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Humanists bridge building.
Posted: 15 June 2006 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]
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This is something I see happening in Florida with CFI and UU.

Much like science, prime concepts of god are meant to be adaptive, ever open to change and new thought. This allows the devious to bend followers to their nefarious will, but may also allow honest thoughtful people an opportunity, if they stop thinking in terms of the dichotomy of us vs. them, our idea vs. theirs. They could start using adaptive inclusive thought and action to bring more followers to welcome the embrace of a secular community of skeptical questioners looking to understand nature AND what is proposed (by others) to be supernatural, otherworldly or ineffable.

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Posted: 15 June 2006 05:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Humanists bridge building.

This is something I see happening in Florida with CFI and UU.

Much like science, prime concepts of god are meant to be adaptive, ever open to change and new thought. This allows the devious to bend followers to their nefarious will, but may also allow honest thoughtful people an opportunity, if they stop thinking in terms of the dichotomy of us vs. them, our idea vs. theirs. They could start using adaptive inclusive thought and action to bring more followers to welcome the embrace of a secular community of skeptical questioners looking to understand nature AND what is proposed (by others) to be supernatural, otherworldly or ineffable.

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Posted: 16 June 2006 02:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Chris
Are you saying that CFI and UU in Florida are at odds over some ??

What is it? Be more specific - If it is just a general difference between and among the different members that each attracts that’s understandable, but I sense that’s not what you’re saying?

Jim

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Jimmie Keyes
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Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. (MLK Jr.)

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Posted: 16 June 2006 04:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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No I am saying that CFI and UU are perfectly compatible and should be. What I was referring to often being (or appearing to be) at odds is the skeptical-atheo-agnosto-science community with ALL religious.

They way I see it both religion and science are trying to answer questions and make descriptions about our reality. They use two different methods, but I don’t agree that those methods necessarily are mutually exclusive. Religion uses introspection to posit meaning and purpose and Science explores the world outside of and as separate as possible from our thoughts.

I find too many people (of all stripes) too ready to dismiss what the other is doing"Too ready to sound the battle cry and attack. Or worse just dismiss.

When I first heard Paul Kurtz speak I heard a man who believe in the natural explanation to all things but also was certain that he had few concrete answers, and so in the spirit of open investigation was willing to entertain every reasoned discourse about the nature of nature.

This is a theme I hear reflected in any one of the POI interviews from a CFI member. They are all willing to explore, rather than just deny.

I very much like that a religious community and community of skeptical investigators are meeting and working together.

Science has done a lot, but it is currently no better prepared to answer questions of origin, purpose or consciousness than either religion or philosophy. We would be well accompanied on this quest by anyone also willing to explore no matter their own belief of what we might find in the attempt.


Phew…very tiring

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Posted: 16 June 2006 04:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Well, the question as to the difference between religion and science is one of epistemology: how is it we know about things?

I would submit that the scientific method is the paradigmatic way we learn to know about the world: by repeatable experiment, testing, statistical controls, careful investigation, reasoned thinking.

The “religious method”, insofar as there is one, is one of revelation and armchair guesswork. Revelation has got us many of the absurdities of the Bible and other texts, whereby we are told that the world was created in six days, that the sun goes around the earth, that Adam and Eve were the first humans, that we should stone adulterers and homosexuals, et cetera.

A priori we have no reason to believe that revelation and guesswork would be good methods of coming to know about the world. (Revelation, after all, is just someone’s word). And in fact they have been miserable methods.

So it seems that the confrontation between science and religion as routes to knowledge about the world and our place in it is all to the good.

Of course, there is also a shading off between aspects of religion, theology, etc., and reasoned philosophy. Yes, there may be some good material there if the religiously inspired thought is well reasoned.

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Posted: 19 June 2007 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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dougsmith - 16 June 2006 04:30 AM

Well, the question as to the difference between religion and science is one of epistemology: how is it we know about things?

I would submit that the scientific method is the paradigmatic way we learn to know about the world: by repeatable experiment, testing, statistical controls, careful investigation, reasoned thinking.

The “religious method”, insofar as there is one, is one of revelation and armchair guesswork. Revelation has got us many of the absurdities of the Bible and other texts, whereby we are told that the world was created in six days, that the sun goes around the earth, that Adam and Eve were the first humans, that we should stone adulterers and homosexuals, et cetera.

