Do Humanists have any monuments or buildings they consider sacred or places they go on pilgrimage?
There are a few Humanist Halls – here and there, like the Conway Hall in England or the Humanist Hall in San Francisco. But when you think of buildings and things that Humanists like or consider making a pilgrimage to, you are going to be thinking primarily about libraries. These are places where human knowledge is stored and we find them irresistible. Architecture is married to knowledge. I don’t think there are many Humanists who would not consider a pilgrimage to the Library at Alexandria to be anything less that: a form of Humanist pilgrimage, that being the library of libraries.
We are also hugely fond of museums for the same reason. For me, the British Museum is high on the list of places that as a Humanist I consider rather “holy” because it houses the Rosetta Stone.
My son is only 9 and his two favorite places to go, since he was about 2 – are the local museum and the libraries. He’s really obsessed with both because they are places where you learn things – and that’s really cool.
However, back to the subject of monuments & buildings: there are other buildings and places we think are important and that tie more directly into our values and philosophy.
- Darwin’s house in England.
- The statue of Einstein in Washington DC.
- The Robert Ingersoll birthplace museum in America.
- Helen Keller’s birthplace.
- The Harriet Tubman house.
- The Freethought trail – http://www.freethought-trail.org/ in the United States,
- The Ancestor’s Trail in England (http://ancestorstrail.org.uk/)
- The Center for Inquiry Libraries in Buffalo NY is an AMAZING library – original Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll collections as well as all of Steve Allen’s works and the building is seriously cool. Again a blending of architecture and knowledge – and it feels like you are making a pilgrimage when you are there.
And that’s just the western English speaking world. There are also sites in France – first to embrace Freethought in the west. India – one of the great philosophies of India is Carvaka – which is Humanist. In India I’d want to see sites related to Asoka, and Jainism. China – Confucian temples are fascinating for us Humanists as his philosophy is one of the precursors to our own. Ancient Greece? Anything to do with Socrates. I know of very few Humanists who do not want to go see the Arecibo Observatory, both because of the structure itself and because of what it represents: the seeking of knowledge.
Our philosophy has been around forever, as long as there have been humans, but … it only got a name 100 years ago and has only been an organized philosophy for 70 years. We are just getting organized. But there are monuments to humanity and our ingenuity all over the place and we consider them our own – because we consider ourselves part of humanity in the fullest sense of that term.