February 2014 – The Challenge for Humanism in The Post-Religious Era


While we are more connected through e-mail, text messages, Facebook, and Twitter, Americans feel increasingly socially atomized. As young people travel across the United States and around the world to attend faraway colleges and graduate schools, and families find themselves moving for jobs, we increasingly find ourselves in foreign places with few connections or roots. John Figdor will discuss why religious institutions, which have historically served this purpose are no longer able to provide meaning for an increasingly non-religious America. In a talk ranging from Robert Putnam’s American Grace and Bowling Alone, to Stephen Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, as well as original research from the Humanist Community Project at Harvard, John will explain why he thinks Humanist communities are the answer to the problem of social atomization.

John Figdor is the Humanist Chaplain at Stanford University where he organizes events and programs for both students and community members from the San Francisco Bay Area. John and his work have been discussed in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has spoken at the Secular Student Alliance Annual Conference, the American Humanist Association Annual Conference, the Humanist Community in Silicon Valley, the Humanist Community at Harvard, and many local humanist groups across the United States. He received his B.A. with honors in Philosophy from Vassar College and holds a master’s degree (MDiv) in Humanism and Interfaith Dialogue from Harvard Divinity School. John was an Organizing Fellow of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard and former Assistant Humanist Chaplain at Harvard.