Contribution, to Public Consultation on the Constitutional Future of the Island of Ireland

About this author:

I am a sovereign of Ireland; I look to the Republic proclaimed in March 1867.

I am a member of the largest political movement on the island of Ireland, and of the largest Humanist group in the 26 Counties; I have been on the Ard Comhairle of one and the Board of Directors of the other.

I am also a member of both all-island Humanist groups, the Irish Freethinkers and Humanists, and of Humanism Ireland; I am a voluntary director of the latter.

I am registered to vote for candidates for both Houses of the Dáil Éireann of the Republic of Ireland.


1) The Republic of Ireland ultimately, by it’s own foundation document, has no Natural authority. In the end, it must rely on the threat of imprisonment or violence for governance.

This is because the foundation document, the Constitution of Ireland, explicitly claims as the source of all State authority a manufactured Roman tri-partite male god. Such god has not been shown to exist, in any composition or gender, nor is there historic proof of such existence.

The Constitution furthermore ends with confirmation that the joint purposes of it are glorification of the god referenced previously, and the honour of an Ireland possessed of the true social order satisfying the man-mediated values of that god.

Any without the same views or the same aims is therefore morally justified in being selective in their support.

The Constitution therefore has no Natural authority, and is not physically binding on sovereigns, humanists, or free-thinkers generally, save ultimately on the threat of imprisonment as stated.

To render the Constitution surplus, one merely has to genuinely not believe in that same god. The laws standing thereon, fail; where there is no transgression of what is commonly called the Golden Rule, prosecutions based on those laws then become competition between moralities.

The remaining force of implementation is the same as from the imperial power that the Republic of Ireland asserts it displaced.

2) Further, jurists upholding and operating that Constitution, and interpreting the legislation built thereon take an Oath to that god. Any interpretation of legislation – which legislation being itself fruit of a poisonous tree – by such jurists is inherently biased, and their discernment dubious.

Defence of such jurists based on their beliefs, even or especially if sincerely held, must fail by corollary to a society governed by legislation constructed on the basis of supporting values that assert reindeer as flight-capable, no matter how sincerely held such belief may be.

Where the natural Rights of Man conflict with a construct lacking Natural authority, the construct must yield; Man must decide for them-self, again subject to the Natural authority of “do unto others as unto oneself”, that being common to almost all codified moralities.

3) The articles dealing with religion and education in the Constitution excessively defer to the religion of the parent, and the beneficial operators of religions generally.

However, children are not born with a religion.

All children are born agnostic, if not atheist, and must be trained to declare themselves otherwise.

That the State established upon that Constitution not only permits, but is interpreted as being obliged to fund, the training of children to adopt a different religion is problematic.

Religion and morality are not automatically equivalent; children are taught that the latter follows automatically from the former though evidence contradicts that position.

Allowing such deference to religions in education, via a Constitution, prolongs into each generation the problem of separation of Church and State, since it is the latter that funds the indoctrination in favour of the former.

4) As long as there is excessive deference to one religion and any morality arising there from, and that excessive deference is indoctrinated into children from before they may form their own critical thoughts, the southern State cannot progress.

As long as the guiding principles and values of both states on the island are formed based on the religions most prevalent in each, rather than being based on a common morality and explicitly not on any religion, the people of the island cannot progress.

An explicitly Secular Constitution is required, incorporating a bill of rights.

5) The Protestant and Catholics have tried; now is the time to listen to the Dissenters.

A new and united Ireland is a legitimate constitutional objective for many

Many will welcome this as explicit recognition that people should be in a position to make an informed choice when the time arrives.

How odd it would be to anchor the constitutional status of any region on the “principle of consent” and never think to ask people or to let them know the consequences of their answer. Much of what is happening now should be unproblematic and viewed in terms of responsible management. Given that we are talking about one likely constitutional future, it would be silly not to face into it.

That is what we expect governments and others to do. To think about where Ireland is going and anticipate opportunities and risks. But that is often not the case here.

A desired outcome that is present in the Good Friday Agreement, and in the domestic law of both states, is problematised with a persistent wall of noise. All aimed at making practical work and civic advocacy difficult.

