Humanist Statue Erected Opposite Christ Statue in Rio Artist’s rendition of the Happy Humanist statue soon to be built atop Rio’s Sugarloaf Mountain

This post appeared in our 2015 April Fools’ Day edition.

The election commission of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, announced today that the city’s population has voted overwhelmingly to erect a thirty-meter Happy Humanist statue atop world-famous Sugarloaf Mountain. Sugarloaf, named for its shape, overlooks Rio’s heavenly beaches and rises opposite Corcovado Mountain, atop which stands the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, gazing down on the city from the other side.


“This will, at long last, give balance to the city’s religious traditions,” said Mayor Eduardo da Costa Paes. The thirty-meter Art Deco statue of Jesus, with its arms outstretched, has since its completion in 1931 graced the skyline. It is a symbol of the nation’s Christianity. But Brazil has a longstanding humanist tradition as well. “The Church of Humanity, expressing the positivist philosophy of Auguste Comte, was a central force in making modern Brazil,” Paes added.

Comte’s positivism came to dominate the country’s socio-political landscape by the end of the nineteenth century. So when Brazil dethroned its monarchy in 1889 and became a republic, it placed the positivist slogan, Ordem e Progresso (Order and Progress), on the national flag, where it remains today.

In the twentieth century, Christianity gradually reasserted its influence, leading to the erection of Christ the Redeemer. This in turn inspired a campaign to honor humanism in a similar fashion, using the logo that Comte himself had sketched out in 1857 on his deathbed. But such a humanist statue didn’t materialize. Dr. Tania Izabel Durão, a mechanical engineer at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, or PUC-Rio), explains why: “There was simply no technology available in the twentieth century that would allow us to float the Happy Human’s head in midair.”

That problem, however, has finally been solved. “Our can-do South American spirit has triumphed again,” Durão proclaims. The solution was, in fact, developed at PUC-Rio, which is a private Catholic University, founded in 1940, with the mission of “producing and transmitting knowledge based on humanistic values and Christian ethics.”

Durão adds, “If you want to understand the technology, it is concisely explained on page 41 of the latest Hammacher Schlemmer catalog.” Her reference is to a product called the Levitating Lamp in which a “magnet tucked into the lampshade is repelled by electromagnetic coils in the lamp’s base, a powerful opposing force that causes the shade to levitate.” This use of modern magnetism is how the Happy Humanist’s head will be made to float at an appropriate level above its body, even remaining in place despite occasional high winds.

No other statue on Earth has this feature, which Brazilian media are predicting will render Rio’s Happy Human—like the cinematic King Kong—“the eighth wonder of the world.”

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