1 of 2
1
Is secular humanism compatible with ....
Posted: 08 April 2008 07:00 PM   [ Ignore ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  15
Joined  2008-04-08

I am :
An apostate Christian (who still highly values forgiveness and agape love)
An in-and-out Mystic (I believe we all have many sets of beliefs which we don’t control)
A cafeteria Buddhist (can’t buy re-incarnation & like meat.  But I do buy that there is no substantial self)
An ex-vegetarian (but still try to eat well)
A former Acupuncturist (who feels alternative medicine has a fantastic role)
A Physician Assistant (who is a vaccine protester—although we do them in part)
A former Marxist who is now a pro-free market libertarian
A juggler and Go player.

Can these really be compatible with Secular Humanism?
I am a heretic by habit and obviously unstable and conflicted (but happy).
We all have silly beliefs—but the belief that others are damned for theirs is the worse !

 Signature 

Shay
My favorite web site: The Sewickley Go Club: Weiqi ain’t for wimps !
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”—the Dalai Lama

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 April 2008 07:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Welcome, Shay. Tough questions since secular humanism is no more unified or monolithic (and probably less so!) than any other philosophy of life. FWIW, here’s my opinio:

1. forgiveness, compassion, agape, are all natural human qualities, products of our innate biology and evolutionary history, available to everyone and with no requirement for the supernatural, so clearly compatible
2. Mysticism-most secular humanists are naturalists who believe in scientific standards of evidence. Plenty are sympathetic to the emotions of mysticism (wonder, awe, appreciation for the marvel that is life and the universe), but most would stop short of calling upon supenatural explanations for these feelings or phenomena we can’t readily explain. You’re welcome, of course, to think and believ what you want, but you’ll get some pretty stiff arguments from people here about anything perceived as soft on logical, reason, and evidence.
3. I like the “cafeteria buddhist” label, and it certainly describes me. I agree that the self is an illusion, though I would argue a natural and not always destructive one, and I think buddhism offers a very useful empirical psychology, though I have no faith in the literal truth of reincarnation or karma. And I don’t eat meat.
4. practicing vegetarian, so no problem their (and there’s a thread on the topic currently active under “General Discussions”)
5/6. Again, scientific standards of evidence are highly valued here, and I for one am strongly in disagreement with CAM and the “vaccine controversy.” I’m pretty polite even when I belive passionately (as I do in this area), so we can certainly discuss the issues, but as a practicing veterinarian with a pretty extensive science background, I have spent a lot of time on these issues and I have some pretty firm, and I think well-reasoned opinions you’re not going to like. Sadly, plenty of the folks who agree with me are even less gentle in debate, so be warned you’ll get a really rough time promoting CAM and fear of vaccines here.
7. There seems to be a (very!) rough 60/40 split between lefties (from the mod like me to the outright Marxist) and libertarians among secular humanists, with a smattering of anarcho-syndicalists and other ideologies. No fascists who will admit it, though. grin Plenty of room for difference here, IMHO.

My advice is lurk a while, listen to the conversations that interest you, and then decide if you feel comfortable engaging in discussion. Again, welcome.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 April 2008 09:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7506
Joined  2007-03-02

Welcome, Shay and in answer to your question, I’ll make it short and sweet:  Yes, I think so or at least a Humanist without any adjective.

 Signature 

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

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 April 2008 01:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2008-02-24

Hi Shay,

IMO you could be a humanist but, whilst you can borrow whatever values from it you want, I don’t see how you can be secular as it a state outside of religion.

Welcome anyway.

Kyu

 Signature 

Kekerusey

“Keye’ung lu nì‘aw tì‘eyng mìkìfkey lekye’ung”
(Insanity, the only answer in a world insane!)

Atheists’s Heaven *** “Science, Just Science” Campaign *** Geekanology UK

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 April 2008 02:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4375
Joined  2007-08-31
Shay - 08 April 2008 07:00 PM

I am :
An in-and-out Mystic (I believe we all have many sets of beliefs which we don’t control)

(Two different links!)

Frits Staal -
Exploring mysticism

Welcome to the forum!

GdB

 Signature 

GdB

“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2008 02:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  15
Joined  2008-04-08

Hmmmm, I am seeing that a secularist must not have their hands dirtied by religion.
Mind you, that is reasonable, except that I think the word religion is soiled by monotheists.
I think it is possible to be Buddhist, for example, without ever needing to offer explanations of gods and spirits.
I think that explanations involving gods and spirits, or the like, are what those who dislike religion, dislike the most in these circle.
Am I mistaken?
If I am right, then, in a qualified sense, some mystics and buddhists would be considered secularists.

What do people think?

 Signature 

Shay
My favorite web site: The Sewickley Go Club: Weiqi ain’t for wimps !
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”—the Dalai Lama

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2008 02:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Well, secularist is usually strictly meant to imply the separation of private faith from government, so in that sense anyone can be a secularist. If you mean it in the sense of “non-religious,” then of course it is incompatible w/ religion.

