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Why our movements are failing and how we can make them succeed
Posted: 11 April 2009 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 106 ]
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VYAZMA - 11 April 2009 05:35 PM

Your(our) Legacy has NOT been appropriated by atheists. Humanism is being prevented from flourishing by the Very Nature of Humankind. It is being constructively restrained by a World which is constantly ensnared by the meddlings of Warmongers, Bean Counters, and everyday common opportunists. A mass cohesive humanist movement is totally impossible. It can be sustained by small groups of like minded folks for a length of time. That is all!

Why are some of our members so completely unwilling to ask whether our own behavior is making a difficult situation worse? When a basketball team loses a game, the players and coach don’t blame the big guys on the other team; they look for ways to help the team improve. There is nothing to be gained by this sort of defeatism, absolute no less! This is another example of the sort of thing that stops us dead in our tracks. I have seen it in every Humanist organization I have ever encountered, except maybe for one Ethical Culture Society, and I haven’t been around them enough to know.

Meanwhile, Humanism is doing pretty well in Europe, I understand.

[ Edited: 11 April 2009 07:41 PM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 11 April 2009 11:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 107 ]
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PLaClair - 11 April 2009 06:46 PM

Meanwhile, Humanism is doing pretty well in Europe, I understand.

Yep. And it is not religious. Just very caring.

PLaClair - 11 April 2009 10:58 AM

Just stop reacting to things that aren’t really opposed to what you believe.

But I am opposed to something you believe in: your “Ethical Culture Building’ made that very clear for me.

Don’t you see that every mass ‘life view’ movement turns into a religion, in the bad sense? Take Buddhism as example: in its core are some very modern and good, non supernatural ideas (no god, no soul). But mass Buddhism is as stupid as other big religions. Look at Tibetan Buddhism: it is the eastern variation of the catholic church, including pope, saints and miracle believes. It happens, while people want that. One cannot sell secularism without corrupting it. You can, I am sure, as Buddha could. But becoming a mass movement it will inevitable change, because (citation of you) ‘people need structures’. I firmly believe that in the metaphysical core of humanism lies no comfort. It lies in its human core only, which is caring for each other and solidarity. But as mass movement humanism would be forced to fill in the ‘metaphysical comfort gaps.’

CFI has chosen a role to play, as far as I can see. It is a useful role. Clinked in the academical world, it is intellectual. Its role is propagating a secularist world view, and defending science against religious assaults. It has natural affiliates: humanism, as one of the few ethical world views that come out without gods, heaven and hell and reincarnation. Isn’t that good enough? You might discuss strategies of course. But I hardly think that CFI wants to become a mass movement. Why press so hard?

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Posted: 12 April 2009 03:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 108 ]
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I already told you why, several times. In fact, I asked at least once why the point had been completely ignored, to wit:

When two Presidents of the United States can say that an atheist is not a good American and no one raises a peep of protest;

When no self-announced secularist could successfully run for any high public office;

When no self-announced secularist could withstand the public protest against being nominated for the US Supreme Court;

When evolution is routinely being shoved onto the back burner or off the stove of the science curriculum altogether and no one dares to confront the politically powerful creationists;

When we are among the most hated and distrusted groups in America;

When the number of people in our organizations doesn’t come close to matching our numbers in the population at large and our organizations are starved for funds and human resources to do the work that they wish to do:

That is not a satisfactory state of affairs. I wish to live in a world in which Humanism, scientific naturalism and secularism are celebrated and admired, not just used quietly and grudgingly because there’s no good alternative. The way it is, we are invested in our own failure, and worse, in an attitude of superiority over and disdain for the “unwashed masses.” And you guys are calling me arrogant?! Not that I’m not but come on. This fits much of the behavior I see in our organizations. My Darwin, is that what’s going on?

That said, I get your point about broadening Humanism’s/secularism’s appeal. I’d like to give it a shot just the same. Staying small deliberately is like not wanting to earn more income because you’ll have to pay more in taxes. The worst that can happen if we grow is that our “true believers” can regroup later. And it may turn out better than you think. We won’t know unless we give it a chance.

And none of your objections addresses the point that sparked this quasi-discussion. Reacting to the mere use of a word, I’m sorry, is just silly. It’s one thing to keep the movement small strategically, quite another to do so by behaving in this manner.

I’m curious, is there anything you don’t like about my vision of a rockin’ secularist/Humanist meeting place except that it’s successful and attracts large numbers of people?

