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. 55, No. 4, July-August

A New Dunkirk
For a quarter of a century, this column, which I started writing in collaboration with the late Paul Blanshard, has reported and commented on the ups and downs of the literally endless struggles over church-state relations, religious liberty, and freedom...
Fighting Words
By 'paradise,'" Paul Goodman wrote, "I mean nothing but the world practical." Anarchist by temperament, Goodman was not opposed to electoral democracy - if only there were more democracy and initiative in daily life! A life-long pacifist, he also understood...
How Shall I Think about Death?
In Western traditions, by far the most popular way to think about death and immortality is shaped by the ancient and fundamental distinction between the physical body and the spiritual soul. Body and soul are taken to be independent realities, each with...
Killing Women: A Pop-Music Tradition
If there has been anything positive about the flood of media coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial, it has been an increased public awareness of the disturbing incidence of violence against women in our society. According to the Family Violence Prevention...
Mutilated Humanity
Perhaps the most profound name ever bestowed upon a species was that given to human beings by Karl Linnaeus in 1753 in his great book Systema Naturae - namely, Homo sapiens. Linnaeus briefly epitomized this with the words: "Man, know thyself" (Homo nosce...
Parallel Worlds: The Surprising Similarities (and Differences) of Country-and-Western and Rap
In all of popular music today, there are probably no two genres that are more apparently dissimilar than country-and-western and rap: the one rural, white, and southern; the other urban, black, and identified with the two coasts ("New York style" versus...
Requiem for a Freedom Fighter
On Wednesday, April 26, 1995, the humanist movement lost its most prominent philosopher and social activist. Dr. Corliss Lamont, age 93, died peacefully at his home in Ossining, New York. A humanist funeral was held for close family and friends in New...
Teacher and Student
I stood in front of my desk and waited, hands on hips, for the students to straggle in. My "hellos" were enthusiastic, but I was nervous. I had rehearsed my lines on the long drive to work, still with opening-day jitters after years of teaching. My students...
Terrorism and Tyranny
On a dark day sometime in the fall of 1982, fighting the wind for our umbrellas and running for shelter from the icy rain, we almost collided in the lobby of the downtown Seattle office building where we both worked. I hadn't seen him for several weeks....
The Legacy of "Star Trek."
If there is one idea which characterizes "Star Trek" and its successors, it is that differences among people are not merely to be tolerated; they are to be embraced and celebrated. In one of the earliest episodes of "Star Trek," Captain Kirk sternly...
The Puritan Covenant II: Anti-Modernism and the "Contract with America."
For better or worse, the ascendancy of the Republican Party in the congressional elections of 1994 represents the victory of a conservative, anti-modernist mentality that has deep historical roots in the American experience. Rather than accept the modernist...
Thou Shalt Not Play God
The Vatican recently brought its big guns to bear to defend the "right to life": the right to exist from the moment of conception until the naturally ordained moment of death. The message of Pope John Paul's Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life) is that...
True Lies: The Dishonesty of Honesty Tests
"Honesty is the best policy - when there is money in it." - Mark Twain Now that Congress has declared polygraphic lie detection unlawful in many situations, test developers are promoting new self-report paper-and-pencil "honesty" or "integrity" tests....
Watch on the Right: Pat Robertson's Contract on America
The distinguished Russian philosopher and theologian Nicholas Berdyaev, in one of his books, Slavery and Freedom, wrote: "All the theocratic states have been totalitarian." Speaking even of secular totalitarian states from Plato on, including the communist...