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Paul Kurtz - A Kinder, Gentler Secularism
Posted: 22 October 2009 08:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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I have profound respect for Paul Kurtz but this all just seems to me to be about one thing. The man is about to be 90 years old and is incapable of understanding the best means of reaching and speaking to THIS new generation. I’ve read Kurtz’s commentaries and listened to his gripes on POI and sorry to say, I get nothing but the feeling of an old man who has lost touch. Even the Pope is younger than Kurtz, and most people don’t think of the Catholic Church as a beacon of youthful vigor, passion and new ways of thinking. A movement of open-minded non-believers should be full of more fresh ideas, passion and energy than a stale institution led and governed by nothing but a bunch of old decrepit men. Not that old age suggests an inability to lead but rather an ability to adapt to new ideas and ways of thinking. You would hope a man of intellectual openness like Kurtz would have the wisdom to understand this. With each generation, the message may not change much, but the means should always be evolving and adapting to the needs and ever changing climate of the times we live in. To keep doing things the way they’ve always been done would truly be fundamentalist and dogmatic because the very nature of those two concepts suggest a mind closed off to the idea of change and that is what seems to me to be at the root of Kurtz’s and everyone of like mind’s disagreement.

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Posted: 22 October 2009 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Occam - 16 October 2009 05:59 PM

While atheism may be defined as anti-theism, non-theism, or a few other shades of meaning, I see the general concept as one that doesn’t accept the existence of one or more gods.  I see Humanism as a humanistic, humane, human centered philosophy, different from any of the versions of atheist, even though many of the former also fit into the idea of the latter.  However, once we stick the adjective “secular” in front of humanist, we’ve sort of shifted the discussion in a manner such that the two word term seems to include at least one of the meanings of atheism. 
Occam

I certainly agree that the word ‘secular’ has no place alongside the appellation Humanism. The necessary implication is that Humanism is theistic without it, which it most certainly is not.

Since everything old is new again, it may be useful to review the Renaissance scholar Robert Grudin’s sketch of Humanism in the Britannica,  and do note how little it has to do with religion or atheism or secular et. al., and much more with responsibility:

“Humanitas meant the development of human virtue, in all its forms, to its fullest extent. The term thus implied not only such qualities as are associated with the modern word humanity—understanding, benevolence, compassion, mercy—but also such more aggressive characteristics as fortitude, judgment, prudence, eloquence, and even love of honour.

Consequently, the possessor of humanitas could not be merely a sedentary and isolated philosopher or man of letters but was of necessity a participant in active life. Just as action without insight was held to be aimless and barbaric, insight without action was rejected as barren and imperfect. Humanitas called for a fine balance of action and contemplation, a balance born not of compromise but of complementarity.

The goal of such fulfilled and balanced virtue was political, in the broadest sense of the word. The purview of Renaissance humanism included not only the education of the young but also the guidance of adults (including rulers) via philosophical poetry and strategic rhetoric. It included not only realistic social criticism but also utopian hypotheses, not only painstaking reassessments of history but also bold reshapings of the future.

In short, humanism called for the comprehensive reform of culture, the transfiguration of what humanists termed the passive and ignorant society of the “dark” ages into a new order that would reflect and encourage the grandest human potentialities. Humanism had an evangelical dimension: it sought to project humanitas from the individual into the state at large.”

[ Edited: 22 October 2009 08:37 AM by Martinus ]
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Posted: 22 October 2009 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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AndruAesthetik - 22 October 2009 08:32 AM

I get nothing but the feeling of an old man who has lost touch. Even the Pope is younger than Kurtz, and most people don’t think of the Catholic Church as a beacon of youthful vigor, passion and new ways of thinking. A movement of open-minded non-believers should be full of more fresh ideas, passion and energy than a stale institution led and governed by nothing but a bunch of old decrepit men.