Much of the opposition should be seen in those terms: as sophisticated attempts to derail the conversation about change. Too often this tactic is caricatured as ineffective. That is a mistake, which can lapse into complacency. Those involved in the streams of invective know what they are doing. There is a well-thought through campaign to delegitimise people so that their professional expertise, and the substance of what they say, become secondary to ad hominem insults.

Its obsessive and repetitive nature creates a potentially chilling effect across this society. Who would not want a quiet life in that contested context? However, the negativity appears to be having the unintended consequence of bringing even more people to the table. And that is welcome. The best response is to join in and keep going.

Advance planning is happening as a matter of basic fact. It is still not at the level or intensity required, but it is hard to miss the ongoing initiatives. This is particularly striking in universities – the ARINS project being only one valuable example – but evident also in the books being published or forthcoming and other forms of outputs. Frank Connolly’s impressive United Nation: The Case for Integrating Ireland is the latest example.

The response often then is: where is your detailed plan or proposal for a united Ireland? Let me be clear: It would be easy for a group of academics and/or others to produce the framework for a united Ireland. A draft constitution is easier to write than you might imagine. But is that what you want? Do you really believe a small group of people should go away privately and determine your fate? I suspect not.

What is notable is the attention to inclusive processes. Those advocating change know that how you arrive at your final proposal matters. There is a shared desire to get this right and to involve people. Thus, the sustained emphasis on civic dialogue and democratic deliberation. Proposals for a citizens’ assembly, an Oireachtas Committee and dedicated governmental attention make good sense as ways to generate detailed reflection and draw upon relevant expertise.

At some point, however, choices must be made based on evidence about the present and preferred future. And here there will need to be candid acknowledgement that not all will agree about the content and shape of a new and united Ireland. As these internal debates develop, it is worth recalling that, even when a united Ireland happens, it will remain imperfect. There will always be challenges, particularly for those seeking to advance equality, human rights and social justice. But, if this is going to be a “new” and transformed Ireland, then the content of the novel components must be considered.

How should the “shared island” agenda relate to this effort? There is a risk of confusion around the scope of the various “shared island” initiatives. It is common to hear people imply a tension between a united Ireland and a shared island. But that is simply not the case. This is part of the same overall project. When it happens, a united Ireland will be a shared island. It is one of the possible agreed outcomes of the exercise of the “principle of consent”/right of self-determination. Avoiding this reality seems counterproductive and limits the potential and ambition of, for example, the Shared Island Unit. That Unit, and associated initiatives, could do much more, if permitted, on how the island is likely to be shared in the future.

It makes considerable sense to broaden and deepen the conversation around constitutional change. The proliferation of projects is heartening. But it does raise the question of coordination and directing these efforts towards practical proposals. This is where the Irish Government, in particular, will have a role. Hiding behind universities, academics and civic initiatives has its advantages. But it is not a substitute for determined, open and well-resourced governmental action. Why, for example, ask the UK Government questions about a border poll in the media, when you can table them at the next British Irish Intergovernmental Conference?

It is time for the Irish Government to take responsibility directly for enabling the collective effort of preparing for the future of this shared island. The objective of a new and united Ireland within the EU, enjoying healthy relations with its neighbour, is a legitimate constitutional goal sought by many. Not something to be stumbled into or to fear. But to be ready for and embrace with imagination and courage.

– Colin Harvey
(Professor of Human Rights Law in the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast, a Fellow of the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Irish Studies and a member of the Management Board of Ireland’s Future)

Conversations about constitutional change in Ireland

Establishing the state of the constitutional conversation about a united Ireland presents difficulties. The subject appears to be everywhere, yet some suggest it is not really happening.

The levels of interest are hardly surprising in light of Brexit and the political climate since. Northern Ireland has an EU re-entry option, and it would be odd if it was not being pondered. Speculation continues, with differing views and expectations over process and substance, and even on whether preferences should be expressed at all. Where might things go next?

