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How would you reply to atheist critiques of humanism?
Posted: 26 December 2014 04:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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Irmin - 26 December 2014 11:28 AM
Write4U - 26 December 2014 05:15 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.

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

By that definition, the Constitution would be an atheist document. And my car is non-theistic, does that mean it is atheistic?

What’s the difference then between atheism and nontheism? Isn’t the latter simply a more smooth, less controversial way of saying one is an atheist? An euphemism? At least that’s what Dawkins thinks. Though he thinks that about humanism as well.

The American constitution is plainly secular, I’d think. In the legal sense that gods and religion are none of its concerns.

Which IMO, makes it a non-theistic (secular) document.

I agree that the difference between non-theistic and atheistic is a nuanced viewpoint. I see non-theistic practices and activities as seperate from theistic or atheistic practices and activities.

Let me try to put it this way; a theist can be engaged in non-theistic (mundane) activities, such as driving a truck, but is philosophically Theist, whereas an atheist can be engaged in non-theistic (mundane) activities, such as driving a truck, but is philosophically Atheist.

However both persons can be Humanists as it is a secular (non-discriminating or non-theistic) philosophy.

OTOH, theist could not imagine a world without a god, whereas an atheist does imagine the world without a god.

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Posted: 26 December 2014 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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just received an analysis on the merits of Theism v Atheism. This is an interesting article and worth reading, IMO.

Liberation Atheology: Criticism of Theism, God, Religion as False, Irrational

Why are so many atheists critical of religion and theism? Not all are, and in fact some atheists are religious themselves, but it is common—especially among secular, naturalistic atheists in the West. Atheists’ reasons vary and include the belief that theism is wrong, irrational, and harmful, that religion has been a powerful force for violence and xenophobia in history, that secularism and liberation from theism and religion are necessary for social and political liberation generally, that supernatural beliefs retard social and scientific progress, and that supernatural religions have outlived their usefulness.

What is God?

When debating the existence of god, perhaps the most important step is the one that gets overlooked the most often, and by both atheists and theists: defining what is meant by the concept ‘god.’ You can’t debate the existence of something unless everyone is clear what it is they are talking about; otherwise, people might be talking about completely different things.

http://atheism.about.com/od/doesgodexist/u/AtheologyReligionCriticism.htm?nl=1

[ Edited: 26 December 2014 05:29 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 26 December 2014 08:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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“God” clearly DOES exist (but apparently ONLY as a concept). The multitude of different conceptions of “God” might even be another data point for understanding that this is the case.

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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: 27 December 2014 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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TimB - 26 December 2014 08:07 PM

“God” clearly DOES exist (but apparently ONLY as a concept). The multitude of different conceptions of “God” might even be another data point for understanding that this is the case.

As I understand it, the fundamentals for religion were laid by early hminids. This can be seen today in the stress-behavior of the common Chimpanzee, a related but less advanced hominid species than humans.

A scientific expidition observed the behavior of Chimps and during a tropical monsoon, the female chimps with or without babies and young adults, huddled together under a large tree for warmth and partial shelter.

However, the Alpha male started screaming and shaking bushes and finally picked up a stick and beat the ground and bushes then raised it toward the sky, to ward off this “unseen” enemy which made him and his family uncomforrtable by throwing water, making loud noises (thunder) and lightning. To an early hominid mind normally dealing with its immediate environment, this must have been a very scary magical experiences. And of course when the weatherfront passed, all would be well and the Alpha was embraced as a savior and hero.

Later in the evolutionary line of modern humans, these still unknown phenomena (unseen forces) were given names. The names of early Norse gods are still used in our weekdays. The rest is history or more precisely the history of mythology and religious advice on how to please the gods.

Our legal documents still carry terms such as “Acts of God”. IMO, the pervasiveness of religions (and their terms and prctices) throughout the world, are due to the fact they have been with us since the dawn of man.

