Today the British Humanist Association (BHA) is sending every state-funded secondary school library in Northern Ireland a copy of The Young Atheist’s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life without God. The initiative, funded entirely by public donations, is part of the BHA’s work to ensure that young people have access to resources that enable them to come to their own decisions about their values and beliefs.
The Young Atheist’s Handbook is the memoir of a science teacher, Alom Shaha, and focuses on his childhood growing up in a Bangladeshi Muslim community in South London, how he overcame the conflict he experienced as an atheist, and how he learnt to live a meaningful and fulfilling life according to humanist principles. The book, which is organised loosely around the lessons Alom learned growing up, has received praise from the magazine RE Today, stating that: ‘Shaha has constructed a charmingly readable journey through some of the most enduring philosophical territory, weaving memories and thoughtful anecdotes into a powerful story of hope and truth.’
Alom’s story has gained wide support, including from journalist Samira Ahmed, comedian Tim Minchin, philosopher AC Grayling, and television personality Stephen Fry. Intended for young people to read for pleasure in their own time, the publication has also proven popular with Religious Education teachers wishing to explain non-religious worldviews to pupils.
This initiative has received particularly strong support from non-religious people in Northern Ireland. One supporter said: ‘This is an outstanding idea. When at Catholic primary and grammar school I had no idea you had an option not to believe in something. This will help young people make up their own minds.’ The move follows on from a similar initiative in April, which saw the BHA send copies of the book to schools across England and Wales.
BHA Head of Education and Promotion Sara Passmore commented, ‘Alom’s book is a fantastic read, and we’re confident it will be as appreciated by young people in Northern Ireland just as it has been by their peers in England and Wales. This initiative is about providing young people access to information about how non-religious people make ethical choices in their lives, and about the values that are shared by people all over the world. In a large number of schools, pupils only have access to religious perspectives on life’s bigger questions, and not to the humanist ones that most non-religious people in Britain share.
‘It’s important that young people in Northern Ireland know that non-religious people are able to lead happy, confident, and fulfilling lives, and about how we make our ethical choices. We want them to be able to explore the full range of beliefs available to them in the United Kingdom today, and make up their own minds.’
For further comment or information, contact Sara Passmore by email at email@example.com
About the initiative
The initiative was conceived by science teacher and blogger Ian Horsewell, and is supported the British Humanist Association. You can visit The Young Atheist’s Handbook for Schools campaign site at yah4schools.org.uk
About Young Atheist’s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life without God
Through a series of loose lessons Alom Shaha tells his own compelling story, drawing on the theories of some of history s greatest thinkers and interrogating the fallacies that have impeded humanity for centuries. Shaha recounts how his education and formative experiences led him to question how to live without being tied to what his parents, priests, or teachers told him to believe, and offers insights so that others may do the same.
This is a book for anyone who thinks about what they should believe and how they should live. In this powerful narrative, Shaha shows that it is possible to live a compassionate, fulfilling, and meaningful life without God.
About Alom Shaha
Alom Shaha was born in Bangladesh but grew up in London. A science teacher, writer, and filmmaker, he has spent most of his professional life sharing his passion for science and education with the public.
Alom has produced, directed, and appeared in a number of television programmes for broadcasters such as the BBC, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts (NESTA) and the Nuffield Foundation.
Alom has represented his community as an elected politician, and has volunteered at a range of charitable organisations. He teaches at a comprehensive school in London and writes for a number of print and online publications.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.