[ Edited: 12 April 2009 04:04 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 12 April 2009 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 109 ]
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Dwight,

So if the arrogant assumptions of your position annoy me, I must be exhibiting a “reflexive antipathy” to religion? How convenient. Once again you define any opposition to your style or position in your terms and ignore what the other person is saying.

Neither Paul nor I believe in one scintilla of anything supernatural, you know that of course, so your statement here regarding our

“pitying dismissal of other ways of experiencing life without the supernatural”

is at best a non sequitur. Or, if you can’t bring yourself to say the H word, “without proactive Humanism”.

You misread my sentence. I accept that you and Paul share a similar vision of life without the supernatural. I also have such a secular approach. However, you dismiss my, and any, approach in an arch or pitying tone because it is not entirely like yours. There are many ways of living lfie fully without the supernatural, and some of them do not involve the kind of secular religion you would make of humanism. But you are so certain that your way is the only way that you are as close-minded and arrogant as any committed supernaturalist on this question.

You can’t let go of religion, or see the value in ignoring any aspect of it (that would be no religion), of releasing it to become the private business of people.

The more likely issue is that you embrace evocative atheism. You realize that Paul and I can live without religion, but you are committed to its obverse and want to keep that dialectic open

Speaking of non-sequiturs… This bears no relationship at all to my outlook. It is merely the charicature you wish to paint of anyone who disagrees with you. quod erat demonstratum as far as the whole point of my prior post goes. Thanks.

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Posted: 12 April 2009 08:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 110 ]
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Paul,

3. If you didn’t have a reflexive antipathy to religion, you wouldn’t be adverse to the mere mention of the word. I don’t see any other reasonable way of interpreting that.

Where have you seen me “averse to the mere mention of the word?” I believe it is laden with connotations that make it likely to create confusion and to misrepresent the world view of most secularists when used to describe their attitudes. You are still beating on that strawman of the reflexive, closed-minded atheist, but if you’d stop for a minute and let the dust settle you might actually be able to see the person you’re talking to.

4. I do see the value in “no religion,“ depending on what you mean by religion. Precisely what did you mean when you asked that final question?

I tried to use the word in a looser sense than I usually would. Typically, I view religion as a set of beliefs and practices, usually shared with a community and almost always centered on an idea of the supernatural, which form the centerpiece of the community’s world view with respect to issues of morality and the meaning or purpose of life. The key elements are “system of beliefs and practices,” “community,” “an idea of the supernatural” and the idea that these dictate the community’s views about meaning/purpose/morality. Now, I tried to expand the usage to include your somewhat fuzzy concept of a purely naturalist religion. I’ve never been clear exactly what form you envision this taking. I do not see how a world view can be described as a religion without some uniformity of beliefs and practices within the community. And if it involves shared concepts of meaning and morality, where are theses based and what room is there for individuals to discover their own?

But in any case, my point was that you seem unable to imagine the value of life lived without anything one might call a religion, even your naturalist version of one. It is this notion that there is only one true path that most disturbs me about your ideas and that earns it, in my mind, terms like “religious zeal” and so on. I can acknowledge lots of good and useful things about religion. I can also say that my life is full and rich and happy and my participation in a community perfectly fine without it, but you don’t seem to see this as possible or desirable because your personal, emotional epiphany has given you a sense of certainty that is impervious to outside perspectives.

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Posted: 12 April 2009 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 111 ]
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The purpose of the Center for Inquiry is to contribute to the public understanding and appreciation of science and reason, and their applications to human conduct.

Taken directly from the CFI page’s discussion of its mission.

This is what I can agree with.

I’m not interested in the “religion” of humanism replacing the religion of the supernatural.

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Posted: 12 April 2009 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 112 ]
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GdB - 11 April 2009 11:37 PM

Don’t you see that every mass ‘life view’ movement turns into a religion, in the bad sense?..... But becoming a mass movement it will inevitable change, because (citation of you) ‘people need structures’. I firmly believe that in the metaphysical core of humanism lies no comfort. It lies in its human core only, which is caring for each other and solidarity. But as mass movement humanism would be forced to fill in the ‘metaphysical comfort gaps.’
GdB

It is simplistic to think that Humanism will become a “mass movement” overnight, that it will not have to compete for attention with every other credo. This is a pluralistic world.

To begin this process I think Humanism has to be divorced from atheism, which overwrites it even within its present Humanist organizations. It is for that reason that I am impatient with atheist notions and activities, they are an 800 lb gorilla in Humanism’s room.

