Cover of New Humanist winter 2022

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Evolution Revolution

Intelligence is everywhere

Jay Owens talks to the new writers exploring the frontiers of non-human sentience, from AI to cephalapods.

Some writers might react against the western capitalist worldview by fetishising traditional rural or Indigenous lifeways. Instead, Bridle and Nayler are attempting something more interesting: a counter-reading of western science that finds there has been space for ecosystemic thinking and more-than-human community all along.

How it all began

Groundbreaking new research looks set to overturn our understanding of the origins of life on Earth, as Peter Forbes writes.

Since the discovery of DNA, inquiries into the origin of life have tended to focus on how DNA replication and the genetic code originated. How could complex life have begun to develop without such a code? We may now be opening a new chapter in biology that turns our assumptions upside down.

The evolution of ideas

The Huxley family was linked with the atheist movement. But as Alison Bashford discovered, there relationship to religion was more complicated than it might seem.

Julian and Aldous both returned to Blake, time and again, trying to capture transcendence, through him, for themselves. And Aldous, we know, actively sought ways to experience this state, through words, through meditation, and finally through his death-bed injection of mescaline, which his wife called “a sacrament”.


J.P. O'Malley speaks with Adam Rutherford about the dark history and troubling present of eugenics.

...incidence of Down’s syndrome has effectively dropped to zero in those countries. That does indeed begin to look like a eugenics project. It really doesn’t matter whether we call it eugenics or not. The real impact is that there is a group of people who exist today, who, through advances in technology and reproductive medicine, may not continue to exist in the future.

The winter 2022 issue of New Humanist is on sale now! Subscribe here for as little as £10 a year.

Also in this issue:

Prince Charles with the Queen

  • The accession of Charles III is a historic opportunity to modernise the monarchy and make a break from the Church, argues Andrew Copson
  • Minoli Salgado was in Colombo for protests that rocked the country. She writes about how they transformed Sri Lanka
  • We should learn from the Romantics, Fiona Sampson writes, and develop a more radical view of the countryside
  • Isabella Kaminski listens to the young people taking their governments to court over climate change
  • The Korean Wave exhibition at the V&A gets Samira Ahmed thinking about soft power
  • Joseph Roth's novels of faded majesty are strangely resonant in Britain today, writes Christopher Shrimpton
  • Dominic Hinde reports from Sweden on the forces behind the unexpected rise of the far-right
  • Funnier than fiction? Ralph Jones asks what our hunger for authenticity is doing to comedy
  • PLUS: Columns from Michael Rosen and Laurie Taylor, book reviews, poems, cryptic crossword and Chris Maslanka's quiz

New Humanist is published four times a year by the Rationalist Association, a 136-year-old charity promoting reason and free enquiry. We're a quarterly magazine of culture, ideas, science and philosophy. To make a deeper commitment to our work, why not become a member of the Rationalist Association?