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How would you reply to atheist critiques of humanism?
Posted: 13 October 2014 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Irmin - 12 October 2014 07:41 AM
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.

Atheism is not a requirement in Humanism and the statement from the IHEU in no way implies that that it is. It simply says that humanism is not theistic—in other words, it does not preach theism. I have never heard of anyone in any humanist organization say that atheism is a requirement or that theists cannot be humanists or members.  Humanists take the position that belief in a god is unnecessary to live a moral and ethical life, that’s all. They show how it can be done. That’s exactly what Humanism is.

Lois

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Posted: 13 October 2014 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Irmin - 13 October 2014 11:20 AM
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?

There is no line. Anyone who wants to embrace Humanist values is welcome in humanist organzations. Humanism does not make demands on people except that they live moral and ethical lives which they claim is possible without belief that a god is directing anything. The Humanist way of doing that does not require any belief in god nor does it actively reject it.

Here’s an analogy.  There are a vegetarian organizations whose intention is to create and show people how to prepare delicious meals without meat.  Then some meat eaters come along and say, “What do you mean we can’t eat meat, who are you to make such demands? I wouldn’t go near any vegetarian organization. They REQUIRE that people stop eating meat.” (the fact that some may have such a requirement does not apply here. Only didactic, extremist organizations make such demands.) Humanism is not a didactic or extremist movement. Like mainstream vegetarian organizations that show that one can eat well without meat, Humanism simply shows how a good life can be led without god. But neither is making demands upon its membership.

Lois

[ Edited: 13 November 2014 09:09 PM by LoisL ]
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Posted: 13 October 2014 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I wish people on this thread would explain in their own words what they find unacceptable about Humanism instead of providing links to what other people say about it. 

What is it, anti-humanists, in your own words, that you find objectionable about humanism?


Lois

[ Edited: 13 October 2014 05:35 PM by LoisL ]
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Posted: 13 October 2014 05:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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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.

My thoughts exactly Lois and I’m 100% behind your statement. And no you don’t need to be an atheist to be a humanist. You can be an apatheist and fit right in. And as I stated before, I completely supported the Humanist manifesto when I evolved from theist to agnostic, then on to apatheist and finally atheist, coming to that conclusion after twenty years of research. Well, actually I’m not an atheist, I’m a polyatheist. I regretfully dropped my belief in my favorite goddess Athena. It was very hard for me to let her go.


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 13 October 2014 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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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


I know CC and I appreciate your candor. I just can’t wrap my head around someone who has a problem with Humanism as a philosophy.


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 13 October 2014 05:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 13 October 2014 05:12 PM

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.

My thoughts exactly Lois and I’m 100% behind your statement. And no you don’t need to be an atheist to be a humanist. You can be an apatheist and fit right in. And as I stated before, I completely supported the Humanist manifesto when I evolved from theist to agnostic, then on to apatheist and finally atheist, coming to that conclusion after twenty years of research. Well, actually I’m not an atheist, I’m a polyatheist. I regretfully dropped my belief in my favorite goddess Athena. It was very hard for me to let her go.


Cap’t Jack

Athena is a different matter altogether.  rolleyes


Lois

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Posted: 14 October 2014 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Why was my post replying to LoisL removed!? Is this some sort of joke?

I posted that if humanism is non-theistic, then it is atheistic, because that’s what the word means.

Also, the descriptions given by many humanist organizations seem to imply that atheism is part of the humanist package. Consider the description given by the Norwegian Humanist Association, which is probably the biggest humanist organization in the world by capita (and may very well be in absolute numbers too):

The Norwegian Humanist Association is an organization for people who base their ethics on human, not religious values. Our members are agnostics or atheists. We support the following statement of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)

I’m open to be shown wrong of course, but to me this is what a plain reading suggests.

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Posted: 14 October 2014 10:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Irmin - 14 October 2014 10:22 AM

Why was my post replying to LoisL removed!? Is this some sort of joke?

I posted that if humanism is non-theistic, then it is atheistic, because that’s what the word means.

Also, the descriptions given by many humanist organizations seem to imply that atheism is part of the humanist package. Consider the description given by the Norwegian Humanist Association, which is probably the biggest humanist organization in the world by capita (and may very well be in absolute numbers too):

The Norwegian Humanist Association is an organization for people who base their ethics on human, not religious values. Our members are agnostics or atheists. We support the following statement of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)

I’m open to be shown wrong of course, but to me this is what a plain reading suggests.

You read it differently than I do and you view the meaning of Humanism differently, too.  When Huminists say that Humanism is non theistic they mean that Humanists take no specific position on belief in god. This simply means that humanists don’t focus on atheism or theism,  that Humanism can be accepted on its own merits by anyone, atheist and theist alike and that the AHA and other Humanist organizations that belong to the IHEU have no requiremebts as to who can join the humanist movement as long as they agree to humanist principles of how to live a moral life without the imposition of a god. The IHEU and its members don’t require that members be atheists, only that they acceptvthe premise people can live moral and ethical lives without direction by a god. This is a position that is open to interpretation, but we are talking about the Humanist position and not individual interpretations here.

