About Us > Meetings


Our public meetings usually take place at 8:00 pm on the first Tuesday of the month at the University Arms, Brook Hill, Sheffield, S3 7HG.  A map showing the location of the The University Arms can be found here

Next Meeting

Tuesday 4th March at 8:00pm
Why Does God Hate Women?
Brian Quinn, Humanist Society of West Yorkshire

Brian Quinn will address this question and consider why it is that women tolerate the discrimination practiced by many world religions.

Future Meetings

Tuesday 1st April - “Fair Admissions” - This talk by Mike Granville will address the current unfair arrangements for admissions to faith schools, which are fully funded by general taxation. The information for this talk is provided by the Accord Coalition, an organisation that includes people from different faiths and none. This talk was held over from 5 November when it seems that people were too busy burning effigies of a Catholic! Let’s hope the date doesn’t cause a problem this time.

Past Meetings 2013

Tuesday 4th February at 8:00pm
From Darwin until now. A short history of a big idea.
Josh Maher, Phd Candidate in Genetics at Cambridge University

Josh Maher will go through the history of Darwinian thought from the germ of an idea to the fully fledged upright bipedal theory that is today. That's right - the evolution of evolution, its proponents, its detractors, its changes and its victories.

Tuesday 3rd December 2013 at 8:00pm
Child Marriage – the Causes, Challenges and How We Can Fight It
Geoff Densham, Plan UK

Geoff Densham, a volunteer with Plan UK will present a talk on the challenges faced in the campaign to put an end to child marriages. Not an easy subject to address, his presentation will include how Plan UK is campaigning to put an end to it, addressing issues such as education, religion and community, We will also hear the story of a survivor of child marriage.

Geoff, an engineer by trade, has been speaking for Plan UK for five years. He has also been a sponsor of Plan's work in the Dominican Republic and Haiti for over 20 years, including raising money for specific projects e.g. girls scholarships.

Tuesday 5th November 2013 at 8:00pm
air Admissions to State Schools
Mike Granville, Sheffield Humanist Society

Support the Fair Admissions Campaign

If a state school is designated as "a school with a religious character" it is exempt from the requirement not to discriminate on grounds of religion or belief in relation to admissions even though that school may be funded entirely through general taxation. This means that admissions criteria may give preference to members of that religion. Is this fair? We don't think so.

Tuesday 1st October 2013 at 8:00pm
Free will, god and morality
Sam Waters, Sheffield University

The Judeo-Christian religions say we have free will to create our own fate. But the idea of a benevolent and omniscient god causes problems for this idea of free will. How does this type of god allow us to act in ways that consign us to hell?

And what of god itself? Sam will explain why omniscience is a problem for god's own free will. If a god is omniscient it has no control over what it does either.

Sam Waters is waiting to be awarded his PhD and has won the Peter H Nidditch award for excellence in Philosophy.

Tuesday 3rd September 2013 at 8:00pm
Origins of Islam, a Mythology
Guy Otten, Greater Manchester Humanists

The talk will be about the mythical origins of Islam. Most people know that much of the origins of Christianity and Judaism is mythological, but it is not so widely known that Islam’s origins are similarly mythical. This is not least because Muslims insist Islam is rooted in factual history and get ‘touchy’ if this, or any aspect of Islam, is questioned.

The talk will be based on the research that has been accumulating over the years that Islam did not exist until about 690CE (six decades after Muhammad’s death), when a political decision appears to have been made to adopt a new religion. Islam was then developed for another 150- 200 years. Most of the information we have about Muhammad did not emerge until nearly 200 years after his death. The significance of this is that the more widely known it becomes, the more individual Muslims will review their belief. Since Islam has strong internal resistance to reform, it is only Muslims rejecting Islam that will weaken its adverse influence on the world.

Guy Otten is Chair of Greater Manchester Humanists; he is a Member of the Board of Trustee of the British Humanist Association; he is a BHA accredited Humanist Celebrant; he is currently writing a book on the origins of Islam.

