"Freedom is a word we rarely use" in Poland, as only 3 per cent of Poles recognize it as one of their most important values. Most Polish people understand freedom as a synonym of national independence, so for the last 30 years, since we regained full political independence, it's been almost deprived of any meaning and significance. That is why, when we learnt that Ralf Fucks, German political thinker, "passionate about individual freedom", published the book titled "Defending Freedom", we decided to go to Berlin and talk to him to learn how to defend and foster individual freedom in our country.
Religion is important to some people and not important to others, but to my great delight, generally, it is increasingly less important and its fall is dramatic. The recent poll by the Pew Research Center shows that out of 108 countries involved in the study, Poles - particularly the young ones -lose their faith faster than any other nation. Few consider religion as the source of values or hope for the afterlife; even fewer believe it to be the path to the so-called salvation.
Beliefs in non-existent beings are not our only concern and field of interest. Of comparable importance is the ability to think at all: the motivation to think, intelligence and - often disregarded - the ability to think in abstract terms, perhaps even more important to humanists than high IQ. Numerous studies show that all types of thinking are impaired by the new media, mostly because of the rapidly growing role of pictures that have almost displaced information provided in verbal language. According to Italian sociologist, Giovanni Sartori "homo sapiens" has turned into "homo videns" - with only limited ability to think, particularly in abstract terms, philosophically and critically.
MODELS OF SECULARISM
Ivan Dheur: Secularism in Norway
Norway's supposed separation of Church and State, effective from 1 January 2017, is a very positive step, but it's still a work in progress, writes Keith Porteous Wood. Both Norway and the United Kingdom have populations that are very secular in outlook, with around 2% of them regularly attending regular services of the national church. Yet both these ancient monarchies have had established churches deeply ingrained in the state since at least the Reformation in the 16th century.
Giulio Ercolessi: Italy
About ninety percent of the pupils at Italian State schools take part in Catholic religious education classes, whereas less than forty percent of taxpayers give the Catholic Church the part of income tax (imposta sulle persone fisiche, IRPEF) allotted to religious denominations or State social welfare institutions. About sixty percent of all religious marriages take place according to Catholic rites, but – in spite of the high percentage of citizens who have received Catholic baptism – less than twenty-five percent regularly take part in Sunday mass. In addition, the Papacy resides in Italy, which gives the Catholic Church great influence over political and social events in the country regardless of the statistical figures on the religious beliefs of Italians.
Gerald Ostdiek: Believing in Biology. Religious Imagination of Living Things (Including People).
Conventional notions of religion place it beyond the range of empirical study and immune to criticism: and yet hold it as a valid means of knowing. It is said to function as a telescope, bringing into perception otherwise unimaginable objects. But religious perception shows no consistency beyond that of commonly held culture; and we reject this notion empirically. Following the entailments of Darwin’s Ontology, I argue that religion (as well as knowing) is a matter of biology. It functions as a channeling of interpretation and results in behavior. Religious faith is animal behavior, i.e., acting on perception sans critical analysis. To act on faith is to embrace the animal self and the whims of Darwin's jungle. To embrace skepticism is to act upon that which is most uniquely human – the resources of self-reflection, philosophy and science, which serve to fact-check our perceptions and lead to more competent believing.
Gerald Ostdiek is assistant professor at Charles University in Prague, and a researcher at the University of Hradec Králové. He grounds his philosophical efforts within the study of semiotics as biology and culture, and the all too real consequences of reciprocity, radical continuity, and reproduction with variation plus selection.
Susan Neiman: Making Progress: Rethinking Enlightenment
Moral philosopher Susan Neiman argues that a progressive political outlook depends on a return to a robust Enlightenment.
Richard Dawkins: Science in the Soul | Real Time with Bill Maher
Richard D\awkins talks with Bill Maher about his new book, about ignorance of anti-evolutionists and science-phobia of some intellectualls. He also admits his own ignorance ....of basebal but not only.
Ron Lindsay: The Future of the Center for Inquiry
Ronald A. Lindsay has been the president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry for nearly 7 years. Prior to leading the organization, Lindsay received his Ph.D. from Georgetown University, specializing in bioethics. He also studied at University of Virginia School of Law, and practiced law for 26 years before joining CFI in 2008.
With Ron Lindsay's tenure as president and CEO coming to a close, he delivered a heartfelt address at the Reason for Change conference in Buffalo, New York, on June 14, 2015. His words are hopeful and sincere as Ron expresses optimism for the future, both for the Center for Inquiry, and for the mission of the humanist movement overall.
