From Dr. Who to Mr. Spock: The Perfect Humanist Day

August 6, 2012

Hundreds gathered at the Gunther Depths of Space exhibit at the Griffith Observatory to watch the progress of Curiosity.

 I left for work at CFI Los Angeles Sunday morning while thousands of Catholics prepared to gather for Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations at the L.A. Coliseum just down Vermont Ave.Our branch hosted author David Layton who talked about the humanistic and scientific aspects of the long-running British TV series Dr. Who. David made a good case that the show does an excellent job of combining humanism, science, reason, and enlightenment values – all while entertaining its audience. The internationally popular Dr. Who is (despite a gap in its broadcast history) the longest running sci-fi TV show in history.

So my day began with the confluence of science, entertainment, and humanism. Not bad for a Sunday morning in Hollywood.

After lunch, a delightful family from (among other places) Orange County, Japan, and England gathered in the Steve Allen Theater for a baby-naming ceremony. Far from a christening, this is a way for secular people to gather, welcome, and express their joy about the birth of a new member of their family. I was honored to preside over a celebration so filled with warmth, humor and love.

Later that evening, my wife and I hiked from our house up to the Griffith Observatory (with family and members of The Heathens) to watch the touchdown of the latest Mars rover, Curiosity. The good people at the Observatory showed the progress of the Curiosity in the Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock, on Star Trek, of course) Event Horizon Theater, and also in the Gunther Depths of Space exhibit. There were probably a thousand people there gathered to watch the U.S. space program lower a car-sized extra-terrestrial laboratory into a very specific crater on a planet millions of miles away. Whoa.

For the third time that day, I was among people who had a deep appreciation for science, reason, and humanity in a way that did not invoke anything supernatural to gain that appreciation. We humans made that art, that child, and that spaceship. People took the risks associated with those creations and accepted those consequences.

All three times the risks paid off.

It was a great day to be a humanist in L.A.
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