Personal Paths To Humanism
by Gladman C. Humbles
Following is the third essay of a series on how various persons have grown toward
unbelief. Submissions are welcome. The preferred length is 750-1200 words. Essays may be
sent to: Editor, AAH EXAMINER, P.O. Box 664, Buffalo, New York, 14226-0664.
I am a freethinker capable of capturing and controlling my own thoughts. My mind is
open to change based on a theory that is logical, rational, reasonable or proven.
I am not a crusader, cause champion or crowd pleaser. While I have personally placed
religion outside the realm of my life, I am not a Christian castigator. People should have
the right to believe in whatever they choose, or to not believe at all. Why does one have
to believe in a divine power rather than believe in the power of the person?
The decision to publish my experiences and thoughts was delayed out of fear - fear that
the Christian community would ostracize, pressure or proselytize. A bible-believing Black
Christian is the most acceptable and comforting Afro-American to the American majority.
Thinking it out for yourself makes you "different." My decision to be
different is based on my strong personality. I am not unselfish, obedient, unworthy or
meek, and I have one hell of an ego! I am compassionate and willing to extend my hand to
help humanity within my capabilities.
I want to convince cliffhangers to capture the courage to come down to earth and live a
full, productive life in harmony with this planet. My complete concern is the direction of
life and the survival of humankind on this planet.
The paranormal has always prodded me to ponder and probe phenomena that seemed
incomprehensible. Curiosity, inquisitiveness and rebelliousness have always been dominant
in my personality. Santa's ability to traverse the universe and crawl through the chimneys
of the world in one night was a bit much for my young mind to handle. My parents were
probed and pressured into sacking Santa and satisfying me with sane, sensible answers.
My move from the religious realm was motivated by experiencing personal tragedy and
thought-provoking mental battles within my mind. There were three major problems:
- Coerced church attendance as a child and young adult while living with a relative. There
was no choice. Forcing me to conform always stirred my rebellious spirit.
- A mother who died at 44 who was hooked on prayer and "faith-healing" rather
than proven medical methods.
- A son who fell under the spell of a charlatan charmer. The charmer lived a kingly
earthly life while his flock floundered in poverty, awaiting their "kingdom" in
My mental battles were won after a study of history, personal experiences and
observations. Following were some of my thoughts:
- Slavery was scripturally justified. Why slaves adopted the religion of savage
slavemasters who treated animals better than their slaves is beyond comprehension.
- Caucasian Christians collectively have never accepted Afro-Americans as equals - and
- How much wealth would Afro-Americans own if church contributions had been placed in
General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler stock?
- A caring Christian father would never let one of his children go hungry at a table of
plenty. Our all-good, all-caring and all-powerful heavenly father allows millions of the
world's children to go hungry every night. Thousands of African children die daily after
slow, steadfast, sorrowful suffering. Their only sin was being born. What is the
rationale? Are poverty-stricken children his children, or did God go to sleep?
- Job suffered severely as a test of faith according to the bible. Job is often quoted as
a measure of how strong and lasting one's faith is. An all-knowing God allows those he
knows are going to be faithful and remain loyal to the end to suffer the same fate as
agnostics and atheists. It would seem logical to take the faithful to heaven before the
suffering starts. "God knows best" is the answer I have always been given when
there is no logical explanation.
- Why would God entrust his message to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? These were obscure
men who wrote the gospels of Jesus Christ many years after his death. They have no
recorded history or biography. The people are asked to "take it on the trust" of
four men who say they were divinely inspired. If you take my message meaningfully, you
should demand proof of my statements of fact, question my convictions with logic and make
up your own mind which direction you desire to travel.
- My mind belongs to me. Whatever decisions I make, good or bad, my decisions are my own.
I am not about to give credit to some unseen spirit for motivating my mind. I will take
credit for the good decisions and full responsibility for bad ones. Sooner or later,
church-going Christians are going to leave their minds at home. If God told the preacher
what to tell you, you must accept it completely, reject it, reject part of it and/or read
your bible for yourself. If you comprehend differently, you must stay in your church in a
frustrated state, find a new church or start one.
- The childlike mentality of being told when to sit, stand, sing and raise hands to answer
simple questions is reminiscent of kindergarten. What logic is there in a ritual that
reduces an adult's mentality to childlike thinking, except to limit and restrict one's
ability to think for oneself and to make one obey without question?
- Why are Christians commanded to go out and compel people to come to Christ? After nearly
2000 years of mass indoctrination it seems rational that the people would be banging on
doors of overcrowded churches asking God to let them in.
- The bible has been used by some to promote brotherhood and by others to promote bigotry.
How can two such diametrically opposed ideas be interpreted to such extremes from a book
that is supposed to tell us clearly how to live?
In conclusion, challenging changes and conditions on earth are at times frustrating,
exciting, painful, pleasurable, ravaging, rapturous. I would not have it any other way. I
do not want to be happy all of the time, nor do I desire to be loved by everyone. For me,
living as some blissful spirit for eternity would be a duller existence than being in the
And why should one be concerned with how it all began? I do not know how it all began
and I don't care. I am here, you are here. Why can't we learn to think differently, look
differently, live differently and live in harmony with humankind and nature, making the
best of it on this planet?
Gladman Humbles was the first Black firefighter in Paducah, Kentucky, and the first
Black president of the international firefighter's union. He has received two awards for
outstanding leadership as the president of the Paducah NAACP. He has performed as a
magician and has written several newspaper articles.