First, there is a risk that much is missed in many assessments. Because of well-known antipathy, the recent discussions have evolved from the relative margins, and in distinctive forms and formats. Civic conversations have been happening, often in defiance of formulaic labels. Podcasts, virtual events, social media and varieties of output proliferate. The light-touch curation can take this type of dialogue in the public sphere to odd places, leading to ongoing reflection on the role of “expert knowledge”.

The more pressing matter, however, is to record and acknowledge what has been achieved on the various sides of the argument and ensure this democratic and civic engagement is not lost to history. It is plain that serious work, inspired by the belief that this island is heading towards referendums, has been completed and is in progress. Is there sufficient awareness? How might this be mapped and co-ordinated effectively?

Second, the increasingly supportive environment means that more is being considered. Evidence is there in funding initiatives, research projects, and a wider willingness to engage. This will ensure that “shared island”conversations are better informed. What is notable is the role of universities and associated research institutes. It is hard to read that as coincidental. Pushing policy development in this direction has merit and is understandable, especially for those seeking progress on hard questions informed by expert interventions. The available knowledge across disciplines is invaluable and efforts can often continue in these settings quietly and undramatically. But this approach also brings difficulties. There are risks, particularly for those concerned about open, transparent and inclusive participatory processes.

Should a civic forum provide the space for evidence to be presented or will expert working groups preside? Recommendations, for example, on all-island citizens’ assemblies and an Oireachtas Committee resonate as attempts to shape more deliberative approaches. Whatever happens next an appropriate blend will need to be found. Assumptions are being made – including about universities – that must be teased out. The ultimate result will be detailed proposals for reunification but how these are arrived at is significant.

Third, the primary focus in any campaign will be on the opposing ‘meta’positions and therefore on the permissible options (according to the Good Friday Agreement): union or unity. Equal attention should be directed towards the internal tensions. This is where the most skilful management may be required and where the more intriguing debates will happen.

Irish history speaks to the problematic potential of such conversations. It is already apparent that many enter this constitutional territory because of its transformative aspects. They will face the scepticism of the contented classes who will lean towards relative continuity. The lessons are there on the forces that prevail on this island in such societal change contests. Therefore, it is wise to watch the guardians of the feasible and draw these debates into the public sphere.

Who will be policing the parameters? What does, for example, the “new” in New Ireland mean for human rights, equality and social justice? The present framing will shape responses, and the implications of existing obligations are often neglected. Significant change can be a difficult sell anywhere. What might be attractive in one jurisdiction on this island, may prove less so in the other. How these questions are resolved will be a key feature to observe closely, as future generations will inhabit the practical outcomes.

There is much more that could be said. These three points are intended to invite further dialogue. There is a need to celebrate the diverse scale of completed work, to consider the debate around where planning for a united Ireland should happen, and to reflect on the state of the conversation within constitutional positions. In particular, it is worth drawing out the conceptual frameworks underpinning different views.

That is because so much of the debate on this island is proceeding in the commendable spirit of careful planning, an approach shaped by the depressing experience of the Brexit process in the UK. Getting it right on this island will also have a significant impact on conversations across these islands.

– Colin Harvey
(Professor of Human Rights Law in the School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast, a Fellow of the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, an Associate Fellow of the Institute of Irish Studies and a member of the Management Board of Ireland’s Future)

Ulster’s Problem (2022.01)

It’s obvious that Ulster has a problem, but it wasn’t the majority there caused it. It showed in people there, but that’s not where it started. At the start of it all, an outsider sent loyalists to supplant natives a long time ago, and through their descendants over generations the problem arrived. That’s common knowledge. But while it’s easy to blame the pro-Brexit DUP, it might be better for us to remember that ultimately they’re victims too. Like us and the EU, they’re victims of the Conservatives and their ancestors and predecessors; of the ones who dispossessed the Scots of land originally.

There’s certainly more than one problem from Brexit. Not least of which is that of being gentle when telling the DUP, “we told you so”. Part of that problem being that they won’t believe the ones who warned them originally. They themselves are responsible for any resulting negative outcomes, but people generally don’t admit their own failings.

This has happened here before. In the 1960’s the ascendant Unionists were warned their policies of discrimination against nationalists, and against those not of an officially favoured religion would lead to trouble. They continued, against that common sense advice. Those Troubles didn’t end until thousands were dead, and people came from outside to ensure fairness among the groups during peace talks. A conclusion with which Brexit is incompatible.

