Introduction

Tom Flynn

In the October/November 2010 issue, I offered a one-word definition of secular humanism-I suggested that it was emancipatory-and I challenged readers to offer their own one-word completion of the sentence “Secular humanism is…” backed by a brief essay setting forth the rationale.

Not everyone embraced the challenge. An e-mail correspondent we know only as Transient Macy said that secular humanism is “palaver invented by well-meaning humans on which to hang an anti-religious credo. I like my atheism unadorned and don’t like being praught to.”

But many other readers responded, and Free Inquiry is pleased to offer a selection of their work. It’s a safe bet that most of our contributors would identify themselves as secular humanists-most of them proudly so. But there’s one conspicuous exception. The Reverend David A. Noebel, president of Summit Ministries and coauthor with Tim LaHaye of the best-selling MindSiege family of publications and products for evangelicals, read of our challenge and asked if he could send a submission. At his request, we run it only lightly edited. Readers may find Noebel’s characterization of secular humanism surprising, his mention of the American Humanist Association (AHA) in a discussion of secular humanism puzzling, and his summary of the AHA’s history as a tax-exempt organization problematic. Our letters column stands open for any comments or corrections relating to Rev. Noebel’s essay or to any of the items in this special section.

With that, the floor is open.

Tom Flynn

Tom Flynn is editor of Free Inquiry, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, director of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum, and editor of The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (2007).


In the October/November 2010 issue, I offered a one-word definition of secular humanism-I suggested that it was emancipatory-and I challenged readers to offer their own one-word completion of the sentence “Secular humanism is…” backed by a brief essay setting forth the rationale. Not everyone embraced the challenge. An e-mail correspondent we know only as Transient …

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