Paul Kurtz was born on December 21, 1925 in Newark, New Jersey. He is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo, but is best known for his prominent role in the United States skeptical and humanist community. He is undoubtedly one of the founding fathers of secular humanism. He is founder and chairman of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, formerly the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), the Council for Secular Humanism, the Center for Inquiry and Prometheus Books.
Kurtz is the editor-in-chief of Free Inquiry magazine, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism. He was co-president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Humanist Laureate and president of the International Academy of Humanism. As a member of the American Humanist Association, he contributed to the writing of Humanist Manifesto II.
Kurtz was largely responsible for the secularization of humanism. Before Kurtz embraced the term “secular humanism,” which had received wide publicity through fundamentalist Christians in the 1980s, humanism was more widely perceived as a religion (or a pseudoreligion) that did not include the supernatural.
Kurtz used the publicity generated by fundamentalist preachers to grow the membership of the Council for Secular Humanism, as well as strip the religious aspects found in the earlier humanist movement. He founded the Center for Inquiry in 1991. There are now some 40 Centers and Communities worldwide, including in Los Angeles, Washington, New York City, London, Amsterdam, Warsaw, Moscow,Nigeria, Beijing, Hyderabad, Toronto, Dakar, Buenos Aires, Uganda and Kathmandu.
Kurtz is well-known for his eupraxsophy thoery. He coined the term eupraxsophy (originally eupraxophy) to refer to philosophies or lifestances such as secular humanism and Confucianism that do not rely on belief in the transcendent or supernatural. A eupraxsophy is a nonreligious lifestance or worldview emphasizing the importance of living an ethical and exuberant life, and relying on rational methods such as logic, observation and science (rather than faith, mysticism or revelation) toward that end.
In 1999 Kurtz was given the International Humanist Award by the IHEU.The asteroid (6629) Kurtz was also named in his honor. Kurtz believes that the nonreligious members of the community should take a positive view on life. Religious skepticism, according to Paul Kurtz, is only one aspect of the secular humanistic outlook.
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