Conversation with Richard Dawkins
In a special live presentation at CSICon 2016 in Las Vegas, Richard Dawkins is joined by magician Jamy Ian Swiss for an unscripted and spirited conversation covering a wide range of topics, including skepticism's history in stage magic, what it means to be a skeptic versus other identifying labels, finding the beauty in science, and what the future of science might entail.
Ernestine Potowska Rose - the first humanist
( feminist, atheist, abolitionist )
Prof. Bill Cooke, a philosopher and historian of humanism speaks about Ernestine Potowska Rose - the first woman humanist.
She was born in 1810 in Piotrków Trybunalski in The Grand Duchy of Warsaw as "a daughter of poor crushed Poland, as well as the downtrodden and persecuted people called the Jews."
When she was 17, she emigrated to Prussia, England and the USA, where she spent most of her life struggling to abolish slavery, oppression of women and belief in god. She was the only outspoken atheist among the first-wave feminists in times when women atheists were considered to be "a thousand times below a prostitute."
Polish Church and state from the Dutch and Beligian perspectives
Natasz Lubryczyyńska and Andrzej Dominiczak talk with Roeland Termote, a Dutch journalist and correspondent for Eastern a d Central Europe.
SITUATION IN POLAND
COE Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation in Poland (bilingual)
MORE ON THE SITUATION IN POLAND
Our interview with the Commissionare for Human rights of the Council of Europe
Man is essentially a dreamer, wakened sometimes for a moment by some peculiarly obtrusive element in the outer world, but lapsing again quickly into the happy somnolence of imagination.
(Bertrand Russell, Dreams and Facts, 1916)
What Are the Arguments Against Religion?
Anthony Clifford "A. C." Grayling (born 3 April 1949) is an English philosopher. In 2011 he founded and became the first Master of New College of the Humanities, an independent undergraduate college in London. Until June 2011, he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, where he taught from 1991. He is also a supernumerary fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford.
In "The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism" he counters the arguments for the existence of God, and puts forward humanism as an alternative to religion.
Grayling is concerned with tone. He claims to have written the first book "thoroughly and calmly to examine all the arguments offered in support of religious beliefs", such as the ontological argument for the existence of God, which he argues against in the first half of the book.
In the other half, he proposes humanism as a suitable substitute of religion for a moral life or what he calls a "good life". According to his definition of humanism, if you believe that moral choices should be grounded in "the responsible use of reason" and "human experience in the real world" then you are a humanist.
A. C. GRAYLING: MORE ON HUMANISM
There are many interesting points Grayling makes in this lecture. One of them pertains to the question "what it means to be human" and one of the answers is that that "a well lived life is a reflective life". Isn't it enough to tell the difference between an average atheist and humanist?
BERTRAND RUSSELL ON GOD
Bertrand Russell is our favourite humanist philosopher. In this short video he shares some of his thoughts on faith in God. It is very little, but don't worry, we will soon add a few of his brilliant essays.
Michael Schmidt Solomon
HOW PIGLET AND YOUNG HEDGEHOG WERE SEARCHING FOR GOD AND WHAT HAS FOLLOWED FROM THEIR SEARCH
This is our newest publucation and probably the first atheist book for little children.
Police investigate photo of little girl with Catholic death threat face paint
(Christian love in practice)
The young girl is photographed with a Union flag painted on her cheek and "KAT" in red, white and blue on her head. The photograph, which emerged on social media and republican websites, is believed to have been taken during an Eleventh night bonfire in north Belfast.
The slogans "KAT" ("Kill All Taigs") or "ATAT" ("All Taigs Are Targets") commonly appear in graffiti in loyalist areas in Northern Ireland.
A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spokesman added: "Police have received a report, enquiries will be carried out to establish if any offenses have been committed."
Watch the video to see how the institution of the European Union meet their obligation to maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with philosophical and non-confessional organisations.
Number one on the list of best atheist songs by Phil Zuckerman!
ANDRZEJ DOMINICZAK: ON BLSPHEMY IN POLAND: RECENT NEWS AND SOME GENERAL REMARKS
10 Oct. a regional court in Warsaw sentenced Jerzy Urban, the owner
and editor-in-chief of the anticlerical weekly “No”, to
pay a huge fine of 120 thousand zlotys plus 28 thousand of court
costs (together approx. 40 thousand US dollars) for publishing (in
2012) “a caricatural image of Jesus with unintelligent (low IQ)
facial expression”. This is the largest fine ever levied in
post-communist Poland for blasphemy - under art. 196 of the Penal
code on offending religious feelings. The article provides that
“anyone who offends the religious feelings of others by
publicly blaspheming n object of religious worship or a place
dedicated to the public celebration of religious rites is liable to a
fine, the restriction of liberty or imprisonment for up to two years.
