A Special Appeal from our President and Board

Dear members and friends,

If you’ve followed the broader secular movement over the past few years, it may feel like “the air has been let out of the balloon.” Even though studies continue to show the decrease of religiosity throughout the country (especially among younger people), nonbelief no longer seems to be the unifying force it was just a few years ago....

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Ted Schick: Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

In October, Muhlenberg Philosophy Professor Ted Schick visited us to discuss the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. 

As machines become smarter, they are performing more and more tasks that used to be reserved for humans. such as diagnosing disease, driving cars and caring for the elderly, not to mention manufacturing. But what happens when they become as smart as we are? Must we grant them the same rights that we enjoy? Would destroying a robot with human level of intelligence be an act of murder? What can we do to minimize this threat? He led us in an exploration of these and other issues in an attempt to understand what our relationship should be to the new intelligences that may soon be walking among us. Click "read more" to learn more about Dr. Schick and watch the video.

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Why Humanists Should Care About Toxic Masculinity

In July, LVH welcomed Colleen Lutz Clemens and Amanda Morris D'Agostino, who helped us explore why humanists should care about toxic masculinity, which is rampant and causing real harm in our society. We must become aware of it, acknowledge it, and then work to dismantle it so we can all be safer. Even still, it is ignored in mainstream media and news outlets when they report and opine about mass school shootings - primarily committed by angry young white men who feel violence is the only way to assert their "manliness." We will also discuss why gender and gender identity formation matters to everyone. Click "read more" below to learn more about the presenters and click here to watch the video.

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Lauri Lebo: Finding Meaning as an Atheist in a Near Death Experience

Journalist and activist Lauri Lebo visited LVH in June to discuss her near-death experience that resulted from a heart attack she suffered in 2016. Many interpret such an event as proof of the afterlife, but Lauri talked about how her NDE changed her for the better through a transcendent, but still secular, experience. Click "read more" below to watch the video and read more about Lauri. 

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AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt Visits LVH

Roy explored the modern state of humanism, what it means, its history, and what's in store for our forward-thinking outlook. With its emphasis on critical thinking and self-reflection, humanism can be at the forefront of pressing social issues. Click on to read more about Roy and watch a video of his presentation.

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Noah Lugeons: How to Survive a Theocracy in 8 Easy Steps

In this talk, Noah discusses some of the more egregious abuses going unnoticed by the national media, as well as some of the things we can do about it, all the while keeping the discussion as lighthearted as a talk about an unavoidable hellscape can realistically be. Click on to read more about Noah and watch the video of his presentation.

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Kenny Biddle: Investigations of Paranormal Claims

Kenny Biddle visited our annual meeting to tell us about some of his investigations of paranormal claims, from ghosts to UFOs to searching for Bigfoot. He discussed the claims, what was presented as evidence, and what he did to solve the mysteries. Click on to watch the video of his presentation!

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December Speaker Video: Kyle Johnson presents "Christmas Economics: The Jolly Folly of Christmas Spending"

Professor David Kyle Johnson is an LVH December favorite! In the past he's discussed such topics as whether St. Nicholas even existed as a historical figure and why it's okay for Secular Humanists to celebrate Christmas. This year we welcomed him for his latest holiday-themed lecture, "The Economics of Christmas: Why You Probably Shouldn't Buy Gifts During the Holidays." He argues that the way we spend our money at Christmas hurts the economy rather than helps it and make suggestions for how we can use our money at Christmas to help the economy and do good. A question and answer session followed the lecture.

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TV Appearance and Letter to the Editor

LVH President Jason Brocious recently pursued two opportunities to promote Humanism and raise LVH's profile in the local community.

He appeared as a panelist on WFMZ's Business Matters television program, hosted by Tony Iannelli, where he discussed whether we need more religion in today's society alongside local representatives of the Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, and Muslim faiths. You can stream the episode, which aired on November 6th, at this link.

Jason also responded to a recent interfaith covenant agreement promoting unity among Lehigh Valley faith communities with this letter to the editor published on November 22.

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November Speaker Video Now Live: Ken Burak presents "Monsters, Inc.: Blueprint for the Revolution?"

Professor Ken Burak explores an overarching feature of our society -- perhaps of any society, actual or possible, secular or religious -- namely, rewards and punishments, what psychologists call Extrinsic Motivation. A society that gets its participants to do what it wants them to do (learn, work, follow its rules...) through the use of bribes (rewards) and threats (punishments), whether meted out by gods or parents, priests or teachers, police or employers, is a society that runs on, is fueled by, fear. It seems both inevitable and perhaps necessary. The 2001 Disney movie Monsters, Inc. is worth analyzing in this regard, both because it creates a society that literally, materially runs on the fuel of fear, but also because it offers us a challenge: what if a society that runs on joy and love, rather than fear and coercion, is not only possible, but actually more productive of the things we want?

Ken Burak is a Full Professor of Philosophy at Northampton Community College and a Visiting Faculty Member at Lehigh University. He received a PhD in Philosophy from DePaul University, a Masters in Philosophy from Katholeike Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, and a BA in Philosophy from Penn State University. He is the author of Logic and Resistance: Reading Hegel in the Age of the War on Terrorism and the Chapter "Help! My Philosophy Teacher Made Me Touch My Toes!" in Yoga for Everyone: Bending Mind and Body. 

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