I just noticed that three of the American presidential candidates currently in the race are saying that God has urged them to run.

So I actually didn’t make much of it at first glance, but then a thought came to me.  So I ask you this question: Is God is hedging His bets or do we have a growth in the number of liars taking advantage of this country’s theocratically-minded?

Now we actually have an interesting little experiment to hint at which it might be!  Let me explain…

One of the Candidates Wins

If one of the three does win, then the results of the experiment actually aren’t very interesting.  That particular individual 1) Read More…

Posted by: Paul Chiariello | October 28, 2011

BOOKS: A Personal Story about Passion & Everything that Matters

When I was young, sometime in early middle school, I remember clearly and distinctly where I was standing when I first reflected on that overwhelming feeling itself.

During the hymn it was both the music of the words and their meaning – a meaning shared through time with everyone around me – that overwhelmingly gripped me at such a young age.

I understood it then as the divine and personal presence of Jesus.  At the time I associated it with Camp Iroquiona, a Christian camp I went to only in the summers and various weekends throughout the years of my childhood and adolescence.  This feeling that coursed through my being and clearly resonated on the same frequency with all my friends around me I saw as unique to the ambiance and activity of the camp. But I desperately wanted to take it home with me, so I could tap into this deepness outside of those brief hill-side summers. Read More…

Posted by: Paul Chiariello | October 9, 2011

The Mental Life of Animals: Sentience, the Soul and Moral Worth


A while ago I found this collection of photos.  The description is at the bottom.

But to recap,  it is very simply an alley cat protecting the body of his dead friend.  Apparently he was there for days and even brought food.

It’s hard to imagine what is going on in the mind of this cat.  I mean, it’s hard to imagine what is going on in your mind, reader, or any other human’s.  Do you have as rich a set of experiences and thoughts as I do?  When I look at you I can certainly infer from your behaviors, but that is about all.

But when I look at animals, when I infer things from their behavior in the same way, I see basically the same thing.  I could post hundreds of such examples of dogs, birds, gorillas and, believe it or not, squirrels.

Now don’t get me wrong, we’re obviously different.  But Read More…

Posted by: Paul Chiariello | September 17, 2011

What is Humanism? – Some of my Favorite Videos

A lot of people ask me what is Humanism?  How can you have ethics?  Isn’t everything subjective? How can you say something is right? What gives you meaning or purpose?

Humanism is using our reason and experience to live what best life we can.

We make mistakes and we move on.  But we do so together and not with gods or the belief we can force our way alone.

This is more of a method than a set of specific doctrines.  Very simply, there is no holy book or prophet that we can try to make sure we are consistent with.

This means you can never really say “This is Humanism”, but instead: “This is a Humanism”.  And you can only ever come to that conclusion via shared references to reasons and experiences.  No textual references can give you ready made answers.

Of course there exist better explanations of our experiences than others.  And of course there are more soundly reasoned arguments when comparing different world views.  However, there is no guarantee of certainty since there is no omniscient presence we can try to rest our one set of beliefs on.


I have lots of answers for how I think this set of Humanist principles plays out in our world.  But here is one of the best brush strokes I’ve seen made in an attempt to answer the title of this post.  I believe this Declaration of Interdependence sums it up beautifully.



Below are a list of other videos I love.

They inspire me and give me meaning and purpose.

All of the videos below marvel at the universe and focus on our common humanity, suffering and joy.


Read More…

Posted by: Paul Chiariello | September 12, 2011

Love, Value, Sacrifice… and Economics: A Dialog of Geeky Lovers

This is an actual conversation, posted with permission from mi lady.
Forgive me if it’s too cutesy,
even though I’m not apologizing for it.
me:  also, lovely
i am not applying for the HIA internship
[that would keep me an addition 4 months in DC and 5 hours away]
Siobhan:  por qua?
 me:  i was musing over that today actually, Read More…
Posted by: Paul Chiariello | September 6, 2011

Of Cancer and Viruses: God’s Plan & Un-Babeling the World (?)