CLAUDE WACHTELAER: THE IMPARTIAL STATE - SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE AND SECULARIZATION IN THE NETHERLANDS AND BELGIUM.
I have been asked to present the Belgian and Dutch models of relations between Churches and State. I will start by giving you some historical background. I will then address the legal aspects of the question and, finally, I will give you some information about the impact of these two first topics on the everyday life of the citizens of the two countries.
OUR POSITION ON THE POLITICS OF THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT OF POLAND (MARCH 2018)
The politics of the current government of
Poland is based on fuhrerprinzip and is carried out in the spirit of
predatory vitalism; it is authoritarian, nationalistic and extremely
arrogant. It’s nearly fascist and we abhor it!
As in fascists countries of XX century, it is not driven by any positive idea or ideal; it is
driven by hatred: for individual rights and liberties, for democracy and
the rule of law; for European civilization, the spirit of Enlightenment
and last, but not least, for the life-stance and values of secular
humanism. Its only goal is power in itself, total power that most
fully expresses itself in the brazen humiliation of everyone outside
of their own camp. That is why, they need enemies ad invent enemies.. The hatred they feed on cannot exists without enemies, internal and external.
Polish Humanist Association and Center for Inquiry Poland has been and still is deeply involved in the work of the Association "Secularitu Congress". We co-organized the actual congress and edited Secular Manifesto signed by eight left wing political parties on 22 Oct. 2917. This is not the first document of this kind that has been adopted by secular NGOs in Poland over the last 27 years, but for the first time it's been supported by almost all left-wing political parties, including those (like Democratic Left Alliance) who did very little to defend secular state when they were in power or at least in the parliament. Let us hope they will rememebr this declartion in the future, when they hopefully return to the parliament or to the ruling coalition.
Left and right critiques of the Enlightenment have differed in tone, but their images of the Enlightenment are remarkably similar, and similarly distorted.
In their opinion, the Enlightenment was cheerful, stupendously gullible, and inevitably naive. If not quite
the mad scientist in the cellar. These claims are supported by nothing more than shreds of historical
evidence, always torn from their contexts. The patchwork creature
that results is the rationalist whom the Enlightenment condemned from
experience, the fanatic about whom it was sceptical, the optimist it
loved to ridicule. This is not a question of nuance: the
Enlightenment wasn’t simply more complicated than contemporary
caricatures suggest, it was often diametrically opposed to them. Yet
the caricatures have persisted despite the masses of work
The second meeting with EU Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and European Parliament Vice-President Mairead McGuinness
Last Monday, on 19 June 2017, Andrzej Dominiczak took part again in a a high-level meeting with European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans in the presence of European Parliament Vice-President Mairead McGuinness. The meeting was attended by 13 other representatives of the so called philosophical and non-confessional organisations from across Europe. This time, the meeting was devoted mainly to the future of Europe as the value based and effective union. Answering the specific questions asked in the invitation letter our reprsentative raised sevral points: the conditions that must be met to enable people to thing in abstract terms, particularly in terms of values, the quality of eductaion in Europe and the need to establish direct communication between the UE Commission and the citizens of Europe. Next, Andrzej Dominiczak spoke with both EU high officials about the possibility to adopt by the EU the directive on preventing and combating violence against women, which is very importan, as Polish government is not doing anything in this field; they even threatened to withdraw from the Istambul Convention. Mrs. Mc Guinness promissed to stay in touch with us on this matter.
BILL COOKE: ERNESTINE ROSE: AN ATHEIST PIONEER FROM POLAND
In our opinion, Ernestine Potowska-Rose (1810-1891) was the first woman humanist: feminist, atheist, abolitionst and - generally - human rights protector; an activist and thinker.
But unlike the majority of abolitionist and feminist campaigners, she saw the bigger picture. Freeing women from oppression was linked intimately
to freeing slaves from oppression. And any freedom from oppression meant nurturing a free mind. That id why she chose atheism that meant emancipation from the most fundamental of the restrictions which hemmed in her, and everyone else's, life.
