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. 5, September-October

America's Increasing Democracy Deficit
IN THE POST-WORLD WAR II PERIOD the United States was seen by many as the "City on the Hill," an imperfect yet shining beacon of government of, by, and for the people. Today President George W. Bush's harsh criticisms of the New York Times and other...
Beyond Buena Vista, Venceremos, and the Thought Police
IT IS APRIL 2003. On our first night in Havana, my husband and I wander the shabbiest quarter of the Old City in search of the Orthodox synagogue. We find it just as a small group of observant Jews are finishing a communal meal and beginning the Havdalah...
Churches and Partisan Politics: A Bad Mix
THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS are fast approaching and, as usual, questions about the proper role of religion in politics are being raised. Religion continues to hold great sway over politics in the United States. Many Humanists would say it has too much...
Ending the Nightmare
Darwin's Nightmare Written and Directed by Hubert Sauper (2004, Documentary, France/Austria/Belgium); 107min. Now screening on the Sundance Channel. U.S. DVD release pending (www.darwinsnightmare.com). DARWIN'S NIGHTMARE is an Oscar nominated...
Is It Absolutely True That There Are No Absolutes?
HUMANISTS, AGNOSTICS, SKEPTICS, and others who don't believe in any ultimately objective, indubitable, final, or unchanging truths are often asked, "Do you know with absolute certainty that there are no certainties?" or "Is it an absolute truth that...
Money Down the Medical Drain
ALMOST DALLY THE NEWS has another story about the spiraling cost of healthcare, often with new twists that underscore the tenuous state of medicine in the United States. A recent report added to the disturbing list by documenting that one in seven...
Murray Gell-Mann (1929-Present) 2005 Humanist of the Year
"The persistence of erroneous beliefs exacerbates the widespread anachronistic failure to recognize the urgent problems that face humanity on this planet." --Murray Gell-Mann from The Quark and the Jaguar Murray Gell-Mann was born in New York...
Outlawing the Wind: Oil Republicans Attempt to Thwart Renewable Energy Development
THERE IS A PLUS SIDE to soaring energy costs--a sort of silver lining to an otherwise bad news year. The Earth Policy Institute reports that wind-generated electricity in many U.S. markets is now cheaper than natural gas-generated electricity. If one...
Protesting the BSA's Recruitment at a Public School
MY DEALINGS WITH THE BOY SCOUTS of America started about three and a half years ago when my son, Jake, was in kindergarten. He came home from school one day with a Cub Scout recruitment flyer from the BSA promising fun, adventure, and something about...
Soldier Girl? Not Every Tamil Teen Wants to Be a Tiger: "Sundari," a Sixteen-Year-Old Girl in Northern Sri Lanka, Doesn't Wish to Fight Her Country's War, Though She Was Trained to Do So at Age Eleven. the Saddest Tragedy Is That Using Her Real Name in a Call for Peace Could Get Her Killed
EVERY WAR HAS A NAME. Some call this Asia's bloodiest civil conflict, while others refer to the twenty-plus-year battle as the "No Mercy War" But the most appropriate stamp might be "The Children's War" for both victim and combatant, because the civil...
Starving for Gas?
CARS, NOT PEOPLE, will claim most of the increase in world grain consumption this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that world grain use will grow by twenty million tons in 2006. Of this, fourteen million tons will be used to produce...
The Apocalypse of the United States as the Leading World Power (and the Emergence of a New World Order)
AS WE ENTERED this new millennium the most important economic question facing the United States was how the nation was going to spend its surplus. The most important political issue revolved around President Bill Clinton's sex life. At that point,...
The Bible and Newton's Third Law of Motion
BEING A FORMER MINISTER'S WIFE, I get nervous when people start quoting the Bible. My phobia didn't happen overnight. It came gradually over decades of studying the book and finding one thing for certain: Scripture is like Newton's third law of motion--for...
The Evolutionary Psychology of Religion
WHEN I FIRST BEGAN to write about the biology of the human mind, I found myself the target of attacks from many directions. The academic left went after me because I seemed to be dewing the perfectibility of humankind and the biological indistinguishability...
The Issue at Hand
ALTHOUGH I DON'T think I've ever heard a swan sing, that's what I'm doing with this issue of the Humanist. It represents the completion of a twelve-year editorship that began with the November/December 1994 issue. Years earlier I'd been guest editor...
Warning: Gravity Is Only a Theory
All physics textbooks should include the following label: This book contains material on gravity. Universal gravity is a theory, not a fact, regarding the natural law of attraction. This material should be approached with an open mind,...
When Goodness Isn't Good Enough
FOR MANY YEARS NOW I have thought of myself as a collector of good people. Whenever I find such rare individuals who shine from within, who see beyond their selfish interests and devote themselves to improving the world, I try not to lose touch with...