The metaphysical limitation - we’re not talking Spinoza here - will be built up of maturing sensibilities, not dogma. Once free of religious connotations (ironically the structures that you fear will grow to undermine it) Humanism will gradually become accepted as a trusted critic and champion of Human affairs.

We will revive the disarmament movement of our previous generation, empower the UN, and scrutinize our species’ governance to remove corruption and greed from our economies. We shall make racism untenable, militarism unthinkable, sexism and ageism illegal.

Someday we shall have a world as neat and ordered as Holland, that lies fallow for 1000 years as we catch our breath and sink roots into Life and that Universe.

That is change on a metaphysical scale, an order of difference, and achievable.

[ Edited: 12 April 2009 09:19 AM by Martinus ]
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Posted: 12 April 2009 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 113 ]
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Hawkfan - 12 April 2009 09:02 AM

The purpose of the Center for Inquiry is to contribute to the public understanding and appreciation of science and reason, and their applications to human conduct.

Taken directly from the CFI page’s discussion of its mission.

This is what I can agree with.

I’m not interested in the “religion” of humanism replacing the religion of the supernatural.

Interestingly, if CFI was astute about the opportunities of the post-Bush era, they would see that atheism is passe, first-generation as an intellectual viewpoint, and that the Humanism banner lies there for the hoisting.

But no, you must continue be centered on your obverse religion.
So be it, you have done some good work.

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Posted: 12 April 2009 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 114 ]
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mckenzievmd - 12 April 2009 08:04 AM

Paul,

3. If you didn’t have a reflexive antipathy to religion, you wouldn’t be adverse to the mere mention of the word. I don’t see any other reasonable way of interpreting that.

Where have you seen me “averse to the mere mention of the word?” I believe it is laden with connotations that make it likely to create confusion and to misrepresent the world view of most secularists when used to describe their attitudes. You are still beating on that strawman of the reflexive, closed-minded atheist, but if you’d stop for a minute and let the dust settle you might actually be able to see the person you’re talking to.

Brennen, you’re right. I re-read your posts on these latest threads. While I don’t agree with everything you write in:

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5351/P15/#64435
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5351/P30/#64491
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5351/P30/#64520
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5351/P30/#64537

they do not reflect a “reflexive antipathy” and furthermore, there is also this:
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5351/P30/#64486

and therefore, my criticism was poorly considered. I apologize.

That said, I respectfully suggest that you have also misinterpreted me, in your most recent post and also here:
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5351/P30/#64515

This “debate” has been constantly reframed, and no matter how many times Dwight and I say, very clearly I think, what we are saying, it is immediately put back into the biased framework that some of our members are starting with – that’s my view. I have never told anyone what the “right” or “true” meaning of a word is, particularly not religion or faith or anything of that nature. And I haven’t argued that we are doomed if we don’t all start using religious language; my point is that we are killing ourselves by reacting to it and by how we react to it. I have argued that there is much potential in a better understanding of and respect for many elements of religion, but I have never taken the dictatorial position of which I have been repeatedly accused. On the contrary, the dictatorial position has come from the other side, not including you.

I have been arguing against dogmatic rules in the use of language, just as you have. I have made the case that religion is much more than just the supernaturalist component of its belief systems. This point is exhaustively documented in the writings of religious scholars, including Ninian Smart and others. And yet none of what I would call the linguistic dogmatists has ever addressed this crucial point. Why you and I ended up on the opposite side of the fence, and precisely to what extent, I don’t understand.  To some extent, I wasn’t careful enough in reading your posts and for that, again, I apologize.

mckenzievmd - 12 April 2009 08:04 AM

4. I do see the value in “no religion,“ depending on what you mean by religion. Precisely what did you mean when you asked that final question?

I tried to use the word in a looser sense than I usually would. Typically, I view religion as a set of beliefs and practices, usually shared with a community and almost always centered on an idea of the supernatural, which form the centerpiece of the community’s world view with respect to issues of morality and the meaning or purpose of life. The key elements are “system of beliefs and practices,” “community,” “an idea of the supernatural” and the idea that these dictate the community’s views about meaning/purpose/morality. Now, I tried to expand the usage to include your somewhat fuzzy concept of a purely naturalist religion. I’ve never been clear exactly what form you envision this taking. I do not see how a world view can be described as a religion without some uniformity of beliefs and practices within the community. And if it involves shared concepts of meaning and morality, where are theses based and what room is there for individuals to discover their own?