A close friend of mine recently posted an article about a new virus that fights cancers.  And not just one particular kind of cancer in particular, but ALL cancers.

SPL Read More…

Posted by: Paul Chiariello | August 31, 2011

A Humanist in Church: A Short Riddle

This I guess is a kind of riddle that I think sums up the Humanist viewpoint in a number of ways:

A Humanist walks into a packed church singing on Sunday morning… and only his god is there.

Who is it?


Read More…

Posted by: Paul Chiariello | August 25, 2011

One Afternoon I Met A Red Witchess

One afternoon I met a red witchess

With red roots

and red leaves

And with a fraction of cinnamon and innocence,

Barely touching, we sat down together

And I took off my masks.


So she showed me a bloody huntress

Who stalks with leather and snow Read More…

So far, I’m a third of the way through ‘the Good Book’, AC Grayling’s 600 page Humanist ‘Bible’.  I know this is a bit of a pre-mature review, but I wanted to talk about the idea of the book more than the book itself, anyway.

Read More…

Name of the Game –

Step 1) Guess if the poems below are written by Muslims, Christians or Hindus.

Step 2) After you read the poem, click the link below it to be taken to a page about the poet.



This is the kind of Friend
You are-
Without making me realize
My soul’s anguished history,
You slip into my house at night,
And while I am sleeping,
You silently carry off
All my suffering and sordid past
In Your beautiful
Hands. Read More…

I don’t know what to do.  I don’t want to be antagonistic, but I so often hear people argue that Christianity was necessary for the birth of liberal democracy, human rights, and all of these other things.  That it could happen only with the inspiration of Christianity and not Islam or Buddhism, for example, is silly.  Christianity has had its positive roles, but it simply cannot lay claim to Western democratic civilization to the degree so many people I talk to want it to.

I’ve already written another post about the roots of Democracy in Islam, so I won’t go into that now.


First, The idea of Democracy was founded and practiced in a pagan, non-Christian society (in fact, one named after the personification Reason!).  Western Civilization at very least didn’t need Christianity to birth the idea and get it going.

Democracy isn’t an idea that sprouted out of the Bible or people inspired by it.  Much the reverse.  And once Christians inherited this system, they didn’t start practicing it.

But did Democracy and Greek thought need Christianity to flourish?  Maybe.  We’ll get to that.  Read More…

A short time ago one of my close relatives came for a visit with me and some of the rest of my family.  A woman I looked up to my whole life but unfortunately did not see too often.  And though I was somewhat sick, we still talked as we usually did about religion, life, meaning and all those fun things.

As I mentioned I was unfortunately sick for the few days she was there.  Throughout the time she smiled and said her ‘God-Bless-You’s’ – an unnoticeable habit that I regularly do myself.  So when she asked, “What do Humanists say when you sneeze?”  I took it as an interesting question for possibly an equally interesting conversation.

“Well there are a couple answers to that,” I said.


What Should Humanists Say Instead?

First, I explained that it actually doesn’t matter that much to me.  I say ‘God-Bless-You’, or the short and more frequently derived ‘Bless-You’.  It is a habit that has come to mean something different than the original explicit, denotative meaning of the sentence.  I believe, as most Christians similarly do to some degree, that it is a religiously inspired cultural relic that expresses ones personal concern and wishes for that person’s health. Read More…

Sign the Petition Yourself Here

Zach Kopplin, a 17 year old student in Louisiana, has spearheaded efforts to teach actual science in his and fellow students’ classrooms.

The entire world (very literally with the Kyoto protocol) has Read More…

In this post I am collecting and describing a couple videos and links explaining human evolution and many of the intentional myths and deceptions that surround it.

Later I hope to make other posts explaining other parts of evolution as well, such as the evidence for ‘macro-evolution’ (a term only dreamed up in the pseudo-science of Creationism/Intelligent Design theory).


