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Thanks to humanity!

Nov. 21, 2012
By AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt

This Thanksgiving, before digging in to the holiday feast, many Americans will bow their heads in prayer. They’ll thank their god for providing them and their loved ones with the good fortune received over the year, perhaps specifically showing appreciation for the health of those gathered, the well-being of the nation, and the food before them. At the same time humanists, atheists, and other nontheists will be thanking a different source for the abundance they and their loved ones enjoy.

Just this week there was a big step forward in the search for better treatments and a future cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The gene that triples the risk for Alzheimer’s was identified. It took a collaborative effort between scientists at various academic research institutions to discover this important part of the puzzle about what causes this sadly common disease. Humanists thank these scientists for dedicating their lives to challenging that which is the source of great suffering.

Last year, the leading evolutionary psychologist, Steven Pinker, published an important work that shows something we all can be thankful for: how violence is steadily declining across the span of human history. Pinker, who was the American Humanist Association’s 2008 Humanist of the Year, put together a remarkable presentation and explanation of the facts as we know them regarding violence around the globe in “The Better Angels of Our Nature.” He showed how the media’s hyperbole about violence is misleading, and that over time, as we learn to reason better, get to know each other better, and empathize with others better, we become nicer to each other.

To read the rest of this Washington Post On Faith article by AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt, click here.

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