Philosophy Now Issue 152: God and the Philosophers

Back in the summer of 2020, we brought Issue 138 of Philosophy Now to HumanistFreedoms.com readers’ attention as we thought that the issue’s Table of Contents offers a number of great articles, including a feature section on religion and secularism. The periodical’s website appears to allow complimentary viewing of up to four articles per month.

This month, Issue 152 God and the Philosophers appears to be similarly thought-provoking:

God and the Philosophers

by Rick Lewis

Excerpt:

“Is there a God?” has been a central philosophical question since the earliest times. Don’t roll your eyes! These arguments should interest you too, and I’ll try to explain why.

The Philosophy Now editorial team includes both humanists and religious believers, but we agree that questions about God are tied up with a whole series of philosophical concerns of the deepest and most personal kind – questions which keep honest folk awake at night. How should we live our lives? How should we treat one another? What’s the point of it all? What happens when we die? Where did this world come from? Some say that the idea of God arises from our need to answer such questions. Others retort that without God we’d never have had the wit to ask such questions in the first place. The questions are difficult and the question of whether God exists – and what we mean by God – particularly so, which is why Benedict O’Connell’s agnostic article on ‘God and Humility’ is well worth a read.

The Ontological Argument Revisited

Peter Mullen explores the argument that by definition, God exists.

God & Humility

Benedict O’Connell argues we must recognise our limitations about knowing God.

Deism: Traditional & Contemporary

Robert Griffiths looks into an anti-religion, pro-God way of thinking.

How Theology Pre-Empts Philosophy

Tony McKenna relates how theology beat philosophy to fundamental metaphysics.

A Theological Self

Stuart Hannabuss journeys into the human condition with Søren Kierkegaard.

Faith & An Unreliable God

Patrick Wilson argues that it’s irrational to trust an untrustworthy God.

Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Kate Taylor recalls a ‘humanist’ classic by Jean-Paul Sartre.

Excerpt:

Sartre makes two basic claims – firstly that God is dead and this has consequences for the way we live; and secondly that all claims about humanity and the world must begin with human experience. Given these two claims, Sartre concludes that ‘existence precedes essence’. What he means by this is that human beings are without any pre-existing purpose or ‘essence’ which is not of their own making….In a post-God world, only human beings can choose what to make of their existence. Sartre in fact says that we are ‘condemned to be free’. Our freedom is a condemnation because we cannot escape having to choose, nor escape the responsibility that comes from having that capacity. We cannot deny the weighty responsibility that accompanies our freedom to will as we choose.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://philosophynow.org/issues/152

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Jamie Lenman: The Atheist

Looking for something fresh to listen to? Why not try Jamie Lenman’s (formerly of the band, Reuben) new album, The Atheist?

The album is set to be released on November 25, 2022. Two tracks, “Lena Don’t Leave Me” and “Talk Hard” are currently available via video platforms and presumably audio platforms as well. We suspect you know how to search your favorite sources. Or you could visit Lenman’s website.

Talk Hard features lyrics (below courtesy Genius.com) with an upbeat, pro-freedom-of-expression message. It’s refreshing to hear something that is boldly and encouragingly supportive of a fundamental human right.

I thought I heard you make some assertion
But you were mumbling
And I could not be sure
So turn yourself into a bolder person
There’s nothing to be gained from acting so demure


Take a breath
Take a sec
Take your time
Take the floor buddy
You’re just fine
Yeah


Talk hard
I know you wanna play your trump card
They just ain’t listening
Stand up
And tell ’em what you have to say


I know it maybe seems too much to handle
Finding the energy to shout above the crowd
But if they take away the proper channels
You have to find somehow to make it extra loud


Take a breath
Take a sec
Take your time
Take the mic if you like
Here’s mine
Yeah


Talk hard
I know you wanna play your trump card
They just ain’t listening
Stand up
And tell ’em what you have to say


Yeah, talk hard
I know you wanna play your trump card
They just ain’t listening
Stand up
And tell ’em what you have to say
Say
Say
Say
Say

There does seem to be a lot of mumbling out there these days. Good on Lenman for offering up an encouraging word.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttp://www.jamielenman.com/
  2. https://genius.com/Jamie-lenman-talk-hard-lyrics

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

October 2022 – HumanistFreedoms.com Surpasses Annual Visits Two Years in a Row!… and Call for Participation

2020 was HumanistFreedoms.com’s first full year of operation. Today we reached a new milestone!