While Clinton, Mitchell, and others did an excellent job, surely we can solve the problem today ourselves. Must we wait for Clinton and Mitchell, or their present equivalents to be available, or can the people of this island sort the matter of the ‘border’ out for themselves?

The border is the most of the problem, though inevitable unity is now closer than ever.

The greatest advantage the Americans had was that they were outsiders, independent of each group. The people of this island are fortunate at this disputatious time that there are outsiders here always. Because the border was the implementation of an apartheid of Protestant from Roman Catholic, and history showing the effect of that on both sides, anyone claiming impartiality should be separate from those religions.

Wolfe Tone stated his aim to be, “to substitute the common name of Irishmen in place of the denomination of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter”. Which reminds us that those who may validly call themselves dissenters may have a duty to step forward. After a century, no-one is happy with how things are now.

In the North is a Protestant state that threatens always to slip back to 1690; in the South a Roman Catholic state still deriving it’s legitimacy from a Constitution which itself derives it’s legitimacy from a prayer, in which ‘republic’ every atheist and humanist is a second-class citizen. Non-believers are the “dissenters” in both parts of the island, and of growing number.

Do we not have a responsibility? Inevitable unity draws even closer, but who else could steer such a ship peacefully into harbour? There’s an absence of a bill of rights, though such was expected following the Belfast Agreement of 1998, and that’s the potential cargo of Brexit for the whole island.

There’s a clear need for a bill of rights while Conservatives steer the UK. Here, admitting our imperfections, can the people of Humanism Ireland – as the dissenters mentioned by that famed Ulster Protestant – find a solution? We’re the outsiders who are always here.

The price for such a service, should be an all-island Secular Republic, established with EU assistance. And all we’re really asking the Unionist people to be is unionist with us, their neighbours with whom they already share the island.

The origins of the universe and Earth

Some thoughts on “the origin of the universe and earth”, inspired by a question brought home by a child.

This is offered as an outline sequence that can be told to a child as an explanation as they attempt to synthesise before they present to to someone else.  The presumption is that the person presenting this to a child is willing to take their time to speak slowly, use gestures, to speak in open truth to the child, but not to stop mid-way first time to micro-explain. If you read this twice yourself, you’ll see that this piece places the child centrally in the universe, by space and time, safely with everyone else. You’ll also notice that the theme is actually simple enough.

Really basic terminology is rarely explained to children and this does that; in addition you’ll have no difficulty seeing where humour and gestures might fit in.

This is probably good for about age 6 and up, if you accept that you’re just supplying scaffolding for them, and that they’ll come back to fill in the blanks over future years.



We don't know where this universe came from.

We do not know where this universe is going.

We do not even know whether there is more than one universe.

But we do know about where this universe is now, and how it works, and what it's made of, and about our place in it.

We say we know something if we can see it, or touch it, or feel it. We may need to build machines and tools to see and find things, like microscopes, and submarines, and big telescopes that we send out into space. But those are our machines and we do know how they work.

Most of the machines use a lot of mathematics. Sometimes we still cannot see a thing, but we can use mathematics to find out the things we cannot see.

To make sure that everyone who says they saw something is being honest and truthful, we expect them to show us evidence. We expect them to tell us how they did something so that we can try it for ourselves. We call "trying something" an experiment.

We call sharing what we learn, and allowing others to do the same experiments as us, Science. When there is no evidence or experiments to back-up what someone says, we call that Religion.

Science is powerful because together we are powerful. We are powerful when we work together and share truthfully with each other. We are powerful when we care for each other and for our planet, because we have not found another one like it.

We have looked a very, very, very long way to see if there might be people on other planets. To see if there are even any other planets like ours, anywhere.

When we were looking we noticed that everything in the universe is moving away from everything else.

Because of Science and Mathematics and the machines we built, it was possible to decide that everything must have been all in one place at the one time.

Because we like to put silly names on things, someone called the moment when everything started to move apart a "Big Bang". He was being funny about it, but wouldn't you know it, the name stuck.

