Bart Ehrman’s acceptance Speech AHA Religous Liberty Award
Posted: 26 October 2011 10:41 AM   [ Ignore ]
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The following is a short expcerpt from Erhman’s speech.

Humanism must make a positive impact on people’s lives and be looked upon, even by outsiders, as a good healthy phenomenon.  Among other things, humanists need to provide social outlets that mirror what believers have in their churches.  When someone leaves the womb of the church, they need somewhere else to go.  They need warm, loving, welcoming safe communities of like-minded people where they can establish social networks and find fellowship with people who share their world-views, their loves, hates, concerns, passions and obsessions.  They need context within which they can discuss the big issues of life, not just politics but also life and death issues.  They need places where they can celebrate what is good in life and where they can work to overcome what is bad. 
Humanist organization need to become as recognizable as the Baptist church on the corner and the Episcopal church up the street.  They need to be seen as first responders when an earthquake hits Haiti, to be seen as major forces in the fight against poverty, homelessness, malaria, AIDS, and other epidemics.  They need to be seen as vibrant and viable alternatives to the religions of the world.  . . . people must be liberated not only from something but also for something.  - Bart Ehrman – AHA Religious Liberty Award acceptance speech.  The Humanist Pg. 20 Nov-Dec


I think it makes an extremely imortant point.  If you want to influence society you have to follow Joe Hill’s advise Organize.


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Gary the Human

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Posted: 26 October 2011 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I was actually discussing this point with someone on Google+ the other day about the social functions of church, and how the lack of a unified social structure has hampered the secular movements. While most of the apologists humanists such as ourselves are likely to find ourselves debating are true believers of the religion, I suspect that a large proportion of the community that regularly attends church does so more for the societal benefits they receive, e.g. things such as fellowship, community, and even economic support. People go to church because they need a place to get married and a place at which to have a funeral.

For example, the man I was talking to on Google+ was explaining that his wife had passed away a few years ago, and he and his daughter needed a support group, so they turned to a church for emotional support. Because he was not a religious man, it turned out that he became a member of a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

Unfortunately, it often seems that atheists and secular humanists have an innate resistance to identifying with a community. The very features that seem to drive someone to question religion and superstition also seem to prevent said person from joining any kind of socially cohesive unit. However, if we’re ever going to get an equal share of the zeitgeist, this might be a problem we’re going to be forced to overcome. Lastly, although I myself am averse to attending a church of any kind, even one of the Unitarian variety, I understand that humanists such as myself may need to get over this in order to give the secular community organizational strength because ultimately, I think it is more important for society to recognize and adopt a humanistic moral system, as opposed to a religious one, than to convert to outright atheism.

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Posted: 26 October 2011 09:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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People who are independent in thought perhaps tend to be more independent and individualistic in their social lives? Also probably less vulnerable in the face of “normal” life struggles because we’ve learned to depend mostly on our own strengths in times of need, without the support and guidance of a god or a religious figure.

Groups organize because they acknowledge that together, they become stronger than apart and can better face their challenges. Are secular humanists struggling enough as a group to want to get together and work towards public acknowledgment and acceptance? I don’t see this happening in the near future. And secular philanthropists don’t necessarily want to be labelled as being a part of a non-religious group (i.e. secular humanists) either.

[ Edited: 26 October 2011 09:29 PM by Humanist_B4_Atheist ]
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Posted: 26 October 2011 10:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Turkey had a 7.2-magnitude earthquake. Turkey earthquake death toll rises to 264; Rescue workers continue to hunt for survivors

Vets need support groups outside the military, so that they can say anything without it being reported to the military and they are then punished for it.

Massive flooding in South East Asia affecting millions

Somalia is still starving.

Democracy is the hot new trend in the Middle East, and the protesters truely must fight for it.

Protesters all over the Western world are standing up for the 99% of us, and against a system bias towards the 1% where the troubles of the poor and middle class are routinely regarded with ho-hum, and when the 1% get billions of dollars to bail them out.  They truely must fight for it too, as the police don’t seem interested in protecting their right to protest, but blanket them as trouble-makers, rather that picking out the few actual trouble-makers.

