I love inspiration: I think it’s one of the most important and underrated aspects of human experience. That sense you get when something wonderful, something amazing takes your breath away, drops your jaw and makes you go “Wow!” I find inspiration in many things: art, theatre, music, the natural world, the fantastic discoveries of science, [Read More...]
No less an atheist prophet than Sam Harris has defended, at length, both the use of the term “spiritual” and the value of the experiences to which the term usually applies. “We must reclaim good words and put them to good use”, he says, arguing that “transcendent experiences…should be studied scientifically”. Cass Seltzer, hero of [Read More...]
I believe the time has come to revive Felix Adler’s vision – his idea that a more Ethical Culture can be built only through communities dedicated to moral betterment. From now on, this idea will be the primary focus of this blog. As a more personal adjunct to my writing at the Humanist Community Project, I will use this space to explore the idea of Humanist community building, including discussions of community practices, organizational structure, cultural resources, ritual and other aspects of communal experience. And I will use it a s a forum to host my work as I speak, talk and teach on this subject around the world. Ingersoll’s voice will still be heard – he is not banished from this blog! – but Adler’s vision will predominate. [Read more...]
The Humanist Community Project is about all of us – all human beings. It is an endeavor to work out how to grow and supercharge existing communities of Humanists to ensure we have a greater impact on the world stage than we have currently, and to defeat those forces who would demonize us, silence us, and impose their views upon us. It is a project that would benefit from your support. [Read more...]
Religion and politics – two subjects we are admonished to avoid discussing at all costs. But what about irreligion and politics? How does the life stance of Humanism intersect with the political sphere? Are there political views that are mandatory for Humanists, part of the definition of the term? Is Humanism necessarily political? Or can Humanism as a philosophy stand aloof from political concerns and embrace the whole range of political perspectives? [Read more...]
While Humanists frequently voice our commitment to a set of humanitarian values, often our most high profile movement efforts are related to defending the barrier between church and state: lawsuits against the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance, or against the National Day of Prayer, for instance. I can’t help but wonder, laudable though these efforts are, if the resources we devote to them might do more good – for humanity and our cause – if they were temporarily diverted to humanitarian work which directly improved the lives of our fellows.
Instead of crafting a movement which is (Good) Without God, let’s endeavor to be Good (Without God). [Read more...]
It’s not my normal practice to listen to Christian radio. Although I love music, there’s nothing more likely to induce me to vomit than Christian Pop interspersed with pious priests talking in that sickly, syrupy voice they have when dispersing their moral goodies like cherry-flavored cough-drops from the family doctor.
However, each Sunday I like to listen to Unbelievable?, a program on Premier Christian Radio. Recent programs have left me with one unambiguous message: it is supremely foolish to allow questions of morality to become exercises in literary criticism.
I admit it – when I’m discussing with others, I want to win. But I don’t just want to defeat my opponents. I want to convince them. I yearn to persuade. And that passion, that fire, is no stronger than when I’m talking about Humanism. So it’s no surprise that, recently, a friend approached me after a panel I had spoken on and told me “James, you know what? You’re an evangelical. An evangelical Humanist.”
My friend was right. [Read more...]
“I do not know how to prove physically, that we shall meet and know each other in a future state; nor does Revelation, as I can find, give us any positive assurance of such a felicity. My reasons for believing it, as I do most undoubtedly, are that I cannot conceive such a being could make such a species as the human, merely to live and die on this earth. If I did not believe in a future state, I should believe in no God. This Universe, this all would appear, with all of its swelling pomp, a boyish firework.” – John Adams
To this, a Humanist reply: in the words of noted philosopher Katy Perry, “Baby, You’re a Firework!”
This post originally appeared at State of Formation, an interfaith community blog. [Read more...]
I’m sitting in the lecture theatre at the Harvard Kennedy School, at the opening session of Faith and Leadership in a Fragmented World. We’re here for a week-long interfaith workshop on the role of faith in leadership, and we’re being addressed by world-renowned experts in religious pluralism and political organizing. And everyone is talking about “faith backgrounds”, “faith traditions”, “faith-based values”. I’ve been invited to attend to represent Secular Humanism, and I’m feeling a little left out. So I raise my hand, and ask whether, together, as a group, we can come up with language that is inclusive of those, like myself, who do not have faith.
And one of our esteemed workshop leaders replies “Everyone has faith. Atheism is a faith! It requires just as much faith to be a Humanist as anything else!”
And I have to resist my immediate instinct to facepalm. [Read more...]