ANDRZEJ DOMINICZAK: POLISH WOMEN PROTEST RADICAL CATHOLIC ATTACK ON THEIR RIGHTS
Since 1993, Poland has had one of the most stringent anti-abortion laws in
Europe, a result of the strong position of Catholicism in this
country. But for some groups of more radical Catholics, this
strictness is not enough, because the law allows exceptions if a
woman's life is in danger or pregnancy occurs because of rape or
incest. Two such organizations, Foundation Pro and Ordo Iuris,
gathered 450,000 signatures for a new law, which would completely ban
abortions. They easily won the support of the ruling Law and Justice
If you watch the video below, you will see that despite the Polish government and national media propaganda, living with euthanasia in Belgium is easy - as far as possible in the country of mortal beings, but certainly easier than in a catholic country where dying people who suffer from unbearable pain are not allowed to terminate their suffering. For bizarre reasons, the Catholic Church, the "earthly body of a merciful god", does not care about suffering! The only thing they do care about is the respect for a dogma that “God gives life and only God can take it away”. To them, suffering, particularly the suffering of the poor is simply beautiful, as recently canonised Mother Teresa of Calcutta said several years ago. According to this ideology, people have not right to life - life is the highest moral duty, even if at the same time it is the cruellest judgement.
Statement by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe
Humanist Association has received the following statement from the office of
the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe. The
Commissioner has expressed his critical opinion on the new draft Law
on the Constitutional Court that was adopted yesterday by the lower
chmaber of the Polish parliament and urged the Senate „to
prevent a bad bill from becoming law and ensure that the rule of law
in Poland is fully respected.”
Meeting with EU Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans
On 30 June in Brussels, Andrzej Dominiczak, the president of our association took part in a a high-level meeting with European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and ten representatives from philosophical and non-confessional organisations from across Europe to discuss "Migration, integration and European values: putting values into action"
Ground: The Alliance for Choice and Dignity in Europe
New Broad-Based Alliance Launched to Protect and Defend Universal Human Rights in Europe
Today a new alliance of organizations dedicated to building support for choice and dignity for all in Europe was launched at the European Parliament. High Ground: The Alliance for Choice and Dignity in Europe was formed to work toward a European legal and political landscape which secures and enables the full realization of human, sexual and reproductive health and rights and religious liberty, specifically those of women and LGBTI people.
Daba Hamplova: Are Czechs the least religious of all?
The idea that Czechs are almost completely indifferent to any religion is not accurate. The apparent lack of interest in traditional forms of Christianity is accompanied by the massive popularity of what sociologists call "invisible" or "alternative" religion and what could be best described as a belief in magic. Czechs may not be very enthusiastic churchgoers but many of them easily accept the idea that fortune-tellers can predict the future, lucky charms bring good fortune or that the stars might influence their lives.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN POLAND? DAVID OST: REGIME CHANGE IN POLAND, CARRIED OUT FROM WITHIN
The article by David Ost gives the adequate picture of the current political situation in Poland. For our foreign readers we have addeed a few comments and pieces of information that should help you understand the situation even better. Let us make, however, one proviso: the strong criticism of the current, authoritarian government , does not mean that the fomer one was really good. On the contrary, it is its so called "policy of warm water in a tap" that was a cause of strong social frustration an desire for change that encouraged many people to support the populist. The "policy of wam water in a tap" means that the former government was simply satisfied with the situation and entirely neglected nearly all serious social problems. They did not, however, violate the main values and norms of liberal democracy and in the last months of their rule they even adopted some good laws and government programs. The current ruling "mafia" (the president, government and the informal but all-powerful "chief" or "duce" Kaczynski) are totally unacceptable, even if some specific regulations they promise might be worth our support.
EUROPEAN HUMANIST FEDERATION: DON'T LET THEM KILL THE VALUES WE ARE PROUD OF!
We wholeheartedly support the statement adopted by our friends from the European Humanist Federation. There is only one minor point we would like to clarify. Despite popular myth, it is not quite true that "Poles are already turning their back on refugees". Numerous studies (including the one by Eurostat) have shown that in Poland more people are open to accepting refugees that in any of our neighbouring countries, including Germany. Of course, still many are against for various reasons, mostly financial, and there is no doubt that we have thousands of noisy and hateful racists. The main problem, however, is our new, catholic and authoritarian government, though on the other hand one should remember that it was elected only by 20 per cent of people. It does not mean that all the rest are refugees friendly, of course, but despite fears and many internal problems, majority are to greater or lesser degree.
If there are among my readers any young men or women who aspire to
become leaders of thought in their generation, I hope they will avoid
certain errors into which I fell in youth for want of good advice.
