Sunday, March 25, 2007                                                                                       View Comments

Harvard's God-Free Chaplaincy Turns 30

Salman Rushdie, others honored by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard

Sent in by Tom
Humanist Chaplaincy Intern


I wanted to contact you about a major event in the world of atheism that is occurring at Harvard this April. The Humanist Chaplaincy is hosting a once-in-a-lifetime gala to celebrate its 30th anniversary. I am very excited about attending, as are the majority of big names in atheism, humanism, secularism and the like (Salmon Rushdie, E.O. Wilson, Ned Lamont to name a few). I've included part of the conference press release. Also, please check out the thenewhumanism.org for a great overview. We would love to see word spread about the conference, and would appreciate any action on your part, especially with your blog.


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A group of renowned Humanists, atheists and agnostics will gather at Harvard in April, to take on an unlikely opponent: atheist "fundamentalists."

The Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard has long been among the most distinct institutions serving the non-religious community, and this April 20-22 it marks its 30th anniversary with an international conference asserting humanism is a non-theistic philosophy that allows for understanding and respect between believers in God and atheists.

"Vocal atheist authors such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have recently publicized the notion that atheists must defeat religion and that science is all we need to understand the world. The press dubbed this phenomenon 'the new atheism,'" said Humanist Chaplain of Harvard University Greg M. Epstein.

But Epstein said "Humanism", which encompasses but does not end at atheism, is the philosophy that best represents the diverse, emerging population of 1.1 billion non-religious people around the world. And so the Chaplaincy is calling its upcoming conference "The New Humanism."

The April 20-22 conference at Harvard will include some of the greatest thinkers of our time, including novelist Salman Rushdie, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, two-time Pulitzer Prize winning scientist E.O. Wilson, and renowned psychology professor and author Steven Pinker. Humanist Congressional lobbyist Lori Lipman Brown, of the Secular Coalition for America, will speak about how humanists can become more active in politics. Singer-songwriter Dar Williams will perform a private concert.

"Humanism takes science seriously, but is more than just science!" Epstein said. "Humanists love life here on Earth, find inspiration in human creativity, and respect all human beings."

"The time has come to say to the world that inclusiveness is the best approach, for non-religious and religious people alike," Epstein said.