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How would you reply to atheist critiques of humanism?
Posted: 06 October 2014 01:57 PM   [ Ignore ]
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An implicit assumption of say, the American Humanist Association, seems to be that (Wesern) atheists are humanists, or at least that there is not much of a difference. They present themselves as being part of the “secular movement” or “non-theist movement” (the idea of basing a movement on the rejection of a belief is retarded in my view).

But there are plenty of atheists out there who distance themselves from humanism. Some of the critiques (who I feel cover what tend to be criticized) are linked to below. How would you reply to them?

Why I Am Not A Humanist
‘Problems with the humanist brand’ and why I’m not one
Why I Am Not a Humanist

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Posted: 06 October 2014 04:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Irmin - 06 October 2014 01:57 PM

An implicit assumption of say, the American Humanist Association, seems to be that (Wesern) atheists are humanists, or at least that there is not much of a difference. They present themselves as being part of the “secular movement” or “non-theist movement” (the idea of basing a movement on the rejection of a belief is retarded in my view).

But there are plenty of atheists out there who distance themselves from humanism. Some of the critiques (who I feel cover what tend to be criticized) are linked to below. How would you reply to them?

Why I Am Not A Humanist
‘Problems with the humanist brand’ and why I’m not one
Why I Am Not a Humanist

There are some atheists who have been so traumatized by theistic religion that they blanch at the thought of any group that has a moral philosophy, no matter how benign, so they will run from it whenever it is so much as mentioned.  These are very damaged people and I think we should treat them with compassion. Of course, those of us who are familiar with Humanism know there are no Humanist requirements beyond trying to find a common moral ground, but even that is too much for some wounded atheists.  I doubt that it’s possible to explain this to them. They have apparenly been too traumatized to accept an explanation. We can only hold out a welcoming hand to them, realizing that, like caged animals, they are likely to bite it. Fortunately such traumatized people make up a small minority of atheists. Most accept the humanistic view and realize that to be a Humanist is not a capitulation from atheism.

Lois

[ Edited: 26 January 2016 04:28 PM by LoisL ]
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Posted: 06 October 2014 05:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Why do we need to see ourselves as special? Certainly we are different from other animals but they are also very different from each other.

Because we have memory, sophisticated communication, including recording information and creating generational memory, we build things, and we destroy things on a level never seen - we have superseded our physical limitation like no other creature ever.  We are special, no life form the least bit like us around.

Of course,
We are on a continuum with them, for sure,
The roots of how we function and the desires we pursue, has it’s origins in deep history and more primitive live forms as they learned all there was to learn before being enabled to continue up the complexity scale.
~ ~ ~

Also when one uses a work like that “special” it would help to know what the writer means by “special” since “special” means many different things to different people.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There was also a retrospective look at various philosophers and others throughout history whose ideas were described as humanist in some form. This is like firing shots at a wall and then drawing a target round them. … Nothing is gained by tagging them as proto-humanists except to try and give humanism some sort of historical weight and worth.

Her condescending attitude makes me think she’s got an ax to grind.
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Posted: 06 October 2014 05:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Irmin - 06 October 2014 01:57 PM

An implicit assumption of say, the American Humanist Association, seems to be that (Wesern) atheists are humanists, or at least that there is not much of a difference. They present themselves as being part of the “secular movement” or “non-theist movement” (the idea of basing a movement on the rejection of a belief is retarded in my view).

But there are plenty of atheists out there who distance themselves from humanism. Some of the critiques (who I feel cover what tend to be criticized) are linked to below. How would you reply to them?

Why I Am Not A Humanist

Well that was a diversion I hadn’t expected.  I didn’t like that essay much and couldn’t resist adding my little comment over there that I hope you don’t mind me repeating over here

Sorry but I found this a weird essay and discussion, but then I am coming at this from the outside looking in. 

I do participate at the CFI forum because I can relate to the folks and enjoy the dialogue, I occasionally read The Humanist magazine since their perspective makes sense to me - but I know nothing more about the organization(s) bearing that name or the various dramas that seem to be going on. 

I myself have always thought of “Humanism” not as a “movement” - which it seems to me is what Tessa has does.  For me “Humanism”  is a definition for a certain weltanschauung (way of looking at the world.)
 