When I wished to form an opinion upon a subject, I used to study it,
weigh the arguments on different sides, and attempt to reach a
balanced conclusion. I have since discovered that this is not the way
to do things.
Over the last year or so, I have written several times about the impressive growth of secularization and atheization in Poland. Practically all studies, including those conducted by the Catholic Church, confirm this diagnosis but it's only recently that I have compared the data reflecting this process with that from the Netherlands, UK and the USA of the decades, when these countries were going through similar processes.
The result of this comparison is surprising, to say the least.
FIVE REASONS WE OWE IT TO CHILDREN TO TEACH THEM ABOUT HUMANISM
Growing number of children and young people have serious doubts about the tenets of religious faith or do not believe in god at all. Moral and philosophical teachings of religion are mostly found to be so unreasonable or even harmful that they are hardly able to help people to guide and make sense of their lives. We welcome these changes but at the same time we think that young people need new, more adequate worldview and system of values that would be acceptable or even attractive to them. We do agree with our British friends that humanism is the best we can offer.
Compared with other OECD countries, Brazil and the Russian Federation, Poland performs well in only a
few of the 11 dimensions mentioned above that the OECD considers as essential to a good life. Poland
ranks above the average of the 36 countries in the dimensions of personal security, education and skills,
civic engagement and social connections, but below average in health status, work-life balance, income
and wealth, subjective well-being, jobs and earnings, environmental quality, and housing.
We have promised to add more essays by Bertrand Russell. Here comes the first one: an elegant and in-depth but brief and "reader-freindly" discussion of the one of the most fundamental questions. Must read, indeed!
IMPRESSIVE GROWTH OF ATHEIZATION AND SECULARIZATION IN POLAND
According to the most recent (February 2015) study by CBOS (Public Opinion Research Center), since 2005, i.e. the death of pope John Paul II, the number of Poles who identify themselves as non-believers doubled from 4% to 8%. In the same period, the proportion of strong believers fell from 12% to 8%. Similarly, religious practices were on a
relatively stable level in the years 1997-2005, but declined after the death of John Paul II ...
On 12 September 2014, Poland's parliament rejected the bill to criminalize sexual education on the ridiculous plea that it contributes to spreading pedophilia. 264 MPs voted against it. Ultra conservatives have lost again. (In recent years, they have tried twice but failed to outlaw abortion totally). Poland is still far from being a liberal and secular country, but relatively new secularizing tendency is quite stable and is getting visibly stronger.
PETER SINGER: THE FREEDOM TO RIDICULE RELIGION AND DENY THE HOLOCAUST
Only 3% of Polish people consider personal freedom important. This includes the freedom of thougfht, speech and conscience - disregarded equally by most believers and non-believers.
We publish this important article by Peter Singer to give you an idea of how strongly we value these freedoms and related civil liberties. Indeed, in recent months, fostering individual freedom among the religious and non-religious has become our mission and one of the most important chores.
We do not recommend offending anyone, we do, however, defend our right to express any opinion or make fun of religion as of any other irrational, false or harmful belief. It does not mean that we would spread all of them. We do not like primitive pranks on any subject, particularly when they are played on the faithful in their places of worship. But outside, as we say in Polish: "there is no hell, let your spirit fly".
FALLING NUMBERS OF PILGRIMS IN POLAND
(CURRENT COMMENTARY - AUGUST 2014)
This August (2014), the number of faithful who took part in 59 pilgrimages
to Jasna Gora monastery in southern Poland, was 30 per cent lower
(73.4 thousand) than in 2004, when 103.3 thousand participated.
These numbers are reduced almost every year. In 2009, there were 84.9
thousand of pilgrims, and in the last year - 75.1 thousand.
Sociologists explain (and we agree with them) that it is the symptom of progressive secularization in Poland, but emphasize that to some
degree it may also be the result of a demographic change, as in recent years
the percentage of young people has decreased, and it is they who
constitute the largest group of pilgrims.
