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Edited by

Bob Bhaerman

Personal Paths to Humanism

Volume One


Why do people become humanists?


Those religiously opposed to humanism often think (and say on the Internet) that people become humanists out of pride, narcissism, and a desire to pursue a depraved life free of moral judgment.


Personal Paths to Humanism is not only a sound refutation of the absurd claim of humanism’s detractors, it is truly inspirational to read.


We asked a cross-section of American Humanist Association leaders and members to simply tell us their stories and they did! Many came to humanism from various religions—some mild, some strict—while others came from secular backgrounds. Some came to humanism at an early age, others later in life. A few experienced rapid change, but most came to it gradually. The variety in such transformations, and their causes, proved stunning—but so did the similarities!


Beyond this, we discovered that when people share their life journeys with us, a bond occurs. We not only learn but we identify. Humanist ideas aren’t just a set of philosophical abstractions; they are living things, arrived at by processes of change that we recognize and feel.


While we release this initial volume in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the American Humanist Association in 2016, we’re so impressed by the nature of these stories that we are getting ready to receive more personal stories for a second volume.


In the long run, we hope to build a perpetual archive of life stories to inspire future generations of humanists.









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Fred Edwords




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Bob Bhaerman is a consultant for the American Humanist Association's Kochhar Humanist Education Center (KHEC). He is a former elementary school teacher, college instructor in the areas of curriculum development and the social foundations of education, research specialist, and associate dean of research. From 1998 to 2004, he served as coordinator of school-based service-learning in Learn and Serve America at the Corporation for National and Community Service. He has studied at Wilkes University (B.S.), Penn State (M. Ed.) and Rutgers University (Ed. D.) and was a member of Class 15 of The Humanist Institute.


Fred Edwords is the director of planned giving for the American Humanist Association and The Humanist Foundation. A leading voice for humanism in the United States and abroad, Fred Edwords is recognized as an outstanding lecturer, debater, and teacher on human rights, humanist philosophical issues, and effective outreach techniques for organizations in the community of reason. He has appeared on national and local television in the United States and Canada, has been interviewed on radio and for newspapers around the world, and has lectured in North America, Europe, and India. He has also written for several publications in the United States and elsewhere. Read Mr. Edwords's full biography here.



A special, limited edition of Personal Paths to Humanism will be released at the American Humanist Association's 75th Anniversary Conference! Many of the inspirational individuals featured in the book will be attending the conference. If you would like to get your special edition of the book, meet the editors, and mingle with leaders in the humanist movement, you can learn more about the conference here.




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