Monthly Archives: October 2012

Carl Sagan Day Chicago: The New Cool Thing

It’s an event sponsored by the Alder Planetarium. There’s going to be apple pie from scratch. There will be many wonderful space talks by awesome science professors. What is it?

It’s Carl Sagan Day, a celebration of Carl Sagan’s lasting legacy. Come to DePaul University on November 1 at 7PM.

Carl Sagan brought the Universe to millions of people around the world. He showed us that we are small and insignificant, but that we can make life meaningful through the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers. And he brought us a compelling story about not just us–but everything there ever was. We are stardust harvesting starlight, starstuff contemplating the stars.


Thank You! But The Battle Continues

To all those on the Chicago-SSA team (Loyola, UChicago, DePaul, Northwestern). To all those who helped us raised money or participated in the walk. To all the Foundation Beyond Belief teams around the country. To all the people who believe in and support this cause.

Thank you! Light the Night 2012 was excellent! I’ve never seen so many people walk along the lakefront, holding lighted balloons. I’ve never seen so many people excited after turning the corner to see “Light the Night” on one of Chicago’s skyscrapers.

It was inspirational. And beautiful. And totally worth doing again.

But the work isn’t over. Did you know you can still fundraise, and that your donations to any FBB team will still be matched dollar for dollar by the Stiefel Freethought Foundation until December 31? Check out our team page.

The work will never be over. Blood cancers–and other types of cancers too–continue to wreck havoc on human lives. Many Americans will find themselves frightened and alone. Many will be uninsured. The Leukemia and Lymphoma society provides patients with vital support services and financial assistance. And they’re one of the largest contributors to cancer research in the world.

The Beauty of Letting Go

There are some times when life is not about you, not about your faith, not about what you believe.

Take, for example, Grace Sung Eun Lee, a 28-year old New Yorker who has been paralyzed by terminal brain cancer. Her condition is so unbearable that she has repeatedly said, “I want to die.” Doctors say that she consistently asks that her life support systems be removed, and that she is in good enough shape to make rational judgments.

Despite this, the Christians in her community want her to go to Heaven. Her mother thinks she can get better. Her father is a pastor and thinks that pulling life support is suicide, and will send her straight to Hell. Her church has used young children to write supportive letters to her, asking her to “come back soon.” They have interfered at any attempts to fulfill her last wishes.

All of this takes place in a horrific pseudo-intellectually-religious culture that, even in places like my very secular alma mater, views atheism and humanism as antithetical to human dignity. I find the charges very disturbing, arrogant, ignorant, and hypocritical. The exact opposite is true.

Humanists believe in the value of human dignity, in the value of every sentient being to reduce suffering and make their own choices.

Humanists believe in respecting individual choices regarding end-of-life decisions. We believe that wishes should not be overruled by other people’s religious beliefs or dogmas.

Humanists believe every person has a right to die in dignity.

But of course, the choice is not easy to make for some people. A father and a mother will lose her daughter. A community will lose its cherished member. A group of people will lose a very good friend.

Yet, despite the sadness and the tragedy, sometimes, when you look far into the horizon, giving somebody that choice, respecting it, and letting someone go is one of the kindest, most humane, and most beautiful actions that we sentient beings are capable of.