JOANNA KARAUSZ: REFORMING HEARTS AND MINDS: THE EDUCATIONAL REFORMS OF THE POLISH ENLIGHTENMENT
Poland's distinct history did not exclude it from experiencing the blossoming of liberal
ideology during the Enlightenment but it did, however, use the ideology in a very different way
than most of Europe. In France, monarchs, especially Louis XIV, ensured that the nobles were at
their service and dependent on their good will. Power had become so centralized that revolution
broke out as personal liberties were compromised. The ideology of the Enlightenment
and its proposed reforms served to loosen the grip of absolute monarchy and ensure more people
with natural freedom. Poland saw the opposite; the widened gap between the nobility and the
peasantry caused some to be incredibly rich and powerful while others devastatingly poor and
powerless. Ironically, the cause of such disparity was a political system, based on the so called golden
liberties embraced by Polish gentry known as the szlachta, throughout much of the sixteenth
and seventeenth centuries. The Enlightenment in Poland was a way to combat the 'golden
liberties' that were more harmful than helpful. Reformers used the same ideology that granted
civil liberties to the French in order to centralize the government and inspire nationalism in
Whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Sikh, there is one common belief that all religious fundamentalists share: worship of God and obedience to his laws are essential for a peaceful, healthy society. From Orthodox rabbis in the occupied West Bank to Wahhabi sheiks in Saudi Arabia, from the pope in Vatican City to Mormons in Salt Lake City, the lament is the same: God and his will must be at the center of everyone's lives in order to ensure a moral, prosperous, safe, collective existence. The author, eminent sociologist, shows, that these believes shared by numerous cultured non-believres are entirely false!
BARBARA STANOSZ: PHILOSOPHER AND CITIZEN (OBITUARY)
Barbara Stanosz, professor emeritus at the University of Warsaw, Poland, died on 7 June 2014. A philosopher and logician in the analytic tradition, Professor Stanosz wrote some excellent handbooks of formal logic and translated into Polish works by Bertrand Russell, Rudolf Carnap, Willard VO Quine, Richard B. Brandt, Daniel C. Dennett, Donald Davidson and other contemporary empiricists and philosophers of language.
ANDRZEJ DOMINICZAK: CURRENT COMMENTARY (2 June 2014)
You may have learned that approx. 3000 Polish physicians signed a "declaration of faith" in which it is inter alia stated that they shall treat patients "putting god's law before man's". No doubt, this act of religious fundamentalism is hopelessly unwise but you should be aware that Poland is a relatively populous country and this 3000 signatures means that the declaration has been signed by just 1,2 per cent of Polish doctors and students of medicine (the appeal to sign it was addressed to both groups and signatures have been collected since 5 March 2014). I wonder, what would be the percentage of doctors and students in USA, Malta or Ireland who would sign a similar declaration?
Moreover, the declaration does not change much, as many catholic physicians have refused to perform abortion or prescribe birth control pills for many years. Now, they have just publicly expressed their views.
I am not saying we should not be concerned at all about that kind of symptoms of religious fanaticism, but let's not get hysterical - this is just 1,2 per cent of students and medics - the number surprisingly low in a legendary stronghold of Catholicism.
ANDRZEJ DOMINICZAK: SECULARIZATION OR CLERICALIZATION? WHAT IS HAPPENING IN POLAND?
The studies on religiosity conducted in recent years in Poland have
revealed two coexisting, though contradictory processes. On the one
hand, secularization progresses, slowly but unceasingly:
religious faith is weakening and participation in church activities
is shrinking. On the other hand, however, one poll after another has
shown rapidly growing support for the policy of the Catholic Church
and its flagship political spoils, as the ban on abortion, the
presence of the crucifix in the parliament or the refusal to legalize
civil gay unions.
Probably the first lecture in defence of atheism written and delivered in 1861 by Ernestyna Potowska Rose - a Polish Jewish feminist, abolitionist and of course an atheist. We consider her to be probably the first humanist in today's sense of the term. Wonderful woman!
PAVEL MESTAN. ALEXAANDER REHAK: CHURCH AND FASCISM IN SLOVAKIA
Rising apprehension has been expressed by democratic, particularly secular, parts of Slovak society over an ever-growing propagation of fascism in Slovakia.
An interesting article about the Catholic Church in Slovakia - one of the mian actors involved in attempts to exculpate fascism.
The "Women's Hell" is the title of the collection of essays written by Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński and published in Poland in 1929. Its author, a Polish writer, translator and medical doctor, touchingly described the misery of women, mostly impoverished women, deprived of their reproductive rights. Read the following articles to find out what is the situation today, almost one hundred years later.
We are not particularly patriotic byt we suppose that quite a few of our visitors are particularly interested in Polish affairs as seen from humanist or atheist perspectives. So in this section you may find more information and comments about contemporary Poland. The following articles and reports come from various sources but cover the fields of particular interest to secular humanist, so we hope you will find them worth reading. You may expect more and more diverse articles about Poland in the near future.
