Today the British Humanist Association (BHA) is sending over a free copy of The Young Atheist’s Handbook: Lessons for Living a Good Life without God to every secondary school library in England and Wales. Funded entirely from donations by thousands of people from all around the country, the initiative 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 was written by science teacher Alom Shaha and tells the story of his upbringing in a Bangladeshi Muslim community in South East London, how he overcame his inner conflict surrounding his atheism, and the lessons he learnt in leading a good life, full of awe and wonder, based on humanist principles.
This book will make you think and it’s hard to give a greater compliment than that... a deeply personal and sensitively constructed exposition of some of the most enduring philosophical questions... particularly fascinating...endearingly autobiographical style... 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.
RE Today magazine
The Young Atheist's Handbook is a powerful resource for any young person who has questions about the world around them – whether they’re from a religious background or not. The British Humanist Association believes that all young people should be free to explore the full range of beliefs and values in Britain, including Humanism, and that school should be a place for them to explore these issues for themselves.
To accompany the book the BHA has resources on www.humanismforschools.org.uk/young-atheists-handbook to help teachers include lessons from The Young Atheist’s Handbook within the Religious Education lessons.
Commenting on the success of the initiative, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘Alom’s book is a perfect tool for helping young people to think critically about the world around them, whether used in the classroom to stimulate discussion or simply read at home for pleasure, with the warmth and colour that only autobiography can provide.’
Commenting on the value of the book in Religious Education and elsewhere, BHA Head of Education Sara Passmore said, ‘Nationally, most young people have non-religious beliefs and values. However, in a large number of schools, pupils only have access to a number of religious perspectives on life’s bigger questions, and not to the humanist ones that most non-religious people in Britain share. Alom’s book will help schools to be places where pupils can encounter the broad range of religious and non-religious worldviews in modern Britain. Young people with religious beliefs will be helped to appreciate the beliefs of others by the sensitive words of Alom Shaha, and non-religious young people will be helped to develop a moral and ethical framework of their own.’
For further comment, detail or information, contact Sara Passmore by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 initiative 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.
Lesson materials and videos to support the book can be found on humanismforschools.org.uk
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.
About the British Humanist Association
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.
What people have been saying about The Young Atheist’s Handbook:
'Like many bright and curious children before and since -- kind teachers, books, and school provided the young Alom Shaha with a ladder out of inner city poverty and an escape from his abusive, feckless father. But The Young Atheist’s Handbook is no anti-Muslim misery memoir. Rather its strength is the way he explores his life and faith scientifically, through a series of thought experiments. From its taboo busting opening, when, in a simple experiment he eats pork for the first time, Alom Shaha’s rational exploration of the corrosive power of religious indoctrination is refreshingly down to earth, heartfelt and deeply moving. It combines a raw personal story of his Bangladeshi Muslim background with the understated and carefully researched honesty of a scientist seeking the truth, and of a teacher wanting to free young minds. An inspiring and brave book that speaks for thousands who dare not admit their atheism.' — Samira Ahmed, Journalist and broadcaster (BBC Radio 4, ex-Channel 4 News)
‘A touching personal account that makes for a courageous and compelling read. This is among the most powerful and convincing arguments against religion that I have come across, and it is written in a way that is never patronising or trivialising.’ — Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE, physicist and broadcaster
‘Not just a scientist and a humanist, Alom is a warm storyteller who, through a series of loose lessons, relates how he discovered that it is possible to live a compassionate, fulfilling, and meaningful life without God or religion. Blending memoir, philosophy, and science, the book is essential reading for all young people.’ — Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association
'This is not a book to argue with – it’s a story to listen to and meditate on…it’s an honest telling of one man’s experience that everyone should read, no matter their theological stripe.' — Thinking Christian
‘A book that destroys the cliche of the atheist as joyless rationalist and shows the humanity, love, and concern that often lies behind godless thinking.’ — Robin Ince, writer and comedian
‘More than just a great handbook, this is an honest and often very moving story about valuing truth over hope, even in the face of grief.’ — Tim Minchin, comedian
‘Illuminates the route to a better destination for all those who seek what Alom found, namely, that precious liberty of mind which makes its possessor open to all good things.’ — A.C. Grayling, philosopher and author of The Good BookMore Articles by Humanists UK ...