Every day is Earth Day for humanists and naturalists. But there’s no time like springtime to celebrate the earth and reflect on our relationship to the natural world. Especially here in Minnesota. The long-awaited changes from increased daylight and warmer temperatures are becoming more apparent every passing day. Minnesota’s springtime rebirth brings an awareness and vitality to life that borders on the therapeutic. Mindful observation of this cyclical change easily leads one to the philosophy of naturalism and a deeper connection to the earth itself.
What kind of people are humanists anyway? They are people like Autumn Meta. She's a University of Minnesota student organizing a large Spanish-language book drive to facilitate library growth and literacy efforts in Guatemala. After an experiential learning trip to this Central American country last year, Autumn returned with a passion to do some good in that part of the world. She's realistic and determined. As a pragmatic humanist, she's learned that you don't have to take on the whole world as a project. Just do some good where you can.
My wife and I want children, and in May, we will be welcoming our baby girl into this non-womblike world. To most people, the desire to have kids requires no explanation. After all, our families, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers all seemed to assume a baby was forthcoming within 9 months of our wedding day. It’s a tradition passed down by, well, every single ancestor of mine that has ever existed. As Humanists, however, my wife and I don’t really consider “tradition” to be best reason to do anything, let alone go through the inevitable tough times that parenthood tends to bring about. So why do I think this is a good idea? Certainly, there has to be a logical explanation. As mentioned, I AM a Humanist after all.
I was among hundreds of people at the state capitol a couple of days ago supporting the Second Chance Coalition and their work with ex-felons. This 2015 “Day on the Hill” event was spent advocating for “Restore the Vote.” Humanists of MN has endorsed the work of this Coalition since hearing from one of their key leaders, Sarah Walker, at a chapter meeting in the fall of 2013 when they successfully lobbied for “ban the box” legislation. But why should humanists take a stand on these issues?
I was first moved to pick up the book, Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away, because of other reviews I had read in The Humanist, and Free Inquiry. Each had emphasized the dialogues that author Rebecca Goldstein had created to put Plato into the modern world, a concept that intrigued me. What I was not prepared for was the sweeping panorama she created by covering the roots of philosophical thinking, the timeless questions raised and discussed in Plato's Dialogues, and the entire historical background of the era--the eighth through the fourth centuries B.C.
"So you believe in nothing?" is a common question I get when I tell people I'm an atheist and Secular Humanist. Often these theists believe that life has no meaning without God, and they consider the purely naturalistic view of the universe to be bleak, heartless, and devoid of emotional resonance. What these people simply do not understand is that humans are fully capable of having meaningful and fulfilling lives without resorting to supernaturalism.
Everyone has their own take on the winter holiday season which is now upon us. I’m inclined to think that the need for this annual rite in northern climes may be in our DNA. The holiday that is now known as “Christmas” is really about winter. Enduring the short days and long nights. Steeling ourselves against the snow, ice and cold. Our species having survived with scant resources under harsh conditions. Just shut off your own lights, turn off the furnace and go without all your electronic entertainments in these darkest days of December and consider what you might be doing to get through the season!
"I want engagement! I want a wider variety of interesting activites! I want to grow this organization!" Audrey exclaimed last spring, her voice resonating throughout the mostly empty Golden Valley restaurant. From that conversation comes the membership survey we ask you to take on Survey Monkey to help us make the organization a more engaging part of your life.
As one Christian website put it, "moral values do not derive from human experience. Moral values come from the one who knows us best and knows what is best for us-our creator, God. If moral values derived from human experience, we would be living in a chaotic world. We'd never know what was right and what was wrong, because moral values would change as human experience changed." However, we Secular Humanists understand that it is easy to be good without any gods, and often reason can lead us to be even more ethical than many theists.
Midterm elections are right around the corner. Are you ready to vote? An odd question, you think? Have you seen the ballot? There’s probably more to it than you know. Planning to vote straight party line or considering supporting a third party candidate? And how is anyone supposed to know who all those judicial candidates are!? Humanists should pride themselves in being informed voters, but sometimes that can be quite a challenge unless you do some homework.. As a former civics teacher, let me offer some practical help for Election Day, November 4th—along with some humanist thoughts on civic engagement.