The questions of humanist identity, self-concept and definition are sometimes regarded as major flaws of the humanist movement. Their vagueness and ambiguity, however, though unattractive to tabloid paople and their media, may - we hope - appeal to those of our kin: who are reflective rather than unthoughtful, who prefer cognitive complexity to bombastic simplicity and who like to talk rather than shout or deliver speeches. Ambiguity of humanism seems also relevant to the ambiguity of our own selves, so searching for the meaning of humanism is closely related to searching for our selves - a very humanist thing to do. If you like to think before you act, you will probably enjoy the following articles.
The Saudi Arabian authorities have arrested Loujain, Iman and Aziza – three women who all led the successful campaign giving women the right to drive in Saudi Arabia.
They face up to 20 years behind bars just for their peaceful human rights work.
Loujain al-Hathloul, Iman al-Nafjan and Aziza al-Yousef have been detained since mid-May. Their arrest comes just weeks before the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia is due to be lifted.
The three women are being denied any communication with the outside world and haven’t had any access to their families or legal representation since their arrest.
Following their arrest, the Saudi media ran a smear campaign, sharing pictures of the activists with the word ‘traitor’ stamped in red across their faces.
We have a small window of opportunity – as the women have yet to be charged or referred to trial. It’s extremely important to publicly pressure the Saudi Arabian authorities right now to release them.
There is still time to act – the women’s rights campaigners have not yet been charged. Call on the Saudi Arabian authorities to release them immediately.
Psychologists from the University of British Columbia have found that simply looking at "The Thinker" by August Rodin can weaken faith in God and in the case of feeble faith can even lead to atheism. If - however - for any reason whatsoever, you want to watch an enlarged version of the above image or show it to someone:
Richard Heffner talks with Neil Postman, the author of "Amusing Ourselves to Death - Public Discourse in the Age of Show-Business", about harm "the ideology of enterteiment" does to Western, Americanized" culture - inlcuding first of all political culture. They talked in 1985, but the criticism of "infotainemnt" they deliever is perhaps even more relevant today! Should humanism be the part of this entertainment ideology?
Nyegosh Dube: Ludwik Zamenhof - the creator of Esperanto and Humanism
Nyegosh Dube, a humanist and the editor of Ateismo - the atheist periodical in Esperanto - speaks about Ludwik Zamenhof (born in 1917) a Polish-Jewish medical doctor, inventor, and writer.
He is known as the author of Esperanto, the most successful constructed language in the world, created because Zamenhof cherished the idea of a world without war and believed that a new international auxiliary language would help to bring about lasting peace.
Besides, he is the author of a philosophy called Homaranismo - the term rendered loosely as humanitarianism or humanism: He said of this idea: "It is indeed the object of my whole life. I would give up everything for it."
Prof. Stanisław Obirek: Polish Brethren - The Forerunners of the Enlightenment
Prof. Stanisław Obirek speaks on Socinians or Polish Brethren, a radical Christian group that flourished in the 16th and 17th century Poland with about 300 congregations at its height.
Being hostile to dogma, Socinians insisted that Christian doctrine must be compatible with reason and advocated freedom of conscience, guaranteed by the separation of church and state.
Their intellectual centre was in Raków, north of Kraków, where they founded a successful university and a famous printing operation that turned out many Socinian books and pamphlets distributed all over Europe.
Many historians consider them to be the forerunners of the European Enlightenment and the main inspiration of American constitution.
Rebecca Goldstein & Susan Jacoby: Why Women Are Too Polite About Religion
Prominent secular scholars and writers Rebecca Goldstein and Susan Jacoby discuss the unique cultural expectations for women regarding religion. Touching on themes of motivation for religious participation, family pressure, and even the politeness of female atheists, Goldstein and Jacoby examine the phenomenon.
Rebecca Goldstein is an award-winning philosopher and author, whose most recent book is Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away. In 2015, she was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama. She is also the recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award, the National Jewish Book Award and numerous other honors.
Susan Jacoby is an award-winning author and journalist, particularly noted for her writings on the history of American freethought. Jacoby began her career as a reporter at The Washington Post and has continued to have her articles and essays appear in numerous publications such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The American Prospect, Harper’s, Mother Jones, The Nation, Glamour,Vogue, and AARP Magazine.
NOT WITHOUT WOMEN
This is an abridged version of a documentary produced by Centre Laique Audiovisuelle and devoted mainly to the role of the Catholic Church in infringing the rights of women in several European countries - particularly in Poland.
