Acclaimed British scientist appointed new President of Humanists UK

Acclaimed British scientist appointed new President of Humanists UK November 11, 2018

Leading British humanist organisation – Humanists UK – today announced the appointment Alice Roberts as its new President.

Roberts is an acclaimed science writer and broadcaster who will lead a national push to promote humanism to the many millions of people in the UK who hold humanist beliefs but haven’t yet heard the term.

The anatomist, author, and well-known TV science host sees humanism as a powerful force for good: promoting human togetherness, and forming an important alternative to religious segregation, division and tribalism.

Alice, who has been a patron of Humanists UK for seven years, will also help steer Humanists UK’s national campaign to call into question state funding of religious schools and will campaign for a fairer education system with no religious discrimination for millions of UK children.

Alice previously helped lead Humanists UK’s successful campaign for evolution to be taught in all state schools but she is concerned that, in some schools, creationism is still being taught as an “alternative” and that humanism doesn’t feature in most primary school curricula, giving children:

The strange impression that everyone in Britain adheres to one faith or another.

Below is an interview she gave in English last year to Swedish humanist Christer Sturmark, whom Mark Kolsen wrote about earier this month.

Born in 1973, Alice studied medicine and anatomy at Cardiff University and worked as a junior doctor before becoming an anatomy lecturer. She has studied the evolution, structure and function of humans, and is interested in the relationship of humans with the rest of nature. She has a PhD in evolutionary anthropology, and has been the recipient of five honorary degrees. She has been Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham since 2012.

Welcoming the appointment, Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

Alice’s field of study is the long story of humanity itself and her commitment to communicating the facts about that story in her broadcasting and writing has ignited the curiosity of people of all ages and from all backgrounds. At a time when our work in bringing non-religious people together is more important than ever, we are delighted to welcome such a clear communicator with such insight and depth.

Accepting the appointment Alice Roberts said:

As an anthropologist, I believe strongly in our common humanity. We can rise above the tribal divisions that have caused so much anguish and real 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.

I find humanism to be the most rational and positive philosophy for life. And it’s not a new thing at all – the history of humanist thought is deep and inspiring.

I am so honoured to become the next President of Humanists UK – to be joining a community of like-minded, thoughtful and compassionate people in this way. I will be working harder than ever to promote humanism. Our ‘good news’ is not that there is life after death to look forward to – but that this is the one life we have – and we need to make it meaningful, by looking after each other and the planet better than we’ve ever done before.

Alice also paid tribute to her predecessor Shappi Khorsandi, saying:

Shappi has really helped to advance the causes of humanism, and she’s highlighted how religion can create very deep divisions in society, as well as precipitating existential crises for individuals. Shappi’s a hard act to follow, and I know I won’t be anywhere near as funny – but I’m excited to take up the challenge and take our momentum even further.

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