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Understanding Unbelief

Who Cares About Unbelief?

September 2018

‘Why atheists are not as rational as some like to think’

Dr Lois Lee, Understanding Unbelief programme lead (27 September 2018)

Many atheists think that their atheism is the product of rational thinking. They use arguments such as “I don’t believe in God, I believe in science” to explain that evidence and logic, rather than supernatural belief and dogma, underpin their thinking. But just because you believe in evidence-based, scientific research – which is subject to strict checks and procedures – doesn’t mean that your mind works in the same way. Read more…

January 2018

‘The conundrum of how to prove you hold a nonreligious worldview’

Dr Lois Lee, Understanding Unbelief programme lead (26 January 2018)

When a Pakistani humanist, Hamza bin Walayat, was denied asylum in Britain in mid January after failing to identify Plato and Aristotle as humanist philosophers, it drew international attention. The Home Office’s understanding of what it means to be a humanist and of humanism’s history is deeply flawed, and the potential consequences are very serious. Walayat’s application for asylum referred to death threats from members of his family for rejecting Islam, and fear for his life in Pakistan, which has strict blasphemy laws. But it is also just the latest indication that illiteracy about what it means to be nonreligious is widespread – even in relatively nonreligious societies such as the UK. Read more…

February 2017

‘What of nonreligion in the public sphere’

Dr Lois Lee, Understanding Unbelief programme lead (22 February 2017)

Could replacing existing notions of ‘religion’ with more inclusive categories be a better fit for increasingly ‘nonreligious’ societies? A recent UCL roundtable discussion on unbelief raised questions about several areas of social and public life where it might be necessary to take better account of the nonreligious. Lois Lee argues that a positive role for religion in the public sphere will rely on finding egalitarian models that incorporate the nonreligious alongside the religious. Read more…

January 2017

‘We need to talk about unbelief’

Rosie Dawson, BBC Journalist and Associate Fellow of the William Temple Foundation (11 January 2017)

Researchers I’ve spoken to within the growing academic field of Unbelief would agree that they are still finding out what this thing is – they speak of it as a slippery term – and debate the relationship between the categories of Non-religion and Unbelief – terms which still probably don’t mean much outside academic circles. Read more…

October 2016

‘Secularisation, Social Movements, and Sea Turtles: Reflections on the 2016 Association for the Sociology of Religion Conference’

Jacqui Frost and Amanda Schutz for the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network (18 October 2016)

In this event report Jacqui Frost and Amanda Schutz cover the Association for the Sociology of Religion’s 2016 annual meeting. They detail the launch of new research projects into Understanding Unbelief as well as offering reflections from Linda Woodhead’s lecture ‘Is No Religion the New Religion.’ Also, they share insights from a convened joint session on what social movement theories can tell us about nonreligion. Read more…