Opportunities are available.  smile  I think that Humanists want to be together as much as any other group.  Group, that word means together.  smile  Divided we can do good, but together we can do much more good!

[ Edited: 26 October 2011 10:45 PM by jump_in_the_pit ]
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Posted: 27 October 2011 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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People who are independent in thought perhaps tend to be more independent and individualistic in their social lives? Also probably less vulnerable in the face of “normal” life struggles because we’ve learned to depend mostly on our own strengths in times of need, without the support and guidance of a god or a religious figure.

As individuistic as Humanists claim to be, IMO, they still need family and friends to help them through life crisises.  Particularly those of us who are not indepently wealthy or have jobs that are mot guarenteed by tenure.

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Posted: 31 October 2011 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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garythehuman - 27 October 2011 03:45 PM

As individuistic as Humanists claim to be, IMO, they still need family and friends to help them through life crisises.  Particularly those of us who are not indepently wealthy or have jobs that are mot guarenteed by tenure.

I agree with you Gary. That’s the only thing I miss about church. Well, that and the potluck dinners. Damn, but church women can cook!

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Posted: 31 October 2011 11:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I think there’s a social power factor to this equation that is being overlooked as well. When people congregate and network under an umbrella of people who share a common view, a great deal of social and political clout is generated as well. I firmly believe this is one of the fundamental reasons that humanism has not gained a stronger foothold in American society. Christian churches have a networking system by which they are able to affect political and social policies because of the power of their numbers. Moreover, when secularists have challenged religious institutions, it is often a case of an individual or small group of individuals taking on a large monolithic Church that enjoys the patronage of wealthy members who can hire the best legal counsel.

In addition, another advantage that the religious are able to derive from their willingness to congregate is the networking, and not all of the benefits are social. For example, the church is the single public forum in which the lower class members of society have access to the more affluent and powerful. Therefore, the church, synagogue, or mosque provides a vehicle by which lower class members might raise their economic status in society by soliciting favors from more advantaged members or by using the religious forum as a means to advertise their own fiscal adventures. I don’t doubt that this plays a role in the large numbers of religious wealthy we see in the U.S.

This is why I think it is important for humanists and other secularists to get over their individuality if we are ever to win the same kind of influence of the American dialogue.

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Posted: 31 October 2011 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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FreeInKy - 31 October 2011 07:36 AM
garythehuman - 27 October 2011 03:45 PM

As individuistic as Humanists claim to be, IMO, they still need family and friends to help them through life crisises.  Particularly those of us who are not indepently wealthy or have jobs that are mot guarenteed by tenure.

I agree with you Gary. That’s the only thing I miss about church. Well, that and the potluck dinners. Damn, but church women can cook!

We have some excellent dishes at our potluck dinners second Weds. of the month at CFI Int. here in Buffalo. (We do have an unwritten rule about mac and cheese however).  If you don’t have a potluck in your area I would recomment starting one.  It is fairly easy to organize and everyone seems to enjoy the get together.

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Posted: 31 October 2011 12:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Gallant Skeptic - 31 October 2011 11:22 AM

I think there’s a social power factor to this equation that is being overlooked as well. When people congregate and network under an umbrella of people who share a common view, a great deal of social and political clout is generated as well. I firmly believe this is one of the fundamental reasons that humanism has not gained a stronger foothold in American society. Christian churches have a networking system by which they are able to affect political and social policies because of the power of their numbers. Moreover, when secularists have challenged religious institutions, it is often a case of an individual or small group of individuals taking on a large monolithic Church that enjoys the patronage of wealthy members who can hire the best legal counsel.

In addition, another advantage that the religious are able to derive from their willingness to congregate is the networking, and not all of the benefits are social. For example, the church is the single public forum in which the lower class members of society have access to the more affluent and powerful. Therefore, the church, synagogue, or mosque provides a vehicle by which lower class members might raise their economic status in society by soliciting favors from more advantaged members or by using the religious forum as a means to advertise their own fiscal adventures. I don’t doubt that this plays a role in the large numbers of religious wealthy we see in the U.S.

This is why I think it is important for humanists and other secularists to get over their individuality if we are ever to win the same kind of influence of the American dialogue.

IMO, this mutual support is the most important aspect of any religioin.  Thelogy/philosophy be damned.

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