Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Affiliate CFI becomes a BHA Section

Ref: BHA e-bulletin, BHA Chief Executive, Andrew Copson, 21 March 2011.

Read BHA Press Release 17 March 2011; CFI UK Press Release 14 March 2011.

The mission of the Centre for Inquiry (CFI) internationally is to "foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values". Obviously it's a goal which is rather familiar to us at the British Humanist Association!

Stephen Law, CFI / BHA
So last week we were delighted to announce that the affiliate of CFI in the UK, formerly "CFI London", has been incorporated as a section of the BHA. The new CFI UK will, as part of the BHA, enable both organisations to expand the collective events programme, reach new audiences, and together promote the causes of reason, science and human curiosity.

CFI in the United States was founded by humanist groups merging together, and is led in the UK by philosopher Stephen Law, also a member of the BHA's Humanist Philosophers. Of course, it's not always the case that organisations, even with many shared goals and excellent humanist credentials, can join forces as we are doing here. But with CFI UK our aims overlap perfectly and CFI UK will retain its distinctive focus and image as we begin to work together.

People often comment about the natural tendency of groups of people to fracture into sub-groups and "denominations". But, as with our relationship with the AHS student federation, this is another example of two organisations already on friendly terms seeing an opportunity to improve their work all round, identifying no obvious downsides, and so taking the decision to unite. It's all very "humanist"! and we're looking forward to working together.

About CFI

ref: CFI UK (Accessed 22 March 2011)

CFI UK's primary aim is education, with the focus on the following three areas:

(i) the application of science and/or reason to questions regarding religion and the supernatural (e.g. questions about the divine, parapsychological questions, etc.)

(ii) the application of science and/or reason to pressing contemporary ethical dilemmas and social/political problems (e.g. stem-cell research, global warming)

(iii) the question of what is, and is not, good science (e.g. is intelligent design, or cold fusion, or magnet therapy, good science?)

CFI UK is concerned to defend and promote academic freedom, particularly from unjust legal threats, and to promote science-based policy.

We put on regular talks and events focussing on all of the above - from, say, exposing medical quackery (Ben Goldacre and Simon Singh), to examining the relationship between science and religion (recent debate between Alister McGrath and Stephen Law, and upcoming debate between Rev. John Polkinghorne and David Papineau) to examining the roots causes of the Holocaust and how best to prevent such catastrophes in future (a likely Autumn 2010 fixture). Fascinating, informative and sometimes provocative talks from leading experts and commentators in their fields. Talks take place at Conway Hall, central London, and at The Oxford Literary Festival at Christ Church Oxford, where we contribute several events each year.

Stephen Law (Provost), Suresh Lalvani (Executive Director and Company Secretary)


crabsallover said...

I welcome CFI UK becoming a section of BHA. CFI will strengthen the role of science within British Humanist Association.

Tom Rees said...

I think so too. CFI in the US is essentially their BHA, and so setting up a parallel group here was always a bit odd.