Anyway, I don’t mind anyone addressing the “wholeness” of the universe as God. It is as good a name as any and there are many. But as I indicated before the concept and assertion that this universal God (by any other name) is seperate from the universe, presents many more complications than it solves. I advocate for staying within our universe and witness its evolution (enfolding). Moreover, why would such a removed god answer prayers (billios of them)?

From what we know it is theoretically possible for the universe to begin from a zero state, by pure chance, making the necessity of a sentient creator superfluous. Ockham’s razor applies here, IMO.

OTOH, Humanism does not deal with the question of god at all, except in isolated philosophy fora. IMO, Humanism started long before even the concept of gods. The Bonobo Chimpanzee society is founded on a secular symbiotic relationship between Bonobos and non-threatening strangers seeking safety in the Bonobo troup. These strangers were often tolerated and the expedition showed that when food is plentiful, many species were permitted to partake of the abundance. The Bonobo is a unique example of secular peaceful existence.

One scientist remarked; “Bonobos can go sleep at night assured that they will wake up in the morning.”

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/07/3/l_073_03.html

and then this remarkable presentation of bonding between different species is still one of my favorites.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zfgFfC5kOs

[ Edited: 27 December 2014 07:07 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 27 December 2014 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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Here is from Stephen law, also written in his book Humanism: A Very Short Introduction. Would you not agree with it? It seems American humanism differs quite a bit from Europena humanism.

[ Edited: 27 December 2014 09:00 AM by Irmin ]
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Posted: 27 December 2014 03:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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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?

Let’s stay with the official definition of Humanism, shall we?  One can cite any number of “interpretations” but they add nothing to the concept of Humanism.

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism). The meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated, according to the successive intellectual movements which have identified with it.[1] Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of a “human nature” (sometimes contrasted with antihumanism).

In modern times, humanist movements are typically aligned with secularism, and IMO that is a good things because “secularism” is all inclusive. Unless one wants to redefine secularism, the term and practice of “secular humanism” is sufficient unto itself.

[ Edited: 27 December 2014 03:09 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 28 December 2014 04:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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Irmin - 27 December 2014 08:56 AM

Here is from Stephen law, also written in his book Humanism: A Very Short Introduction. Would you not agree with it? It seems American humanism differs quite a bit from Europena humanism.


I like most of what he has to say, but in his 2nd point he says: 

  “2. Humanists are atheists…. Humanists need not deny there is a god or gods….”

The two statements there, are completely contradictory, because the very definition of an atheist is simply someone who denies that there is a god.


I don’t know what to make of it.

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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: 28 December 2014 05:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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Write4U - 27 December 2014 06:38 AM

...
OTOH, Humanism does not deal with the question of god at all, except in isolated philosophy fora. IMO, Humanism started long before even the concept of gods. The Bonobo Chimpanzee society is founded on a secular symbiotic relationship between Bonobos and non-threatening strangers seeking safety in the Bonobo troup. These strangers were often tolerated and the expedition showed that when food is plentiful, many species were permitted to partake of the abundance. The Bonobo is a unique example of secular peaceful existence…

If Bonobos were some of the first Humanists, perhaps we should take a cue from their “zeal for recreational sex”, also.

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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: 30 December 2014 08:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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TimB - 28 December 2014 05:04 AM
Write4U - 27 December 2014 06:38 AM

...
OTOH, Humanism does not deal with the question of god at all, except in isolated philosophy fora. IMO, Humanism started long before even the concept of gods. The Bonobo Chimpanzee society is founded on a secular symbiotic relationship between Bonobos and non-threatening strangers seeking safety in the Bonobo troup. These strangers were often tolerated and the expedition showed that when food is plentiful, many species were permitted to partake of the abundance. The Bonobo is a unique example of secular peaceful existence…

If Bonobos were some of the first Humanists, perhaps we should take a cue from their “zeal for recreational sex”, also.

While random (unprotected) sex seems a little risky, IMO, it can be demonstrated that physical touch, such as grooming, stroking, embracing, is very effective in bonding behaviors and suppressing or modifying the “fear” instinct, which is much older in origin, as it is a natural survival mechanism at a very basic level.

