BHA: Voltaire, science, rationalism and medieval Islam

Voltaire Lecture – Lessons from the past: science and rationalism in medieval Islam

Presented by Jim Al-Khalili

We often hear these days about the tensions between science and rationalism on the one hand and devout religious beliefs on the other, whether it’s concerns over teaching of evolution in faith schools or the funding of stem cell research, or simply the attitudes of some towards science in general, either when seeing it as a threat or, at best, as no more than a driver of technology and economic power, a view often found in many countries in the developing world.

This lecture will focus on attitudes towards science in the Islamic world and will serve as a reminder of a period a millennium ago, during the Golden Age of Arabic Science, when scholars and thinkers were allowed the freedom to question and study the world around them within a spirit of free, rational enquiry that is often sadly lacking today. What lessons can we learn from the past if we are to move away from muddled thinking, superstition and ignorance?

Time:     7:30 PM   through   9:00 PM
Date:     Monday April 14th, 2014
Venue:  Conway Hall

              Red Lion Square



              WC1R 4RL

Tickets:  General £15.00  

              Member/student/unwaged £10.00

About Professor Jim Al-Khalili

Jim Al-Khalili is an Iraqi born theoretical physicist, author and broadcaster. He is a professor at the University of Surrey where he teaches and carries out his research in quantum physics.

Jim currently presents The Life Scientific on Radio 4 on Tuesday mornings, where he interviews prominent scientists about their life and work. He has presented a number of science documentaries on television, particularly on BBC4 where he says he is happiest as he can really get his teeth into a subject.

About the Voltaire Lecture

The Voltaire Lectures Fund was established by the legacy of Theodore Besterman, biographer of Voltaire, for lectures on “any aspect of scientific or philosophical thought or human activity as affected by or with particular reference to humanism.” The British Humanist Association now oversees the fund.  Previous Voltaire lecturers have included: Herman Bondi, Barbara Wootton, Bernard Crick, Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, Michael Foot, Robert Hinde, Ludovic Kennedy, Simon Blackburn, Natalie Haynes, Robin Ince, Kenan Malik, Ray Tallis and Dick Taverne.

Details about this event can be found here.

Or register now at here.


Notes to editors
Time:     7:30 PM   through   9:00 PM
Date:     April 14th, 2014
Venue:  Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn, London, United Kingdom

Tickets:  General £15.00  

              Member/student/unwaged £10.00

For further comment or press passes contact Sara Passmore on 020 7079 3586 or by email at

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.

Intern to the Campaigns Team
British Humanist Association
020 7079 3585