A classical case of ageism if nothing else, and nothing it is. You broach no idea(s), and complain that a man with Dr. Kurtz’ life works has to reinvent himself to warrant your attention. Let the Ditchkins group sell books to atheist novitiates, who clearly revel in their chest-thumping rebel ways.

We older heads who retreat to the classics understand that concepts such as world government, as espoused by Dr. Kurtz, are as fresh (and unfulfilled) as always, and the cart really won’t benefit from a fifth wheel and a maniacal driver.

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Posted: 22 October 2009 10:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Andruaesthetik’s comments are the most Ageist I have seen on any forum.  This is ugly discrimination at its worst.
It degrades and discounts the many contributions older people have and continue to make to Society and Humansim.

Paul Kurtz has accomplished great things for Humanism, is still and physically and mentally acute, and can contribute more

I doubt if Andru will do a fraction of that contribution in his lifetime.

Hugheen

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Posted: 22 October 2009 06:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Well, I’m only ten years younger than Kurtz, and while associating the characterics Andru mentions with age may annoy you, I feel Kurtz has had them for many years, not just because of his age. 

And, you have no justification for assuming or “doubting” anything about Andru.  That personal attack is at least as onerous as any you perceive in terms of ageism.

Occam

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Posted: 22 October 2009 07:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Well, I’m only ten years younger than Kurtz, and while associating the characterics Andru mentions with age may annoy you, I feel Kurtz has had them for many years, not just because of his age.

Can you elaborate on what characteristics bother you, Occam?

A movement of open-minded non-believers should be full of more fresh ideas, passion and energy than a stale institution led and governed by nothing but a bunch of old decrepit men.

In fairness, if you are talking about Humanism, you can’t blame Kurtz if “secular” types hijacked it and sold it in the streets as atheism.

And, you have no justification for assuming or “doubting” anything about Andru.  That personal attack is at least as onerous as any you perceive in terms of ageism.

His dismissal of Kurtz was presumptuous, disrespectful, sophomoric - we must gather those ‘characteristics’ are not important to you? Hugheen’c comment was by no means unwarranted.

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Posted: 23 October 2009 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Your ethical razor may need sharpening Occam.  I oppose Ageism the same way I opposed Racism and
his piece clearly showed he views age as something unacceptable in terms of wisdom and ability
I suggest he (and maybe you) talk to Paul Kurtz personally and see if he has lost it.  He just finished his 53rd book (three this year) with another in the works.  His points are worth considering irrespective of his age, (and I do have doubts about
anyone who casts a blanket prejudice against any group of people at any age.

Hugheen

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Posted: 23 October 2009 02:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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rodneycwilson - 22 October 2009 06:13 AM

Very sad. I’m glad he’s a minority.

He may be in the minority, but there are by no means only a few Christians who buy into the whole hellfire b.s.

There are millions of them in the U.S. alone, and increasingly in Asia and Africa, too.

And yes, the whole concept is mean-spirited and irrational, as, well, hell.

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Posted: 23 October 2009 02:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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KCP6030 - 18 October 2009 01:08 PM

While I understand Dr Kurtz’s focus on positive aspects of Humanism, he seems not to delineate between interpersonal behavior and the behavior of public expression of parties who disagree. I would not tell someone that their beliefs are nutty in a face-to-face for the purpose of humiliating or otherwise bruising them. On the other hand, I see nothing wrong, in the public forum, with pointing out the sheer nuttiness of some people’s beliefs. Just because someone feels personally insulted by a public statement doesn’t mean that it’s a personal attack.

Kevin

The first sentence above is an interesting point.  As I have great regard for Paul Kurtz, I’d love to hear how he might respond.