But we don't really know what happened all the way back then.

But we do know that was a very, very, very long time ago.

What we do know is that we are here now. We know that grass is green and the sky is mostly blue.

We even know why the grass is green, and why the sky is mostly blue. Because of Science, and of Maths, and because of experiments and evidence and sharing, we know all these things.

And we know so many things because of people who went before us who shared what they learned, and who wrote things down so that we could check if their work was true long after they were gone.

We know that over a very, very, very long time human society got cleverer by learning more and more, and writing down and drawing pictures of what we saw, and sharing. Because of Science, experiments, and asking questions, we noticed some unusual things.

We noticed that so many animals looked similar, and had the same numbers of arms, legs, wings, eyes, mouths, tongues and even bums.

We saw evidence that all animals were related, including us, and that like us over time, animals changed too. This was true for really tiny animals as well as really big animals. We called this Evolution, and we know it is still happening today, and it explains why there are so many different animals of so many different types.

We may not be completely certain when that all started, but we do know that a very, very, very long time ago, every little bit of us was in a star. Some people think that if we could only wait long enough we might wind up back in a star again some day. Which might be fun.

What we know about this universe is that we're in it, with our friends, and our family, and our neighbours, and all the other animals, and fishes, and birds, and plants, and trees.

We know that we're together, on the only blue and green planet for an enooooorrrrmously long way. That we're going around a lovely yellow star we call the Sun, and that all of the time we're going around, the Sun makes plants grow, and we grow too and we call that Time. It takes our planet about 365 days to go all the way around and back to where we are now. We call that amount of time a Year.

It doesn't matter too much where we have come from or where we are going. What really matters is that we're going there together, and that we help each other along the way.

Who were the first people on earth?

An abbreviated history of our world in response to a question from a child, posed elsewhere by their parent but with the understanding that the Adam/Eve story be excluded from the answer.

The question was “who were the first people on earth?”

There was never a first person on earth, not the way he means.

Over millions of years our ancestors became human, one semi-random change at a time.

55,000,000 years ago the first of the apes developed.

By 13,000,000 years ago the first vaguely human-ish creatures existed, starting to stand upright.

Roughly 25,000,000 years ago, vowels enter the range of sounds (words now possible), and speech as we think of it begins to happen. 

By 3,000,000 years the first stone tools were being used.

About 1,000,000 years ago fire was mastered, and the cooking of food - which liberated our brains from constantly having to think about hunting and eating.

By about 500,000 years ago our ancestors would have used the first stone-tipped spears as weapons for hunting bigger animals.

By about 300,000 years ago Homo Sapiens evolved, beginning to look like we do facially.

About 210,000 years ago Homo Sapiens left Africa with larynges ideal for speech.

About 170,000 years ago we started to build, and to use clothing.

From about 100,000 years drawing and art in caves started. (I like to think of some of the cave-art as the first visual-aids in teaching, along the lines of "Uggboy here. Ugggirl here. Me stick. Bison pokey. All stick. Bison pokey. Bison fire. Yum yum")

By 40,000 years ago language as we know it now began to exist.

Eventually, by about 12,000 years ago we discovered agriculture, causing people to settle down.

When humans settled in one place, over time cities and great civilizations formed.

The Sumerian culture developed about 5,000 years ago in the Middle East and gave us much that we still use today, including the counting to 12 habit (joints on the fingers of one hand, countable with the thumb), governance systems, writing etc.

Medicines such as salicylic acid (aspirin) from leaves, tobacco, and cannabis would all have existed by then.

Sometime later came the Egyptians, who we might never have heard of if it were not for their pyramids, which were a continuation of the idea of a ziggurat used by the Sumerians. They also carried forward some of the ancient folk-tales from previous cultures, including such things as those ziggurat towers in Babylon (Tower of Bable), and tales of floods for which there are any number of natural events in and around the Mediterranean over the eons.

Since we've had speech for about 25,000,000 years it isn't too difficult to imagine that even the re-flooding of the Mediterranean Sea approximately 5,300,000 years ago could be a potential candidate for the original flood story; which story being eventually told around campfires would have become greatly embellished over thousands of re-tellings.

