Gary Sykes, Ph.D., will present a free public lecture for the Jefferson Educational Society on the “Humanist Perspective” Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Corry Area Middle-High School auditorium.

As humanism is not a commonly referred to topic in our area, the lecture may open the eyes of our community to a fascinating philosophy and encourage a widening of each person’s knowledge and beliefs.

Sykes was a visiting professor of criminal justice at Mercyhurst College from 2004-07. He formerly served as the vice president at the Center for American and International Law and director of the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration in Plano, Texas.

The humanist perspective is a philosophy that promotes individualism, personal responsibility and the quest for knowledge, among other things. Although humanists believe in a soul or some type of afterlife, they refuse to be instructed by transcendent knowledge or ideas that have no explanation. They are often said to be atheists and while this is commonly true, their religious views are not central to the philosophy.

The philosophy allows room for flaws, as human thinking is imperfect. Thus, their beliefs and statements about the world are tentative, leaving much room for improvement and negotiation. Because the world is constantly changing, new ideas must be considered and accepted.

Humanists are encouraged by new discoveries and experiences, rather than fearful of them.

In regard to other beliefs and philosophies, humanists believe that any manner of thinking is a possibility based on the person who is doing the thinking, their past experiences and the knowledge they have acquired.

The humanist perspective is largely based on intensive thought and inquiry.

“As humanists who see life and human history as a great adventure, we seek new worlds to explore, new facts to uncover, new avenues for artistic expression, new solutions to old problems, and new feelings to experience, humanist Fred Edwords said at americanhumanist.org. “We sometimes feel driven in our quest, and it is participation in this quest that gives our lives meaning and makes beneficial discoveries possible. Our goals as a species are open ended. As a result, we will never be without purpose.”

School buses will transport people to the free lecture from Conelway Elementary School and Spartansburg Elementary School. Drive your vehicle and park it at Spartansburg or Conelway school. Buses will depart each school at 6:30 p.m. sharp and return after the lecture.

Echo Seiersen is a senior at Corry Area Middle-High School.

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