As for me, I am my own cognizant being who’s been blessed with a moment in time for personal discovery on this incredible wonderful Earth of ours.  I trust my witnessing and judgment over and above any of the dogmatic tenets that make up religions. 

My journey is one of witnessing, experiencing, learning, living every day I’ve been blessed with - I AM A HUMANIST ! Not because of anything I belong to or because of any organizations that may have taken on that label, but because I am a human who believes in his humanity above that childish (and destructive) faith that we’re all the sheep of some needy drama queen of a God in Heaven.

{OK MrDevi says it better: humanist is someone who values reason, evidence and human agency}

“Nothing is gained for the cause if people are humanist without knowing it and trying to claim 17 million kind of looks a bit needy.” Comes across as a bit churlish - but yes of course there are millions of people who have never thought of themselves as humanist but who still believe in those basic notions of our personal humanity and awareness above any religion notions of a jealous lord, or such, that others want to cram into our minds. 

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Posted: 07 October 2014 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Irmin - 06 October 2014 01:57 PM

‘Problems with the humanist brand’ and why I’m not one

Got around to this one this morning.
pray tell Irmin, what are we supposed to make of Alex’s laundry list?
It seemed rather a pointless rambling - as his closing paragraph points out

To start with, I’m don’t really care. This is about my feelings toward a ‘brand’, and that means everything I associate with the word “humanist” – whether those associations are rationally justified or not. Like it or not, that’s {all} the baggage the term has.{that I could come up with in my mind}

Guess I reject the basic premise that “humanism” is a brand - though I acknowledge some have used it as a brand.

Still humanism is at it’s root a definition for a way of looking at the world not a brand.
Gabriel’s post seemed to me more about human’s ability to argue endlessly over trivia, more than any enlightening thoughts about what “humanism” is or isn’t. 

As for the silly old white guys making up some of these organization - that’s worth bitching about but that seems to me extraneous to what humanism is or isn’t.

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Posted: 07 October 2014 06:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Irmin - 06 October 2014 01:57 PM

Why I Am Not a Humanist

Well thank you for that one.
Besides this one being the shortest, most concise, it’s got something interesting worth chewing on and I’ll admit to agreeing with his point, as I would put it, we are on a continuum with all other creatures on this planet, though that doesn’t negate the rather special physiological and mental advances our species achieved through the blessings (or roll of the dice, if you prefer) of evolution.

{I happen to like giving thanks - and feel just fine sending those messages of thanksgiving out into an impersonal universe, I’m still thankful for all the “blessings” it has bestowed on me/us   cheese }

by Luke Muehlhauser on NOVEMBER 11, 2009 in Ethics, General Atheism -

The “standard” positions of humanists are summarized in the latest (2003) Humanist Manifesto, which states:

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis.
Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.
Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.
Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals.
Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.
Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness.

It’s #3 that bothers me. I do not believe that moral values are derived from human desires. I believe moral values are derived from desires, period. To focus on human desires and ignore all other desires in the universe is blatant speciesism.

But can’t I just sign on with humanism, understanding there’s one qualification to be made on point #3?

No, for speciesism is central to humanism. Heck, it’s in the name of the thing. Humanity is the whole point of humanism. Now that is good progress beyond religious ethics, but it’s not progress far enough.

I count humanists as my brothers as sisters. We’re fighting for the same things. Mostly.

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Posted: 07 October 2014 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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LoisL - 06 October 2014 04:39 PM
Irmin - 06 October 2014 01:57 PM

An implicit assumption of say, the American Humanist Association, seems to be that (Wesern) atheists are humanists, or at least that there is not much of a difference. They present themselves as being part of the “secular movement” or “non-theist movement” (the idea of basing a movement on the rejection of a belief is retarded in my view).

But there are plenty of atheists out there who distance themselves from humanism. Some of the critiques (who I feel cover what tend to be criticized) are linked to below. How would you reply to them?

