Humanist Perspectives: issue 198, Autumn 2016

Issue 198, Autumn 2016

cover of issue 198
Humanist Perspectives is a refreshing, rational analysis of modern events and culture and is available at select magazine stores or by online subscription.

Editorial

I believe because... by Madeline Weld
One of the problems that humanists have with faith...is that believers will accept a religious narrative without the possibility of objective certainty... But humanity’s ability to believe without evidence or to persist in believing in the face of contrary evidence is not limited to deities... [T]he coming decades will no doubt provide plenty of opportunities for us to examine what we may unwittingly be taking “on faith” and what or whom we may be giving a free pass when it comes to subjecting it or them to critical analysis.

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Features

Religious Naturalism: A Better Mousetrap by Michael Barrett
The proposition that if a man builds a better mouse trap the world will beat a path to his door was voiced by nineteenth century American thinker R.W. Emerson, often seen as a precursor of modern religious naturalism. But if religious naturalism, as some suggest, is an example of Emerson’s better mouse trap, why aren’t more people beating a path to that door?

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New Wine in Old Bottles: The Changing Face of Canadian Marriage by Lloyd Hawkeye Robertson
A respondent to a recent national survey said marriage fails to reflect the “modern reality” ... This sentiment, common in the 1960s, viewed marriage as an institution for female oppression, and many believed its popularity would surely decline with the advent of gender equality. Despite such presumptions of patriarchy, most brides in my youth seemed more enthusiastic than their husbands-to-be.

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What Happened to ‘A Gentleman and a Scholar’? by Andrew Colgan
In the past, higher education, then small liberal arts colleges, taught the students of the wealthy and aristocracy to hold high public offices, including the first professions of law, medicine, and the priesthood....[Is] more accessible higher education providing the kind of education adults need in modern democratic societies where all citizens hold political power, not just a ruling class?

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Why Malthus is not a Social Hero Like Darwin by John Meyer
Aristotle, Da Vinci, Darwin, and… Malthus?

Human societies have been shaped by surges in intellectual advances often spurred by single individuals. Some are revered and some are forgotten but Aristotle, Da Vinci and Darwin stand pretty much in a league of their own.... But there is one name yet to be added. Thomas Malthus dealt with difficult questions of human nature and his teachings have yet to be applied.

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The Supremes Shall Set Us Free by Dan Mayo
When the ultra-religious mayor of the city of Saguenay, Quebec, tangled with the Supreme Court of Canada in 2015, he got a rude secular shock. His prayer practices at city council were ruled illegal....It is now the law of the land that municipal councils may not have religious ceremonies as part of their meetings.

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On Faith by Plato Mamo
Faith, in our language, is a more solemn sort of belief. It is generally thought to be a very good thing, a necessary condition for a happy and meaningful life. In religious discourse it is one of the theological virtues. All this is assumed and no account of such belief is given.

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Critical Thinking in a Deeply Religious Society by Emmanuel Ezeagwu
I was born and brought up by staunch Christian parents who, with strict discipline, imposed upon me their Christian values and ideals. When I was still a kid, my parents, particularly my father, read Bible passages out loud to me every evening during family devotions. This was always my worst time of the day, never one I looked forward to.... Right from my mother’s womb, I was already tagged a Christian child.

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Cross-Cultural Minefields by John K. Nixon
Many years ago, I owned a Chevrolet Nova, one of the early attempts by General Motors to produce a smaller and more economical car. It turned out that the car never sold well in Latin America. This may well have been because ‘no va’ in Spanish means ‘doesn’t go.’

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Book reviews

Bernard Kops, Poetry and Peril. A Review of Bernard Kops’ book “Anne Frank’s Fragments from Nowhere” by Thomas Ország-Land
Bernard Kops, the doyen of Anglo-Jewish letters, has responded to a global resurgence of violent anti-Semitism by issuing a new collection of verse called Anne Frank’s Fragments from Nowhere. This is his second major work exploring the legacy of the teenage diarist.

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Review of Thomas Römer’s “The Invention of God” by Sheila Ayala
Since the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have had such an impact on civilization, it is interesting to go back in time and trace the origins of the god that these religions worship....The book covers the Bronze Age from 3,000 to 300 BCE.

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In addition, Humanist Perspectives offers a lively Letters-to-the-Editor section as well as Book Reviews, books available for review and snippets of international news of interest to humanists.

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