At the end of July 2021, we had surpassed the total visitors to the site in 2020. Effective today, October 23, 2022, we are thrilled to see that we’ve surpassed the 2021’s annual total visitors and pages read. By year’s end we expect to have grown 25% in 2021!

We have enjoyed publishing articles which promoting and celebrating humanism and our common humanity. We thank our contributors, readers and visitors for making http://www.humanistfreedoms.com a unique online magazine.

By contemporary internet standards, HumanistFreedoms.com is still a new and growing project. But we think that every small project has the potential to bring humanist values, outlooks and news to a continuously-growing audience; we look forward, therefore, to promoting other start-up Humanist-themed projects. Recently, the “Reasons for Reason” Youtube channel caught our attention. The channel features R4R, The Rational Robot, undertaking a number of classic counter-apologetics exercises. Currently, the channel’s most popular video is one devoted to the so-called Shroud of Turin.

If you enjoyed the R4R’s adventures in reason, please share your thoughts below and share the video with those who may be interested to learn more bour Reasons for Reason, counter-apologetics and humanism.

For the remainder of 2022 and looking forward to the new year, we are looking for even more essays, articles and stories to share! We are not able to pay for articles (yet) but we want to hear what you have to say. This month, themes that we want to explore include:

  • Contemporary Humanism’s Biggest Priorities and Challenges for 2022
  • Leadership Within The Humanist Movement
  • Humanism and Secularism
  • Humanism and Human Trafficking
  • Digital Humanism
  • Humanism and Global Population
  • A Humanist Perspective of Radical Politics
  • Humanist Photography: Photographer Review
  • Humanism in the Arts
  • Humanism and the Environment
  • Humanism and Freedom of Expression: Lessons of the 2020’s
  • Humanism and Freedom of/from Religion: Global Lessons
  • Humanism and Architecture
  • Book/Movie/Music/Arts Review: A Humanist Recommends….

Do you have an idea that isn’t on our list? Let us know. Inquire at humanistfreedoms@gmail.com

Elected Office(s) and the Catholic School System in Ontario: A Match Made In…

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

There’s something about elected office(s) and democracy that doesn’t quite match-up well with religious prerequisites. The concepts are fundamentally opposed. Elected office and democracy puts the leadership selection process in the hands of the people that the system is intended to serve while religious prerequisites place the selection process in the hands of religious authorities, regardless of who may be within that system. That seems fairly obvious doesn’t it?

Canadian media outlets have recently reported the outcome of a legal case wherein an Ontario student sued the York Catholic District School Board after having been barred from running for elected office within the school system. It seems that Dasha Kandaharian, an Orthodox Christian (i.e. not a Roman Catholic), was not allowed to run for student trustee at the high school she attended because of that sectarian difference.

Media stories have referred to the case as a “landmark” – which it undoubtedly is. The decision undoubtedly addresses the situation faced by thousands of non-Catholic students who have attended publicly-funded Catholic schools in the past (clearly, Kandaharian was not he first and only student to be barred from the elected office) – and the thousands more who may do so in the future.

What the media have not (that we can find) spent much time in considering is where the Catholic School Board(s) of Ontario may have gotten this notion that a sectarian religious prerequisite for elected office is an acceptable thing.

Perhaps a peek at the Ontario Municipal & School Board Elections (2022) webstie might offer some perspective. The “Become A Trustee” page clearly states:

A person is qualified to be elected as a school board trustee if the person is qualified to vote in a school board election and is a resident of the school board district.