Why I Am Not A Humanist
‘Problems with the humanist brand’ and why I’m not one
Why I Am Not a Humanist

There are some atheists who have been so traumatized by theistic religion that they blanch at the thought of any group that has a moral philosophy, no matter how benign, so they will run from it whenever it is so much as mentioned.  These are very damaged people and I think we should treat them with compassion. Of course, those of us who are familiar with Humanism know there is no Humanist requirements beyond trying to find a common moral ground, but even that is too much for some wounded atheists.  I doubt that it’s possible to explain this to them. They have apparenly been too traumatized to accept an explanation. We can only hold out a welcoming hand to them, realizing that, like caged animals, they are likely to bite it. Fortunately such traumatized people make up a small minority of atheists. Most accept the humanistic view and realize that to be a Humanist is not a capitulation from atheism.

Lois

Wow, one of your best posts ever IMHO. Thanks.

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Posted: 11 October 2014 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Irmin - 06 October 2014 01:57 PM

But there are plenty of atheists out there who distance themselves from humanism. Some of the critiques (who I feel cover what tend to be criticized) are linked to below. How would you reply to them?

Why I Am Not A Humanist
‘Problems with the humanist brand’ and why I’m not one
Why I Am Not a Humanist

How would I reply?  I wouldn’t bother, because these people don’t really seem to know what it is they’re “against”.

As nearly as I can make out the first one doesn’t like “Humanism” because it’s too vague and ill-defined.  It doesn’t have a specific enough “creed” for him to follow.  OK.  The second one has the opposite problem.  She has a long list of things that “some Humanists” do or represent which she doesn’t happen to agree with.  One of them is that they try to be “good” and she apparently wants to be free to be “bad” sometimes.  OK.  The third one simply balks at using “human feelings” as a guide, calling it “blatant speciesism”.  I just had to roll my eyes at that one.  Aren’t we, in fact, human beings?  So any feelings that we have must be human feelings don’t they?  All three of these people have the air of digging hard to find something they could complain about.

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Posted: 11 October 2014 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I guess I’ll kick in here and add my thoughts to the pile. I’m a humanist AND an atheist and I was a humanist before I was an atheist, many moons ago. I find the two compatible BTW as a non-theist. Anti-theists may not however. And as to humanism becoming a movement, I personally hope so. And I further hope that for those in political power, humanism replaces religion as the prevailing philosophy before we completely destroy the environment. At least humanists know that there will be no Deus Ex Machina to rescue us from our own greed and stupidity. I’ve posted the Manifesto before but just out of curiosity I’d like to hear a criticism from the atheists here concerning any point:

http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_III


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 11 October 2014 01:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 11 October 2014 08:06 AM

I guess I’ll kick in here and add my thoughts to the pile. I’m a humanist AND an atheist and I was a humanist before I was an atheist, many moons ago. I find the two compatible BTW as a non-theist. Anti-theists may not however. And as to humanism becoming a movement, I personally hope so. And I further hope that for those in political power, humanism replaces religion as the prevailing philosophy before we completely destroy the environment. At least humanists know that there will be no Deus Ex Machina to rescue us from our own greed and stupidity. I’ve posted the Manifesto before but just out of curiosity I’d like to hear a criticism from the atheists here concerning any point:

http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_III

Cap’t Jack

You know me Cap’t, I ain’t shy, let’s look at the intro to this Manifesto

HUMANISM AND ITS ASPIRATIONS

Humanist Manifesto III, a successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933*

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

{and then the good stuff starts Irmin . . .
Irmin . . . ?
hello Irmin . . .
. . .
Oh dear another drive by?  big surprise


I find it a little humorous that ‘Tessera’ (first link) seems to be refusing to post my comment}

[ Edited: 11 October 2014 01:39 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 11 October 2014 10:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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The term “movement” can seem a bit strong depending on context, in my opinion; however, in this context, upon deeper consideration, humanist have banded together with the purpose of promoting and validating their place in society. Especially in the past, stating one is an atheist resulted in many religious people firing off such comments as “so, you must think murder is acceptable/without a god, you must have no morals or ethics/do you kill kittens for fun etc etc.” Atheists can truly be demonized and pushed to the fringes of society. Do you think a presidential candidate who, during a campaign, stated in no uncertain terms that he or she was an atheist would be elected? In a sense, I see the humanist movement as one that simply strives to send the message, “we’re good people, just not god people.” I just do not see it as a “retarded” movement based on rejecting an idea, rather one that is promoting a group of peoples place in society and elevating them into the public square.

