Humanism and Prisoners’ Rights: A Reply to Jon Guy
Jon Guy has written an impassioned essay taking strong exception to a 2015 editorial in which we maintained, among other things, that the American Humanist Association (AHA) had employed an inadvisable legal strategy in its representation of an Oregon inmate, James Holden. AHA filed a lawsuit on Holden’s behalf when his federal correctional institution denied …
Cosmocracy, We Hardly Knew Ye
For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see Saw a Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be … Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer and the battle-flags were furled In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world. —Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “Locksley Hall” (1842) The secular …
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming
The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming, by David Wallace-Wells (New York: Tim Duggan Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2019, ISBN 9780525576709). 320 pp. Hardcover, $27.00. So, how bad do you think climate change is going to be? Take a minute. Nah. It’ll be way …
Meanwhile, Back at the Chasm …
In “Humanism’s Chasm” (FI, February/March 2019), I reflected on the differences between older and younger unbelievers, especially regarding their views of themselves as members of a marginalized group (the young tend not to see themselves this way) and the importance they attach to antireligious activism (the young tend not to see the point). My essay …
We Stand Corrected!
Reader Paula Prince questioned the accuracy of a photograph we published in our December 2018/January 2019 issue that purported to show suffrage leader Matilda Joslyn Gage among a group of suffrage demonstrators (Letters, FI, April/May 2019). Prince argued that the clothing depicted was inappropriate for the claimed date of 1876; she argued that the photo …
An Asymmetric (Failed) Masterpiece
Dangerous Illusions: How Religion Deprives Us of Happiness, by Vitaly Malkin, translated and adapted from the Russian by an unknown party (or parties) (London and New York: Arcadia Publishing, 2019, ISBN 9781911350286). 416 pp. Hardcover, $30.00. Vitaly Malkin, sequentially a physicist, banker, Russian senator, and billionaire oligarch, aspires to a new (fifth?) career as …
Introduction: Nones and the Vote
In my February/March 2019 editorial “Humanism’s Chasm,” I sounded an alarm: the conditions experienced by the current generation of nonreligious Americans have become so different from those familiar to past generations that existing national humanist, secular humanist, and atheist organizations risk becoming irrelevant. Owing mostly to the rise of the Nones—an enormous growth in the …
Introduction: A Thoughtful Challenge to Objective Morality
To the degree that Free Inquiry has an intellectual platform, moral objectivity has been part of it. In his 1988 book Forbidden Fruit, Paul Kurtz influentially described a humanist morality that is neither the authoritative command of a divine law-giver nor a subjective matter of preference. “Secular humanists hold that ethics is consequential, to be …
The Vacuous and the Vile
More Templeton Mischief. Free Inquiry has frequently reported on the vastly wealthy John Templeton Foundation, which since its founding in 1987 has made grants totaling many tens of millions of dollars to promote the notion that science and religion are compatible. Some of them backfired. In “Have Christians Accepted the Scientific Conclusion That God Does …
Good News Misunderstood
Among its many frustrating attributes, the year-end holiday season is a graveyard for news stories. Want to make sure no one pays attention? Release your story in late December. That seems to be what happened, if perhaps inadvertently, to this December 20 item by veteran New York Times journalist Sabrina Tavernise: “Growth Rate in Population …
Here is one of organized humanism’s most persistent puzzles: In an America where the number who live without religion has snowballed, why hasn’t the membership of national “movement” groups—atheist, agnostic, freethought, and secular humanist—kept pace? I’ve been covering the “Rise of the Nones” since 1990, when Barry Kosmin (now a Center for Inquiry [CFI] board …
Raspberry Pretzel Salad Logic
The following is excerpted from Tom Flynn’s third science-fiction novel, the antireligious black-comedy technothriller Behold, He Said (Double Dragon Publishing, November 2018). It is the belated sequel to his earlier novels Galactic Rapture (2000) (being reissued as Messiah Games) and Nothing Sacred (2004) (also being reissued, both by Double Dragon). In a future not unlike …
Truth, Once Again Well-Sought
In her editorial in this issue, Robyn E. Blumner recounts her discovery of “forgotten suffragist” Matilda Joslyn Gage. That discovery was facilitated by Blumner’s participation in the Silver Anniversary celebration of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum held in Syracuse, New York, this past August. A presentation there reviewed Gage’s life and work in preparation …
Elbow Room for the Masses
Free Will Explained: How Science and Philosophy Converge to Create a Beautiful Illusion. By Dan Barker (New York: Sterling Publishing, 2018, ISBN 978-1-4549-2735-8). 176 pp. Softcover, $9.95. Former fundamentalist minister, lifelong musician, and longtime freethought activist Dan Barker seems to have found a new niche: reinterpreting the Four Horsemen for broader audiences. His 2016 God: The …
A Worthy Introduction to Russell
Bertrand Russell: Public Intellectual. Edited by Tim Madigan and Peter Stone (Rochester, N.Y.: Tiger Bark Press, 2016, ISBN 978-0-9976305-0-3). 241 pp. Softcover, $22.95. This appealing anthology profiles mathematician, philosopher, peace activist, sex radical, and humanist Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) through the lens of his status as a public intellectual. In the mid-twentieth century, Russell was perhaps a …