This can be demonstrated in the domesticated animals, which seek closeness to good care-givers and avoid or attack abusive care-givers.

Other tests conducted with Bonobos,

a) Two Bonobos were placed in separated compartments with a gate which could only be opened from one side. Several bananas were placed in the compartment with the gate that could be opened. It was observed that when the Bonobo who had no access to the bananas expressed desire to eat, the Bonobo with the bananas would open the gate and share his food with the other. This was a remarkable gesture of Humanism, (sharing in the abundance).

b) More remarkable even was a test in Amsterdam, where groups of five Bonobos and five Common chimps were tasked to solve problems in order to reach a food source. Alomost immediately the Common chimps began to vie for alpha status and several fights broke out, whereas the Bonobos set out and began to work cooperatively and solved the given problems much faster than the Common chimps, who had wasted most of their time in bickering about who was boss and left valuable hominid resources sitting on the sidelines, preventing them from contributing to the problem solving efforts. IMO, a clear proof that cooperation and division of labor leads to greater efficiency than competition for leadership as a mark of status.

[ Edited: 30 December 2014 08:56 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 31 December 2014 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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Write4U - 30 December 2014 08:51 PM
TimB - 28 December 2014 05:04 AM
Write4U - 27 December 2014 06:38 AM

...
OTOH, Humanism does not deal with the question of god at all, except in isolated philosophy fora. IMO, Humanism started long before even the concept of gods. The Bonobo Chimpanzee society is founded on a secular symbiotic relationship between Bonobos and non-threatening strangers seeking safety in the Bonobo troup. These strangers were often tolerated and the expedition showed that when food is plentiful, many species were permitted to partake of the abundance. The Bonobo is a unique example of secular peaceful existence…

If Bonobos were some of the first Humanists, perhaps we should take a cue from their “zeal for recreational sex”, also.

While random (unprotected) sex seems a little risky, IMO, it can be demonstrated that physical touch, such as grooming, stroking, embracing, is very effective in bonding behaviors and suppressing or modifying the “fear” instinct, which is much older in origin, as it is a natural survival mechanism at a very basic level.

This can be demonstrated in the domesticated animals, which seek closeness to good care-givers and avoid or attack abusive care-givers.

Other tests conducted with Bonobos,

a) Two Bonobos were placed in separated compartments with a gate which could only be opened from one side. Several bananas were placed in the compartment with the gate that could be opened. It was observed that when the Bonobo who had no access to the bananas expressed desire to eat, the Bonobo with the bananas would open the gate and share his food with the other. This was a remarkable gesture of Humanism, (sharing in the abundance).

b) More remarkable even was a test in Amsterdam, where groups of five Bonobos and five Common chimps were tasked to solve problems in order to reach a food source. Alomost immediately the Common chimps began to vie for alpha status and several fights broke out, whereas the Bonobos set out and began to work cooperatively and solved the given problems much faster than the Common chimps, who had wasted most of their time in bickering about who was boss and left valuable hominid resources sitting on the sidelines, preventing them from contributing to the problem solving efforts. IMO, a clear proof that cooperation and division of labor leads to greater efficiency than competition for leadership as a mark of status.

Allrighty then, condoms and group hugs for all.  Fine by me.

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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: 25 January 2016 09:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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I am an atheist whom does not identity as a humanist. I have a number of problems with humanist ideology, the biggest is that it often seems to be unrealisticly optimistic about individual human nature.

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.

I think everyone here could poke some large holes in these broad generalizations if they cared to. I’m going to poke just a few.

Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals.

I was once a vegetarian. I lived this way for two years motivated by compassion for our lesser beings. But I didn’t get much enjoyment out of it, it was hard work. My two favorite foods in the world are cheeseburgers and cheese-steaks, so eventually, I broke. I am still compassionate to the plight of animals, and I feel occasional guilt pangs for eating them, but it’s simply not worth the strain in a world were most people could give a crap less anyway. In the end, I’m happier eating meat.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.