I would say that what I, as a naturalist and secularist, find nonsensical and potentially harmful about religion is the focus on the unseeable, the unknowable, and the revealed-only-to-the-few as the source of truth. Because when truth is what your private voice of god, or your scripture, or your mystical experience says it is, and if there is no repeatable, shared way of showing it to be truth, then anyone can make up whatever they like and proclaim it eternal truth. Buddhism appeals to me because at least some versions of it suggest that private truth cannot be imposed on, or even taught to others, and that it is only “true” for those who realize it themselves.. The Dalai Lama can say that Chrisianity is fine for Christians and there is no need to “convert” to buddhism, because he doesn’t claim (always) a universal truth only understandable or expressable through his culture’s language. Now, many buddhists would say that their meditative, introspective experiences reveal something that is true, and that failure to see it as true is a form of ignorance, and this partakes of the same epistemelogical arrogance that other religions freely invoke.

As I said before, while there’s no monolithis unity here, you’ll find most people will be unsympathetic to being told you have some privileged access to truths than you cannot demonstrate to them through reason or evidence but that you still hold to absolutely. It’s hard to see how mysticism would fit, though the kind of “provisional” truth naturalists and secular humanists tend to feel comfortable with is often something Western style buddhists embrace as well.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 13 April 2008 07:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  15
Joined  2008-04-08
mckenzievmd - 13 April 2008 02:57 PM

... you’ll find most people will be unsympathetic to being told you have some privileged access to truths than you cannot demonstrate to them through reason or evidence but that you still hold to absolutely. It’s hard to see how mysticism would fit, though the kind of “provisional” truth naturalists and secular humanists tend to feel comfortable with is often something Western style buddhists embrace as well.

Indeed, IF it is a “truth” people get from their mystical or meditative practice which is then attempted to be imposed on others, and that truth is not verifiable, then I too am rebelliously cautious.  However, it is not just “truths” one acquires in those states—be they the Dalai Lama or mystics of sorts.  They come away with feelings, changes of perspectives, altered behavior.  A secular world that ignores the value of these non-truths is hollow.  They don’t have to come through either Buddhism or Mysticism or other religious methods, and some are working on stripping theologies from the methods. 

Would you agree?

 Signature 

Shay
My favorite web site: The Sewickley Go Club: Weiqi ain’t for wimps !
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”—the Dalai Lama

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 April 2008 02:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2008-02-24
mckenzievmd - 13 April 2008 02:57 PM

Well, secularist is usually strictly meant to imply the separation of private faith from government, so in that sense anyone can be a secularist.

Not that I am a great fan of Miriam-Webster I checked it for a definition of secularism:

secularism

Main Entry:
  sec·u·lar·ism Listen to the pronunciation of secularism
Pronunciation:
  \ˈse-kyə-lə-ˌri-zəm\
Function:
  noun
Date:

  1851

: indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations
— sec·u·lar·ist Listen to the pronunciation of secularist \-rist\ noun
— secularist also sec·u·lar·is·tic Listen to the pronunciation of secularistic \ˌse-kyə-lə-ˈris-tik\ adjective

I have to say that I have never consider being secular to be anything at all to do with government and a brief look on Wikipedia doesn’t mention it either (again Wikipedia is hardly authoritative) ... as far as I can tell secular simply means or implies not religious.

Kyu

 Signature 

Kekerusey

“Keye’ung lu nì‘aw tì‘eyng mìkìfkey lekye’ung”
(Insanity, the only answer in a world insane!)

Atheists’s Heaven *** “Science, Just Science” Campaign *** Geekanology UK

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 April 2008 03:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  15
Joined  2008-04-08

I see the problem as simple lack of experience.

In the USA (I have lived many years in Asia), when I am asked, “Do you believe in God”, I know that the questioner is often just using language not to explore scientific truths but to find out if I believe morals are important, believe life is important and many other things.  They rarely are asking me theological questions.  And when they are asking theological questions, they are asking from their limited world.  They don’t know models of the divine that have the divine as non-interventional and non-personal.  To a Westerner, if a god is non-interventional and non-personal, it might as well not be a god.  But this is due to their lack of experience.  So I have to decide, “Do I answer the intent of their question, or do I explore their lack of experience and try to educate them on the variety of issues behind the question and then give them a fuller reply?”  My choice usually depends on if I had a good breakfast that morning. (smile)

So with the term “secular” it seems constrained by the scars of theism—it’s use is limited by the experience of the user.  The word does not have to be defined as a reaction to theists.  Words are human creations, they are not Platonic ideals to be discovered.  We can escape the cultural trappings of words if we wish and adapt them for new circumstances. 

I am a big defender of non-religious people but see them often throwing out the baby with the wash.  I also attack religion for its non-testable scientific claims and its claims to higher moral grounds based on either personal revelation or sacred texts.  So, what is Miriam-Webster’s word for that?