End of a Golden Era
I first discovered that church-state jurisprudence existed—and that it could enhance my life—at age seven. On June 17, 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its 8–1 verdict in the combined cases Abington School District v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett. Both concerned state-sponsored Bible reading in public schools; the High Court thundered that this practice violated separation …
The Signature of Freedom
The cover article of Free Inquiry’s previous issue (“By My Own Hand: Suicide Can Be a Wise and Gentle Choice,” by Lowrey R. Brown) was expected to generate more controversy than it did. Consider the timing: Though the decision to publish Brown’s essay in the August/September 2018 issue was made months in advance, “By My …
Harlan and Me
One cold spring day in 2005, I was alone in the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum, setting up the exhibits for the museum’s twelfth anniversary season. The fax machine (the museum’s only phone) rang. Mind you, nobody calls me when I’m off in the Finger Lakes region doing museum setup unless it’s an office emergency. …
Time Is Irreverent, by Marty Essen
Time Is Irreverent, by Marty Essen (Victor, Montana: Encante Press, 2018, ISBN 978-0-9778599-4-8) 238 pp., Softcover, $14.99. Time Is Irreverent is not really a science-fiction novel. It’s a novel that takes familiar science-fiction tropes and bangs them together like that mechanical monkey in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. From the clatter somehow emerges …
Organized Secularism in the United States: New Directions in Research, Edited by Ryan T. Cragun, Christel Manning, and Lori L. Fazzino
Organized Secularism in the United States: New Directions in Research, edited by Ryan T. Cragun, Christel Manning, and Lori L. Fazzino (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017, ISBN 978-3-11-045742-1) 321 pp., Hardcover, $114.99. In November 2014, Pitzer College, home of prominent secularism researcher Phil Zuckerman, hosted the third international conference of the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network …
Does Opportunity Knock?
A few issues back, I proposed a possible longer-term goal for the secular humanist/atheist/freethought movement (“A Modest Proposal: Get Religion Out of the Charity Business,” FI, December 2017/January 2018). I admitted that seeking to end religion’s role in providing social services was a long shot, perhaps “unattainable.” In this op-ed, I’d like to propose a more …
Appreciating the Unknown Ingersoll
Ingersoll was a brilliant man and a rousing orator, but he wasn’t always ahead of his time.
‘Radically’ Redesigned: Re-Experience the Freethought Trail
The Council’s Freethought Trail has a new look and new features.
Freethought’s History Mustn’t Be Forgotten
Radical-reform history is obscure largely because religious conservatives want it that way.
The best path forward for humankind involves consigning as much of our religious heritage as possible to history’s proverbial dustbin.
Tale of the Trail
This year is the silver anniversary of the re-opening of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum by what is now known as the Council for Secular Humanism. (The birthplace of nineteenth-century agnostic orator Robert Green Ingersoll had been restored and opened as a museum twice before—in the 1920s and the 1950s—each time closing after a …
A Trail for the Heartland
New York State has no monopoly on radical reform history.
An Unexpected Milestone
It’s the Ingersoll Museum’s silver anniversary. Celebration will ensue.
The Mything Person Department
Was there a historical Jesus of Nazareth? Or is he best understood as, pardon the expression, a mything person?
A Short but Essential Read on Secularism
Numerous books offer an introduction to humanism. Many more acquaint the reader with naturalism. There’s an absolute torrent of “primers” on atheism. But secularism?
Community Life or Disbelief?
As a rule, Free Inquiry does not review books that are self-published or issued by subsidy or vanity presses. An exception is made for A Reluctant Agnostic because of the work’s unique character.
The Corruption of Philosophy?
The John Templeton Foundation spends lavishly—and sometimes questionably—in order to oppose naturalism in philosophy.
A balanced approach toward the problems we face will demand the best of science and philosophy.
Eighteen Templeton Foundation Grants
What does the Templeton Foundation spend its money on? Here are eighteen examples.
If philosophical naturalism is as important as secular humanists think it is, we need to be ready to rise to its defense.
A Modest Proposal: Get Religion Out of the Charity Sector
Do church-run charities still have a place in a more secular future? If not, what about humanist charities?
September 30 marks International Blasphemy Rights Day (IBRD), which the Center for Inquiry has observed since its beginning.1 IBRD celebrates the right of authors, artists, and dissidents to treat religious matters as they see fit, even to the point of offending believers.
In the preceding issue, Part 11 of this three-part symposium in print took a think-tank approach, emphasizing naturalism’s implications for education and public policy. In Part 2, we turn in a more critical direction.
All Things Bold and Blasphemous
Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day (IBRD)! Secular humanists and other free-speech stalwarts celebrate IBRD each September 30. For more on the observance, see my Introduction to this issue’s cover feature, “Art, Blasphemy, and Humanism”.
Who cares about philosophy, anyway? You must, because you have one.