I would like to share with you CFI Canada’s beautifully written email honouring the memory of Paul Kurtz:
The Centre for Inquiry Canada is saddened to announce the death of Dr. Paul Kurtz, age 86, considered by many the father of secular humanism. Among Dr. Kurtz’s many contributions to the freethought movement include the founding of Prometheus Books, the largest publisher of atheism, humanism and skepticism literature in the world, and non-profits like the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and of course the Center for Inquiry Transnational.
Through Kurtz’s insatiable ambition to spread our shared values of secular humanism, scientific inquiry, and freedom of thought, CFI
Transnational (based out of Buffalo, NY), founded in 1991, set up an outreach department to organize a growing network of local humanist and skeptical organizations. Dr. Kurtz’s direct support for the establishment of a CFI presence in Toronto and then throughout Canada was pivotal in providing the resources to what has emerged as the most influential humanist organization in our nation.
Kurtz made secular humanism feared words among the Christian right long before the advent of the New Atheism movement and helped lay the organizational infrastructure that is translating the sudden and possibly fleeting interest in atheism into a sustained and growing professional movement.
An organizational genius and visionary, Kurtz was also a thinker, writer, and philosopher, with a prolific publishing legacy including over 40 books and 800 articles, many athored in magazines he also founded, like Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer magazine. He also famously wrote the Humanist Manifesto II (with Edwin H. Wilson) in 1973.
The Centre for Inquiry Canada joins with our affiliates at CFI Transnational, with fellow humanist, atheist and skeptical organizations worldwide, and with all who share in and benefit from the humanist tradition in which Dr. Kurtz was so instrumental, in reflecting on the remarkable achievements of Paul Kurtz and in expressing our condolences to his family.
On a personal note, many of us at CFI Canada had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Kurtz on several occasions, and remember fondly a trip to Amherst following the inauguration of the Toronto chapter in 2006. Dr. Kurtz was surprisingly accessible, taking our branch director for lunch to welcome us to the CFI family. As CFI Canada grew, Dr. Kurtz managed to find time to send messages to us every now and then to congratulate us on our progress, then travelled to Toronto on a number of occasions to graciously speak at our events and conferences. He lived a life that combined a penetrating rationalism and a deep human compassion, a union he felt spoke to the core meaning of humanism.
Please read a lengthier obituary provided by the Center for Inquiry Transnational
- The Centre for Inquiry Canada Team
We affirm Humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others. We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality. We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings.
- Paul Kurtz, The Affirmations of Humanism