 Signature 

Shay
My favorite web site: The Sewickley Go Club: Weiqi ain’t for wimps !
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”—the Dalai Lama

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 April 2008 03:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2008-02-24
Shay - 14 April 2008 03:21 AM

So with the term “secular” it seems constrained by the scars of theism—it’s use is limited by the experience of the user.  The word does not have to be defined as a reaction to theists.  Words are human creations, they are not Platonic ideals to be discovered.  We can escape the cultural trappings of words if we wish and adapt them for new circumstances.

Er yeah ... pretty much does. Maybe you’d like to consider yourself secular but that fact is you’re not ... you’re a theist/religionist and that means you can’t be secular. I’m not trying to be nasty or anything but secular is pretty much defined as dealing with the world/universe from a non-religious POV.

Shay - 14 April 2008 03:21 AM

I am a big defender of non-religious people but see them often throwing out the baby with the wash.  I also attack religion for its non-testable scientific claims and its claims to higher moral grounds based on either personal revelation or sacred texts.  So, what is Miriam-Webster’s word for that?

I dunno ... as far as I can tell you believe in some things without validatable evidence so I’m not entirely sure what you want me to say? That you’re sceptical up to a point?

Kyu

 Signature 

Kekerusey

“Keye’ung lu nì‘aw tì‘eyng mìkìfkey lekye’ung”
(Insanity, the only answer in a world insane!)

Atheists’s Heaven *** “Science, Just Science” Campaign *** Geekanology UK

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 April 2008 04:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  15
Joined  2008-04-08
Kyuuketsuki UK - 14 April 2008 03:56 AM

... you’re a theist/religionist and that means you can’t be secular.
...I dunno ... as far as I can tell you believe in some things without validatable evidence so I’m not entirely sure what you want me to say? That you’re skeptical up to a point? Kyu

Kyu—

I feel you are confused on two issues:

1) It seems to me that you are not reading carefully and just reacting reflexively.  I am not a theist.

2) I guarentee you that you believe all sorts of things that do not have evidence that can be validated.  Have you ever read, The Edge?  This link takes you to writing by scientists who explore what they believe but can not prove.  They even put these writings out in a book.  You fool yourself to think your world is rational.  It is only a matter of degree to which we employ reason and to which areas of our life.  The human mind only uses reason as one of its many heuristics.

I imagine others in the forum would agree (especially those with cognitive science background)

 Signature 

Shay
My favorite web site: The Sewickley Go Club: Weiqi ain’t for wimps !
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”—the Dalai Lama

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 April 2008 04:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15305
Joined  2006-02-14

“Secular” is to be distinguished from “sacred”, however Brennen is right that the phrase “secular Christian” is not an oxymoron. A secular religious person is someone who believes that religious issues are private and as such do not belong in political discourse. This sort of secularism is a holdover from moderate Enlightenment thinkers who were themselves believers of one sort or another.

Shay is right that as a matter of fact we all do believe things that are not based on evidence, and that we are all prone to the sorts of irrationalities uncovered by people like Daniel Kahnemann and Amos Tversky in their cognitive psychology experiments. But it is one thing to recognize that and attempt to work against it, and another to glory in irrationality for its own sake. The latter includes accepting bad evidence or rejecting experiments that disconfirm one’s religious predilections. As religions go, Buddhism is one of the more interested in careful reasoning and a sort of intuitive experimental method. However even among Buddhists there is a general acceptance of such nonexistent phenomena as reincarnation and karmic influence. And many Mahayana schools also accept the existence of supernatural creatures that are indistinguishable from gods and demons.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 April 2008 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  7506
Joined  2007-03-02

Even so, I don’t see him as excluded from being a Humanist.  There is more to Humanism than just Secular Humanism, but personally I perfer no adjective and to just go with Humanist.

 Signature 

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

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 April 2008 06:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2008-02-24
Shay - 14 April 2008 04:23 AM

1) It seems to me that you are not reading carefully and just reacting reflexively.  I am not a theist.

Which is why I specifically put “theist/religionist” and ...

Shay - 14 April 2008 04:23 AM

I guarentee you that you believe all sorts of things that do not have evidence that can be validated.

... and why I don’t advance such things in a public arena or if I do, make it absolutely clear they are nothing but opinion.

Kyu

 Signature 

Kekerusey

“Keye’ung lu nì‘aw tì‘eyng mìkìfkey lekye’ung”
(Insanity, the only answer in a world insane!)

Atheists’s Heaven *** “Science, Just Science” Campaign *** Geekanology UK

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 April 2008 06:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2008-02-24
dougsmith - 14 April 2008 04:37 AM

“Secular” is to be distinguished from “sacred”, however Brennen is right that the phrase “secular Christian” is not an oxymoron.

Sorry Doug but I disagree for reasons already stated. Humanism is fine and he can take values from secularism I suppose but I cannot agree that someone who has religious beliefs (which I understand he has) can be secular.

Kyu

 Signature 

Kekerusey

“Keye’ung lu nì‘aw tì‘eyng mìkìfkey lekye’ung”
(Insanity, the only answer in a world insane!)

Atheists’s Heaven *** “Science, Just Science” Campaign *** Geekanology UK

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1