Tag: Skeptic

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.

[More . . . ]

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A medium serving of bollocks

April 20, 2009 | By | 16 Replies More
A medium serving of bollocks

Listening to the radio at work just now, I heard the breakfast DJs Matt & Jo talking to an alleged psychic/medium from New Zealand – the name escapes me for now so for the sake of convenience I’ll call him K (for Kiwi). The segment began with K’s story of how, in his youth, he started seeing spirits in the form of small bright lights in front of his vision (similar to what happens to me right before I cop a massive debilitating migraine). These spirits would reveal things to K about peoples’ still-living relatives. When he talked about it he copped flak from his peers, so he concealed it until relatively recently. It was, more or less, along the lines of most medium origin stories: young child with a gift hides it as a child due to teasing or trouble, then makes a living off it in adulthood. You could also apply that to a lot of X-Men origin stories, but that’s another, um, story.

The fun began when K started a reading for the DJs Matt & Jo. During the intro, Jo sounded like an agnostic sort-of believer (not really sure, but willing to believe – I guess she watches “Medium” and not “The Mentalist”) whilst Matt was a dead-set skeptic (you make the big claim, you provide the big evidence). Knowing this, K “read” Matt first, saying straight off that his mother, who had died of cancer, was “there” with a small girl (or talking about a small girl) and there was also the presence of a dog. Matt stated that his mother hadn’t died of cancer, that there was no “small girl”, alive or dead, that applied to his life and that all the dogs that could possibly have been relevant were still alive. Immediately, K became defensive and flatly stated that Matt was wrong. “You’re wrong, this is what they’re revealing to me.” Matt defended himself, saying “Sorry, but I’m just being honest – none of what you said applies to me,” which attracted the response, “Well, you’re just being a skeptic.” He spat the word “skeptic” out like was poison. “The spirits are telling me there was a small girl and a dog which mattered in your life, so you should take notice of that and think about those things – that’s what the spirits say, but let’s move on.” Swiftly turning his attention to Jo (I could almost hear Matt derisively raising his eyebrow), K mentioned something about a car accident involving her father (whom he knew to be deceased). Jo, now sounding unconvinced, revealed that her father had actually died in a plane crash. “Ah yes,” said K, sounding increasingly desperate (yet still nice and smug), “that’s what it might be,” then attempted to include the third member of the studio crew (whose name escapes me) in his reading (also to whom nothing applied). This vagueness went on for a couple more uncomfortable minutes (uncomfortable for K anyway, I’m sure, but I was enjoying it) and then they threw to a song. I would love to have been a fly on the wall as K made his (no doubt speedy) exit from the studio.

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Christian Hipster: a new category of belief between Believer and Skeptic

March 4, 2009 | By | 3 Replies More
Christian Hipster: a new category of belief between Believer and Skeptic

Andrew Sullivan proposes a a new category of belief between Believer and Skeptic. Or at least I first heard the term “Christian Hipster” at the Daily Dish. What kind of people does it describe?

A “Christian Hipster” as described in this article merely describes a person who both believes in Christ anda explores the world for themselves, rather than taking their Pastor/Mother/Father/Dobson’s opinion as unquestionable.

Here’s a bit more from a prior post by Andrew Sullivan:

Christian hipsters like music, movies, and books that are well-respected by their respective artistic communities—Christian or not. … They tend to be fans of any number of the following authors: Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, John Howard Yoder, Walter Brueggemann, N.T. Wright, Brennan Manning, Eugene Peterson, Anne Lamott, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Henri Nouwen, Soren Kierkegaard, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Annie Dillard, Marilynne Robison, Chuck Klosterman, David Sedaris, or anything ancient and/or philosophically important.

Sounds like a modest step in the right direction. Sounds a lot like what Christians used to be before the political right wing (religious and political) redefined “Christians” as self-righteous people who refuse to consider compelling real-life evidence.

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Atheists and believers can get along: Here’s Exhibit A

November 10, 2008 | By | 18 Replies More
Atheists and believers can get along:  Here’s Exhibit A

I’m not claiming that non-believers and believers always get along, but I do know that they can get along.  I know this for many reasons.  Here’s my newest evidence:  Last night I spoke about my lack of religious beliefs from the front of a packed church, during the religious service. How this could possibly be […]

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Why Atheism Doesn’t Matter, but Skepticism Does.

April 9, 2008 | By | 25 Replies More
Why Atheism Doesn’t Matter, but Skepticism Does.

Summer of 2004. I have considered myself an atheist at least since the summer of 2004. For the sake of feeling smart and consistent, I believe I’ve considered myself an atheist for much longer. But I only have documented evidence of such a stance dating back to the summer of 2004. Did I have some […]

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Do the various claims of miracles made by conflicting religions serve as evidence that all such claims are false?

March 10, 2008 | By | 6 Replies More
Do the various claims of miracles made by conflicting religions serve as evidence that all such claims are false?

David Hume made the argument that the various claims of miracles made by conflicting religions serve as evidence that no such claims are true.   The topic is thoughtfully discussed by Ebonmuse at Daylight Atheism: In other words, Hume says, the conflicting miracle claims of various religions cancel each other out. These religions cannot all be […]

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The Great Afterlife Debate: Michael Shermer v. Deepak Chopra

February 28, 2007 | By | 1 Reply More
The Great Afterlife Debate: Michael Shermer v. Deepak Chopra

Shermer and Chopra traded articles at Skeptic Magazine, but they really didn’t communicate.  Shermer got me on board with comments like this: Here is the reality. It has been estimated that in the last 50,000 years about 106 billion humans were born. Of the 100 billion people born before the six billion living today, every […]

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