And then along came the very war-loving Romans who were as brutal in suppression of dissent as their tale of their city being founded by two humans raised by a wolf would suggest.

In the course of establishing their dominance over all others, they gathered (or misunderstood) some Middle Eastern folk tales (including bits of Sumerian legends), and developed the Christian religion ultimately used as a mechanism to program humans to be better soldiers (or compliant citizens). They subsequently renumbered the years of the calendar to help obscure and cause to be forgotten anything that had existed before them.

Since the Romans had no symbol for 0 they needed to wait for that concept to get to Europe from Eastern/Indian sources and the advanced mathematics it enabled. By then the cities of the Western half of the Roman Empire were already in turmoil, including the former capital, Rome. We're taught that was the end of the Roman Empire; It wasn't.

In reality, the Eastern half of the Roman Empire continued just as strong for another 1,000 years, centered on what had been made the capital in 324, Constantinople. This acted as a shield against invasions from further East, so that by the time it in turn fell, the civil administrators of the Western Roman Empire had already realised the military and financial advantage their religion gave them, and morphed the empire into something else. It had become the creature it is now: a power-brokering, wealth-addicted, intangible empire of the human mind. It became a highly successful global crime syndicate continuing to operate from the Vatican in Rome even to this day.

In its hey-day it grew very wealthy on its percentage share of the undertakings of the states that took its franchise, and used that to plunder other less militaristic societies around the planet.

In 1155 Rome authorised the invasion of Ireland by the English (British) King Henry and they have remained ever since.

Ireland should have been easy to conquer because the people there (who some believe include people descended from ancient peoples who migrated there from the Middle East thousands of years before) were not unified by being members of one state but by being members of their wider families, who happened to live together mostly peacefully on one island. However it took almost 700 years for the English to feel confident they could safely unite Ireland with their other lands.

When another English Henry separated from Rome, he took for himself the tools of the power of Rome, which the British in turn used to conquer and plunder most of the planet.

Much of this effort used Ireland as a large farm for the Army of the British. They had attempted to clear the land of unwanted growth like the Irish people. This was the same way they had cleared many parts of Scotland by sending people from there into Ireland, in what was called "planting". Like agriculture.

I imagine the conversation in Scotland would have been something like:

- "The British King says this is my land now"
- Oh
- "I want to put cattle on this land" 
- Oh
- "Shall I kill you or send you to Ireland"
- Ireland, please. Anywhere, in fact
- "There's a condition"
- I'm still with the not-kill option, thank you very much
- "You swear loyalty to the British King"
("Or Queen!", Reg interjects)
- Not-kill, please
- "For this generation and for all generations, henceforth and forever, despite all reason and without question, forever to be loyal"
- Not-kill, please
- "Sign here, in blood"
- Is it OK if I sign in someone elses blood? It's just I don't quite trust you with sharp objects yet...
- "Who do you have in mind?"
- What about the people that are already there?
- "That's the spirit!"
- Yeah, but I'll still need Sundays off...

Many hundreds of years later, when the Irish struck a fatal blow in the heart of the British Empire, that Empire began to unravel. Barely able to stand after fighting the empire, the nearly independent Irish yielded to pressure to become independent, but not quite independent, within divisive structures the British envisaged. What we would nowadays call an "apartheid" system.

An Irish person (though some would say Spanish) who had wanted to be a Roman priest (a soldier) but advised by them that he wasn't a legitimate person, helped the British by being a leading cause of a civil war among the Irish. With so much anger and social division the Irish would not easily be able to unify their efforts to continue their attempts at independence.

When it was convenient that same person completely changed their position, but now his previous loyalty to Rome showed up again, and by being willingly subservient to the Roman King he used Roman strength to gain power. A side-effect of that person's subservience, when the Irish were as weakened as they were from invasion, genocide, and war, was that the Romans were ideally positioned to become the power-brokers in the new State.

Because of the relative strength of the British, the Romans were the only coherent force over hundreds of years that could challenge the authority of the British Empire. As is the way when large empires fight, individual small countries become the battlegrounds. It is through that circumstance that the Irish became identified closely with Rome, though some of that may simply have come from the fact that this was prohibited by the other invader. No one has every successfully argued that the Irish were not occasionally contrary; only that it was their right to be as contrary as they wish, according to their own genius and tradition.

