Free Inquiry

This magazine provides essays, editorials, poems, features and reviews on secularism and a life guided by reason, science, compassion for human beings and ideals of human freedom.

Articles from Vol. 24, No. 5, August-September

A Declaration of Sexual Rights and Responsibilities: Evolving Principles for a New Century
In 1976, Lester Kirkendall drew up what he called "A New Bill of Sexual Rights and Responsibilities. "It was signed by many distinguished sexologists as well as other scholars and therapists. The original document was commissioned by Paul Kurtz, then...
A Humanist Failure?
One of the major problems of cities with mild winter climates is the number of homeless people on the street. As social services are being curtailed, almost every large city in the United States has a major problem of dealing with the poor, the mentally...
Atheism and Civil Rights: A Reply to Tabash and Downey
We would like to thank Edward Tabash and Margaret Downey for their thoughtful comments on our article "Atheism Is Not a Civil Rights Issue." (1) We are gratified that our article has stimulated such interest. Tabash objects to our characterization...
Betting on Pascal's Wager
Most believers and nonbelievers are familiar with Pascal's Wager, the argument designed to persuade us that the only rational thing to do is believe that God exists. If you do believe, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. If you don't believe,...
Carrying Capacity: How Many Are Too Many?
The earth's ability to support human life is usually described as the potential productivity of the world's food supply enhanced by human technological invention. The term most often applied is carrying capacity, which refers to the maximum size of...
Castro's Gulag and American Librarians
In the rising resistance against John Ashcroft's USA PATRIOT Act and subsequent executive orders revising sections of the Bill of Rights, the attorney general has been particularly irritated by the attention the media are paying to the many librarians...
Europe's Baby Bust: What Problem?
A year or so ago, economic analysts were frantic about Europe's "baby bust," an idea that appears to have travelled across the Atlantic from the United States. They advised that we must "breed for Europe" or import millions of immigrants to forestall...
From Sentience to Silence: How the Environmental Establishment Changed Its Tune on U.S. Overpopulation
THE ERA OF CONCERN In the heady days of the new environmental awareness, at the first big Earth Day celebration in April 1970, the ecological threat posed by U.S. population growth was part of every discussion. David Brower, executive director of...
Georgia's Granite Guidestones: What Are They and Why?
Near Elberton, Georgia, the, self-described "Granite Capital of the World," stands a weird arrangement of granite that has to be seen to be believed. Five giant stone slabs--four tablets and a central "gnomon stone," each nineteen feet high--support...
Mother (Nature) Dearest
The earth does not argue, Is not pathetic, has no arrangements, Does not scream, haste, persuade, threaten, promise, Makes no discriminations, has no conceivable failures, Closes nothing, refuses nothing, shuts none out. ...
My God Problem: And Theirs
In the course of reporting a book on the scientific canon and pestering hundreds of researchers at the nation's great universities about what they see as the essential vitamins and minerals of literacy in their particular disciplines, I have been hammered...
New Directions: Centers for Inquiry and Human Enrichment
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is the newest star on the cultural horizon. Readers of this magazine should by now be familiar with its existence. The Center for Inquiry-International in Amherst, New York, is headquarters of the Council for Secular Humanism,...
Optimum Population: Overcoming 'Growthmania'
The very idea of defining an "optimum population" challenges centuries of economic and political assumptions that growth is by definition a good thing. So be it. The challenge of overcoming that assumption is at least as important as any optimum population...
Overpopulation? Fiddlesticks! There Are No Inherent Limits to Growth
In the late twentieth century, it once again became popular to claim that the world is "overpopulated" and that we were headed for demographic disaster. Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb predicted massive starvation well before the end of the century....
Same-Sex Marriage Moves Ahead
Spring has sprung, summer is beginning to sing--and weddings are bursting out all over. But what happens if Joseph falls for Jack and Janet dotes on Joan? Is there a wedding on the horizon for them? Do they have a means of celebrating their love and...
The Pope Moves Backward on Terminal Care
"I should like particularly, to underline how the administration of water and food, even when provided by artificial means, always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act." (1) Those are the words of Pope John Paul II, speaking...
The Silent Crisis: Overview
The great majority of people around the world never ask," Is the world overpopulated?" They don't know what it might mean to them, any more than members of an endangered species rapidly losing habitat to human encroachment can comprehend the cause...
Too Many People: What Is the Optimum Population of the U.S.? the World?
Overpopulation long mattered to me. A high schooler when the Club of Rome issued The Limits to Growth, I had already embraced its agenda. (1) If too many people burdened the planet, I would add no more. I resolved not to father children, and remain...
True Church-State Separation
I once heard the late Abba Eban, formerly foreign minister of Israel, address a dovish Jewish audience in New York. In that rather plummy British-English accent of his, he began by saving that what struck the eye first, in any contemplation of the...
What Population Stabilization Requires: Restrict Annual Immigration to the U.S
The godless, naturalistic worldview of secular humanism does not logically compel us to adopt a left-of-center viewpoint on every political issue. Aside from the nonnegotiables--church-state separation and protecting the freedoms that many religious...
What Use Is Religion? Part 2
In my previous column (FREE INQUIRY, June/July 2004), I raised the question of the Darwinian survival value of religion. Why, given that natural selection abhors waste and extravagance, is religious behavior a human universal? I discussed various suggestions...
Why No One Ever Dies
Oh threats of Hell and Hopes of Paradise! One thing is certain--This Life flies; One thing is certain and the rest is Lies; The Flower that once has blown for ever dies. --The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam of Naishapur ...