The Humanist Advocate

Evangelicals: Then and Now

It’s easy to get the impression (especially for those of us in the secular humanist community) that the long-term trend of dwindling congregations in mainline Protestant churches is being compensated by increasing attendance in evangelical Protestant churches. If not matched person for person, at least as notable in the increasing volume coming from the arrogant snake-oil-selling leaders.  Historically, fundamentalist evangelicals began to assert themselves into the cultural wars and political debate in the early 1970s, mostly coming from a reaction…

When Charity Falls Short

In the August 26th edition of the TheHumanist.com, author Brody Armstrong brings up some interesting points about a current topic usually at, or near the top of everyone’s “Most Concerned About” list when pollsters send out its routine queries under that heading: health care. What differentiates Armstrong’s short analysis is the role social media, specifically the way the fundraising-for-profit GoFundMe app and others like it have worked themselves into the conversation about the current healthcare crisis.   “Why GoFundMe Isn’t the…

The Hard Truths of Scientism

—Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.     The Grand Design  Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow.   —Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.   Carl Sagan   —Physical facts fix all the facts.   Alex Rosenberg   One making the claim that…

BOOK REVIEW– The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World

Readers interested in the early history of Christianity will enjoy historian Bart Ehrman’s latest book and bestseller, The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World. The book focuses mainly on what happened, and why things happened the way the did, during the 4th century. In 301 CE, Christians were a small but visible minority within the Roman Empire, subject to persecution by decree of emperor Diocletian. By 399 Christianity was the official religion of the empire, and…

If the Humanist Manifesto Were a Book It Might Look Like This

Editor’s note: The following is a continuing and expanded review of Steven Pinker’s newly released book referenced in the previous post. In what must be the most robust recent defense of the 18th Century social, political, and intellectual movement known as The Enlightenment, Steven Pinker stays true to the movement’s foundations by methodically presenting its case in his latest book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (Viking, 2018), affirming his  belief in the certainty of increasing…

Elimination Through Enlightenment: Pinker Analysis of Capital Punishment

  The trend in mass shootings  has been to find the body of the perpetrator among or nearby the dead and dying, prone on  the killing floor with his victims— either from his own hand or “neutralized” by the rescuers. (I use the masculine pronoun since these atrocities are always carried out by men.) We are then left with the multiple crises of grieving, the unending questions of causes and answers, and attempts to ferret out some sense of closure…

Young People Speaking Their Minds

Lie-In, February 19 There’s something happening here, What it is ain’t exactly clear.  There’s a man with a gun over there, Telling me I got to beware. I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound Everybody look what’s going down.   Stephen Stills, 1966.  One of the most significant and unlikely political movements involving constitutional policy in  United States history may have started Valentine’s Day, 2018. That day a mentally unbalanced teenager caught an Uber ride to his former…

Looking at Identity from the Center

A Liberal Opinion from Mark Lilla  “…the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else’ oppression.” —from the Combahee River Collective Statement, 1977 “anything achieved through movement politics can be undone through institutional politics.”—Mark Lilla, The Once and Future Liberal   Once upon a time in recent history, someone altered the quotation  “All politics is local,” reportedly said by former Speaker of the U. S. House of…

We Got to Admit It’s Getting Better…All the Time

Even though that wall calendar with photos of wide-angle landscapes or cuddly kittens is now out with the trash, I’ll bet some of you are still writing 2017 in your checkbook (if you still use checkbooks), or just find it hard to break the habit of the year just passed in some other insignificant way; so I’ll use that as a justification to look back one more time at that curious time that was 2017— through the lens of NOSHA…

Defining Our Terms—and Ourselves

An event  that would not have been expected is one of several current definitions of irony. NOSHA’s November program—in a group discussion format— “Atheist Infighting: Is the Movement Falling Apart or Just Growing Up?” fit the definition perfectly when the monthly meeting at the Jefferson Parish East Bank Regional Library had to be moved because it was election day and the library also serves as a polling place. The First Unitarian Universalist Church on Claiborne Avenue became the most practical…

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