A priori we have no reason to believe that revelation and guesswork would be good methods of coming to know about the world. (Revelation, after all, is just someone’s word). And in fact they have been miserable methods.

So it seems that the confrontation between science and religion as routes to knowledge about the world and our place in it is all to the good.

Of course, there is also a shading off between aspects of religion, theology, etc., and reasoned philosophy. Yes, there may be some good material there if the religiously inspired thought is well reasoned.

Doug, you have an understandable impatience for the weltanschauung of christians - not unwarranted by itself - if unalloyed it is laughable in this day and age. But if we are asking them to look at their cards, maybe we should take a peek at ours?

We giggle at their metaphysics, but remain clueless as to why the church has persisted, why it is far more popular than any manifestation of Humanism. Should we not look more closely at what “they’ve got” that makes these conventional religions enduring?

To my mind what they have are two things - aspiration and congregation. They aspire to an afterlife, or peace on Earth, or an end to poverty and war, all quite understandable. Then they congregate and work together, however tangentially, in the name of those goals.

It is in the latter category where Humanism is no match for any religion, and it is just as big a mistake for Humanists to dimiss the relevance of congregation as it is for christians to dismiss evolution. Humanists will have to understand that. We are social animals and know that collectively we have magic in a bottle. By ourselves, we are lonely Thoreaus lost in the bush.

My personal solution for this shortcoming would be to reclaim the edifice of “the Church” for Humanism (ergo a Humanist Church, see my fledgling site at man.org). By adopting the structure of a church, Humanists put themselves on an equal footing with conventional religions, and better, allow people to choose an apple among apples.

Remember, atheists like myself don’t believe in gods, but nowhere does it say that atheists can’t support a church. So if your proviso is that “if the religiously inspired thought is well reasoned” then seeing this edifice as Humanism’s to claim is in your permitted category.

I think it’s time to separate baby and bathwater here, ere Humanism withers on the vine, one grape at a time?

Dwight

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Posted: 19 June 2007 11:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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OK, well, I’m certainly not 100% opposed to the sort of thing you’re after ... in fact, it’s pretty much what the Center for Inquiry is doing by constructing new centers and groups around the country, and affiliating with like-minded groups worldwide.

However my concern is that once you aim for “congregation” you are at some danger of falling afoul of dogmatism ... preaching to the choir and all of that.

Further, there is the issue that I, personally, am not a joiner of any sort of halleluja-chorus type of institution. I don’t care to meet every x-day at y-o’clock and read some book out loud. (Or have it read to me). I know there are many people of all stripes who enjoy such things. Indeed, there are Unitarian churches, and other organizations that are effectively atheist/agnostic churches. I personally just am not interested in joining one.

CFI appears to me to be organizing itself as something more like a school or cultural organization. I’m more comfortable in that mold.

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Posted: 19 June 2007 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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dougsmith - 19 June 2007 11:52 AM

OK, well, I’m certainly not 100% opposed to the sort of thing you’re after ... in fact, it’s pretty much what the Center for Inquiry is doing by constructing new centers and groups around the country, and affiliating with like-minded groups worldwide.

CFI appears to me to be organizing itself as something more like a school or cultural organization. I’m more comfortable in that mold.

Good points. I am not a joiner, myself, of anything and so it is hard to tack into that wind as I am doing now. OTOH, CFI is indeed providing some architecture, and I am gratified to see that some ivy branches are emerging.

I guess the difference between a “church” and a “school or cultural organization” is the degree of focus. CFI’s model is open-ended, whereas a Humanist Church will likely have a tighter agenda.

There’s certainly room for all the above flavors, if Humanism blossoms as I see it doing, imminently. Indeed, all hands on deck until we find a critical mass and the general population hears of our existence..

Dwight

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Posted: 19 June 2007 10:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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A bit of historical clarification.  The American Humanist Association was formed in 1933 by a group that was somewhere around half made up of Unitarian ministers.  In the late 50s or early 60s the Unitarians merged with the Universalists.  I happened go to the local Unitarian church in 1968 for a different purpose but found the minister was as much of an atheist as I was.  I joined when I realised that about 80% of the congregation were atheists and agnostics.  Over the years the Universalists (liberal theists) took over the political leadership of the UUs and as the humanist ministers retired, replaced them with theists.  However, the uUs like to claim they are humanists, and I suppose they are Religous Humanists.

