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Herb Van Fleet

Herb Van Fleet has written 16 posts for The Humanist Challenge

About Marriage: Gay and Straight

Filed Under Catholic Church, Gay Marriage, Gay Parents, Wedding Vows, Women’s surnames   “There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.” — Homer   Rumor has it that right after the Supreme Count issued … Continue reading

The War Prayer

The War Prayer by Mark Twain It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and … Continue reading

Christian Voters and Moral Relativism

“We have in fact, two kinds of morality, side by side: one that we preach, but do not practice, and another that we practice, but seldom preach.” – Bertrand Russell   Quite often, morality, to borrow from the familiar phrase, is in the eye of the beholder. That is to say, when something seems moral … Continue reading

The Myth of Universal Human Rights – Part 1

Introduction “In proportion to the want of happiness resulting from the want of rights, a reason exists for wishing that there were such things as rights. But reasons for wishing there were such things as rights, are not rights — a reason for wishing that a certain right were established, is not that right— want … Continue reading

The Myth of Universal Human Rights — Part 2

Wars and the Efficacy of Human Rights  “Right is the child of law; from real laws come real rights, but from imaginary law, from ‘laws of nature’, come imaginary rights. Natural rights are simple nonsense, natural and imprescriptible rights rhetorical nonsense, nonsense upon stilts.” – Jeremy Bentham Why Human Rights Are Not Legal Rights As … Continue reading

The Myth of Universal Human Rights — Part 3

Universal Human Rights and the Third Estate “Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.” – John Stuart Mill   Taking the Universe out of Universal Human Rights The concern in this essay is with the … Continue reading

The Myth of Universal Human Rights — Part 4

Rights, Respect, and Responsibility “I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way.” – Robert Frost Nature’s Law and Murphy’s Law In his 1992 book, A Nation of Victims: The Decay of the American Character, Charles Syke analyzes the consequences of America’s decline into a “no-fault” and … Continue reading

The Myth of Universal Human Rights — Part 5

Making The Economy in the Service of Man   “Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under socialism, the reverse is true.” – Polish Proverb    “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”  – Winston Churchill   The Uninvited Third Party It … Continue reading

Becoming Kinder Gentler Humanists

 Since 2008, I’ve been a dues paying member of and a contributor to the American Humanist Association (AHA). From then until now I’ve been struggling to understand the Humanist philosophy and how that philosophy drives its mission and programs. That is to say, as a Humanist, what exactly am I, and what does it mean … Continue reading

When the Message Shoots the Messenger – Why Atheist Ad Campaigns Don’t Work

  “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”  – Strother Martin to Paul Newman (Cool Hand Luke, 1967)   In the case of communicating through advertising by nonbelievers, what we’ve got here is failure to acknowledge that, regardless of label – Humanist, Secular Humanist, Neo-Humanist, Freethinker, Bright, Secularist, Agnostic, Skeptic, and on occasion, Buddhist, … Continue reading

AHA’s “Consider Humanism” Campaign – A Critical Review

On November 9, 2010, the American Humanist Association launched its “Consider Humanism” campaign. In a press release, AHA president, Richard Speckhardt, said that the premise of the campaign is proclaim, among other things, that, “Humanist values are mainstream American values, and this campaign will help many people realize that they are already humanists and just did … Continue reading

“Atheist v. Theist” – A Humanist’s Response

 In “Hernando Today,” a publication of the Tampa Tribune, an article written by one Allen Walker titled, “Atheist vs Theist” was published on February 20, 2011. In the piece, Mr Walker questions the merits of his version of “atheist beliefs” and tries to deconstruct what he thinks are the atheists’ positions on a number of … Continue reading

The Alchemy of Religion and the Quantum Theory of Humanism Part 1

 Part 1: How Humanists Keep the Faith Some time ago, the  Freedom From Religion Foundation came out with a billboard that quotes a lyric from John Lennon: “Imagine No Religion.” Subsequently, there were posters issued by FFRF and others with a picture of the pre-9/11 World Trade Center that had the same phrase, “Imagine No Religion,” … Continue reading

The Alchemy of Religion and the Quantum Theory of Humanism Part 2

Part 2: Humanism Meets Religion Under the Constitution   Well, if the arguments presented in Part 1 of this essay are valid and Humanism can be considered a religion in terms of the faith in its worldview and related beliefs, then what is it from a legal standpoint? It’s the first sixteen words of the … Continue reading

The Alchemy of Religion and the Quantum Theory of Humanism Part 3

Part 3: Is You Is or Is You Ain’t?    ”Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.” – Albert Camus Let me start with this: It may be the case that the unbelievers, the nonreligious, the atheists, the debunkers of superstition, the falsifiers of the supernatural, and probably most apostates, are … Continue reading

The Alchemy of Religion and the Quantum Theory of Humanism — Part 4

Part 4: God on the Brain and Other Weird Stuff   what if a dawn of a doom of a dream bites this universe in two, peels forever out of his grave and sprinkles nowhere with me and you? – e.e. cummings   Spirits That Haunt the Mind In addition to the genetic and natural … Continue reading