When filing a nomination a candidate must meet all of the following requirements:

  • a resident within the jurisdiction of the board;
  • a supporter of the board (“supporter” refers to the individual’s support for one of the four publicly funded school systems. A list of supporters for each system is kept by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation);
  • a Canadian citizen;
  • at least 18 years old;
  • Roman Catholic (if running for a Catholic school board);
  • not legally prohibited from voting; and
  • not disqualified by any legislation from holding school board office.

Note: A candidate, if nominated, must remain qualified throughout the election and, if elected, throughout the term of office. The term of office is 4 years. School board candidates should confirm that they have the qualifications described here and in section 219 of the Education Act. It is the responsibility of the candidate to determine whether he or she is qualified to be elected to and hold office.

In case you’re interested, Section 219 of the Education Act doesn’t seem to actually bear the qualification that we’ve bolded in the language above. Perhaps the argument is implicit or explicit in some other section of the Act. But for the moment, we can skip over that murky inconsistency and observe that the York Catholic District School Board (and any other publicly funded Catholic School Board) appears merely to have been applying the same criteria to the selection and election of Student Trustees as the Government of Ontario appears to tolerate for the selection and election of School Board Trustees.

Well, this landmark court decision rather brings to question whether what’s good for the goose (students) may also be good for the gander (adult politicians).

So let us consider, in the spirit of taking note of landmarks, an entirely fictional scenario: a hypothetical Secular Humanist who happens to be a (legally defined) ‘supporter’ of the Catholic School system in their area decides that they would like to be Board Trustee of that system. Regardless of how they might fare in an open election – how well do you imagine this hypothetical individual might fare in the qualification screening process?

Here is a separate and perhaps more fundamental question: Can you imagine any other elected office in a 21st-century democratic country named Canada where membership in a religious sect would be accepted as a pre-requisite condition?

And here, in an un-related way, is an observation from our recent Preamble, schmeable article:

Did you notice that the US Supreme Court Judges who turned against Roe v Wade are all Catholic? Well, according to Catholic News Agency, they appear to be. A coincidence, no doubt.

Clearly, religious sectarian membership and elected/selected public office in a contemporary democracy is a match made in….

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of
  2. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2022/10/13/teen-wins-landmark-case-against-york-catholic-school-board-heres-what-it-could-mean-for-others.html
  3. https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/10741916-teen-wins-landmark-case-against-york-catholic-district-school-board/
  4. https://elections.ontarioschooltrustees.org/BecomeATrustee/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Preamble, schmeamble….right? Perhaps

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published via other venues that we think HumanistFreedoms.com readers may enjoy. This week, we found the following information (italicized below) on www.the-star.co.ke .

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

A case has been filed in court seeking to make atheism illegal in Kenya. The court has been asked to declare as unconstitutional the Atheists in Kenya Society.

The argument for the ban is flimsy: the Preamble to the 2010 Constitution starts by acknowledging ‘the supremacy of the Almighty God of all creation“. Therefore atheists who deny God are denying the constitution.

The petition argues that this overrules the constitutional right to freedom of belief, conscience, religion and opinion.

Firstly, if God is all-powerful, surely he has permitted those atheists to exist. Would a court ban go against his will?

Secondly, religions like Buddhism and Taoism do not believe in a God. Would they be the next belief-systems to be banned as unconstitutional?

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, do these atheists do any harm to anyone? If they break the law and injure their neighbours, let them be punished. But if they live peaceably and are productive members of society, then leave them alone.

This court petition is the first step to bringing the thought police to Kenya to tell us what we are allowed to think. The petition should be thrown out.

It should seem ridiculous or preposterous that anyone might attempt to use a legal pre-amble (don’t take our word for it, read the document) to undermine a fundamental human right. And yet, here we have it – someone is trying to make that case.

It ought to make any and all individuals or organizations perk up their ears – not just humanist or atheist organizations, either. Consider that Kenya’s constitution carries a twenty-first century date. And just where might Kenya have taken this idea of a constitutional preamble front-loaded with a deity?

