On 13th of February, 2016. NASH enthusiasts met yet again for the third time. Previously NASH used to be Nepal Atheist and Secular Humanist society, but this was the first meet-up after we changed the name to Nepal Association of Secular Humanists. We had 23 eager minds who’d come together to share ideas and to actively take part in discussions.
This time however, was much more organized compared to our previous two meet. It took place in Name Cafe and Bar, Putalisadak, Kathmandu. Thanks to our NASH mates Mikki and Mission for making the place available for us.
There were many regular and older faces as well as many newer faces. Obviously it was exhilarating to meet and get to know more open and like-minded individuals from the same part of this world. We started with a round of introductions and also to the philosophy of Secular Humanism. Which in short, is being more than just Atheists.
The meet was organized in a sense that we had separate sessions for every plan. There were PowerPoint presentations on Secular Humanism (Shashwat), Scientific Prediction (Niraj), Scepticism (Prasun), Critical Thinking Skills (Shashwat) and Logical Fallacies (Somnath). Prakash had to himself a short segment on Rational Vegan-ism, but he had to do it devoid of the projector due to the limitations we had regarding the generator. Many of us were surely familiar with many of the things presented, but again for those who didn’t know it very well, let’s hope it helped.
Then we moved on to our next session on Free-speech. The prime discussion here was on whether or not we should impose any kind of restrictions or censorship on free speech and expressions. We were rather divided on this. Some wished to impose limitations on it for the sake of promoting constructive instead of offensive forms of expressions whereas on the other hand, there were others who believed that there should be no limitations on it whatsoever because if that happened then we’d very well loose the true essence of free-speech and the numerous unseen benefits that we can reap from it. Others did support the philosophy of absolute free-speech in theory but said in practice and in our context at least we should move step by step on the issue and to not leap ahead just for idealistic goals. The matter remained unresolved and was not concluded as it was better thought that we needed more clarity and discussions on the subject. Maybe in our next meet we could host a workshop or even indulge in further discussions on the complex issues surrounding Freedom of expression.
There were also short discussions on consensual polygamy, consanguinity, fornication, moral policing and also on the question around the disputed need to preserve our cultural heritages. We had more topics in our original agenda but due to time constraints we were compelled to strike out a few of them.
Then came our next session on Critical Thinking. It was just a discussion slot where we were supposed to use our rational factions while discussing on some issues at hand. But we had time only for one: Pseudoscience in Nepal. In this we talked about Extraordinary claims and unconvincing rhetoric surrounding Astrology, Yoga, Ayurveda, Homeopathy and other so called ‘Alternative’ remedies and also on the issue of whether or not our government should sponsor such unverified and outdated methods with well-meaning tax money.
Last but not the least, we decided to register NASH legally as an organization to obtain legitimacy and more so in order to copyright our title. So that in the future when we host debate sessions and critical, scientific and creative thinking workshops in front of the public we’ll have no trouble functioning. Not to leave out, we also discussed on having further meets in the future and on creating a new modified ‘happy human’ logo for our group.
All in all, it was a successful meet. We will be aiming to increase our attendee list and to expand the scope of NASH in future meets.
Photos: Hemanta Chitrakar