- Posted Sunday, 22 December, 2013
- by Richard Edmonds
We live in a world in which hunger and starvation exist. 1 in 8 people go hungry in the world right now, according to the 2012 Global Hunger Index (GHI). That hunger exists in the world is hardly news. A part of our background awareness, it's a fact that has lost its power to shock conscience. This too is hardly news. Global hunger also has little power to function as a contradiction to the self-regard of Western society, the global north, or the so-called "Washington consensus." That hunger undermines the legitimacy of the current political and economic order goes without saying. What is to be done?Add a comment
In the Old Testament narrative, Yahweh, the one "true" god, commanded the tribes of Israel to worship only him and follow his laws. As the Israelite state became more prosperous through trade with other nations, foreign gods gained influence and many ancient Jews "played the harlot" with these alien deities.  In retribution, Yahweh allowed the Babylonian Empire to defeat the Israelite army and cast the ruling elite into exile. Eventually, the exiled Jews realized their folly, and were allowed to return to their homeland to ensure their people would follow God's laws forever after. Unfortunately, this narrative completely whitewashes the actual history of religion in Israel.Add a comment
What could get humanists to squint differently at postmodernism? Perhaps a gentle, slow, and gradual persuasion back into a conversation? What would be the goal—perhaps to contemplate, even with reluctant awareness, that late 20th century Western European and North American humanism, which we inhabit or claim, is not only synchronous with, but also that this humanism and this postmodernism are mutually informed?Add a comment
The Old Testament books Genesis and Exodus detail the origins of humanity and the earliest events in
ancient Israelite history. 4 out of 10 Americans not only believe the books are 100% factual, but they also consider them to be foundational to their religion.  However, when reviewing the evidence, the claims made by the Bible's ancient authors become highly suspect.
As described in the previous three posts, evolution wired humans to be moral, to form supernatural beliefs, and to sustain those beliefs. Yet, we are not genetically predisposed to believe Jesus is the son of God or Muhammad spoke to the angel Gabriel. In other words, religious traditions are a product of cultural evolution, not biological evolution. As societies went from tribal to modern, and as cultures interacted with one another, supernatural beliefs and religious traditions morphed to better suit the needs of their host civilizations. As time went on, only the most useful religions were left standing.Add a comment
The Foundation Beyond Belief is featuring the Citizen's Disaster Response Center (CDRC) as its current focus for donations. The CDRC is "a non-government organization that pioneered and continues to promote community-based disaster management in the Philippines. Organized in 1984, CDRC focuses its assistance to the most affected, least served and most vulnerable sectors of the population through preparedness and mitigation, emergency relief, and rehabilitation programs."Add a comment
Most Humanists believe that ethical and moral values are created by humans to serve human needs and underpin a smoothly functional society. After all, if we cannot appeal to a ‘higher authority’ for these values, they can only arise from our evolutionary experiences (both past and present) and must therefore be based on agreed upon principles so we can live our lives in as a fulfilling and meaningful way as possible. Yet despite these rather apparently simple statements, many Humanists (especially those that steep themselves in philosophy) cannot stop discussing (and arguing) about what the ‘foundations’ of ethics and morals are.Add a comment
In April of 1708 in a document entitled "Board of Trade to the Governors of the English Colonies", it was concluded that it was "absolutely necessary that a trade [slavery] so beneficial to the kingdom should be carried on to the greatest advantage." Some of the royal families of Europe were investors in the slave trade. John Locke, a philosopher with a few things to say about liberty, owned shares in a slave-trading company, as did Enlightenment figure Voltaire. While legalized slavery has since been banished, slavery and slavery-like conditions persist. And it still has its corporate investors, hereditary backers, and the indifference or dysfunction of government.
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How is humanity doing overall? Is global human well-being improving or regressing? Since the early 90s there has been a proliferation of quantitative measures that attempt to answer that question. Name a factor that you think might be associated with well-being like education or gender equality or ecosystem sustainability, and there is likely an ongoing effort to measure it. 2013 seems to be a big year for these global measures of well-being. The latest big set of indicators is the Global AgeWatch Index.
(Photo: Kate Holt/HelpAge International)Add a comment
The Electronic Enlightenment is "the most wide-ranging online collection of edited correspondence of the early modern period, linking people across Europe, the Americas and Asia from the early 17th to the mid-19th century — reconstructing one of the world's great historical "conversations."" Alas, a subscription is required, but it may very well be worth the cost for students of this pivotal historical period.
(Picture: Baron D'Holbach, 1723-1789)Add a comment