Through the new leader in 1937, to preserve their position, the Romans not only wove themselves into every aspect of Irish society but also into the education system. I suspect that from his childhood he must have desperately needed approval of a male parent, and wanted to show just how legitimate he was to the all-male Roman Curia.

The Romans wanted control of education because that was part of the franchise mechanism they had developed over hundreds of years, realising that if they could colonise the minds of children before they knew any better, then they could continue their influence into every future generation.

The Romans still peddle their misunderstood and simplistic Middle Eastern tales as explanations for where we came from including the foundational "do as you're told and don't ask questions, or else you'll be punished" story that prompted your son's questioning. 😊

I suggest that at a minimum, you explain to your son that the teachers who pass on the Adam/Eve message were misled as children - when they were his age - but no one told them the truth of things since then; and that he's lucky to live in a time when the truth of human history is available, if he just keeps asking questions.

He should also not feel too upset at his teachers as individuals. They were taught by others, who were taught by others, who were taught by others, all of whom knew less and less as we go back through time. And if we go back enough in time we'd be in the era where if you knew better than the Roman priests garrisoned locally, you were likely to be tortured and killed if you said anything in public. Much of Rome's 'greatness' was built upon it's ability to suppress dissent. Which made it an expert at concealment, because people were generally too afraid to speak-up when they saw hypocrisy, and anyway they were taught in school "not to cast the first stone", and to re-assure themselves that in any event it's "difficult for a rich person to go to heaven" etc. His teachers are just the latest in a long line of people with whom someone needs to sit down, and with whom to have a grown-up conversation and explain the truth.

Some further reading:

Why a good Brexit matters to Ireland

It may be the most entertaining reality show in years, but there’s an importance to the Brexit saga that is less obvious.

There is increasing international discord. Between the US and Iran. Between the US and China. Between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Between China and its neighbours. Between the UK and the rest of Europe.

This doesn’t include the internal divisions such as between China and Hong Kongers. Or in Syria. Or the exceptional stresses to which the spirit of English nationalism has subjected their United Kingdom.

Cooler heads must reign if there is to be peace.

But if there is to be not-peace then this island must be able to secure its sea border.

Éire is the Ark. It is civilisation’s lifeboat and safe haven.

Once before we fulfilled this role. When the Dark Ages existed across Europe, it was in Irish monasteries that books were stored and copied. These enabled Western civilisation to surface and continue once perilous times ended.

The very least an Ark needs to be able to do is to use the water around it as protection if circumstances require that. A Brexiting UK does not have that as it’s first priority.

But it should be ours.

Summer School Podcast

Professor Colin Harvey on Brexit

It gives courage when someone else arrives at our same thoughts, and that’s the case with us and Professor Harvey. Listening to Professor Colin Harvey is like listening to an echo.

The 2nd morning of the Summer School began with Brian McClinton, editor of the Freethinker magazine, suggesting that it would be better that HAI would divide in two. One section for Ceremonies and Chaplaincy and the other for Education and Philosophy.

But by far, and as keynote, the best presentation was at the end of the second day, when Professor Harvey demonstrated his clear understanding of our present reality and advised: better by far to be part of the Brexit conversation.

Take 20 minutes and listen to his presentation.


For obvious health reasons, your Humanism Ireland circle hasn’t been meeting for a while. There are some Zoom meetings for essential business, secured as usual, but confirm your proxy ports.

Republicans, humanists, civil-rights campaigners are welcome to make contact.

Beidh sár fáilte má tá Gaeilge agat; níl fáilte gan meas ar ár teanga duchasach, cé nach bhfuil gá bheith líofa leis.

Tabharfaidh cóp don App do baill ansin; sí an App an phríomh uirlis chun teagmháil linn féin.

The Limerick County circle meets on the 4th Friday of each month in the region of the Grange stone circle. It’s definitely best to send an email first, rather than just showing up to this meeting.

Beidh Gaeilge an usáideach agat anseo.