Welcome to the Grand Traverse Humanists. If you value science, reason, and compassion and believe that humans are responsible for their own destiny, you have come to the right place. We are a community for the non-religious in the Grand Traverse area, offering a forum for discussing and advancing a secular worldview based on our common humanity. Our programs include monthly speakers and discussions, film and book groups, and various volunteer and social events. All are free and open to the public. Check out Upcoming Events below, or click on the calendar. Nontheists, agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, rationalists, humanists, and more…we welcome you to join us!
Grand Traverse Humanists Main Meeting
Second Monday of each month, 7 p.m.
Traverse Area District Library main branch, 610 Woodmere Ave., TC
- Meeting at the History Center: Robert Downes…The Writing Life
Monday, June 9 2014
Robert Downes…The Writing Life
7 p.m….History Center of Traverse City, 322 Sixth St.
Robert (Bob) Downes, author of Planet Backpacker: The Good Life Bumming Around the World, has backpacked through more than 50 countries, with destinations ranging from the supercities of the Third World to the heart of the American wilderness.
Bob was 54 when he set out to bicycle and backpack around the world in 2007, pursuing a lifelong dream. The journey was a return to a ‘parallel world’ of adventure travel which he calls “Planet Backpacker.”
“During my earliest travels as a teenager, I became aware that there is an alternative world of gypsy travelers paralleling our own,” Downes says. “You would seldom — if ever — meet them in the ordinary world, but as soon as you hit the road, the portals would open, revealing the oddest people, along with young adventurers heading for distant horizons. It’s not a Twilight Zone or a parallel dimension, but an actual world that escapes the notice of those who stay put. It’s an ‘other’ reality.”
Until its recent sale, Downes was the editor and co-publisher of the alternative Northern Express Weekly in Traverse City, Michigan. The publication has a distribution of up to 30,000 copies in 13 counties. He and his best friend George Foster launched the Northern Express in 1991. Participants in the running and triathlon boom of the ’80s, the partners started the paper to celebrate the recreation lifestyle of northern Michigan.
Born in 1952, Downes attended Wayne State University in Detroit, graduating in 1976 with a major in journalism and a minor in photography.
Downes developed a passion for street photography in Detroit’s inner city during his college days, an experience that later proved useful in relating to other cultures around the world.
- Hungry Humanists outing to Opa! Uptown
Monday, March 31 2014
Hungry Humanists outing to Opa! Uptown
7 p.m….830 E Front St. (across from the Senior Center…look for the black canopy and park in the lot in the back)
Join us for an evening out for dinner! This time we’ll be dining at Opa! Uptown. RSVP to email@example.com so that she can let them know how many are coming.
- Justice Elizabeth Weaver on Judicial and Governmental Reform
Monday, May 12 2014
Justice Elizabeth Weaver on Judicial and Governmental Reform
7 p.m….History Center of Traverse City, 322 Sixth St.
Justice Elizabeth “Betty” Weaver was a trial and appellate judge (Probate/Juvenile, Court of Appeals, Supreme Court) for over 35 years, including two years as Chief Justice. She retired in 2010 and is the author of the book Judicial Deceit: Tyranny and Unnecessary Secrecy at the Michigan Supreme Court.
- TART Trails and Michigan Land Use Institute: “Walk this Way”
Monday, April 14 2014
TART Trails and Michigan Land Use Institute: “Walk this Way”
7 p.m….History Center of Traverse City, 322 Sixth St., Traverse City…will include an actual walk outside, so dress accordingly!
Join James Bruckbauer, Transportation Policy Specialist with MLUI and Julie Clark, Executive Director of TART Trails on a walk around the block to explore what’s happening in the world of active transportation in the Grand Traverse region. Learn more about trends in commuter behaviors, new projects and partnerships, and how connections between non-motorized transportation, transit and local employers are working together to help strengthen communities.
- Book Discussion: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
Sunday, April 6 2014
Book Discussion…The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, by Jonathan Haidt
4 p.m….3773 Vale Dr., East Bay Township/Traverse City (Holiday Village)
- Meeting at the History Center: Mella McCormick and Chris Kuchuris: Evolution of Morality
Monday, March 10 2014
Mella McCormick and Chris Kuchuris: Evolution of Morality
7 p.m….History Center of Traverse City, 322 Sixth St., Traverse City
Pulling the plug on a brain-dead person on life-support, altering the genetic make-up of an embryo, using sophisticated software to surreptitiously collect information on citizens, deploying ‘assassin drones’ in a far off country: these are but a few of the moral dilemmas facing modern man. When confronted with difficult situations we often wonder; what is the right thing do? To answer this age-old question humans have turned to many sources from appeasing the gods, to following the 10 Commandments, to satisfying our Pleasure Principle, to seeking the greatest good for the greatest number.
Yet all of these sources of so-called wisdom are inadequate as guides for moral action for they provide no way of assessing particular situations and all moral choices are done in the particular, not the general. Appease the gods says Homer: which ones? Thou shalt not murder commands Moses: okay, but when does the taking of life rise to the level of murder? Satisfy your pleasure-principle urges Freud: but what about the unintended consequences? Do the greatest good for the greatest number counsels Bentham: but who determines the greatest good?
Our advances in technology create complex moral dilemmas that Modern man may be ill-equipped to manage but they do not change the fact that the fount of morality lies within each of us not as fated by the gods, or in the avoidance of hell, or in following an instinctual drive, or in seeking the greatest good. Morality is a function of thinking for as the saying goes; “The quality on our living is determined by the quality of our decisions, and the quality of our decisions is determined by the quality of our thinking.”
As such, any circumstance we encounter does not come pre-labeled as morally loaded; all circumstances must be interpreted individually as we encounter them so we need to ask, what part of us does this interpreting, for the accuracy of our interpretations determines how well we can make choices to manage any moral conundrum we may encounter.
In our presentation we will challenge some of our most basic assumptions regarding the traditional, as well as contemporary sources of our ethical decisions and we will provide a workable alternative in showing how our ability to reason is all we need in setting the frame of reference for our moral compass.
Mella McCormick is a philosophy professor at Northwestern Michigan College. She completed her undergraduate studies at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana and Keele University in Staffordshire, England. She attended the University of Missouri-Columbia for her graduate work in philosophy. Prior to teaching in Michigan, Mella taught both philosophy and women’s studies at the College of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas where she authored and chaired the Associate of Arts degree in Women’s Studies. Her most recent publication is The Danger of Relativism in Reason in The International Journal of Arts & Sciences, Fall 2013 which she co-authored with Chris Kuchuris.
Chris Kuchuris earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. He also attended graduate school there and at the University of Nevada, where he obtained a Master’s Degree in Ethics and Policy Studies. He has been working in philosophy for the past 22 years teaching classes in Ethics, Critical Thinking, and Existentialism at the College of Southern Nevada. Chris has published a textbook titled Puncturing Our Illusions: Developing Our Critical Thinking Attitude. His most recent publication is The Danger of Relativism in Reason in The International Journal of Arts & Sciences, Fall 2013 which he co-authored with Mella McCormick.