Consider the fact that Kenya is a member of the Commonwealth. And please further consider the fact that the Commonwealth has a program called the Commonwealth of Learning which (per their website) “is the world’s only intergovernmental organisation solely concerned with the promotion and development of distance education and open learning. COL is hosted by the Government of Canada and headquartered in Burnaby, British Columbia Canada. Created by Commonwealth Heads of Government, COL encourages the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training.”

Image Courtesy Athists in Kenya Society

And finally consider that one of the Commonwealth of Learning’s programs happens to be a training program in Legislative Drafting – the writing of laws. Note that Athabasa University, based in Alberta, currently offers a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Legislative Drafting. It seems to be not unreasonable to connect a these particular dots. Two separate and equal nations in the Commonwealth happen to cooperate in educating and training the individuals whose profession is to craft the verbiage of laws. Canada in particular bears a leadership role in this area of Commonwealth operations.

How similar are these constitutional pre-ambles?

Canada’s Constitution Act (1982) has a preamble which states “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s Constitution Act (2010) preamble states “Acknowledging  the supremacy of the Almighty God of all creation

Canada’s constitutional preamble is a bad precedent with readily identifiable mechanisms for distribution and influence. Whether the situation in Kenya is dismissed (as it ought to be) or otherwise fails, we can’t yet know. And is hardly the point. The point is that ideological fanatics will attempt to leverage every and any opportunity to advance their position. It is shortsighted, at best, to view things otherwise.

Canada finally rid itself of the dangerously ridiculous and anachronistic blasphemy law (the former Section 296) in 2018. We can only assume that political leaders must have been confronted by the hypocrisy of advocating against blasphemy laws around the world (via the former Office of Religious Freedom) while maintaining a blasphemy law on its own books.

Did you notice that the US Supreme Court Judges who turned against Roe v Wade are all Catholic? Well, according to Catholic News Agency, they appear to be. A coincidence, no doubt.

Suddenly, we can see the potential for harm lurking within the slightest hint of theism in secular law and decision making.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://atheistsinkenya.org/
  2. https://www.the-star.co.ke/opinion/leader/2022-09-28-atheist-petition-could-bring-thought-police/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

esSENCE Global: The World’s Biggest Atheist Meet in “God’s Own Country”

When was the last time there was a meeting of Secular Humanists in Canada, or indeed all of North America which could proudly affirm 10,000 attendees? Or even 5,000? The Reason Rally website (as of October 5, 2022) appears to still have branding from 2016 and proclaims “The Reason Rally is proud to have hosted the two largest gatherings to celebrate secular identity and speak up for reason in American history.” Despite a bit of mis-place modifier action going-on in that proclamation, we can take it that things were still happening in 2016.

In Canada, the most recent iteration of the Imagine No Religion conference (INR7) was held in Toronto during the summer of 2017. We remember it fondly as HumanistFreedoms.com stands as a product of friendships developed and sustained at that time.

Time has indeed passed and one must only wonder if it isn’t perhaps time for Secular Humanists in North America to look around and take stock. Where is everybody? Where is that solidarity to promote reason and secular values?

Maybe it’s also time to take note of undertakings on other continents.

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

The first edition of Litmus, the annual meet of esSENSE Global, was held in Thiruvananthapuram, India, in Oct 2018. The next one was held in Kozhikode in 2019. Litmus is noted for all round participation from the secular-atheist community and the general public in the state of Kerala. Expatriate Malayalees also participate in this annual event in large numbers.

According to TheNewsMinute.com, “Around 10,000 people gathered at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium at Kadavanthara in Kerala’s Ernakulam district on October 2, Sunday, to attend an annual meet named ‘Litmus 22’, pitched as “the world’s biggest atheist meet in ‘god’s own country’”.

‘Let evidence lead’ is the motto of Litmus and stated on the event website that:

No pompous fanfare by parading of caparisoned elephants through packed streets.
No vengeful god with their inherent fury or priests with their greedy interests.
No eardrum shattering high decibel fireworks or loudspeakers.