Apart from the well known restrictions on abortion and other reproductive rights, the documentary reveals briefly the hideus role of Catholic Church in defending the traditional family - the collective considered far more important than the basic rights of its members, particularly women, even if they are victims of most extreme forms of abuse ast the hands of their husbands.
FREE INQUIRY is the hard-hitting bimonthly journal of the Council for Secular Humanism. From world-class columnists to thought-provoking cover features to commentaries from every branch of the secular humanist movement, FREE INQUIRY has it all ... and for the first time, every word of the current issue is available online. To access online content (including full text of the current issue and selected items from issues going back to 1996).
SKEPTICAL INQUIRER is the official journal of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Six times per year Skeptical Inquirer publishes critical scientific evaluations of all manner of controversial and extraordinary claims, including but not limited to paranormal and fringe-science matters, and informed discussion of all relevant issues. In addition to news, articles, book reviews, and investigations on a wide variety of topics, Skeptical Inquirer has a stellar stable of regular columnists including Joe Nickell ("Investigative Files"), Massimo Polidoro ("Notes on a Strange World"), Massimo Pigluicci ("Thinking About Science"), Robert Sheaffer ("Psychic Vibrations"), and SI managing editorBenjamin Radford's reader-driven ("The Skeptical Inquiree"). Yale University neurologist Steven Novella, M.D., founder of the New England Skeptical Society and executive editor of the Science-Based Medicine blog, contributes a new "The Science of Medicine" column, and contributing editor Kenneth W. Krause adds a regular science column, "ScienceWatch
Philosophy, controversy and the importance of free speech
One of our favourite philosophers speaks in defence of free speech. Just 10 years ago, we thought that after the collapse of the so called communism freedom of speech would be an unquestionable value, at least among huamnists, atheists and secularists. It is not. Due to the growth of the postomdern left, according to the recent Gallups's survey, 53% of American students find diversity to be more important. What it means in practice? It means that one should be not allowed to crticise any minority or even suugest that we should be allowed to conduct the study that might show that any minority is in any sense worse or weaker than white majority.
Saudi Arabia Tries to Silence Center for Inquiry at UN Human Rights Council
This past Sunday something incredible happened: at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council, CFI representative Josephine Macintosh delivered a powerful statement forcefully condemning Saudi Arabia for its persecution of political and religious dissidents and calling for their immediate release.
It was too much for Saudi Arabia to take. Their representative, with panic in his voice, tried three times to shout Josephine down, repeatedly demanding that the Council president "shut her up!"
Josephine never backed down, despite Saudi intimidation, and as they protested, she received the vocal support of the representatives from four member states: The U.S., Ireland, Canada, and France, all of whom spoke up for her right to continue speaking.
PSYCHOLOGY OF ATHEISM
Psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz (PhD in Psychology from Stanford University) speaks on a number of influential atheists (like Friedrich Nietzsche, David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Sigmund Freud, etc.) and how they may have become atheists. It ends up that many of these atheists had abusive or weak fathers who influenced the way the saw God. Highly insightful and interesting!
16 year-old Amina Filali, raped, beaten and forced to wed her rapist, killed herself -- the only way she saw to escape the trap set for her by her rapist and the law. If we act now, we can stop this unspeakable tragedy from happening to anyone else.
Article 475 in Morocco’s penal code allows a rapist to avoid prosecution and a long prison sentence by marrying his victim if she is a minor. Since 2006, the government has promised to strike this down and pass legislation prohibiting violence against women, but it hasn't happened.
Women, their rights and liberteis, are the main victims of religion, while women constitute the majority of believers and practitioners in all - except judaism - religions of the world.
It is one of oue main concerns, so we have decided to create a new, bilingual (Polish and English), website entirely devoted to women and religion.
MYTH OF CHASTITY BELT
According to tradition, the use of chastity belts – metallic straps locked over female genitalia with padlocks—dates back to the time of the Crusades, when knights in- departure for the Holy Land supposedly used them to ensure their wives' fidelity in their absence. Recent studies, however, show that such instruments were never in use during the Middle Ages.
Many suggest that Hitler did not hold a traditional belief in God because he believed that he was God. True, Hitler thought himself God’s chosen leader for the Aryan race. But he never claimed to be divine, and never presented himself in that manner to his followers. Members of the Wehrmacht swore this loyalty oath: “I swear by God this holy oath to the Führer of the German Reich and the German people, Adolf Hitler.” For Schutzstaffel (S.S.) members it was: “I pledge to you, Adolf Hitler, my obedience unto death, so help me God.”