The Humanist

The Humanist is a magazine focusing on critical inquiry and social concern from a humanist perspective. Published by the American Humanist Association, The Humanist covers everything from science and religion to politics and popular culture.

Articles from Vol. 58, No. 4, July-August

Democracy or Corporate Rule?
One of my favorite quotes from Noam Chomsky is "People don't know what is happening, and they don't even know that they don't know." Nowhere is this more evident than in the attempt by corporations to make the rules by which we live. With their...
Desecularization
Secularization, as John Swomley defines it in his 1968 book Religion, the State, and the Schools, is the "historical process by which society ceases to be dominated by the church." As examples of secularization, he points to the decline of ecclesiastical...
Gracious Hosts, Superpower Guests
So, our commander-in-chief has finally gone to the Dark Continent. It was a modest trip: he brought only 800 people along. Bill Clinton's journey through sub-Saharan Africa last March and April--the first such presidential tour in twenty years--triggered...
Human and Ultimate Consciousness; the Pitfalls of Rationalist Cosmology
The human understanding is a limited one. Thrust into an existence incomprehensible, unjustified, and possibly absurd, we grasp at fleeting sensory tendrils, like hot puffs of steam in the night, attempting to catch and retain some clues as to our...
In Praise of Uselessness
Dances serve no purpose. Of all the professions a young college graduate could choose for herself, that of a modern dance choreographer would win the grand prize for uselessness. I do not intend this as a provocative statement about art. A lot...
IRHA Statement on Nuclear Testing
At the outset, we make it clear that, as a humanist organization, the Indian Radical Humanist Association is totally against any nuclear test--whether conducted by India, by Pakistan, or for that matter by any developing or developed country. The...
Joe Camel Today, the Pillsbury Doughboy Tomorrow
Who was surprised when it didn't top with tobacco? And who was surprised when Yale University joined the next wave of shaking down politically incorrect companies with deep pockets? Researchers at Yale are now advocating that junk foods be slapped...
Let the United States First Cast out the Beam from Its Own Eye
In the fury of condemning India and Pakistan for their recent nuclear tests, the media has largely ignored the more pervasive and dangerous conduct of the United States and Russia. While India and Pakistan possess, at most, a handful of nuclear weapons...
No Vacancy
The world today is home to nearly six billion people, and its population is on course to double in less than forty years. The problems caused by and related to this rapid growth are for all to see--almost everywhere. Yet, there have been frequent...
Sub-Saharan Africa at the Turning Point
Like most African women, she had to wait for her husband, who was away on business, to come home to give her permission and money to go to the family planning clinic. When she got there, the clinic staff explained she had to have a pregnancy test...
The Bigoted Scouts of America
Imagine a national organization with wide-ranging government support that continues to discriminate against persons on the basis of sexual orientation and religion. There is only one such group in the United States: the Boy Scouts of America. This...
The Population Wars
Military analyst Ruth Sivard cites 148 wars in the world since World War II. Among these were wars in the Sudan, Somalia, Cambodia, Georgia, Burundi, Afghanistan, Rwanda, and many others. Most of these were what can be called "population wars." Since...
The Story of Ruth; Why the Suffering of Those in Other Countries Should Matter to Us
The first thing I noticed about Ruth was how much she laughed. I worked as a waitress and she worked as a cook, and her laugh would echo through the kitchen walls and into the cafe--a noise so joyous that I couldn't help but smile. Ruth was friendly,...
Twenty-First Century Capitalism; to Humanize, Ownerize
We live in the midst of the most dramatic shift in ownership in history. In 1995, the World Bank identified ninety-five nations in the throes of making the transition from state to private ownership. Today, five billion people live in market economies--up...
Wash Your Hands
Thoreau in Civil Disobedience said: "It is not man's as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash...