Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Humanists officially recognized on Brandeis campus

Published: October 1, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

Last April, Joyce Wang 10 and Tom Charging-Hawk 10 attended Harvard Universitys New Humanism conference, an anniversary celebration for the universitys Humanist chaplaincy. Inspired, they decided to start a chapter at their own university. Just a few months later, on September 23, Brandeis Humanists were officially recognized.

Humanism is a secular ethical philosophy. It endorses a universal morality without a basis in religion and includes such sub-categories as atheists and agnostics. As Wang says, I like to think of humanism as atheism plus faith in humanity.

Nathan J. Robinson 11, a member of Brandeis Humanists, agrees: Humanism is a positive termwe believe in the inherent goodness of people.

Wang says, I feel that the idea of a secular existence is really powerful. Its very life-affirming and meaningful to me, but Humanism, especially as it relates to atheists and agnostics, tends to have a fairly negative public image. It's important for communities to know that just because we are secular doesn't mean that we're immoral.

Robinson clarifies, Were not dogmatic. Were not here to spread a lack of faith.

Wang emphasized the importance of a secular community, saying, Brandeis is a place that prides itself in celebrating religious diversity, but before Brandeis Humanists, there was no organization devoted to a specifically secular way of life. I think it's important that we offer that alternative point of view, and that we're able to provide a welcoming community for those students who do not happen to participate in religious life.

Robinson stressed the importance of representing diverse philosophical outlooks, saying, You have to show the other view. In this country, 14-20 % of people identify as non-religious. You dont always know who they are, but they are very much there.

On Sept. 20, a group of interested students went to Harvard to see Peter Stark, the first openly nontheist member of Congress, speak. Wang hopes to attend more Humanist events in Boston and invite speakers, screen relevant films, or try to promote other social activities that will help to build a Humanist community here. We'd also be interested in collaborating with other groups on campus if they are interested.

Brandeis Humanists is also hosting Greg Epstein, the Humanist chaplain from Harvard. He will speak about both Humanism in general and how to run a Humanist organization. His speech is tentatively scheduled for October 9.
There are currently 110 student Humanist groups registered with the Center for Inquiry On Campus, the student affiliate of the United States leading secular organization. Both public and private universities are represented.
Famous Humanists include Kurt Vonnegut, Gloria Steinem, Salman Rushdie, Albert Einstein and Helen Keller.