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How would you reply to atheist critiques of humanism?
Posted: 26 January 2016 04:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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TimB - 28 December 2014 04:58 AM
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.

Most atheists don’t deny there is a god. They deny belief in one or more. They deny there is any evidence of god(s).  There is a big difference. Though some people, usually theists, will claim that the definition of atheist is one who claims there is no god, that is a false definition, in my opinion. The root of the word “atheism” should make the point. A=without, Theism=belief in god(s). It’s theists who insist that atheists have beliefs about gods.  We have none. We demand objective evidence for all claims. That’s all. Claims about god(s) fail the evidence test. In addition, if there were objective evidence for god(s) there would be no need for belief in god(s) at all.

Also, some Humanists are not atheists. There is no requirement in Humanism that a person be an atheist.

Lois

[ Edited: 26 January 2016 04:47 PM by LoisL ]
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Posted: 26 January 2016 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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LoisL - 26 January 2016 04:44 PM
TimB - 28 December 2014 04:58 AM
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.

Most atheists don’t deny there is a god. They deny belief in one or more. They deny there is any evidence of god(s).  There is a big difference. Though some people, usually theists, will claim that the definition of atheist is one who claims there is no god, that is a false definition, in my opinion. The root of the word “atheism” should make the point. A=without, Theism=belief in god(s). It’s theists who insist that atheists have beliefs about gods.  We have none. We demand objective evidence for all claims. That’s all. Claims about god(s) fail the evidence test. In addition, if there were objective evidence for god(s) there would be no need for belief in god(s) at all.

Also, some Humanists are not atheists. There is no requirement in Humanism that a person be an atheist.

Lois

Well, it’s about time, Lois, I have been waiting for 13 months for your reply on this matter.  (Actually, I barely remember this post.)  I accept your points.  But the author that Irmin and I were discussing, specifically asserted that humanists are atheists.  I agree with your assertion that “some Humanists are not atheists. There is no requirement in Humanism that a person be an atheist.”

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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 January 2016 06:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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Write4U - 26 January 2016 12:46 AM

But what does that have to do with Atheism?

Well I’m an atheist, and I’m critiquing humanism.

Write4U - 26 January 2016 12:46 AM

  I see Humanitarian as an attempt to live in symbiosis with other life on Earth.

I see merit in this idea. So what’s your strategy? What I mean by this is what is your strategy to turn us from a race that is arguably parasitic to our host planet, damaging our environment with industrial population and hampering ourselves with excessive population, to a race that is symbiotic? Can China be convinced to give up fossil fuel? Can the rest of the world be convinced to have only 1 child per female at maximum? Can you convince people to make the sacrifices necessary to make this transformation happen?

I’m sorry, I really don’t mean to be glib or insulting. But a whole range of religions and philosophies have tried to change the world and by and large they all have one thing in common, they have all been unsuccessful. In the end our evolutionary drives have always won out. The world is overpopulated due to the power of the instinctual drive for sex and children. It is polluted due to our instinctual drive to achieve comfort and escape hardship. We have war because much like the wolf, we are both aggressive and highly territorial. For most of our history, the world has rewarded us for these characteristics.

This is a big part of my problem with humanism. It boats noble ideals of a transformed human race, but has yet to provide a realistic strategy for changing the way that people behave. Christianity tried to radically change human behavior with the promise of heaven and the threat of hell, perhaps the ultimate in positive and negative reinforcement. Will the promise of world peace (though not necessarily prosperity, at least not for some generations) and the specter of global warming fair any better?

(Once again sorry if I sound glib or insulting, it is not my intent to be hurtful.)

[ Edited: 27 January 2016 06:27 AM by Wilson86 ]
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Posted: 27 January 2016 07:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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The strategy that has worked is to build a middle class. It’s a new idea, but consistently, when people are allowed to have some opportunities and mobility and see some hope for the future, they have less children. Overpopulation occurs when people use the old system of having lots of babies to insure a few of them live. Objectively, it’s a strategy that sometimes works. You can’t “convince” people to have 1 child per female, but you can create a world where people care for each and every child they have and care about their neighbor’s children.

