Deborah Meckler, Treasurer / Acting Chair
I came to the Bay Area Humanists in 2016 for the social and intellectual activities. In learning about Humanism, I realized that I had found a philosophy that articulated with wonderful clarity my own rather fuzzy set of beliefs. Some years ago I read Richard Dawkins The God Delusion which gave me the courage to affirm atheism rather than agnosticism. Like Dawkins, I no longer say “I don’t believe in god,” I say instead “I believe there is no god.” I reject supernatural anything. That isn’t much by way of philosophy, however. But Humanism embraces curiosity and empiricism, as well as providing moral guidance for all our interactions. Through Forums and some of the Book Group selections, I have learned how scientists are locating in the brains of humans and non-human animals the evolutionary and neurological underpinnings for fairness, altruism, and morality that have conventionally been associated to religion and used as rationalization for why religion is necessary. I find it hugely gratifying that evolution has seen to the matter and no need for deities. And I very much enjoy the opportunities provided by the Bay Area Humanists to engage with other like-minded people in secular truth-seeking!
I am retired from a career that has included teaching, telecommunications engineering, and environmental consulting.
Jim Gronvold was raised in a religious environment, but began to question creation stories and tales of heaven and hell, at an early age. He also started writing poems when he was young and
has published several collections of verse written from a secular humanist perspective.
Jim retired from the largest private organization for homeless services in New England where, as an administrator and counselor, he offered secular alternatives to alcoholics and addicts who were resistant to faith-based recovery programs.
Jim has been a member of the Bay Area Humanists since 2017.
Isaak Scheuenstuhl, Technical Systems Administrator / Board Member
When I was in kindergarten, I had a friend who I really liked; I enjoyed talking to them and spending time with them and though we had a real connection.
One day, that friend told me that their grandmother had forbidden them from continuing to be my friend, because I was Jewish.
I was absolutely devastated. At that age, being Jewish didn’t even really mean anything to me; it was just my heritage.
I think that was the moment I decided that religion wasn’t worth it. Certainly, any god that required their followers to renounce their friendships with other people because of differing backgrounds or beliefs was not worthy of worship.
Of course, I had no word for what I felt at the time and it was many years later that I adopted “Humanist” as one of the descriptors of my moral code.
Overall, I tend to think that beliefs are simply counterproductive, elevated opinions that people develop such an emotional attachment to that they will ignore all facts to defend. As such, I endeavor not to hold beliefs. That which is unknowable is also irrelevant to our everyday lives.
I do not, “want to believe.” I want to know!
“I don’t have to think about Allen’s art; I can just enjoy it.”
~My friend, Felix
I feel resilient in my Secular Humanist beliefs. It took many years to evolve beyond USA stereotypes. I started Catholic Catechism classes at seven to learn devotion to their god. Fortunately, I never found that godly devotion and stopped going to Church. Thus began my quest for secular nonbelief in supernatural ideas (e.g., Astrology, Gods, Reiki, etc.) – we have a supportive community in Secular Humanism and no fear of an afterlife.
My first love is avid sailing. I often get artistic inspiration from being on the water, trimming the sails, responding to nature (e.g., wind on my cheek), and building teamwork with my crew to win a race safely.
My background is technical, plus community building, in environmental engineering consulting. Yet now, I prefer to focus on more creative pursuits, where ecological art is enjoyed on the surface and explored for a deeper meaning. I particularly enjoy taking excellent in-camera shots and manipulating them, with digital painting, in composites/collages of multiple layers of digital design.
On moving to Berkeley, California, in the fall of ‘97, I began a professional working life as an energy-efficiency consultant making people and buildings more comfortable and productive (e.g., saving money). Before Berkeley, I was a California Army National Guard member and earned my Eagle Scout award. As a result, my art is often of a secular political, ecological, and social nature.