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Posted: 27 June 2007 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi, everyone !

I´m a 33 years old physician (a gastroenterologist) from Brazil, interested in discussing skepticism, specially alternative “medicines”. I am also a member of the Clube Cetico (Skeptic Club), one of the many skeptic iniciatives in my country. Unfortunately, none of those could resume their differences and work together. I´m also here to learn about the CFI and how it could keep skeptics together…

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Posted: 27 June 2007 10:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Welcome! Always great to have perspectives from skeptics in different parts of the world, and you’ll find we have representatives from many different countries. Gastroenterology is much on my mind currently as I am a veterinarian and I have spent the last week at an endoscopy training course. But, of course as a skeptic I take that and your appearance here to be no more than a coincidence!  wink

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Posted: 27 June 2007 10:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Welcome Stefano.  Glad to have you here.  smile

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 28 June 2007 12:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Welcome, Stefano.  You raise a valid point.  I’m always amazed that people who have very similar beliefs and ethics can focus on their few differences rather than work together within their many areas of agreement.  We have a similar situation in the United States.  In 1933 the American Humanist Association was formed.  They wrote Humanist Manifesto I.  Quite a few years later, they superseded that with Humanist Manifesto II (this removed the earlier references to god).  In the 1970s they replaced the second with Humanist Manifesto III, the major author of which was Paul Kurtz.  Shortly after that he had some disagreement with the other AHA administration and formed his own organization of secular humanists.  CFI is an outgrowth of that. 

I don’t know what the disagreement was about, but when talking to the president of the AHA a few years ago, I suggested innocently that the two organizations should consider merging.  He informed me in very strong terms that that would never happen. 

While it distresses me, I suppose I should be happy for another instance of this human failing.  If all the Christian denominations didn’t waste a great deal of their time and energy contending with each other, they would probably be quite effective in outlawing humanism and atheism.

Occam

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Posted: 28 June 2007 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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We have several difficulties in Brazil about creating a secular humanist association. I could point out some of them:

- As there is no immediat threat of theocracy around here, and religion in our country was always somehow messy (catholics that in fact were jew, christians that believe in African gods and rituals, a growing religion of mediums and ghosts (kardecism) that claims to be also christian, etc.), there is no immediat threat to atheists;

- The main scientific associations and scientis don´t have any interest in abording this issue;

- There is no clear prejudice against atheists. We had an atheist president for 8 consecutive years (although most of brazilians don´t know about it, they really don´t care);

- The few people interested in secular humanist ativism are scattered and meet mostly online.

PS: i´m sorry about the bad english

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Posted: 28 June 2007 09:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Stefano, welcome!.

I live in argentina, and I see the same you see in your country. Here there is no social threats to atheism, but, on the other hand, here the law forbids some thing based on religion consideration (btw, is abortion legal in Brasil?) . I’d say that here at south we are less religious but with a less liberal state.

Regarding the internal division on the skeptical movement, I remember ‘Life of Bryan’ and the inner fight between the jewish faction. If’d have to find an answer, I’d say that this things happens when the means matters: if you are christian or muslim and want to establish a teocracy using whatever means, you don’t care about the details, you can be more pragmatic. But when the means matters, when you think that there the details and the way to achieve your goal is important, you, maybe, are forced to be less pragmatic.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Barto - 28 June 2007 09:57 AM

I live in argentina, and I see the same you see in your country. Here there is no social threats to atheism, but, on the other hand, here the law forbids some thing based on religion consideration (btw, is abortion legal in Brasil?).

The abortion is illegal here, except in some situations, like risk for the mother´s life and rape. Although most opposition to abortion is from religious groups, those are more evident because they are considered to many as the “guardians of moral”. But there are ethical arguments against abortion that have nothing to do with religion.

Regarding the internal division on the skeptical movement, I remember ‘Life of Bryan’ and the inner fight between the jewish faction. If’d have to find an answer, I’d say that this things happens when the means matters: if you are christian or muslim and want to establish a teocracy using whatever means, you don’t care about the details, you can be more pragmatic. But when the means matters, when you think that there the details and the way to achieve your goal is important, you, maybe, are forced to be less pragmatic.

The religious-elected politicians in Brazil are growing, but mainly with economical interests. Any attempt from those to break the laicity of State will most probably fail because of politicians of different religions than because of humanists. Maybe an humanist association, with millitant members, could unite them. So, it´s probably best to keep a low profile.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Anyway, I am more interested in fighting pseudosciences than discussing religion.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Stefano - 28 June 2007 10:22 AM

But there are ethical arguments against abortion that have nothing to do with religion.

Sure, but the point here, as I see it, is what is the basement for our ethics?. Should be the inner conviction of a person about any improbable fact? or should be a rational election based on our wellfare interest and backed on observable facts?.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 10:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Barto - 28 June 2007 10:36 AM
Stefano - 28 June 2007 10:22 AM

But there are ethical arguments against abortion that have nothing to do with religion.

Sure, but the point here, as I see it, is what is the basement for our ethics?. Should be the inner conviction of a person about any improbable fact? or should be a rational election based on our wellfare interest and backed on observable facts?.

