“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for our own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity.”
Via the above quote, Jennifer Bardi at The Humanist identifies Marie Curie’s atheism as aligning with humanist values. Curie is one of many women whom we should be proud to claim within our movement.
There are many sources discussing Marie Curie’s secular life and views. The Openly Secular website states that she was either atheist or agnostic, while the Freedom from Religion Foundation reports that her whole family self-identified as Rationalist. Humanists UK even reports that Marie and Pierre’s wedding was a secular occasion.
Marie Curie serves as a humanist hero and role model, both for her scientific achievements and for her freethought views. Her words can even empower and comfort us during this era of coronavirus:
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
Another writer for The Humanist, Krista Cox, asks why women like Marie Curie appear to be largely written out of the predominantly male narrative that so often accompanies atheism and secularism. She notes the humanism of women including Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Smeal, and Mathilde Krim. The fact that such activists and humanist heroes may remain somewhat unknown to fellow humanists – and to the world at large – reveals how vast is the problem.
Taslima Nasrin notes that “Secularism is necessary for women’s freedom simply because religions—all religions—are opposed to women’s freedom.” Moreso, it is important that women are encouraged, welcomed and empowered in our movement because it makes us all stronger.
Openly queer atheist and blogger Greta Christina notes other atheist/humanist women whose activism is changing our world, and whose contribution should be acknowledged. These include Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Debbie Goddard, Maryam Namazie, and Mina Ahadi. Christina notes that these women exist alongside other atheists, including David Suzuki and Anthony Pinn, within other culturally and linguistically diverse cohorts whose contribution is also often overlooked within our humanist, atheist and freethought circles.
This must change, because we are the world. This is our future.
© 2020 Geoff Allshorn