Oct 21 2012

Paul Kurtz is dead

One of the most influential figures in modern skepticism and atheism is no more: Paul Kurtz has died at the age of 86.


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  1. 1
    Argle Bargle

    Joseph Conrad predicted this in his novella Heart of Darkness:

    Mistah Kurtz–he dead.

  2. 2
    Chris Clarke

    He was already pretty legendary when I went to the University of Buffalo in the early 1970s. Ave atque vale.

  3. 3

    I’m glad he made peace with the American Humanist Association before he died.

  4. 4

    That is sad news. Paul Kurtz was one of the first humanist authors I read and met in person. He was interesting, eloquent, polite — and fierce. I eventually heard him speak so often that I could not read anything he wrote without hearing his voice.

    His voice will be missed.

  5. 5
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    When my skeptics group recently decided to set a new mission course (partially inspired by A+, but we had been thinking about it a long time for many, many reasons), we found this video http://youtu.be/LF5uT5LrTAY which really is in sharp contrast to the narrow focus skepticism we wanted to move away from. My husband started reading Exuberant Skepticism which expands even further. I needed a reminder that not all of the big skeptics have the same view of what skepticism means, not to mention, I am not beholden to anyone’s definition or mission.

    I know he fell into controversy regarding new atheism and CFI. I will have to re-listen to some podcasts of him talking about that. Regardless, a major trailblazer for us overall. His influence lives on.

  6. 6
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Twenty years ago, I was actively seeking out anything that was published by Prometheus Books.

    Even when his name was in the background, he make a beckon for many of us who rejected the just so stories of the religious.

    In the end, he did more good than harm. Could any of us wish for more for ourselves.

  7. 7

    So is George McGovern. I just found out he’s dead. :-(

  8. 8

    Sorry to hear that. And as #7 points out, the last 24 hours or so have resulted in the losses of two huge voices for the progressive/humanist movement. I’m just happy I had the chance to briefly meet him in Buffalo last December during the CFI conference on the scientific study of religion as a natural phenomenon (with Dan Dennett as the keynote speaker). Kurtz led all of the attendees on a tour of the CFI Libary in Buffalo.

  9. 9

    Prometheus Books has played a major role in my life and I’ll always owe Kurtz for that.

  10. 10

    Oh, damn. Leon Jaroff is gone, too. I’m bummed.

    McGovern, Kurtz, Jaroff. None of these guys were on my “better off without them” list.

  11. 11

    I’m reminded of Harry Truman quoting the tombstone which said of a departed: “He done his damnedest.”

    We all do our part, however slight or great that may be. He will be long remembered, and what he wrote and said will live on. In this world, that is an accomplishment.

  12. 12
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    A seminal figure indeed–where would the Secular Humanist movement be without Paul Kurtz?

  13. 13
    Crudely Wrott

    Goodbye, Paul.
    Thanks for the insights.
    Thanks even more for leaving those insights in writings and images so that they will have continuing availability to people at large.
    My admiration of you is dwarfed by the understanding that you helped me acquire.
    Well done, friend. Well done.
    I’ll not forget you.

  14. 14

    I only really knew of Paul Kurtz through his appearances on podcasts (also read a book where he debated WLC), and I found him to be a calm reasonable passionate advocate for humanism. 86 is a damn good innings, though, and his works will remain.

  15. 15

    Bummer. Controversial guy on occasion, but a real stalwart.


  16. 16

    Oh and btw, has anyone seen a deathbed conversion claim for this guy yet? It’s got to be coming if it’s not already there.


  17. 17
    John Scanlon FCD

    The horror!

  18. 18

    So it goes.

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