Paul Kurtz - "I refuse to be defined... as an Atheist"

A few days ago on NPR I heard about a growing schism in the atheist movement. I was surprised it made the news at all. But that evening I also heard the Center for Inquiry podcast pitting Paul Kurtz, its founder, against the present leadership and the direction CFI is currently taking. Here is a part of that podcast and the issues at stake.

The entire podcast is 26 minutes and is the tip of what might become a defining moment in both the Atheist and Secular Humanist movement. A divide might become inevitable.

In the podcast Paul explains why he refuses to be defined as simply an atheist and why he is against Blasphemy Day.

From the Point of Inquiry podcast: "Paul Kurtz - A kinder, Gentler Secularism"
Posted on 8-14-2009, 26:12min.

Link to CFI podcast:

Here is a short transcription between D.J. Grothe and Paul Kurtz:

DJ: Paul, of course you are an atheist, you lack belief in god, and that’s what atheism means, right?

PK: No! It means many things; I’m a non-theist, I’m an agnostic, I do not believe in god, but I think it’s a terrible mistake to identify our whole movement with atheism, because that is negative, its what you DON’T believe in, and what is important is what we affirm! We believe in the fulfillment of human life, and social justice, and creativity, and that’s why I refuse to be defined simply as an atheist.


My 2 cents: As a somewhat militant agnostic (I’m still trying to leave the door open for the "possibility" of a god -- in the spirit of a true scientist), I nevertheless agree with Paul’s perspective, though I admit I didn’t before I heard the podcast.

Paul’s vision reflects his wisdom gained from countless years of experience in dealing with the human condition regarding these subjects and his focus remains on the primary goal! He relegates to lesser importance the real or imagined beliefs people contrive for themselves about the world, but how we respect and treat each other!

In that context Paul is, and remains, the torchbearer of reason behind the inquiring mind; not just the truth, but the greater capacity for good that it brings.

Thank you Paul Kurtz.

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I agree with what he says. I don't really call myself an atheist and I feel the movement as a whole just isn't about atheists there's more parts to it than that.
Being an atheist does not begin to define what I am or my beliefs. It only defines an attribute of what I am not . Since 9/11 however, the influence of theism and its well-financed cultures on public policy and social identity, it is a pretty significant attribute.

My beliefs and positions about social progress are probably close to Paul Kurtz's.
Sam in WV: Being an atheist does not begin to define what I am or my beliefs.

That is all that I want to convey, when I call myself an atheist. I don't have any other labels for myself. If I did, they probably wouldn't have anything to do with my non-"God" belief.
Same same.


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