I consider myself a humanist. And to me, it simply means I live for the experiences the world, in the present, has to offer and I have a sole interest in promoting human interests (social justice, basic human rights, clean air and water, adequate food, healthcare, advances in science) oppose to placing ideas of an after-life above the aforemented.

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Posted: 11 October 2014 10:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The term “movement” can seem a bit strong depending on context, in my opinion; however, in this context, upon deeper consideration, humanist have banded together with the purpose of promoting and validating their place in society. Especially in the past, stating one is an atheist resulted in many religious people firing off such comments as “so, you must think murder is acceptable/without a god, you must have no morals or ethics/do you kill kittens for fun etc etc.” Atheists can truly be demonized and pushed to the fringes of society. Do you think a presidential candidate who, during a campaign, stated in no uncertain terms that he or she was an atheist would be elected? In a sense, I see the humanist movement as one that simply strives to send the message, “we’re good people, just not god people.” I just do not see it as a “retarded” movement based on rejecting an idea, rather one that is promoting a group of peoples place in society and elevating them into the public square.

I consider myself a humanist. And to me, it simply means I live for the experiences the world, in the present, has to offer and I have a sole interest in promoting human interests (social justice, basic human rights, clean air and water, adequate food, healthcare, advances in science) oppose to placing ideas of an after-life above the aforemented.

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Posted: 12 October 2014 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 11 October 2014 08:06 AM

I guess I’ll kick in here and add my thoughts to the pile. I’m a humanist AND an atheist and I was a humanist before I was an atheist, many moons ago.

But doesn’t humanism require atheism? At least that’s in the minimum definition from IHEU:

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

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Posted: 12 October 2014 09:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 11 October 2014 08:06 AM

I guess I’ll kick in here and add my thoughts to the pile. I’m a humanist AND an atheist and I was a humanist before I was an atheist, many moons ago. I find the two compatible BTW as a non-theist. Anti-theists may not however. And as to humanism becoming a movement, I personally hope so. And I further hope that for those in political power, humanism replaces religion as the prevailing philosophy before we completely destroy the environment. At least humanists know that there will be no Deus Ex Machina to rescue us from our own greed and stupidity. I’ve posted the Manifesto before but just out of curiosity I’d like to hear a criticism from the atheists here concerning any point:

http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_III


Cap’t Jack

I certainly have no criticism. I am a Humanist who has been a vice president of the American Humanist Association, President of the Humanist Association of Los Angeles, a member of Atheists United and CFI, and a member of the Atheist Alliance who developed and edited their magazine, Secular Nation, and I am 100% atheist and 100% Humanist and I support the Humanist Manifesto 100%. I see absolutely no contradiction in any of this.


Lois

[ Edited: 13 October 2014 11:41 AM by LoisL ]
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Posted: 13 October 2014 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Irmin - 12 October 2014 07:41 AM

But doesn’t humanism require atheism? At least that’s in the minimum definition from IHEU:

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

Well maybe this specific definition excludes theistic views of reality, but in the broader sense, you could be a deist or a pantheist or even a progressive Christian and still be a humanist.  Fundamentalist Christians couldn’t be, because their whole creed seems to be that God comes first and humans a long way second.

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Posted: 13 October 2014 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Advocatus - 13 October 2014 07:12 AM
Irmin - 12 October 2014 07:41 AM

But doesn’t humanism require atheism? At least that’s in the minimum definition from IHEU:

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

Well maybe this specific definition excludes theistic views of reality, but in the broader sense, you could be a deist or a pantheist or even a progressive Christian and still be a humanist.  Fundamentalist Christians couldn’t be, because their whole creed seems to be that God comes first and humans a long way second.

That “specific definition” happens to have been made by the IHEU, which is the global umbrella organization for humanist organizations worldwide. The BHA in their description also very much puts it that “humanist” appears to equal “non-religious”.

But if a liberal Christian can be a humanist, where exactly goes the line?

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