Paul Kurtz passed away over the weekend at the age of 86. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who did more to advance secular humanism, atheism and skepticism over the last century and he had an enormous influence on me during my late teens and early 20s.
Kurtz was a builder. He founded or co-founded a laundry list of organizations, including the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism ((originally the Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism), the Committee for Scientific Inquiry (originally the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), the Institute for Science and Human Values, and Prometheus Books. He was also the co-president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and one of the writers of the second Humanist Manifesto.
Unfortunately, the last few years saw a fair bit of ugliness in many of the organizations he founded. His resignation from CFI, CSI and CSH, which may well have been forced, led to a lot of hurt feelings. This is not unusual, of course; many organizations do not survive the loss or death of their founders at all. Thankfully, all three organizations continue to grow under the leadership of his successors and I’m happy to be involved with all of them. But this is the time to celebrate his life, and Kurtz did more in one lifetime than most of us could do in twenty. He leaves behind a legacy that will continue to promote humanist and secular values well into the future.