Tuesday 6th August 2013 at 8:00pm

Sheffield Humanist Society AGM

Tuesday 4th June 2013 at 8:00pm
The best arguments for God you probably haven't heard & why they still don't work
Ben Norwood, Sheffield University Atheist Society

A look at some of the more interesting/novel/brilliant attempts to 'prove' Gods existence.

Can they convince you?  

Tuesday 7th May 2013 at 8:00pm
Freedom of Expression
Roy Brown, International Humanist and Ethical Union

The right to freedom of expression has come under increasing pressure over recent years, not only in the developing world but here in the West.

The non-aligned movement comprising more than half the member states of the United Nations mainly from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, are continuing their efforts to have the UN adopt an international law against "defamation of religion" (read "blasphemy"); to introduce "complementary standards" to further restrict freedom of expression; and by attempting to subordinating human rights to the need to respect "traditional values".   

In Europe governments increasingly fearful of minority pressure are seeking to reduce social tension by criminalising even the mildest insults to, and valid criticism of, religions and religious practices.

But human rights are first and foremost individual rights. They do not belong to any group, nether the majority, nor any minority, but to all individuals. And freedom of expression is that right which  underpins all our other rights and freedoms.  Without strong protection for the right to freedom of expression we will be unable to expose discrimination, oppression and the abuse of human rights around the world, and corruption, malpractice, inefficiency and incompetence closer to home.

Roy Brown is a humanist and human rights activist. He was president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) from 2003 to 2006 and is main representative of IHEU at the United Nations, Geneva.

Roy has supplied us with a transcript of his talk: "Global threats to Freedom of Expression"

Roy was also invited for an interview on Sheffield Live and they have a podcast of the interview. The relevant section is between about 10 and 40 minutes into the interview. Unfortunately a request for an interview with radio Sheffield arrived too late.

Tuesday 2nd April 2013 at 8:00pm
The Omega Course Part 2
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the pulpit
Mike Granville, Sheffield Humanist Society

As non-believers we are not always as familiar as we would like to be with the questions and answers about religion, from the basics about the existence of god(s) to the details of the Bible. 

This event will try to help you with some of the questions that perhaps have you a bit puzzled. 

Mike Granville will discuss some of the more common issues but you can also send in your own question in advance if you would like to.
Email them to

Tuesday 5th March 2013 at 8:00pm
Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment

Janet Heimlich, Author & Journalist

High-profile cases such as the child sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church and “faith healing” child deaths in some fundamentalist Christian congregations have made the public aware that religion can sometimes mask deviant and harmful behaviour. But the extent of the problem is far greater than most people realize.

Janet Heimlich, author and journalist will look at the subject of her recent book about the many forms of child maltreatment found in religious contexts, including biblically-prescribed corporal punishment and beliefs about the necessity of “breaking the wills” of children; scaring kids into faith and other types of emotional maltreatment such as spurning, isolating, and withholding love; paedophilic abuse by religious authorities and the failure of religious organizations to support the victims and punish the perpetrators; and religiously-motivated medical neglect in cases of serious health problems.

While fully acknowledging that religion can be a source of comfort, strength, and inspiration to many young people, Ms. Heimlich makes a compelling case that, regardless of one’s religious or secular orientation, maltreatment of children under the cloak of religion can never be justified and should not be tolerated.

Tuesday 5th February 2013 at 8:00pm
The Ethics of Emergency Medicine Research
Steve Goodacre, University of Sheffield

If any of us has the misfortune to suffer a medical emergency, such as a heart attack, a stroke or a serious injury, we will want to receive timely and effective treatment. However, we can only be sure that treatment is effective if it has been tested in a trial involving people with the medical emergency in question. A fundamental principle of the Declaration of Helsinki, which was drawn up in the aftermath of human experiments conducted by the Nazis, is that people should only be a subject of medical research if they have given informed consent. But how can someone with a medical emergency, who may be distressed, confused or even unconscious, give informed consent to take part in research? 

Steve Goodacre is Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Sheffield and a Senior Faculty Investigator for the National Institute of Health Research. He has extensive experience of undertaking research in emergency medicine. In this talk he will describe the challenge of balancing the need to develop and test new treatments for medical emergencies against the need to respect the autonomy of critically ill or injured people to decide whether or not they take part in research.