Instead, this session entails a celebration that promotes the advancement of humanity through enhancing scientific temper and freethinking as per article 51 a(h) of the constitution of India.

esSENSE GLOBAL is a registered organization under the Registrar of Societies, Government of Kerala, India with ‘ESSENSE CLUB GLOBAL’ as the registered name. Via internet, social and printed media the organization is known as esSENSE GLOBAL.

The goal of esSENSE GLOBAL is to promote the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform in the society inspired by the Article 51 A (h) of Constitution of India which insists “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”. esSENSE GLOBAL strives to liberate the society of Kerala from religious and secular superstitions, dogmas and intellectual bondage. Unbiased freethinking is the stand we espouse without flinch. esSENSE Global always holds the view that Kerala society requires a real handshake with science and its methodology so as to advance to the next level of human civilization. When we defend science, in fact, we defend our civilization.

esSENSE GLOBAL organizes Seminars, Study classes, Panel discussions, Presentations, Debates, Aid missions throughout the state of Kerala to spread the ideas and values mentioned above. All programs are recorded and published in YouTube and social media.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: https://essenseglobal.com/about-us/
  2. https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/around-10000-people-attend-atheist-meet-kerala-168536

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Chile Has a Humanist Political Party, Why Not Canada?

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published via other venues that we think HumanistFreedoms.com readers may enjoy. This week, we found news that Chile has a brand new, legal Humanist political party. While we aren’t experts in Chilean politics, we are aware that this development follows a difficult period in Chilean history – most recently demonstrated by constitutional challenges. Indeed, in a world that seems to face no shortage of political challenges, it is interesting to note that Humanist political parties exist in many countries around the world. Currently, there is no Humanist political party in Canada that we are aware of. Perhaps Chileans have recognized what we’ve not yet seen in Canada: there’s a deep and urgent need for reason in politics.

The following article was located on the Pressenza website on October 2, 2022.

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

Today the more than necessary signatures to legalise Acción Humanista as a political party in Chile were presented to the Electoral Service.

After two and a half years since some 300 militants left the Humanist Party and left that collectivity as a mere movement that did not seek to sustain the original organisation, this new movement is being legalised today.

They worked during the pandemic, they gave themselves their statutes, added adherents, launched their membership campaign and were raising a contagious energy with which they took to the streets while also sustaining their virtual activities. They developed that very special mix that was militancy in times of pandemic.

In this context and after the Chilean social awakening, they supported the “Apruebo” option in the Plebiscite, they sought to elect constituents by running candidates in several districts, and they still presented themselves as a movement in the municipal elections where they obtained the first favourable results that allowed them to elect their councillors. Subsequently, they supported the elections of Governors and CORES, and concluded with a very strong campaign both in the Primaries and for the parliamentary elections in which they won the re-election of Deputy Tomás Hirsch and the inclusion in their ranks of the recently elected Deputy Ana María Gazmuri. They campaigned for the second round of the elections where, with all the forces of Apruebo Dignidad, they achieved the massive vote that put Gabriel Boric Font in the Presidency of the country.

They then went on to form, albeit still as the Acción Humanista movement, the political team on which the new government is relying. Marilén Cabrera was nominated to the Undersecretary of National Assets, they obtained several Seremías in different regions and also a series of other public posts.

While they were trying to gather all the signatures that would allow them to become a legal political party, they worked day by day for the possibility of approving the new constitutional charter in the exit plebiscite and, together with 38% of the population, this time they failed miserably.

However, their work over the last two and a half years has been plagued by solidarity campaigns, forums, retreats, activities, meetings, gatherings and so on. There has been a strong press coverage, especially by Deputy Tomás Hirsch, but also by several others.

And today they have been legalised. With this, Humanism once again has a legal political party in Chile, and that is good news. Tremendous news. It is now called #AcciónHumanista and it carries the spirit that has characterised humanists since the 1980s.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of:https://accionhumanista.cl/
  2. https://www.pressenza.com/2022/10/humanism-once-again-has-a-legalised-political-party-in-chile/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.