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. 66, No. 2, March-April

A Communion
LYN AND I ARE SITTING in the house of Joshua and Raili Ongesa. This is in the East Africa village of Tabaka, in the Kisii area, not far from Lake Victoria. We've known Joshua and Raili for more than forty years, ever since we became friends when Lyn...
Constitutional Ennui?
I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation.--George W. Bush The administration...
Cutting Carbon Emissions
SOME TIME AGO I had a call from my son Brian, who had come across a huge new wind farm as he was driving on one of the interstate highways in west Texas. He described the rows of wind turbines receding toward the horizon. Interspersed among them were...
Death in Darfur
IT HAS BEEN A DECADE since the genocide in Rwanda took the lives of over 800,000 people. This tragedy was forever memorialized by the film Hotel Rwanda, starring Don Cheadle. A poignant movie, this is an example of Hollywood giving a voice to humanity's...
Examined Lives in the Shadow of Iraq
IN HER 1964 BOOK Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Hannah Arendt attributed Adolph Eichmann's participation in Nazism not so much to any malevolent intent as to his very ordinary refusal to think--that is, his failure to reflect...
Federal Snoops: Nothing New
THE HEAD OF THE FBI's Domestic Intelligence Division, William Sullivan, mailed the following letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on November 21, 1964, anonymously: King, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a greater liability...
Food Sovereignty: Ending World Hunger in Our Time
THIS PAST THANKSGIVING, while millions of Americans sat at a table overflowing with food, more than thirty children died each minute around the world due to hunger related causes. Certainly hunger isn't a result of food scarcity. In fact, abundance...
Humanist Profile: Daniel C. Dennett (1942-Present) 2004 Humanist of the Year
"We are all around you: we're doctors, nurses, police officers, schoolteachers, crossing guards and men and women serving in the military.... Among scientists, we are a commanding majority.... We are, in fact, the moral backbone of the nation ... precisely...
The Bible Makes a Comeback in Public Schools
PERIODICALLY AN ORGANIZATION comes along promising to defuse the long-running battle over religion in public education by increasing instruction about religion as an academic discipline. At first glance, such proposals have great appeal. The U.S. Supreme...
The Bogus Blurring of Terrorism and Insurgency in Iraq
WITH PUBLIC SUPPORT for the Iraq war at low ebb, the White House is more eager than ever to conflate Iraq's insurgency with terrorism. But in early December, just after President Bush gave yet another speech repeatedly depicting the U.S. war effort...
The Issue at Hand
THREE YEARS AGO, on March 20, 2003, the United States of America and the United Kingdom, plus a "coalition of the willing" (primarily land troops from Australia and Poland representing about 2 percent of the total), invaded the Republic of Iraq. The...
The Mythologizing of War from Vietnam to Iraq
THROUGHOUT U.S. HISTORY there have always been political leaders, convinced of the nation's manifest destiny, who urged unconditional acceptance of war's necessity and warrant. During the Vietnam Era, for example, our national conscience was assailed...
The War against Pluralism
THE YEAR WAS 1972. The young woman seated across from me in my study was the first "Jesus freak" I'd ever met. She was in her early twenties, bright-eyed and assertive, dressed in the thrift-shop motley that was the hippie fashion of the 1960s. She...
Tragedy in West Virginia: Did Religious Exuberance Lead to Bad Reporting and False Hopes?
IT WAS A DRAMA THAT kept many Americans glued to overnight cable television news coverage and fueled prayerful hopes of a "miracle" on behalf of endangered coal miners in West Virginia. It began around 6:30 a.m. on Monday, January 2, 2006, when...
Warrantless Wiretaps and Your EZ Pass
ON DECEMBER 16, 2005, the New York Times revealed that, in an attempt to combat terrorism, the National Security Agency had been conducting warrantless phone-taps on people in the United States who were calling people outside of the country. The taps...
What Is a Freethinker and Why Does It Matter?
IN HIS 1957 ESSAY, "The Value of Free Thought" Bertrand Russell writes: What makes a freethinker is not his beliefs but the way in which he holds them. If he holds them because his elders told him they were true when he was young, or if...
Why Are You Here?
Some things were better before the war than they are now.... For instance security was better.... Psychologically, security is an essential part of life and it was available, aside from many other things Mohammed, twenty-one years old, Baghdad,...
Win the War of Ideas through Community Development
THE PERCEPTION OF THE United States in the Islamic world remains very dismal in this great struggle for the hearts and minds of the Muslim people. Western nations are competing with those religious proponents whose ideology seeks to impose a severe...
Yes, We Murder Journalists: Part Three in a Troubling Series
REMEMBER FALLUJAH? It's the Iraqi city of 300,000 that we had to destroy in order to save back in April 2004. Over thirty Americans died and over 400 American troops were wounded and airlifted away. And at least 1,200 Iraqis were killed. A Red Cross...