Tag: Paul Kurtz

Neo-Humanist Statement of Secular Principles and Values.

October 21, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More

With today’s announcement of the death of Paul Kurtz, I have republished (below) his Neo-Humanist Statement of Secular Principles and Values. I decided to publish the content of this defining document regarding secular humanism (with permission to republish that Paul Kurtz gave in the original document), to make sure that it remains widely available. As you can see below, I was one of the signers of this document. I took an active interest in this document, which I consider to be well-drafted (I offered alternate phrasing for a tiny bit of the language, which Paul accepted and approved). This document, more than any other that I have seen, articulates the values by which I try to live my own life.

I would invite all readers to take a bit of time to review the Neo-Humanist Statement, and to share it widely.

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Expelled founder Paul Kurtz explains his departure from the Center for Inquiry

October 2, 2010 | By | 14 Replies More
Expelled founder Paul Kurtz explains his departure from the Center for Inquiry

On May 18, 2010 the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry jointly announced that they had accepted the resignation of Paul Kurtz from each of these boards. Kurtz, who had founded each of these three organizations, had been serving on each of the boards, and as well as serving as Chair Emeritus of CSH and as Editor in Chief of CSH’s flagship publication, Free Inquiry. In the joint announcement, the boards recognized Dr. Kurtz for his “decades of service to the Council for Secular Humanism, the Center for Inquiry (CFI), and its other affiliates.” This same announcement also contained the following statement:

At Paul Kurtz’s behest, CFI and its affiliates began years ago to organize a leadership transition. Moreover, in recent years the board had concerns about Dr. Kurtz’s day-to-day management of the organization.

As a long-time subscriber to Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer, I was familiar with many of the writings of Paul Kurtz, but I had never before spoken with him or corresponded with him. As a result of reading his articles at Free Inquiry, I was also aware that there was internal tension at those organizations (e.g., see here , here, and here).

After reading about his resignation, I emailed a short note to Mr. Kurtz to wish him well in light of the announcement of his resignation. I also asked him whether he would allow me to interview him with regard to the announcement. He agreed:

[Note: CFI’s CEO Ron Lindsay responded to the following interview of Paul Kurtz here.]

EV: To what extent was your resignation from the Center for Inquiry voluntary?

PK: It was done voluntarily, but under great duress.

[caption id="attachment_14572" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Paul Kurtz (Permission by Wikimedia Commons)"][/caption]


EV: What were your titles and job duties prior to your resignation.

PK: I founded the modern skeptics movement and sustained it for over three and a half decades. I had been the Chairman of the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. In June, 2008, I was made “Emeritus” and stripped of any authority. Since 1980, I was Editor-in-Chief for Free Inquiry, but starting in June 2008, I no longer had any authority. I never received any compensation working for these organizations. I worked as a volunteer, living off savings I accrued while working as a philosophy professor. In fact, my wife and I donated more than $2 million dollars over the years to CFI, CSH and CSI. We were the second largest donors to these organizations. Over the years, I helped to raise over $40 million for the Center for Inquiry.

EV: I saw the announcement of your resignation in the August/September, 2010 issue of Free Inquiry. Why didn’t you publish any explanation regarding your resignation in Free Inquiry?

PK: Tom Flynn and the CFI Board refused to run my letter of resignation in Free Inquiry or any of the Websites of CFI. It was censorship, clear and simple. I was censored four times, beginning in June 2008.

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Neo-Humanist Statement of Secular Principles

March 24, 2010 | By | 4 Replies More
Neo-Humanist Statement of Secular Principles

What guiding principles would you select if you wanted to establish a highly cooperative new society? In order to avoid re-creating the deep-seated cultural strife that is ripping us apart, you might be tempted to brush aside all current conflicting systems of religious-based morality and start fresh, striving to come up with a system to which most non-believers and many believers could assent. At center, it would be an evidence-based system.

That’s what Paul Kurtz has done with his newly released Neo-Humanist Statement of Secular Principles and Values. It’s not for everyone, but its list of principles and values will resonate with many people. Here are the basic principles:

Neo-Humanists:

  1. aspire to be more inclusive by appealing to both non-religious and religious humanists and to religious believers who share common goals;
  2. are critical of traditional theism;
  3. are best defined by what they are for, not what they are against;
  4. wish to use critical thinking, evidence, and reason to evaluate claims to knowledge;
  5. apply similar considerations to ethics and values;
  6. are committed to a key set of values: happiness, creative actualization, reason in harmony with emotion, quality, and excellence;
  7. emphasize moral growth (particularly for children), empathy, and responsibility;
  8. advocate the right to privacy;
  9. support the democratic way of life, tolerance, and fairness;
  10. recognize the importance of personal morality, good will, and a positive attitude toward life;
  11. accept responsibility for the well-being of society, guaranteeing various rights, including those of women, racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities; and supporting education, health care, gainful employment, and other social benefits;
  12. support a green economy;
  13. advocate population restraint, environmental protection, and the protection of other species;
  14. recognize the need for Neo-Humanists to engage actively in politics;
  15. take progressive positions on the economy; and
  16. hold that humanity needs to move beyond ego-centric individualism and chauvinistic nationalism to develop transnational planetary institutions to cope with global problems—such efforts include a strengthened World Court, an eventual World Parliament, and a Planetary Environmental Monitoring Agency that would set standards for controlling global warming and ecology.

Paul Kurtz has issued an invitation for others who accept its main principles and values to sign on in support, even if they do not agree with all of its provisions. I have signed up. The values listed in this document are my values. It is so rare that I find a collection of principles to which I would so readily aspire. These principles should not surprise anyone familiar with the work of Paul Kurtz.

This Neo-Humanist statement is both a set of positive principles and a push-back against radical atheism:

Writing in the December 2009/January 2010 issue of Free Inquiry, the magazine he founded, Kurtz declared “militant atheism is often truncated and narrow-minded…it is not concerned with the humanist values that ought to accompany the rejection of theism. The New Atheists, in my view, have made an important contribution to the contemporary cultural scene because they have opened religious claims to public examination…What I object to are the militant atheists who are narrow-minded about religious persons and will have nothing to do with agnostics, skeptics, or those who are indifferent to religion, dismissing them as cowardly.”

In his interview at Huffpo, Kurtz reminds us that only 2 to 3 percent of Americans self-identify as “atheists,” whereas 16 percent of Americans (50 million people) do not affiliate with any religious organization.

The Statement ends with this invitation:

We submit that the world needs to engage in continuing constructive dialogue emphasizing our common values. We invite other men and women representing different points of view to join with us in bringing about a better world in the new planetary civilization that is now emerging.

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Paul Kurtz criticizes fundamentalist atheists

October 17, 2009 | By | 17 Replies More
Paul Kurtz criticizes fundamentalist atheists

Paul Kurtz is not one of the “new atheists,”but he is a first-rate skeptic, having published 50 books on various topics, many of them relating to religion and skepticism. I wrote a rather detailed post about him last month. Kurtz is founder and chair emeritus of the Center for Inquiry.

In this 30-minute CFI interview with DJ Grothe, Kurtz expressed that he is not “an atheist,” and that one can be a secular humanist without being in “atheist.” Kurtz describes himself as a “non-theist,” an “agnostic,” and a “skeptic.” He stresses that people should define themselves by what they do believe, yet to call oneself an atheist is to attempt to define oneself by what one does not believe. He mentioned that while 3% of Americans are atheists, almost 9% of Americans are agnostic, while yet others are skeptical or “religiously indifferent.”

Kurtz indicates that as a skeptic, he is always willing to look at the evidence, and this is an important part of who he is. He also believes we should all be grounded by a genuine concern for fellow humans. In fact, he suggested that he’s thinking about abandoning the term “secular humanism,” and replacing it with “empathic humanism.” Good will toward others should be the starting point of any ethical system. We should be focusing our efforts on affirming life, and achieving social justice.

Kurtz points out that there are such things as “fundamentalist atheists,” who he describes as “embittered atheists,” people who were “bruised” by religion. These people “bore me now.” He is tired of “nasty, in-your-face atheists.” These are people who spend too much energy rejecting mythologies of other people. They often engage in intolerant ridicule that borders on “pornographic.” According to Kurtz, we can disagree with each other, but we must always do so respectfully. To the extent that we engage in sharp parody and prejudice, this will not further our goals. In fact, Kurtz expressed that he was appalled that CFI supported “blasphemy day.” This amounts to “ridiculing” many sincere people. It is not a civilized mode of discussion.

Kurtz went out of his way to acknowledge that he had many friends who were practicing members of various religious faiths. He believes in engaging people of other faiths with respectful and reasoned dialogue. “We don’t want to be religious bigots.”

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Paul Kurtz: Belief in God is not essential for moral virtue.

November 25, 2008 | By | Reply More
Paul Kurtz:  Belief in God is not essential for moral virtue.

Paul Kurtz is the chairman and founder of the Center for Inquiry and the Editor-in-Chief of FREE INQUIRY Magazine.   He is also a prolific author.   Kurtz is featured in a Washington Post article entitled, “Belief in God Essential for Moral Virtue?”  This is a succinct article that is well worth reading.  Kurtz goes to lengths […]

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