traveler-Posted: 11 June 2011 05:27 AM
And is that the best place to exert such energy, passion and commitment?
I wonder about this also, yet, this is clearly an excellent place to examine this idea. Perhaps, for the greatest effect this debate should be carried on in our local communities where there is better opportunity to create real change, (if one agrees with PLaClair), then in the more insubstantial world of the internet. I’m new here, but this forum’s primary purpose seems to be in providing a place for committed Humanists/Skeptics to debate ideas, and respond to challenges, more than in providing a portal to interact with the people who would be drawn to Humanism if, in general, we were to adopt PLaClair’s philosophy.
That said, the questions and ideas embodied in this particular debate bear deeply on an unresolved area my own philosophy of Humanism: If we are correct in our general philosophy, (assuming that we could even agree on a definition), what are the ethical and moral issues of promoting this philosophy? If we are confident that a non-theistic, skeptical philosophy offers the human race a better chance at attaining the “good life”, what are our obligations?
I’m going out on a limb here, (largely because so few people fill out their profiles), and say that it’s my impression that this site’s population of regular members has a predominance of people drawn to the “hard” sciences, i.e engineers, scientists, physicians, etc..(I’m sure I’ll find out if I’m wrong). In the world of “hard” sciences I’ll argue that a practiced skepticism is an essential tool. In general, these types of disciplines analyze problems, often in regard to a specific objective, and are tasked with developing an efficient, effective, testable solution. The idea of the supernatural makes no sense. It can’t be proven, quantified, or applied. It one’s task is to manipulate the real world, the role of the supernatural, (which very, very, likely doesn’t exist anyway), is truly nonsensical.*
If I’m correct, then this might explain why are there fewer members of the less rigorously trained population. Representatives of the “softer” disciplines, like the arts, literature, psychology, history, subjects where the idea of rigorous testing is harder to apply. What about the the great mass of people who’s lives rarely encounter the idea that assertions must be based on widely accepted evidence and don’t even grasp the scientific definition of a “theory”. Hell, what about me? How can people without these concepts embrace a philosophy centered on a pragmatic, skeptical worldview. How can this population embrace the ideas so widely debated and accepted in this forum? My own commitment to skepticism is very strong and central to my life philosophy, (PLaClair’s religion), but without training in the skills of evaluation and analysis, it is likely less valid than many here.
How is this group included? What role can we play in this society, and what sort of social and intellectual nourishment can we draw from it?
(I suppose, in something of a parallel to conventional theism, scientists could fill the role of clergy, interpreting and presenting the discoveries of science to the people, as the clergy of the theistic religions claim to interpret the doctrine of the supernatural world to the trusting but gullible masses.)
If the skeptical/humanist philosophy is a better philosophy than those that claim access to the supernatural, is there an obligation to promote the expansion of this philosophy? And if the spread of the ideas we promote cause the dissolution of traditional religion, are we obligated to replicate the many positive aspects of traditional theistic religion; community, service, appreciation of art and beauty, the expression of awe? Can there be meaningful roles for all people in such a society, even those whose comprehension may be limited?
.For me, this is where PLaClair’s position comes into play. If Humanism spreads, either through active dissemination or even just as an effective meme, mustn’t we adopt his idea of a non theistic religion?
*I must stress that I’m completely unqualified to make this statement. My formal education is non-existent beyond high school, unless you count some trade school courses.