I agree wholeheartedly with the remainder of the above post.  Interestingly, only today I was accused by a Christian of being “full of hatred” for simply clearly stating what I feel to be harms and shortcomings of god beliefs in today’s world.  Good grief.
As someone pointed out elsewhere in the thread, theists are going to have to get used to it…

The bottom line, to me, of much of the other semantic squabbling above is just that context is important - there is a time and a place for most every reasonably civil approach and every term of art.  The relative degree of aggression and stridency vs. diplomacy and tact depends on the situation. 
Humor, well-used, may be the best tool of all…

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Posted: 14 November 2009 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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I finally got to listen to this podcast and thoroughly enjoyed it, as I do much of what Paul Kurtz has said and written.  I’ve read many of the comments in this thread and regardless of what others have said, I really liked what he had to say.  I personally like to keep things positive, if at all possible and he does a good job of that, but of course, I am not above commenting on some of the ridiculous and even dehumanizing things of religion or even committing blasphemy myself.

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Posted: 15 November 2009 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Thank you Mriana, your recent post has brought this topic of discussion to my attention. So I too, have just listen to the podcast.

I just recently joined CFI forum, as I really appreciate the open and intelligent conversations/debates about religion.  My friends and family are well aware of my secular views, our common ground is based on our shared Humanistic principles.

I do not want to ‘in your face’ offend believers (though I have to admitt, I don’t care about offending the hypocrits smile ), but I do feel it is important for our society to hear it is acceptable to question religion and the belief in God(s), without being ostracized or viewed as evil.  Hopefully then, future generations may lead fuller lives based on reason & science, not the fear of God.

It is great to see younger members joining CFI discussion forums (it’s a good sign for the future), but we should not disregard the trail blazers before them, such as Paul Kurtz.

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Posted: 15 November 2009 08:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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After reading through this entire chain of messages I can’t help but feel that we are making an either-or argument where none exists.

Mr. Kurtz has done amazing work in his lifetime and continues to fight the good fight in his way.  We can all gain from his wisdom while at the same time refrain from the danger of hero worship.  Those of us who understand his approach and what he is trying to say have the obligation to translate it to those in the younger generation who may not understand.  We must also trust the intelligence of this younger generation and their ability to carry on the good fight into the future.

Some of us prefer the kinder, gentler approach while others are more effectively getting directly in the face of believers and, more importantly, the fundamentalists.

Some believers are turned off by the hard sell while others need that kick in the butt to see reality.

Must we really take the one-message, one-camp approach that is working oh-so-well for the GOP?

Let the philosophers, thinkers, fighters, comedians, and thoughtful individuals each take their place in the important fight to rid the world of superstition.

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Posted: 15 November 2009 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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I hear you, Fredrick and I agree.  Even so, I do appreciate what Paul Kurtz says and prefer being kind and gentle myself.  It isn’t always easy here in Pentecostal land though.

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Posted: 15 November 2009 03:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Must we really take the one-message, one-camp approach that is working oh-so-well for the GOP?

Let the philosophers, thinkers, fighters, comedians, and thoughtful individuals each take their place in the important fight to rid the world of superstition.

I agree.

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Posted: 04 December 2009 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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AG - 15 November 2009 03:35 PM

Must we really take the one-message, one-camp approach that is working oh-so-well for the GOP?

Let the philosophers, thinkers, fighters, comedians, and thoughtful individuals each take their place in the important fight to rid the world of superstition.

I agree.

All well and good, and what are we going to discuss then, once the monasteries stop smouldering? Nonbeliefs do not excite me.

Paul Kurtz was/is a Humanist and wrote about subjects such as World Federalism, a critical idea, and species governance is, I feel, the proper study of Humanism and indeed Man himself.

I just completed a book “The Humanist” and it certainly doesn’t focus on fundy bashing. If anyone wants to read it, I’ll forward you a coupon. It’s positive Humanism in spades.

Humanism is likely the only philosophy that can ever unite our species, ergo I espouse a variant I term inclusive Humanism, toward that prospect. The IHEU doesn’t like modifiers in front of Humanism, but secular is rampant anyway, and inclusive just speaks to its target constituency being (much) wider.

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