Adult Education Course on Humanism starts in Edinburgh

Humanist Society Scotland member Les Reid will run an adult education course on Humanism in conjunction with the City of Edinburgh Council.

The non-religious outlook on life which is Humanism is being encountered more and more in Scotland. Most of us have attended a Humanist funeral ceremony, celebrating the life that has just ended and accepting that there is no hereafter. Latest figures show that Humanist weddings now outnumber Church of Scotland weddings.

Membership of Humanist Society Scotland is over 14,000 and growing steadily. Distinguished supporters include author Christopher Brookmyre and poet Liz Lochead, Scotland’s past Makar. Humanism is becoming part of mainstream life in Scotland and yet many people still do not fully understand it.

Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence acknowledges the place that Humanism now has in relation to other belief systems and encourages schools to teach their pupils about it. Surveys have revealed that young people under 25 are mostly non-religious and that church attendance is in steep decline. Humanism offers an ethical outlook on life which is more appealing because it is free of traditional identities and supernatural beliefs. Humanist Society Scotland provides online resources and, where requested, school visitors to help schools educate their pupils about Humanism.

Edinburgh has the distinction of also teaching adults about Humanism. It is the only city in Scotland where the City Council adult education programme includes a course on Humanism. This course is taught by Les Reid, a retired teacher and philosophy graduate. It is an exploration, delving into the history, literature, philosophy and ethics of Humanism. The class explores both the achievements of Humanism and the problems it faces. Topics include evolution, David Hume, moral reasoning, George Eliot, progress and the process by which we move from one world-view to another (paradigm shift).

Commenting on this, Les Reid, the instructor of the course commented:

“It is a pleasure to teach a course on Humanism in Edinburgh, the city in which David Hume wrote his powerful critiques of religion and paved the way for an alternative outlook. I think he would have approved of the non-dogmatic, challenging nature of the course and celebrated the fact that Humanism is becoming part of the mainstream of life here.

“In Hume’s day, any challenge to conventional religious belief could cost you a lengthy term in prison or even your life. Indeed, it is a tragedy that the same is true still in many countries across the world today. Ancient belief systems are perpetuated down the generations and provide a basis for conflict and enmity, as seen throughout the Middle East. Humanism offers us an escape from those old quarrels.”


For more information or comment contact Gary McLelland on or 07813060713.

An Introduction to Humanism begins on Tuesday 27 September at South Bridge Resource Centre (mornings, 10 am) or Wednesday 28 September at James Gillespies High School (evenings, 7 pm). It is a ten week course. Enquiries and enrolment 0131 556 7978 or online at


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