Kurtz split from the AHA in the 70s or 80s and formed the Secular Humanists, CFI.  As such, I can see an uneasy connection between the Florida uUs (notice capitalization) and the CFI.

Occam

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Posted: 19 June 2007 10:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Occam - 19 June 2007 10:02 PM

A bit of historical clarification.  The American Humanist Association was formed in 1933 by a group that was somewhere around half made up of Unitarian ministers.  In the late 50s or early 60s the Unitarians merged with the Universalists.  I happened go to the local Unitarian church in 1968 for a different purpose but found the minister was as much of an atheist as I was.  I joined when I realised that about 80% of the congregation were atheists and agnostics.  Over the years the Universalists (liberal theists) took over the political leadership of the UUs and as the humanist ministers retired, replaced them with theists.  However, the uUs like to claim they are humanists, and I suppose they are Religous Humanists.

Kurtz split from the AHA in the 70s or 80s and formed the Secular Humanists, CFI.  As such, I can see an uneasy connection between the Florida uUs (notice capitalization) and the CFI.

Occam

Thank you Occam.

I’m finding that younger and nouveau Humanists are more open to the idea of a Humanist Church, the older Humanists have settled into an anti-religious stance comparatively, in my estimation. The idea of atheists forming a church is too much for traditional Humanists, whereas the prominence of fundamentalists these days makes church membership an option the young must consider.

And I continue to think that a focused church (e.g. one that keeps the members’ DNA as an indicator of distinctive projects and outlook) would be viable, albeit with a small fraction of the Humanists to come.

Dwight

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Posted: 19 June 2007 11:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Even though I believe we should reclaim and redefine some words the religious have laid claimed to, I cringe at the word church.  Surely there is a better name for a Humanists gathering place.  Church has always been used for a Christian place of worship and I serious doubt after so many centuries it can be redefined.

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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: 21 June 2007 01:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I thoroughly agree, Mriana.  Fellowship, congregation (?), organization, etc. would be better.  And with a theasurus we could come up with a few dozen better words.

Occam

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Posted: 21 June 2007 02:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I think there is one Humanist group in California that calls their meeting place a Fellowship hall, but that almost sounds like the JWs.  It’s really hard to find something that doesn’t make someone cringe though.  Organization sounds good and I think it would make very few people cringe.

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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: 21 June 2007 11:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Mriana - 21 June 2007 02:06 AM

I think there is one Humanist group in California that calls their meeting place a Fellowship hall, but that almost sounds like the JWs.  It’s really hard to find something that doesn’t make someone cringe though.  Organization sounds good and I think it would make very few people cringe.

I think we can separate people who don’t want to be associated with christianity from those who disdain churches. Then there are atheists who flaunt their status as “heretics”. You will note that Humanism has nothing to do with these viewpoints, per se.

Even CFI, which as Doug pointed out does bring some organization with it, is not dedicated to Humanism, it’s just one flag it flies.

So. if we describe ourselves as an atheist church, it’s for others to dissect and us to understand- we are retrieving our human birthright to pool human potential under one roof. It’s that simple.

Further, THC (The Humanist Church, not the miracle herb) has some shock value that could give it some editorial mention down the line. I envision the headline ATHEISTS BUILDING A CHURCH in the religion section of the Sunday papers grin

Finally, belonging to a group is a personal decision first, and shouldn’t be seen in its social context pre-emptively. Once you understand that the members are atheist and Humanists, there need not be any reservations beyond that. Au contraire, I relish mentioning to others that I belong to the Humanist Church. I then sit back and watch the smoke come out of their ears.

Dwight

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Posted: 21 June 2007 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Well, I hope to one day be a Humanist Celebrant, so who am I to argue- Humanist Church or Humanist Fellowship Hall or Humanist Organization.  I guess it really doesn’t matter and really it should be what the people want to label it. I still cringe at the word church though.

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Posted: 21 June 2007 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I feel the same way about “church”.  If an atheist or non-theist group used that word, it would lead many theists to say, “See, I told them atheism is merely another religion.”  And calling lack of belief in a god a religion really annoys me.

Occam

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