But in any case, my point was that you seem unable to imagine the value of life lived without anything one might call a religion, even your naturalist version of one. It is this notion that there is only one true path that most disturbs me about your ideas and that earns it, in my mind, terms like “religious zeal” and so on. I can acknowledge lots of good and useful things about religion. I can also say that my life is full and rich and happy and my participation in a community perfectly fine without it, but you don’t seem to see this as possible or desirable because your personal, emotional epiphany has given you a sense of certainty that is impervious to outside perspectives.

It’s fuzzy precisely because I’m not dictating any particular form, which is quite ironic when you consider your critique of “one true path” and the like. There are probably thousands of ways to bake a perfectly good Humanistic-secularist-religious cake, including quite a few that don’t focus on or invoke “religion,” and undoubtedly many that I haven’t imagined.

To your point about some uniformity, I quite agree, but if all six of the major religions before Humanism agree on a version of the Golden Rule, I really don’t think it’s all that complicated. We scientific naturalists focus on the importance of reason and science, appropriately I think. I would also say that the Humanist Manifestos did a pretty good job of expressing our world view. What I envision is that Humanists will begin to structure some of our organizations from a new paradigm that is less reflexively adverse to everything associated with religion, and that through the evolutionary process these organizations will gain members and displace the old forms - which will remain, however, for those who want them.

But please, Brennen: I have never said or suggested that your life isn’t full and rich, etc. I barely know you and even if I did I wouldn’t say that. I have never said that to anyone. This is not a challenge but a request: please point out to me what I wrote that led to that remark.

mckenzievmd - 12 April 2009 08:04 AM

But in any case, my point was that you seem unable to imagine the value of life lived without anything one might call a religion, even your naturalist version of one. It is this notion that there is only one true path that most disturbs me about your ideas and that earns it, in my mind, terms like “religious zeal” and so on. I can acknowledge lots of good and useful things about religion. I can also say that my life is full and rich and happy and my participation in a community perfectly fine without it, but you don’t seem to see this as possible or desirable because your personal, emotional epiphany has given you a sense of certainty that is impervious to outside perspectives.

Well, again, that depends. I can’t imagine anyone living without some sense of orientation, but I’d like you to show me what I wrote that leads you to reference “only one true path.” I don’t believe that fairly characterizes anything I have written. I have had a life-changing experience, but I have also pointed out that it was life-changing for me because of my own unique background, make-up, circumstances, etc. I am confident that others could have similar experiences if they so chose, but in no way should that be read to suggest that their lives aren’t already richer and fuller than my own - though I do rather like my life. I do believe that certain basic principles are important, such as kindness, reason and many more, but I don’t see how that or anything else I have written suggests a belief in one true path.

[ Edited: 12 April 2009 12:22 PM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 12 April 2009 12:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 115 ]
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Hawkfan - 12 April 2009 09:02 AM

The purpose of the Center for Inquiry is to contribute to the public understanding and appreciation of science and reason, and their applications to human conduct.

Taken directly from the CFI page’s discussion of its mission.

This is what I can agree with.

I’m not interested in the “religion” of humanism replacing the religion of the supernatural.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that CFI change its mission. CFI is not a congregation or a synod or anything of that nature, and should not try to act like one. It is mainly an educational and advocacy center and should remain so, in my opinion.

The current argument has its genesis on the “Welcome, non-believers” topic in the General Discussion forum. http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5351/ I weighed in beginning at post 18. http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5351/P15/#64354

My comment about the many uses of the word “religion” can be extensively verified. It wasn’t an injunction for our members to use the word or try to have religious experiences but an observation that religion, as the term is commonly used, doesn’t only mean a set of beliefs.

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Posted: 12 April 2009 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 116 ]
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Paul,

Thanks for your response. Certainly, a multilayered discussion such as this can easily lead to misunderstandings and misattributions on all sides. I don’t at all disagree with your point that the secular comunity should not be ONLY about antipathy to religion, and I have problems with the aggressive tone of many of the popular atheists in the media. Doug has more or less convinced me that a “big-tent” approach to secularism leaves room for useful contributions by people with such an approach, but I am uncomfortable with them being seen as representative or the “vanguard” of secularism since I personally take a different approach to dealing with religion. In any case, I agree there is more to being a seculairst than denouncing religion, and to the extent that that is a major component of your argument, we’re on “the same side.”.


