35 Years Ago in Free Inquiry
“Since April 24, 1978, I have been sober—free from alcohol and all other mind-altering chemicals. … My only chance for continued survival is the maintenance of my personal sobriety. A well-accepted approach to curing addicts is to utilize the substitute addiction of reliance upon a mystical power ‘greater’ than oneself, and it is part of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and other support groups for the treatment of alcoholism and drug abuse. This approach at worst involves the alcoholic in an oppressive cultist atmosphere; at best, it encourages dependence upon something or someone other than oneself and therefore renders one’s sobriety conditional. …
“Secular humanists should not be expendable. … Perhaps the day will come when alcoholism and drug-abuse support groups unconditionally welcome any suffering addict and help the individual by strengthening his or her rational consciousness, free from superstition.”
—James Christopher, “Sobriety without Superstition,”
Free Inquiry, Volume 5, No. 3 (Summer 1985)
Editor’s Note: Following strong response to this article, the Council for Secular Humanism quickly formed Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) with James Christopher as its director. It helped to launch an alternative recovery movement that now provides greater options for nonreligious persons facing addiction. SOS is now an independent nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, and Christopher continues to lead it.
25 Years Ago in Free Inquiry
“The idea of God is one of the great ideas of human culture. It often acts as the limiting case of some other idea or thing. … The idea of God has changed little over the last few centuries. There have been few research breakthroughs in religion and philosophy.
“I want to argue that God has a proper place in the speculative thought of the future. That place is not in religion or philosophy. It is in science fiction. A science fiction author can push the principles of science beyond the known bounds of fact or of what one can hope to test. The author might cast God as an advanced alien or as an optimizing agent that acts before the Big Bang or after the Big Crunch. Then the author must work out how much such a God shapes our web of cause and effect. The result may be a new way to view man’s place in the cosmos or just the mental delight that comes of reading a good fresh tale. The result might also give the irrational spur that leads some dreamer to put forth a new theorem or physical theory.”
—Bart Kosko, “The Future of God,”
Free Inquiry, Volume 15, No. 3 (Summer 1995)
Editor’s Note: Bart Kosko is now a professor of electrical engineering and law at the University of Southern California. He is known as a researcher and popularizer of fuzzy logic and neural networks. He has authored several books related to machine intelligence.