Modern Mystics: Are Spiritual Practices Replacing Religion? | Young Humanists
From crystals to astrology and from dream interpretation to WitchTok, mystical beliefs are becoming increasingly popular and highly visible, particularly among younger people. While some people engage with mystical ideas and practices for aesthetic reasons, others take them more seriously. ‘Crystal healing’ is an increasingly popular search term on Google and the number of people who identify as witches is also on the rise.
Meanwhile, record numbers of UK citizens identify as having no religion, including 68% of 18–24 year olds. In our uncertain, turbulent times, is religion’s place as a provider of meaning and comfort being usurped by mysticism? And, as humanists who value evidence-based thinking, should we be worried about increasing adherence to the occult?
A panel of experts and campaigners will discuss the implications and effects of these changes. All are welcome to attend and there will be plenty of opportunities to put your questions to our speakers.
Andrew Dart has a master’s degree in Research Psychology and spent four years studying how pre-existing religious and paranormal beliefs literally affect the way we see the world around us. He is the author of a beginner's guide to skepticism and a science book for children, and is currently working on a novel. He works as a support technician for a software company where he spends as much of his day combating bad logic as he does technical issues. When not doing this he can often be found wandering the byways of Cambridgeshire, reading books, watching philosophy videos on YouTube, and writing pointless computer programs.
Deborah Hyde wants to know why people believe in weird stuff. She attributes her fascination with the supernatural to having spent her childhood with mad aunties. She approaches the subject using the perspectives of psychology and history. During the day, she’s a film/TV industry coordinator/production manager who has worked in makeup effects and scenery. She also gets on the wrong side of the camera from time to time as in Terry Gilliam’s Brother’s Grimm.
Deborah was Editor of the Skeptic magazine, until she handed over the reins to Merseyside Skeptics in 2020. She was also the co-convenor of Westminster Skeptics, and Speaker Liaison of Soho Skeptics. In February 2018, she was very honoured to have been elected a fellow of The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.
Richy works on issues from across Humanists UK’s public policy remit, as the Director of Public Affairs and Policy, having previously worked as Campaigns Manager from 2015 to early 2017, and Faith Schools and Education Campaigns Officer for four years before that. He joined Humanists UK staff having been President of Humanist Students.
Richy is formerly the Treasurer of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, a member of the advisory group of the Sex Education Forum, a member of the steering groups of Voice for Choice. the Assisted Dying Coalition, the Accord Coalition for inclusive education, and humanist representative and Vice Chair of Lambeth Standing Advisory Council on RE.
During his time at Humanists UK, he has proven himself as a formidable campaigner, achieving widespread media coverage and policy change.