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Blog: Humanist Voices

The Psychology of Blind Faith

When someone has "blind faith," they tend to hold onto their beliefs even when there is significant evidence suggesting they are false. This is different from standard faith, which is based merely on the absence of evidence. So what drives people to be so unreasonable? Psychology has some interesting answers.

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Atheist/Humanist Wedding Celebrant Bill Introduced in Minnesota Legislature

On March 12, 2wedding rings014, atheists and humanists in Minnesota made history when Minnesota State Representative Phyllis Kahn introduced what is believed to be the first legislative bill to ever mention us. House File 2966 (HF 2966) is titled “Marriage solemnization by atheist and humanist celebrants authorized.” It allows for our celebrants to legally perform civil marriages.

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The Psychology of Faith

Theists are in love with the idea of faith. They often use the word as though it is a magical and  indescribable force adhering them to their religious beliefs. However, as with all other aspects of the human experience, it is not beyond description or scientific investigation. Upon review, faith is an inherent drive which is ultimately necessary for our emotional wellbeing. At the same time, despite its positive attributes, it can be quite dangerous if taken too far.

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March 1 is World Future Day!

futureday"A community or society without a clear image of what it wants to get is hardly likely to end up wanting what it does get."[1]

Your future is being designed for you. Is it the future you want? Numerous social, technological, economic, environmental, political, and values trends continually push us into the future. Tipping points are crossed, new equilibriums are reached and familiar stabilities are broken. The ground seems to shift beneath us, often catching us unprepared. Past decisions create constraints, yet our tendency is to think we walk paths of our own choosing. Past developments also open new possibilities, but we're so often clinging to and reifying the familiar that we fail to see the freedom of movement that surrounds us. All of these forces and factors, trends and potentials beg for a perspective, a method or tools to reduce uncertainty and complexity. What can we use to decrease the tragic frequency of humanity blundering yet again into problems it could have anticipated and dealt with more intelligently? One such perspective and set of tools can be found in futures studies.

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When you have no arguments left, use fear: A reply to Katherine Kersten

In the Feb. 26th Star Tribune conservative commentator Katherine Kersten inadvertently revealed why we need anti-bullying legislation in the state of Minnesota. Designed to close glaring loopholes in current policy in order to stop bullying in schools, the anti-bullying legislation to which she refers couldn't be a more mundane and mechanically pragmatic piece of public policy. (You can read it here.) However, when twisted through Kersten's mentality of paranoid reaction, this transparent and straightforward legislative text becomes a frightening piece of moral subversion enforced by the power of the state, a slippery cover story concocted by big city liberals and sophisticates to hide some sinister true agenda. Her essay ignores honest and straightforward argument in favor of mock alarm and bewilderment designed to light fuses of fear. The State of Minnesota can do better than to listen to voices of fear. In fact, it must, in order to serve justice and fairness for all students.

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Bill Nye Debates Ken Ham?

On FebrBillNye-300-mduary 2nd, I watched C-Span’s presentation of the science-creation controversy between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. The two most salient aspects of the program were that each reinforced the attitudes and values of their constituencies without making any converts. This kind of program is not really a debate so much as it is a position statement. They accomplish nothing of value as far as the scientific community is concerned and pay a price by extending legitimacy to the fundies by sharing the same stage with pretenders. In the eyes of the scientifically illiterate public such a program is nearly always a lose:lose situation for the scientific community.

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The Case Against Libertarianism - Part I: Interview with Mike Huben, creator of Critiques of Libertarianism

Sacred Heart RandThe Tea Party has libertarian roots, according to one analysis. Famous skeptics like Michael Shermer and Penn Jillette are self-declared libertarians. The sixth-most conservative US senator, Rand Paul, identifies with libertarianism. One could argue that libertarianism is at an historical high tide in terms of visibility and popularity. On the surface libertarianism seems compatible with the atheist/agnostic/humanist movement's discourse of skepticism, reason and secularism in government. Also, who can look at the drug war, our convoluted tax system, an excessive regulation here or there, or US foreign policy blunders, and not think that maybe we could use a little less government?

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Feb. 20 - World Day of Social Justice

1-ban-ki-moon-460x281"The gap between the poorest and the wealthiest around the world is wide and growing. This situation is not only between countries but within them, including many of the most prosperous.  The World Day of Social Justice is observed to highlight the power of global solidarity to advance opportunity for all."

-Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

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Interview with Ted Meissner, Founder of The Secular Buddhist podcast

ted meissnerAlthough he's located in the Twin Cities, his influence is global. With 193 episodes of The Secular Buddhist podcast under his belt, he and his guests explore everything from Zen to mindfulness practice in psychotherapy to the brain science of meditation. Taking the podcast series as a whole, one could view Meissner as directing our attention to and also participating in the forging of a new secular synthesis. Exploring the intersections of East and West, the truths of subjective experience and the findings of inter-subjective scientific investigation, and the relationship between the conceptual with the deeply practical, secular Buddhism may be one of the most important developments within organized secularism in decades.

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Squinting at Postmodernism II

cavemanIs the colloquial idiom "comparing apples to oranges" an appropriate way to talk about what Postmodernism actually put forward? Is it possible to talk about multiplicity, diversity, and plurality without falling into the chaos and relativism that most people perceive Postmodernism to be?

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Darwin Day 2014!

darwin"Therefore, we conclude that Charles Darwin is a worthy symbol on which to focus in order to build a global celebration of science and humanity, and together with the philosophy of humanism makes it possible to promote a common bond among all people of the earth."
-Dr. Robert Stephens, Darwin Day Celebration: The International Recognition of Darwin, Science and Humanity 

For more on the international Darwin Day celebration, visit here. 

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
-
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

 

 

 

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