Unbelievable – When Morality Becomes Literary Criticism

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.
[Read more...]

Evangelists for Humanity – Join Us!

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...]

Baby, You’re a Firework! – Humanism and the Hereafter

“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...]

Humanists don’t have Faith – We Got Hope!

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...]

Representing Humanism: What do I Wear?

Stoles, robes and miters – oh my! Humanists have the worldview most solidly supported by evidence. We are masters and mistresses of the raised eyebrow, satire and wit streaming from our books and blogs. We are often decades ahead on the moral issues of the day.

But let’s face it: the religious have the best clothes. [Read more...]

American Humanism: Time to Cross the Threshold

On Sunday 10th the American Humanist Association’s 70th Annual Conference drew to a close. What did this convocation of American Humanists (and important visitors from around the world) reveal about the state of Humanism in America?

It showed that American Humanism is brimming with potential. And it showed that we must work hard to fulfill it. It is time for a full-throated Humanism with strong foundations. Prepare your voice, and prepare your hands: we have songs to sing, and communities to build. [Read more...]

Informed Worship – Res Miranda!

“I would suggest that science is, at least in my part, informed worship.”

Who said this? Perhaps you’re thinking it has a sense of the New Age about it, a slight hint of woo. Maybe it’s the sort of thing you might expect Deepak Chopra to say, an amalgam of pseudoscience and feel-good spirituality that is fed to credulous seekers for a “reasonable” price. It’s surely not, you may think, something any self-respecting naturalist would would allow to pass their lips… [Read more...]


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