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This Week in Humanism 2017–09–10


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2017/09/10

“It is difficult to define, but it’s a growing movement. Transhumanism has its own central organization (Humanity+), its own demographic base (Silicon Valley), even its own political formation (the Longevity Party).

On one level the movement’s goals appear benign. One of its key documents, “Principles of Extropy,” sums up the basic values of transhumanism: “perpetual progress, self-transformation, practical optimism, intelligent technology, open society, self-direction, and rational thinking.” The local Rotary Club would not object.

But the fundamental ambition of transhumanism is more problematic. Its architects champion a use of technology to accelerate the evolution of humanity so radically that at the end of the process humanity as such would disappear. A superior posthuman being would emerge. According to Wikipedia, “Transhumanism is the intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reason, especially by developing and making widely available knowledge to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.” From its inception, the abolition of human death and aging has been one of the goals of transhumanism as it engineers a new being freed from the biological constraints of the current human condition.”


“ISLAMABAD — The Higher Education Commission has included a project on Sufism in its Public Sector Development Programme as it plans to set up a Centre of Excellence on Sufism, HEC Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed said Saturday.

HEC Pakistan and National University of Medical Sciences (NUMS) organized ‘An Evening with Rumi’ to feature Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi’s Concept of Divine Love and mark the launching ceremony of Bishnau, a book by Dr Aziz Ali Najam, Provost, SPD, NUMS here at the Commission Secretariat.

Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, Chairman HEC was chief guest on the occasion while Lt. Gen. Syed Muhammad Imran Majeed, Vice Chancellor NUMS was the guest of honour. Both the dignitaries formally launched the book.”


“Atheism is a word that carries with it a considerable burden.

It’s weighed down by the venom others sometimes inject it with, a venom streaked with moral condescension and a naiveté based in too much humanism. This is a hard yoke to shed, and the word never usually ushers in a philosophical discussion, but instead more of a disingenuous inquiry. “You’re an atheist?” — eyes glaze, the middle-distance emits an intriguing light.

I’m not here to pitch atheism, or theism or anything in between. I’ve found in reading though, that there is a presentation of atheistic philosophy that I think everyone would do well to heed. It is not focused on the main question most people think of when the debate between atheists and theists begins: the belief in whether there is a God. Instead, this strain of “atheism,” seems to actually focus on engaging with the natural. Of course, a strong sense of naturalism can lead to a rejection of God, but there is more to it. Atheism can extend outside the realm of religious things, or at least be practiced without explicit attention to religion, which makes its message one of encompassing profundity. This philosophy is a humanism made brighter by atheism, a study of this world made clearer by lack of a heavenly pivot. Put simply, it is a call to engage.”


“On Monday 11 September, the Court of Appeal will reconvene to conclude its hearing of the ongoing case to secure legal recognition for humanist marriages in Northern Ireland. The case involves humanists Laura Lacole, a model and public speaker, and Eunan O’Kane, a footballer with the Republic of Ireland and Leeds United. The couple, backed by Humanists UK, won their case at the Belfast High Court in June, and had a legal humanist wedding ceremony later that month. But the Government of Northern Ireland is now attempting to prevent any further legal humanist marriages from occurring.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘It was a privilege and a joy to attend Laura and Eunan’s legal humanist marriage and hear them share their vows in a ceremony reflecting their humanist beliefs and their love. The idea that other couples should now be prevented from having that same right and opportunity is reprehensible. Humanist marriages are already legal in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, and we can’t see why non-religious people in Northern Ireland deserve anything less. We hope this appeal fails, the High Court decision in Laura and Eunan’s favour is allowed to stand, and government officials in Northern Ireland call a halt to their crusade against our equal rights.’

The past few weeks have also seen the release of the latest statistics on the number of marriages by religion or belief in Scotland — the one part of the UK where humanist ceremonies are currently recognised. There were 4,912 humanist marriages in 2016, up from 4,621 the year before — representing over a third of all religious or belief-based marriages. The Church of Scotland performed 3,675 marriages, compared with 4,052 the year before, while the Roman Catholic Church performed 1,346 marriages, compared with 1,438 the year before.”


“ Muslims across Myanmar have been facing oppression under the civilian government led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, a rights group said Wednesday.

The Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN) said in a 104-page report that persecution of Muslims in Myanmar has been on the rise with restrictions on national identity documents and places of worship and the creation of no-go zones for Muslims over the past five years.

The group said conditions for all Muslims throughout the country have worsened five years after violence broke out between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine, which left over 100 people dead and tens of thousands displaced.

“Across the country, ‘Muslim-free zones’ have been formed, while Muslim places of worship have been shuttered or rendered unusable,” the BHRN, which was founded in 2012, said in the report.

The report, based on more than 350 interviews during eight months of fieldwork in 46 towns and villages across the country, provides compelling evidence of the ongoing systematic persecution of Muslims well into the era of “pseudo-civilian rule,” said the group.”


Emma Thompson gives her best performance in years in “The Children Act,” a gripping drama that asks tough questions about law and faith, while examining the limits of personal freedoms and the role of the state.

The adaptation of Ian McEwan’s acclaimed 2014 novel features Thompson as Judge Fiona Maye, a workaholic whose equilibrium is shattered when her husband tells her he wants to have an affair. At the same time, she must decide whether or not to allow a young Jehovah’s Witness named Adam (Fionn Whitehead) to adhere to the tenets of his religion and refuse a life-saving medical procedure. Her conversation with Adam in his hospital room leaves her unmoored, and provides Thompson with a chance to deploy all the tools in her acting arsenal.

“The Children Act” premieres at the Toronto Film Festival, where it is looking for distribution. Thompson spoke with Variety about the film’s message, Hollywood’s superhero obsession, and the virtues and demerits of Netflix.”


“ Boko Haram, dubbed the most violent terrorist group globally in modern times, with the largest casualty per human head, aims to revive the Islamic System that ruled the regions of old Sudan before colonization by the French and British empires from 18th and 19th Century. They detest freedom, education and democracy as a system of living, and prefer the clueless stone-age, to modern livelihoods. Also, they revived human slavery. It was during this Eid Celebrations Break in Kano, as I was researching on the atrocities by Buddhist Terrorists on the Rohingya Muslims, over whose religion is more peaceful, that your latest video popped up in the news. In the video, you were mocking the Nigeria military’s missed target to capture you in 40 days, dead or alive.”


Iwant to take some time to write about secular humanism and news in Latin America and how that impacts the direction I’m considering taking this blog in. If that interests you I’d love for you to stick around and let me know what you think!

As a blogger I’ve covered a lot of different topics with varying degrees of skill and professionalism. That being said: I’ve not seen any writers consistently and professionally write about secular humanism from a Hispanic point of view (in English), despite the advent of numerous writers and activists talking about atheism, agnosticism, free-thought, and more from a Hispanic and/or Latinx/Latino/Latina point of view. It’s neat to see and read of individuals with a vaguely similar cultural background to my own but it’s a bit disappointing to not see anyone consistently tackle the topics that could easily lend themselves to being discussed by intelligent and compassionate Hispanic and Latin American secular humanists, at least not in English.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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