The Church of England has just demonstrated in the clearest possible way how detached it has become from the modern world in general – and British society in particular … and yet it cleaves to positions of privilege and influence completely disproportionate to how representative it truly is.
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Paul Kurtz, who has died aged 86, was an American secular humanist and philosopher who devoted his life to debunking psychics and homoeopathic quacks, mystics, mediums, men of the cloth and other promoters of superstitions and religion; in their place he promoted “eupraxophy” — a science-based alternative that would provide moral and social structure without the need for God.
A prolific author, Kurtz in 1973 drafted what came to be known as Humanist Manifesto II, in which he updated a 1933 document by addressing issues that the earlier tract, which was largely a critique of religion, had failed to address, among them nuclear arms, population control, racism and sexism. The document was signed by 120 intellectuals including Andrei Sakharov, Francis Crick and the novelist Isaac Asimov. In its best-known dictum, it declared: “No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.”
In 1980, in response to the rise of the religious Right, Kurtz founded the journal Free Inquiry. In its first issue he warned that “the reappearance of dogmatic authoritarian religions’’ had become a threat to intellectual freedom, human rights and scientific progress. Most traditional religions, he observed, have their origins in pre-urban nomadic and agricultural societies of the past and are not appropriate to the modern age.
In Eupraxophy: Living Without Religion (1989) Kurtz envisioned a secular moral alternative that met some of the social needs served by religions without the supernaturalism or authoritarianism of traditional faiths.
He maintained that it was not only possible but easy to live a good life without religion . In a revised Humanist Manifesto 2000, endorsed by, among others, nine Nobel Prize winning scientists, Kurtz called on humankind to form a planetary system of government, including a World Parliament elected on the basis of population, a transnational environmental monitoring agency and a transnational system of taxation.
Ironically, though, secular humanism has proved just as disputatious and faction-prone as the religions it seeks to debunk, and Kurtz’s career was marked by a series of fallings-out with his fellow non-believers.
In 1978 he parted company, amid some acrimony, with the American Humanist Association, whose journal, Humanist, he had edited, and went on to found a series of organisations of his own, including the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (which became the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry), the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Centre for Inquiry.
But in 2010, after a series of disagreements, Kurtz resigned from the organisations he had founded saying that he disapproved of their “angry atheism”.
Paul Winter Kurtz was born in Newark, New Jersey, on December 21 1925 into a Jewish family of “intellectual freethinkers”. His father was a restaurateur. Paul left New York University to enlist in the US Army during the Second World War, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and entered the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Dachau shortly after their liberation.
Returning to New York University, after graduation he took a doctorate in Philosophy at Columbia University, then taught the subject at several universities before moving, in 1965, to the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he became a Professor of Philosophy, remaining until his retirement.
Active in the Humanist movement from the 1950s, in 1969 Kurtz created Prometheus Books, a publishing house that released works critical of religion that other publishers would not touch. His Committee for Skeptical Inquiry published the Skeptical Inquirer to combat “pseudoscience”, including UFO sightings, the paranormal and homoeopathy. In 2010 Kurtz founded a new Institute for Science and Human Values and the journal The Human Prospect.
His first marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by his second wife, Claudine, and by a son and three daughters.
Paul Kurtz, born December 21 1925, died October 20 2012
Today is the day God created the Earth in 4004BC
(according to the Biblical calculations of Archbishop James Usher).
So here’s a little exercise in logic for you:
The Bible is the word of God
This is true because the Bible says so
The Bible suggests the earth was created by God about 6000 years ago
Scientific evidence suggests the earth is just over 4 Billion years old
Therefore the science must be wrong!!
Check the premisses and the validity of the argument before coming to your conclusion.
Have a great birthday!!
Of the Yougov-Cambridge poll carried out among 2,027 adults, a full 81% of respondents agreed with the statement “Religious practice is a private matter and should be separated from the political and economic life of my country”. Only 6% disagreed.
When asked “Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?” 53% said no while 42% said yes
76% said that religious leaders should not influence how people vote in elections (6% thought they should)
71% said that religious leaders should have no influence over the decisions of the government (8% said they should)
65% said that Britain would not be a better place if more religious leaders held public office. (7% said it would)
Source:NSS Newsletter 21 September 2012
Although there was a sense of relief when news came through that Baroness Warsi had been sacked from her job as Party Chair, it was soon tempered by the news that she has been made Minister for Faith – the first time such a post has existed.
Yes as Mr Pickles so firmly stated, this government definitely does do god.
The link below is about Dr Scott, a christian GP disciplined by the GMC for trying to convert NHS patients as a part of their ‘treatment’. Dr Scott has announced that he will ignore their ruling. It is possible to email the GMC via their website to ask what they will be doing about this disgraceful act of contempt for the professions governing body and behavior that falls far below the standards expected of GPs. Perhaps people should contact the GMC to ensure they take adequate action.
The GMC can be contacted via:
A readers’ poll in the Guardian asks if the initiative was a good idea. At the time of writing 83% think it isn’t – and the first suggestion for an alternative to be sent to schools is Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales.
What would your choice be?
Much as I value and admire the fantastic opportunities Scouting offers to young people I wholeheartedly support the NSS criticism of Bear Grylls recent declaration that the Scouts “…allow people of all backgrounds to come together …”: when; in the teeth of all the evidence that most young people today are not religious, the Scouting movement continues to insist they will not be welcomed if they do not agree to include a duty to God in their obligatory ‘Promise’.
Many years ago now; we wrestled with the same issues when our daughter was looking to join the Girl Guides. During the conversations one exasperated leader exclaimed “she only has to say it – she doesn’t have to mean it”.
As the NSS point out in an open letter to Mr Grylls, young people either have to make a hypocritical or dishonest statement or risk being refused full membership of the Scouts. And when it comes to recruiting potential Scout leaders the Scouts compound their prejudices by categorically stating ‘The avowed absence of religious belief is a bar to appointment to a leadership position’ … a dubious distinction we non-religious now share with paedophiles.
Mr Grylls and the Scouting hierarchy are well aware that the Scouts applied for and were granted an exemption from equality legislation precisely to be able to continue this discrimination and accept only members with religious beliefs; or who are [at least] prepared to make a promise to a god – so public declarations of allowing “…people of all backgrounds to come together.” are; to say the least, disingenuous.