way of thinking, and the ways in which amazing events can be explained rationally.

Kingston Skeptics in the Pub

London Gay and Lesbian Humanist AssociationNational Secular Society

International Humanist and Ethical Union

European Humanist Federation

House of Lords debate (19 April 2007) on "the rights of those who profess no religion"

Action for Happiness
For fifty years we've aimed relentlessly at higher incomes. But despite being much wealthier, we're no happier than we were five decades ago. Action for Happiness aims to use research-based knowledge to make a positive change in what we mean by progress.
Here's the presentation given by the Director of Action for Happiness, Mark Williamson, at our Oct 2011 public meeting on "Are religious people happier people?"
Mark Williamson - Happiness - 31 Oct 2011

If you are interested in getting involved with a humanist group but we are not suitable for you, you may like to contact another local group. The BHA website includes details of other local humanist groups

The British Humanist Association Store includes books and e-books on humanism.

If you are making purchases via Amazon, you can support the BHA by using the link on the image to the right.

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