In this great introductory video, potholer54 Read More…

Posted by: Paul Chiariello | April 27, 2011

Human Rights Documentary Photography Project in Colombia

Hey all – Siobhan here!

In just a few days I’m heading to Medellín, Colombia as a documentary photographer for International Bridges to Justice (IBJ), a human rights non-profit/NGO based in Geneva.

I’ll be working with an outstanding woman named Adriana, a public defender in Medellín, who has become a 2011 IBJ JusticeMakers Fellow for her project proposal which seeks to protect the rights of young victims of arbitrary arrest and promote active non-violence.

I will go to Medellín to Read More…

For Numbers 1-8 Click on the Link.

-1) Myth of Rational Decision Makers 

-2) Imperfect Information –

-3) Advertising Wastes –

-4) Negative Externalities –

-5) Positive Exaternalities 

-6) Control of Illicit Goods, Services, Practices 

-7) Human Rights and Compassion 

-8) Barriers to Entry 

-9) Opportunistic Behavior 

There are a variety of opportunistic behaviors which inhibit the market system.  Most people passively ignore many of these because they naturally hold to many of the norms that are necessary for Read More…

This is an post in response to market fanaticism and dogmatism.

I hear too often that “the government is evil,” that “they’re just stealing your money,” or that “the Market will provide everything cheaper and more efficiently” regardless of what these people are talking about.

Any person who has read an ounce of history about communism will pause and worry if history is simply repeating itself.  Instead of the Capitalists, it’s Government; instead of communism’s ‘New Man,’ it’s the omnipotent interpretation of the Market.

The purpose of this article is not to bolster the bastions of red communism.  But instead that seeing and focusing on only one color will get us into the same exact kind of trouble.

To clarify: yes, the Market is great and should shoulder a large portion of the economy, but we also need a balance because it is no ‘answer’ that will usher us into utopia if allowed to take over.


Below is a list of 18 things the Market cannot account for or problems it cannot surmount in principle. Read More…

Posted by: Paul Chiariello | April 1, 2011

Teaching Humanism in UK Religious Education (RE) Classes?

In England Religious Education (RE) is taught to primary and secondary school kids across the country.  This includes Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism.

Recently, in Blackburn with Darwen Council in Lancashire, Humanism was added to the curriculum to represent the large and growing population of those with ‘no faith.’

You can check out a few very short articles here at the British Humanist Association, the Daily ExpressMail Online and a related article by theLondon Evening Standard.

However there has been a lot of backlash against the decision.  Here are a few quotes:

Lesley Williams, whose 13-year-old attendsWitton Park Business and Enterprise College, “It is wrong. Read More…

Confucius about 2500 years ago lamented that the times they were a changing and that society had to get its act together and use the past as a model and ideal to return to.

Reference to the ‘Golden Age’ has been a mobilizing fiction probably well before Confucius and most certainly is today too.

But is it founded in anything?

Of course the world now is far from perfect – no one claims it is or was – but by looking at stats on long term trends in health, education, politics, social norms, etc that directly or indirectly reflect quality of life I hope it becomes obvious there is no idealized past which promises any glimmer of hope as much as the present.


Life Expectancy and Wealth

Must, must watch video!   Global Trends over 200 years.

Read More…

Posted by: Paul Chiariello | March 12, 2011

Ireland ’10 – Me and My Lady Wandering through the Emerald Isle

“Siobhan Riordan?”

Looking over my American passport, the airport immigration officer in Dublin ‘asks’ me rhetorically if that’s my name.  Yeah, that’s me: twenty-something Irish-American girl, always wondering if this day would be, and what it would be like.  Ireland, for the first time.

“Siobhan Riordan…  Well, they didn’t even give you a chance, did they?”

Nope.  Both my last name and the one my parents gave me are extremely Gaelic.  (Nevermind the green eyes, hard head and complete inability to tan.)  Nope– bring on the rain, the fiddle playing and the Guinness, my friends.  I’ve been ready for this visit to the fatherland since before I was born. Read More…

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