As for the language issue, all I can suggest again is that we agree to disagree. I agree that meaning in language is complexed, nuanced, constantly in flux, and very relative to context. You have referred to your interpretations of words like faith and religion as how “99.9%” of people use those words, and I dispute that. I’m not sure we can either make a convincing, objective case for exactly what those words mean to whom. I prefer to avoid them not because I’m anti-religious but because I think the elements of meaning that I see as indelible in them (including belief without evidence, supernaturalism, enforced uniformity of beliefs as a marker of community identity, and so on) are too hard to extricate from the meanings you refer to to be worth the trouble, and I do fear being misunderstood. I don’t dispute that the meanings you attribute to them are in there, just that they are sufficiently robust to avoid the confusion and associations I am concerned about. So we each stick to our own preferred language.

The dogmatism comes, I think, in that you seem to me to believe that this makes me less able to communicate effectively and build alliances outside the secular community, and that just hasn’t been my experience. I think we can engage people on the core human experiences without this vocabulary. But I think we’ve both said repeatedly that we’re not interested in dictating the other’s language choices, so we can disagree amicably here.

You also talk frequently about your transformative epiphany and seem to imply that such an experience puts you in touch with the mainstream in a way that those of us not having had such an experience are not. I’m also not convinced this is true. I certainly don’t dispute the value and reality of the experience to you, but you seem to want to make it the basis for a vision of organized humanism that doesn’t appeal to me, and I can’t agree that this vision is necessarily a good one for the secular community. You talk about formal “seminaries” for Humanist celebrants and your private “liturgical” calendar, and you and Dwight seem to feel secularism requires such things to reach out to “most” people. I am more likely to think that the price paid for such an organization of secularists might be higher than is worth paying for what we get back. I see lots of opportunities for community and for meeting the psychological needs such practices address without a “religious” structure, with or without the supernatural. Again, I’m happy to disagree here and each go about things in our own way, but your tone again seems to say that your approach is the only one likely to lead to sucess for the secular world view going forward. I’ve reviewed your posts, and you do caveat that frequently, so I have to admit it’s more a matter of tone that the actual content of you posts, and I’ve probably been unfairly harsh about it. Still, others have obviousy picked up the same message from what you’ve said, so I don’t think the fault is only in the receiver. The zeal with which you present your vision and the quickness to see disagreement as a cliche of crotchety hyperintellectual angry atheism contributes to the perception of your position as dogmatic and closed to the validity of alternative approaches.

So, as I’ve said before, we undoubtedly agree more than we disagree. And as you’ve said, I don’t want to waste time on a “turf war” between allies. I’m not likely to adopt your ostensibly religious rhetoric or style, and I think I can still work effectively with people all across the belief/non-belief spectrum anyway. We’ll have to keep trying not to charicature each other and to keep listening even where we disagree. Thanks for making the effort to reach a fair understanding of where we agree and where we differ.

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Posted: 12 April 2009 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 117 ]
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PLaClair - 12 April 2009 12:36 PM

To be clear, I am not suggesting that CFI change its mission. CFI is not a congregation or a synod or anything of that nature, and should not try to act like one. It is mainly an educational and advocacy center and should remain so, in my opinion.

The current argument has its genesis on the “Welcome, non-believers” topic in the General Discussion forum. http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5351/ I weighed in beginning at post 18. http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5351/P15/#64354

My comment about the many uses of the word “religion” can be extensively verified. It wasn’t an injunction for our members to use the word or try to have religious experiences but an observation that religion, as the term is commonly used, doesn’t only mean a set of beliefs.

To the extent that this is your point, we have no argument between us. Certainly, religions are more than just sets of beliefs. Some people do have experiences which they label “religious”, although we may debate the real meaning of that adjective depending on the context. It is also true (following anthropologists like Scott Atran) that people don’t typically accept religious or superstitious beliefs for rational or even quasi-rational reasons. Religions also have social and political aspects which may be partly noncognitive as well. And it would be uncharitable, not to say simply false, to claim that religions always were bad or brought about bad ends.

I actually find religions fascinating as areas of study. I have studied them quite a bit, both in university, grad school and after. I am quite a fan of religious artwork, painting, sculpture and music, and think there’s more than a little truth in some (early) Buddhist teachings, and enjoy some books of the Bible. (Particularly Ecclesiastes).

So I also would not consider myself “reflexively antipathetic” to religion. I am critical towards it, and not drawn to religion in my own life, but that is all.