In the issue of aborption, for example, there is the issue of the moment of conception (begining of life). There is no scientifically proved fact, with any rational argument, that can pinpoint the exact moment of conception without other rational arguments, backed on scientific evidence, that pinpoint other moments.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 11:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Occam - 28 June 2007 12:48 AM

Welcome, Stefano.  You raise a valid point.  I’m always amazed that people who have very similar beliefs and ethics can focus on their few differences rather than work together within their many areas of agreement.  We have a similar situation in the United States.  In 1933 the American Humanist Association was formed.  They wrote Humanist Manifesto I.  Quite a few years later, they superseded that with Humanist Manifesto II (this removed the earlier references to god).  In the 1970s they replaced the second with Humanist Manifesto III, the major author of which was Paul Kurtz.  Shortly after that he had some disagreement with the other AHA administration and formed his own organization of secular humanists.  CFI is an outgrowth of that. 

I don’t know what the disagreement was about, but when talking to the president of the AHA a few years ago, I suggested innocently that the two organizations should consider merging.  He informed me in very strong terms that that would never happen. 

While it distresses me, I suppose I should be happy for another instance of this human failing.  If all the Christian denominations didn’t waste a great deal of their time and energy contending with each other, they would probably be quite effective in outlawing humanism and atheism.

Occam

Just to clarify for the record: AHA did the first manifesto. The Second was in 1973, penned by Kurtz, while he was with the AHA. Then there was Humanist Manifesto 2000 (again penned by Kurtz, but he was no longer with the AHA, having founded other emphatically secular organizations).  In 2000, Kurtz published Humanist Manifestor 2000. Then in 2003, AHA published Humanist Manifesto 3.

You should also know (it is no secret) that Paul Kurtz has worked very hard in recent years to merge the two organizations. For overdetermined reasons, there is little interest on their part, and I respect that.

Many organizations exist, and all of us work together around certain issues to advance our common interests. But we exist separately because we serve different constituents: AHA has had for a long time (and it may still have) a religious tax exemption status with the IRS, and they provide an important place for religious humanists and at the other end of the spectrum, there are atheist organizations that are nothing but atheist organizations. The Council for Secular Humanism and the other organizations here at CFI are somewhere in the middle, serving secular humanists, among other supporters.

Hope this clarifies some things, especially the historical record of when the manifestoes were published.

D.J.

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"Few have the courage of their convictions. Fewer still have the courage for an attack on their convictions." - Nietzsche

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Posted: 28 June 2007 01:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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But we don’t protect life, we protect human life. When the human life starts, well, it’s seems that there is a continuous process, not a discret one. So we have to choose, and I don’t see why we should choose according to one portion of society beliefs. Anyway, we end in a basic ethical decision: as I see it, when there is no evidence to restrict something, choose liberty.

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Posted: 28 June 2007 01:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Barto - 28 June 2007 01:09 PM

But we don’t protect life, we protect human life.

Why we should protect only human life ? And protect the human life from what ?

When the human life starts, well, it’s seems that there is a continuous process, not a discret one. So we have to choose, and I don’t see why we should choose according to one portion of society beliefs.


So, we should choose according to what another (and smaller) portion of society believe ?

Anyway, we end in a basic ethical decision: as I see it, when there is no evidence to restrict something, choose liberty.

It´s not so easy if there is a balance between liberty and life (human or not).

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Posted: 28 June 2007 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Stefano - 28 June 2007 01:33 PM
Barto - 28 June 2007 01:09 PM

But we don’t protect life, we protect human life.

Why we should protect only human life ?

For the same reason you would prefer to save your child’s life before your neighbor’s . The selfish gene: remember?

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Posted: 28 June 2007 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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George, I think we should protect all life.  Maybe I didn’t get as much of that so called selfish gene deal as some, but I have an affinity for all life. The only time I would even suggest killing anything is in self-defense- ie a venomous snake is about to attack, then yes, one of you is going to have to strike first or die.  Other than that, I think we should protect all animals on this earth, not just the human animal. That and if you look at the eco-system, we are all interconnected in some manner.  If one species dies, another goes, ALMOST like dominoes.  Of course you do have the species who adapt and find other means of survival too.  Regardless, as the most advance species on this planet, we can’t just protect ourselves, IMO.

As for saving my child life before my neighbour’s, why can’t I try and do both?  If I can save both my sons’ lives then it would make sense that if I had one child I could also save another, just as I can two children.

[ Edited: 28 June 2007 02:27 PM by Mriana ]
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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 28 June 2007 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Why we should protect only human life ?

We should?. No, we do, but I don’t know if we should. But we protect only human life: we eat cows, pigs, fish and so on. We use animals in preclinical experiments.

And protect the human life from what ?

From the threats of other human and animals and diseases. As far as I know, in every country kill a person in normal circunstances is illegal and a crime with hard punishment. We build an health system to assit people, and in many countries you have free access to it, and we didn’t build a public vet system.

So, we should choose according to what another (and smaller) portion of society believe ?

No, I think we should let anyone with his or her own beliefs and moral values when we have no factual evidence on what’s happening in reality.

t´s not so easy if there is a balance between liberty and life (human or not).

I agree that there is no easy balance when a human life is involved. But we don’t care if there is no human life. We don’t find terrible using a rat in diabetes research, for example ( I really feel bad when I read research reports and how we use rats, dogs and monkey on the experiments… but anyway I enjoyed having a long life. I don’t have an answer in this topic, I think we should treats animals in the best way we can, but I don’t have a solution for that).

An, with abortion, there is no only one life involved. There are two life. Is it ethical to force a person to give her (in this situation, there couldn’t be a ‘his’) body to mantain another human being?. As a I see a acceptable isomorfism… am I obligated to donate blood?

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