And what do you mean “unsuccessful”? The world has changed a lot, and recently quite rapidly. We have cured a lot of diseases and gone to the moon. I’m really tired of this “humans are bad” philosophy. Your argument against humanism is that the world is not yet perfect. You compare the threat of global warming to the threat of hell as if that’s a real comparison. One of those things isn’t real. Humanist values are based on common understanding of what is good. Like not wanting to be poked in the eye, or wanting to breathe clean air.

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Posted: 27 January 2016 01:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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Wilson86 - 27 January 2016 06:25 AM

I see merit in this idea. So what’s your strategy? What I mean by this is what is your strategy to turn us from a race that is arguably parasitic to our host planet, damaging our environment with industrial population and hampering ourselves with excessive population, to a race that is symbiotic? Can China be convinced to give up fossil fuel? Can the rest of the world be convinced to have only 1 child per female at maximum? Can you convince people to make the sacrifices necessary to make this transformation happen?

I’m sorry, I really don’t mean to be glib or insulting. But a whole range of religions and philosophies have tried to change the world and by and large they all have one thing in common, they have all been unsuccessful. In the end our evolutionary drives have always won out. The world is overpopulated due to the power of the instinctual drive for sex and children. It is polluted due to our instinctual drive to achieve comfort and escape hardship. We have war because much like the wolf, we are both aggressive and highly territorial. For most of our history, the world has rewarded us for these characteristics.

This is a big part of my problem with humanism. It boats noble ideals of a transformed human race, but has yet to provide a realistic strategy for changing the way that people behave. Christianity tried to radically change human behavior with the promise of heaven and the threat of hell, perhaps the ultimate in positive and negative reinforcement. Will the promise of world peace (though not necessarily prosperity, at least not for some generations) and the specter of global warming fair any better?

(Once again sorry if I sound glib or insulting, it is not my intent to be hurtful.)

The strategy is fostering a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.  That includes, I think, promoting awareness of our underlying proclivities that work against our world being a better place to live (and thus giving us an opportunity to adjust our behavior effectively toward that end).

What is a better alternative strategy? If you don’t have one, then what?  Give up?

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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 January 2016 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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Wilson86 - 27 January 2016 06:25 AM
Write4U - 26 January 2016 12:46 AM

But what does that have to do with Atheism?

Well I’m an atheist, and I’m critiquing humanism.

Write4U - 26 January 2016 12:46 AM

  I see Humanitarian as an attempt to live in symbiosis with other life on Earth.

...

This is a big part of my problem with humanism. It boats noble ideals of a transformed human race, but has yet to provide a realistic strategy for changing the way that people behave. Christianity tried to radically change human behavior with the promise of heaven and the threat of hell, perhaps the ultimate in positive and negative reinforcement. Will the promise of world peace (though not necessarily prosperity, at least not for some generations) and the specter of global warming fair any better?

Part of your problem is you’re speaking of Humanism as if it’s a distinct group, whose members one could theoretically gather up and talk to. The major religions ARE distinct groups, Humanism doesn’t work like that. I would venture to guess most Secular Humanists never heard of the phrase, or even just Humanism. There are just people out there who roughly follow some basic tenets of SH without knowing it, and that’s that. So the world IS heading in that direction as knowledge spreads, people slowly realize we’ve got one planet, we’re all brothers from another mother, and so on. But it’s a slow and undirected evolution, not a “strategy” by a Pope or some religious leader.

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Posted: 28 January 2016 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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TimB - 26 January 2016 05:42 PM
LoisL - 26 January 2016 04:44 PM
TimB - 28 December 2014 04:58 AM
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.

Most atheists don’t deny there is a god. They deny belief in one or more. They deny there is any evidence of god(s).  There is a big difference. Though some people, usually theists, will claim that the definition of atheist is one who claims there is no god, that is a false definition, in my opinion. The root of the word “atheism” should make the point. A=without, Theism=belief in god(s). It’s theists who insist that atheists have beliefs about gods.  We have none. We demand objective evidence for all claims. That’s all. Claims about god(s) fail the evidence test. In addition, if there were objective evidence for god(s) there would be no need for belief in god(s) at all.