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Posted: 12 April 2009 02:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 118 ]
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PLaClair - 02 April 2009 05:46 AM

Secularism is a world view. ...
I am interested in why our movements are not succeeding as they should, and what we can do about it.
...

Paul, it can be hard to really assess global trends, but I don’t understand the data supporting your assertion that secularization is not succeeding.

Couldn’t we agree that science is gradually succeeding?

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Posted: 12 April 2009 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 119 ]
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Jackson - 12 April 2009 02:21 PM
PLaClair - 02 April 2009 05:46 AM

Secularism is a world view. ...
I am interested in why our movements are not succeeding as they should, and what we can do about it.
...

Paul, it can be hard to really assess global trends, but I don’t understand the data supporting your assertion that secularization is not succeeding.

Couldn’t we agree that science is gradually succeeding?

I don’t think it requires a statistical analysis in light of these facts: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5650/P105/#65184

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Posted: 12 April 2009 03:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 120 ]
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Brennen, just a few comments in response to your excellent post:

mckenzievmd - 12 April 2009 01:58 PM

The dogmatism comes, I think, in that you seem to me to believe that this makes me less able to communicate effectively and build alliances outside the secular community, and that just hasn’t been my experience. I think we can engage people on the core human experiences without this vocabulary. But I think we’ve both said repeatedly that we’re not interested in dictating the other’s language choices, so we can disagree amicably here.

Since I’ve never seen you communicate, I have no basis to judge how effectively you communicate. Judging from your writing, I would say quite well. I’ll keep making my case, recognizing that it may not be persuasive unless I can demonstrate that it works; and even then you may feel that another approach works better for you.

mckenzievmd - 12 April 2009 01:58 PM

You also talk frequently about your transformative epiphany and seem to imply that such an experience puts you in touch with the mainstream in a way that those of us not having had such an experience are not. I’m also not convinced this is true. I certainly don’t dispute the value and reality of the experience to you, but you seem to want to make it the basis for a vision of organized humanism that doesn’t appeal to me, and I can’t agree that this vision is necessarily a good one for the secular community. You talk about formal “seminaries” for Humanist celebrants and your private “liturgical” calendar, and you and Dwight seem to feel secularism requires such things to reach out to “most” people. I am more likely to think that the price paid for such an organization of secularists might be higher than is worth paying for what we get back. I see lots of opportunities for community and for meeting the psychological needs such practices address without a “religious” structure, with or without the supernatural. Again, I’m happy to disagree here and each go about things in our own way, but your tone again seems to say that your approach is the only one likely to lead to sucess for the secular world view going forward. I’ve reviewed your posts, and you do caveat that frequently, so I have to admit it’s more a matter of tone that the actual content of you posts, and I’ve probably been unfairly harsh about it. Still, others have obviousy picked up the same message from what you’ve said, so I don’t think the fault is only in the receiver. The zeal with which you present your vision and the quickness to see disagreement as a cliche of crotchety hyperintellectual angry atheism contributes to the perception of your position as dogmatic and closed to the validity of alternative approaches.

You’re probably right, much of it is tone, and there’s no doubt that I misread you. What I’m adamant about is that there are particular things we’re doing horribly wrong and general things we need to do to fix it: more openness, for example, and a willingness to try new approaches. So while there are thousands of ways to bake the cake, what we’re doing isn’t among them. Who ever heard of a cake with a cup of vinegar?

I’m inclined to think that some people are reacting viscerally against some of my descriptions without really considering their content - which they might have a hard time doing. So for example, when you write that you see “lots of opportunities for community,” etc., and then say we’re disagreeing - we don’t disagree, so you must be misreading me. I have never said that any of this must be done with a religious tone, only that it can be, and that we must stop reacting against that. I’m saying that if it’s consistent with scientific naturalism, is intellectually sound and puts us forward in a good light, then we should embrace it, even if it doesn’t suit our personal tastes.

mckenzievmd - 12 April 2009 01:58 PM

So, as I’ve said before, we undoubtedly agree more than we disagree. And as you’ve said, I don’t want to waste time on a “turf war” between allies. I’m not likely to adopt your ostensibly religious rhetoric or style, and I think I can still work effectively with people all across the belief/non-belief spectrum anyway. We’ll have to keep trying not to charicature each other and to keep listening even where we disagree. Thanks for making the effort to reach a fair understanding of where we agree and where we differ.

Well put. To many more years of dialogue, then.

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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