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A Humanist Quandary
Posted: 26 September 2011 10:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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I am glad this got bumped, because it does raise an issue many non-religious people face.  My situation is very different, but there is a parallel.  I live and work in Africa, amongst some of the poorest and most oppressed people there can be.  Many will die of AIDS and TB.  I am a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, but it is my personal policy to keep that to myself and externally profess sympathy with their religion because it is for many their only support.  I know religion is a false hope, but I believe having a false hope is better than having no hope at all.  So I admit to being externally dishonest to my beliefs, and I hope convincingly so.  It is an act, but I believe that it is not my feelings that matter as much as the feelings - the hopes - of others.

GaryTheHuman I noted also advocated pretence.  The issue is ‘qui bono’?  Who or what benefits if you pretend, who or what benefits if you stick to your principles?  Who are you trying to help?  Humanism is about concern for others.  If a white lie or a little pretence is more helpful than otherwise, I would (and do) lie and pretend.  The little ‘pain’ I get from ‘compromising my principles’ is exceedingly small (it my even be even non-existent - in any case it soon passes), far less than the pain the truth could bring to others.

In Jeciron’s shoes I would have acted my socks off to give the old girl what she wanted from me.  At such times it’s too late for the truth to matter.

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Posted: 27 September 2011 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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I agree with you, Keith. As with most ethics, there is no single correct answer for every situation. I think you and Jeciron have acted very humanely.

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Posted: 27 September 2011 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I agree and think the problem arises from the rather unsophisticated ethical philosophy of Kant (sorry, Doug).  The idea that it is ALWAYS required to tell the truth to be ethical is silly.  There has to be a clause added that says, “except when telling the truth will hurt someone.”  That improves it greatly but still allows questions.  The actions are complex and require more explanation.

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Posted: 01 October 2011 09:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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keithprosser2 - 26 September 2011 10:25 PM

I am glad this got bumped, because it does raise an issue many non-religious people face.  My situation is very different, but there is a parallel.  I live and work in Africa, amongst some of the poorest and most oppressed people there can be.  Many will die of AIDS and TB.  I am a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, but it is my personal policy to keep that to myself and externally profess sympathy with their religion because it is for many their only support.  I know religion is a false hope, but I believe having a false hope is better than having no hope at all.  So I admit to being externally dishonest to my beliefs, and I hope convincingly so.  It is an act, but I believe that it is not my feelings that matter as much as the feelings - the hopes - of others.

GaryTheHuman I noted also advocated pretence.  The issue is ‘qui bono’?  Who or what benefits if you pretend, who or what benefits if you stick to your principles?  Who are you trying to help?  Humanism is about concern for others.  If a white lie or a little pretence is more helpful than otherwise, I would (and do) lie and pretend.  The little ‘pain’ I get from ‘compromising my principles’ is exceedingly small (it my even be even non-existent - in any case it soon passes), far less than the pain the truth could bring to others.

In Jeciron’s shoes I would have acted my socks off to give the old girl what she wanted from me.  At such times it’s too late for the truth to matter.

In these situations, IMO, it is much more important to aid, comfort and try to give hope to the fellow human who is having the problem, than it is to be an intellectual purist.
My first resonsibility is to my fellow human in the immediate situation, I may truly believe that factually their religious/mythical beliefs are wrong and that society will be better off without them, but my responsibility to the individual overrides this in these situations.

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Posted: 04 November 2011 04:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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PLaClair - 23 June 2011 04:25 AM

“If you need to talk, don’t hesitate to call me.”

She’s not respecting your boundaries. Maybe she’s just not aware of them.

If she pushes it, it could suggest that she’s wondering whether you are among the saved and is taking her illness as an opportunity to probe. In that case, she’s obviously strong enough for a battle, and you might say: “I think honesty is very important, so I have to be honest with you. I don’t pray. I don’t believe in it. But I’ll help you in any way that I can.”

Sounds like she’s afraid. It may not be an appropriate time to try to open her mind a bit. On the other hand, it might distract her and could be what she’s looking for.

If you respect and honour everyone, why do you condescendingly assume this woman is in error and why do you feel it necessary “to open her mind” when it is, in fact, your own ignorance that needs remediation?

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