Also, some Humanists are not atheists. There is no requirement in Humanism that a person be an atheist.

Lois

Well, it’s about time, Lois, I have been waiting for 13 months for your reply on this matter.  (Actually, I barely remember this post.)  I accept your points.  But the author that Irmin and I were discussing, specifically asserted that humanists are atheists.  I agree with your assertion that “some Humanists are not atheists. There is no requirement in Humanism that a person be an atheist.”


I didn’t realize it was an old post. I don’t know how that escaped me for so long. I was vice president of the American Humanist Association for a few years. The AA took the position that atheism was not a requirement to join the AHA. Other Humanist organizations have different views. Most people who call themselves (secular) Humanists are atheists. some will call themselves agnostics (even though that’s a false term). Some call themselves “religious Humanists,” such as Unitarians. CFI rejects “religious Humanism” but the AHA does not.

Lois

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Posted: 28 January 2016 09:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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LoisL - 28 January 2016 02:04 PM
TimB - 26 January 2016 05:42 PM
LoisL - 26 January 2016 04:44 PM
TimB - 28 December 2014 04:58 AM
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.

Most atheists don’t deny there is a god. They deny belief in one or more. They deny there is any evidence of god(s).  There is a big difference. Though some people, usually theists, will claim that the definition of atheist is one who claims there is no god, that is a false definition, in my opinion. The root of the word “atheism” should make the point. A=without, Theism=belief in god(s). It’s theists who insist that atheists have beliefs about gods.  We have none. We demand objective evidence for all claims. That’s all. Claims about god(s) fail the evidence test. In addition, if there were objective evidence for god(s) there would be no need for belief in god(s) at all.

Also, some Humanists are not atheists. There is no requirement in Humanism that a person be an atheist.

Lois

Well, it’s about time, Lois, I have been waiting for 13 months for your reply on this matter.  (Actually, I barely remember this post.)  I accept your points.  But the author that Irmin and I were discussing, specifically asserted that humanists are atheists.  I agree with your assertion that “some Humanists are not atheists. There is no requirement in Humanism that a person be an atheist.”


I didn’t realize it was an old post. I don’t know how that escaped me for so long. I was vice president of the American Humanist Association for a few years. The AA took the position that atheism was not a requirement to join the AHA. Other Humanist organizations have different views. Most people who call themselves (secular) Humanists are atheists. some will call themselves agnostics (even though that’s a false term). Some call themselves “religious Humanists,” such as Unitarians. CFI rejects “religious Humanism” but the AHA does not.

Lois

Well then, since I am a regular poster on the CFI forum, I am glad that CFI had the good sense to, independently, adopt a position that is consistent with my own.

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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: 31 January 2016 06:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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TimB - 28 January 2016 09:21 PM
LoisL - 28 January 2016 02:04 PM
TimB - 26 January 2016 05:42 PM
LoisL - 26 January 2016 04:44 PM
TimB - 28 December 2014 04:58 AM
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.

Most atheists don’t deny there is a god. They deny belief in one or more. They deny there is any evidence of god(s).  There is a big difference. Though some people, usually theists, will claim that the definition of atheist is one who claims there is no god, that is a false definition, in my opinion. The root of the word “atheism” should make the point. A=without, Theism=belief in god(s). It’s theists who insist that atheists have beliefs about gods.  We have none. We demand objective evidence for all claims. That’s all. Claims about god(s) fail the evidence test. In addition, if there were objective evidence for god(s) there would be no need for belief in god(s) at all.

Also, some Humanists are not atheists. There is no requirement in Humanism that a person be an atheist.

Lois

Well, it’s about time, Lois, I have been waiting for 13 months for your reply on this matter.  (Actually, I barely remember this post.)  I accept your points.  But the author that Irmin and I were discussing, specifically asserted that humanists are atheists.  I agree with your assertion that “some Humanists are not atheists. There is no requirement in Humanism that a person be an atheist.”