Lois

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Posted: 23 October 2014 03:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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LoisL - 14 October 2014 10:56 AM
Irmin - 14 October 2014 10:22 AM

Why was my post replying to LoisL removed!? Is this some sort of joke?

I posted that if humanism is non-theistic, then it is atheistic, because that’s what the word means.

Also, the descriptions given by many humanist organizations seem to imply that atheism is part of the humanist package. Consider the description given by the Norwegian Humanist Association, which is probably the biggest humanist organization in the world by capita (and may very well be in absolute numbers too):

The Norwegian Humanist Association is an organization for people who base their ethics on human, not religious values. Our members are agnostics or atheists. We support the following statement of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)

I’m open to be shown wrong of course, but to me this is what a plain reading suggests.

You read it differently than I do and you view the meaning of Humanism differently, too.  When Huminists say that Humanism is non theistic they mean that Humanists take no specific position on belief in god. This simply means that humanists don’t focus on atheism or theism,  that Humanism can be accepted on its own merits by anyone, atheist and theist alike and that the AHA and other Humanist organizations that belong to the IHEU have no requiremebts as to who can join the humanist movement as long as they agree to humanist principles of how to live a moral life without the imposition of a god. The IHEU and its members don’t require that members be atheists, only that they acceptvthe premise people can live moral and ethical lives without direction by a god. This is a position that is open to interpretation, but we are talking about the Humanist position and not individual interpretations here.

Lois

This is certainly different from how it is usually presented. Stepehn law in his Humanism: A Very Short Introduction present atheism as a major point within it.

But if it is as you say, then why does humanism seem to be so strongly connected to atheism? The AHA seems to view it as just one of the labels atheists (or “nontheists”) use.

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Posted: 23 October 2014 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 13 October 2014 05:18 PM

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


I know CC and I appreciate your candor. I just can’t wrap my head around someone who has a problem with Humanism as a philosophy.


Cap’t Jack

Agreed

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Posted: 29 October 2014 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Irmin - 23 October 2014 03:04 PM

This is certainly different from how it is usually presented. Stepehn law in his Humanism: A Very Short Introduction present atheism as a major point within it.

But if it is as you say, then why does humanism seem to be so strongly connected to atheism? The AHA seems to view it as just one of the labels atheists (or “nontheists”) use.

Humanism is strongly connected with atheism because so many of us atheists ARE Humanists.  But the two words are not interchangeable with one another.  As Stephen Law points out in the essay you quoted, many people claim that humanism is purely negative, defined solely by reference to the one thing we don’t believe in.  Nope, wrong.  He’s talking about Atheism.  An atheist believes there is no God, period.  That’s it.  End of story.  A Humanist however, believes in people.  You can be a Christian and believe in people, can’t you?  Does that help?

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Posted: 29 October 2014 10:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Irmin - 14 October 2014 10:22 AM

Why was my post replying to LoisL removed!? Is this some sort of joke?

I posted that if humanism is non-theistic, then it is atheistic, because that’s what the word means.

Also, the descriptions given by many humanist organizations seem to imply that atheism is part of the humanist package. Consider the description given by the Norwegian Humanist Association, which is probably the biggest humanist organization in the world by capita (and may very well be in absolute numbers too):

The Norwegian Humanist Association is an organization for people who base their ethics on human, not religious values. Our members are agnostics or atheists. We support the following statement of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)

I’m open to be shown wrong of course, but to me this is what a plain reading suggests.

I don’t think Humanistic Organizations should limit membership to agnostics and atheists. Most religions have at least some humanistic principles as part of their doctrines.  If persons who self identify as a member od a particular religion, choose to interpret and emphasize the humanistic beliefs within their doctrine, to the exclusion of non-humanistic beliefs, then it seems appropriate to me that they could also, legitimately, self-identify as humanists.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 29 October 2014 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I have heard the relationship between humanism and atheism been described as follows:

Atheism is to humanism what the non-belief in Jesus as the son of a god is to Judaism or Islam.

All Jews and Muslims do not believe Jesus was the son of a god. But all who do not believe Jesus was the son of a god are not Jews or Muslims.

Likewise, all humanists are atheists. But not all atheists are humanists.

Is this not correct?

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Posted: 29 October 2014 05:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Irmin - 29 October 2014 02:11 PM

I have heard the relationship between humanism and atheism been described as follows:

Atheism is to humanism what the non-belief in Jesus as the son of a god is to Judaism or Islam.

All Jews and Muslims do not believe Jesus was the son of a god. But all who do not believe Jesus was the son of a god are not Jews or Muslims.

Likewise, all humanists are atheists. But not all atheists are humanists.

Is this not correct?

No, I don’t think that is correct, at all, (that all humanists are atheists).  I reject the idea that one must be an atheist or an agnostic to be a humanist. The atheist or agnostic / humanistic persons that have responded in this thread seem to be rejecting that idea as well.

It is correct that not all atheists are humanists.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 29 October 2014 05:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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For example, I think that even a self identified Muslim could be a humanist, IF, their interpretation of Islamic doctrine did not preclude a primary belief in “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.”  AND as long as their interpretation of Islamic doctrine did not preclude a primary belief in the importance of “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.”

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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