Archive for ‘May, 2010’

Paul Kurtz Resigns

datePosted on 15:31, May 19th, 2010 by Kosmic Kurt

The Center for Inquiry just announced that it has accepted the resignation of Paul Kurtz, the center’s creator. Over the past few years there has been a rift between Kurtz and Ronald Lindsay, the current President. Kurtz was replaced by Lindsay in 2008. Since that time the Center for Inquiry and its affiliate, the Council for Secular Humanism have been getting more involved in politics and First Amendment rights issues. There has also been a harsher tone that the Center has exuded than in the past. Kurtz originally posited the idea of Secular Humanism, and remains its loudest proponent. However, the current Humanism practiced by the Center for Inquiry is a strong departure from Kurtz’ original idea. The recent Blaspheme Day comes to mind. Kurtz has always maintained a more tolerant tone was necessary. The Council for Secular Humanism has always been seen as a “think tank” rather than an activist organization. One could argue that Kurtz’ original vision has been corrupted. However, there is another way of look at this too.

Over the past few years, both the Council for Secular Humanism and Center for Inquiry have participated in events with other freethought organizations. That is something that was never done in the past. What once existed as an esoteric elite “club’ is taking a stance on issues affecting freethinkers and is getting a whole lot more exposure. To me, all of this is good. I do not want to take anything away from Kurtz. Paul Kurtz remains one of the most important philosophers alive today. His accomplishments are legendary. Besides founding the Council for Secular Humanism, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, publishing Free Inquiry and the Skeptical Inquirer, Kurtz owns one of the largest independent printing companies in the word dedicated to publishing relevant works having to do with science and freethought. Paul Kurtz will always be remembered as a maverick that made a positive permanent mark on the world.

Almost two decades ago I read my first issue of Free Inquiry. It was the first time I had heard of the word Humanist. I was also introduced to authors like Richard Dawkins, and of course Kurtz himself. That one issue opened my eyes and my mind. I was no longer alone. The fact that there were other people who felt the same way I did about religion and morals and life in general, gave me a new sense of hope and of purpose. I thank Paul Kurtz for that. However, the times are changing. Albert Einstein once said, “Life is but one evolution after another. Not to change is to stand still and be passed by.” Kurtz’ vision of freethought centers around the world has been realized. But some of his archaic views and positions need to be updated. Educating the public that one can be good without a personal god is indeed of prime importance. But the dogmatic, violent religions still exist and still cause harm. The positive message of Secular Humanism cannot be heard over the shouts of the religious zealots. We do need to fight back. The current direction of the Center for Inquiry is not only correct, but necessary for its future survival.

It would appear that Kurtz’ departure was not amicable (at least for him). This is a most unfortunate circumstance. Just as I am grateful for his existence, I wish Kurtz the best in all of his future endeavors. And, with an eye toward the future I also applaud the center on its forward thinking direction and plan to be a part of the current revolution.

Official CFI statement can be found here.