I didn’t realize it was an old post. I don’t know how that escaped me for so long. I was vice president of the American Humanist Association for a few years. The AA took the position that atheism was not a requirement to join the AHA. Other Humanist organizations have different views. Most people who call themselves (secular) Humanists are atheists. some will call themselves agnostics (even though that’s a false term). Some call themselves “religious Humanists,” such as Unitarians. CFI rejects “religious Humanism” but the AHA does not.

Lois

Well then, since I am a regular poster on the CFI forum, I am glad that CFI had the good sense to, independently, adopt a position that is consistent with my own.

I just realized that I may have misread your message.  I took it to mean that CFI rejected the term “religious humanists”.  I do consider humanists to be humanists, whether they may also be religious or not.  If you are saying that CFI considers someone to not be a humanist just because they also claim a religious affiliation, I would not agree with that. (I guess such humanists with a religious affiliation would have to be unusually supportive of secularism, but it seems possible, to me.)  But all in all it seems to me to be quibbling over definitions and labels.

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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: 01 February 2016 08:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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Wilson86 - 27 January 2016 06:25 AM

I see merit in this idea. So what’s your strategy? What I mean by this is what is your strategy to turn us from a race that is arguably parasitic to our host planet, damaging our environment with industrial population and hampering ourselves with excessive population, to a race that is symbiotic? Can China be convinced to give up fossil fuel? Can the rest of the world be convinced to have only 1 child per female at maximum? Can you convince people to make the sacrifices necessary to make this transformation happen?

I’m sorry, I really don’t mean to be glib or insulting. But a whole range of religions and philosophies have tried to change the world and by and large they all have one thing in common, they have all been unsuccessful. In the end our evolutionary drives have always won out. The world is overpopulated due to the power of the instinctual drive for sex and children. It is polluted due to our instinctual drive to achieve comfort and escape hardship. We have war because much like the wolf, we are both aggressive and highly territorial. For most of our history, the world has rewarded us for these characteristics.

This is a big part of my problem with humanism. It boats noble ideals of a transformed human race, but has yet to provide a realistic strategy for changing the way that people behave. Christianity tried to radically change human behavior with the promise of heaven and the threat of hell, perhaps the ultimate in positive and negative reinforcement. Will the promise of world peace (though not necessarily prosperity, at least not for some generations) and the specter of global warming fair any better?

So what’s your solution?  To admit that we’re nothing but greedy, grasping, dangerous animals and that’s all we’ll ever be?  To forget about this “morality” stuff because it’s just empty words?

The way I see it, Humanists are like Data on Star Trek.  We don’t claim to be perfect, we only claim that we’re trying to be better.  Not because there’s any “reward” in it, but because we want a better society than the one we have now.  The only way we’ll get it by believing that it’s possible.

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Posted: 01 February 2016 08:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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Advocatus - 01 February 2016 08:18 AM

The way I see it, Humanists are like Data on Star Trek. 

Interesting that you would compare HUMANists to a robot who endeavors to be human.
And is programmed to behave perfectly.

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Posted: 01 February 2016 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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VYAZMA - 01 February 2016 08:55 AM
Advocatus - 01 February 2016 08:18 AM

The way I see it, Humanists are like Data on Star Trek. 

Interesting that you would compare HUMANists to a robot who endeavors to be human.
And is programmed to behave perfectly.

If we are ever able to make sentient robots, I suspect that they will be made with ourselves as a template, so to speak, and that we will attempt to make them an improvement over the original.  (Which leads me to wonder, if there were a Supreme Deity who created us, “in his own image”, how come he wouldn’t have created us to be an upgrade on “him"self?)

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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: 02 February 2016 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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May not reply.

I know that many atheists have a penchant for pointless argument.  Not my cup of chowder.

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Posted: 02 February 2016 06:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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AMH - 02 February 2016 02:41 PM

May not reply.

I know that many atheists have a penchant for pointless argument.  Not my cup of chowder.

One needs to practice, in order to hone skills.  Pointless arguments may be good practice for when arguments really matter.

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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: 02 February 2016 06:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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Also, really thoughtful pointless arguments, may lead to thoughts that are not pointless.

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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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