Humans are social by nature but for the same reason that most social creatures on this planet are, it better serves the individual.  Most people are very selective towards whom they align themselves with, grant favors to, etc. What’s more individuals must often accept social rule in both thought and behavior in order to be accepted by the group at large. If you are not willing to do this, then good luck. I’m a rebellious individualist, and have trouble relating to those who aren’t.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness.

So what about when society is at war or otherwise has a need for individuals to preform tasks that involve short life expectancy? I think I’d be happier being selfish and alive then selfless and dead. And therein lies the problem…

I view ethics a constantly shifting balance between the needs of society and the needs of the individual. These two things are often sharply at odds. While I am not unwilling to make sacrifices for my fellow man for purely altruistic reasons, there are many sacrifices I would not be willing to make, or only willing to make under very specific circumstances.

A person whom always put society’s and his fellow man’s needs above his own would very much resemble an expendable drone. Evolution has made us too smart and personally invested to make good drones…

I remember watching “Demolition Man” as a kid and seeing the future society it presented. It was a Utopic (is that a word? lol) society in which everything bad for an individual, therefore unhealthy for the group at large, was outlawed. Sex, drugs, any music with a parental advisory sticker, tobacco, reproduction without government approval (presumably), weaponry, fatty foods, even swearing (negativity is contagious). It was a future filled with neutered children, completely unprepared to deal with a violent force that came from outside of their society and equally unprepared to deal with betrayal from within.

There were a group of people whom rejected this rule however, and they lived in the sewers. At 12 years of age, I knew where I would chose to live; the sewers. Ironically, they more resembled our early human ancestors. Living in small groups conducting “hunting’ raids for food and other vices.

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Posted: 26 January 2016 12:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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But what does that have to do with Atheism?  I see Humanitarian as an attempt to live in symbiosis with other life on Earth.
One of my moral models is the relationship between the honeybee and flowering plants.

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Posted: 26 January 2016 01:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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Ethical Humanism is purely a religion “of this world”
Ethical Humanists believe in the religious philosophy known as Ethical Humanism also called Ethical Culture. This moral faith is based on respect for the dignity and worth of all human life. It is a practical, working religion devoted to ethical living, without imposing ritual obligations or prescribing beliefs about the supernatural.
Thus Ethical Humanism is purely a religion “of this world”
Edward L. Ericson

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Posted: 26 January 2016 04:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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Write4U - 26 December 2014 05:23 PM

just received an analysis on the merits of Theism v Atheism. This is an interesting article and worth reading, IMO.

Liberation Atheology: Criticism of Theism, God, Religion as False, Irrational

Why are so many atheists critical of religion and theism? Not all are, and in fact some atheists are religious themselves, but it is common—especially among secular, naturalistic atheists in the West. Atheists’ reasons vary and include the belief that theism is wrong, irrational, and harmful, that religion has been a powerful force for violence and xenophobia in history, that secularism and liberation from theism and religion are necessary for social and political liberation generally, that supernatural beliefs retard social and scientific progress, and that supernatural religions have outlived their usefulness.

What is God?

When debating the existence of god, perhaps the most important step is the one that gets overlooked the most often, and by both atheists and theists: defining what is meant by the concept ‘god.’ You can’t debate the existence of something unless everyone is clear what it is they are talking about; otherwise, people might be talking about completely different things.

http://atheism.about.com/od/doesgodexist/u/AtheologyReligionCriticism.htm?nl=1

How can an atheist define what is meant by god?  All an atheist can do is assume someone else’s definition of god for the sake of argument. Theists make claims about the god they believe in, though they accept no requirement to show evodence.

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[color=red“Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.”
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Posted: 26 January 2016 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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Irmin - 27 December 2014 08:56 AM

Here is from Stephen law, also written in his book Humanism: A Very Short Introduction. Would you not agree with it? It seems American humanism differs quite a bit from Europena humanism.

What are the main differences?

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[color=red“Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.”
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