You know what I mean, but after raising two sons by myself, it seems like a lifetime. Who wants seconds though? We get enough chances in one life to make the best of it. An average of 78 years and given my family lives to be well into their 90s, I have a loooooong ways to go still to make it a good one. :D
In the spirit of bridge building, there’s a chap called Francis in London who has set up a bridge building group to try and redefine humanism in the 21st century. We’re talking about humanism with a small “h” here. The group is reaching out to religious people and just trying to move soicety forward.
It is internet based through “meetup”, and there have been 2 face to face meetings so far, of which I have attended 2, and have now put myself down as a recruiter. Its more of a practical thing than a philosophical thing, and there’s quite a mix of people, unfortunately I see one or possibly two who look like they have their own agenda(such as advertising something)), but I suppose you take the rough with the smooth - and going from zero to 140 members in three months is rather impressive.
He has the following 3 aims on the website:
- To help redefine humanism so that people of all faiths and none can engage in dialogue around basic humanist principles that embrace the values of tolerance, global compassion, personal self-discovery, shared development, planetary concern and a love of community.
- To help understand that human values can only be pursued when we do not elevate human kind to a plane above all else in the universe but accept that we are part of a greater whole and that it is a respect for that greater whole that will ensure human survival and mutual understanding.
- To create a global network of people who share these views so that a world wide civic culture can develop based upon respect for tolerance as well as planetary and human diversity.
I hope I have not infringed any etiquette rule by publicising this. I don’t believe so anyway.
I think an important aspect to humanist goals would be pointing out, maybe campaigning, that: Christians can be humanists Muslims can be humanists Atheists can be humanists etc.
It is important to raise consciousness and break the erroneous claims that anything associated with atheism = bad.
I like the point many made earlier on this topic that they resist humanism under religious flags. This is a lot like DJ’s analogy of “nailing jello to a tree”. Independence, free thinking and creativity, I would say, are all beneficial to humanist goals. If it is possible to establish common ground with a humanist framework, then it seems the best place to start is by call attention to the most basic human universals—our needs.
Safety – security of body, family, resources, health, property, morality
Love / Belonging – friendship, family, sexual intimacy
Self-Esteem – achievement, respect for & by others
Self-Actualization – morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice
Throughout humanities recent history the predominant communities that assist the individual with these core needs have been religious based. I agree with Dwight Jones that more effort can be made on pure humanist grounds supporting human needs. Rallying humanists by following religious methodology evokes many on this forum to cringe, as I think it should. Humanist solutions under any flag - religion, atheist or government based should all be welcome. If secular humanists have something to prove to Christian humanists and vice versa, then I say, let the humanist arms race begin. We are at risk of becoming better-off.
Well… If you look at John Shelby Spong, you can see a lot of Humanism going there in his philosophy. From what I can tell, he has been heavily influenced by the Sea of Faith, much like Anthony Freeman has: http://www.sofn.org.uk/ They could be called Christian Humanists and they even argue this point here: http://www.sofn.org.uk/First_Time/Humanist.html In all actuality they are religious Humanists much like Jewish Humanist are (ie Epstein). Islamic Humanist are generally, if I understand correctly, are Secular Islamist. What the deal is, from what I gather from Rashdie, is that it culturally identifying. He even said something about this at the recent humanist meeting (I can’t find the site where it was reported). He even said (not exact quote) they are ours (culturally), but we don’t know how to relate to them. Epstein is writing a book concerning Cultural Humanism. I am starting to figure out what is meant by this and for a while I did not think X-ianity had a cultural anything about it. I soon found that my assumption was possibly wrong. Like Judaism and Islam, various Christian groups do have a cultural identity, even Dawkins says he comes from the Anglican tradition, which is Episcopalian here in the states, but nonetheless different only by location (or local culture). As I listened to various people who came from the Anglican Communion ( http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ ) I soon realized there IS an identity there, just as there is an identity with Catholics and Protestants (other than Anglican). If you visit that site and you come from a Protestant background other than Episcopalian, you MIGHT be in for a culture shock and think Catholic. It is not Catholic though and is the tradition I came from during my adult life until I became a Humanist and I don’t see Spong’s view (google him for info about him) isn’t much different from mine except our opinions on the Bible (he loves it, I don’t, I see nothing historical about JC, I think he does though- not sure, etc etc). My mother didn’t take me to my grandmother and uncle’s fundie churches regularly as a child, so even though I know about them, I was not actually raised fundie as a child, but there is a weird culture there too.
So, yes, one can be a religious Humanist based on identity/culture and in some circumstances to avoid flack, I have identified myself as a Christian Humanist. The said fact of the matter is that most people don’t know what that is. You’re lucky if they do not question you on it, but if they do and you try to explain it, you get blasted in the Bible Belt for it, at least in this part, because there is no belief in an actual supernatural being. It soon dawns on them you are talking of being an apostate X-ian, thus the culture part, who became a Humanist. Hopefully they are of the more liberal group of X-ians and don’t start jumping you about it.
Anyway, yes, there are religious Humanists, but it is more of a cultural identity, I think, than anything else.
Uhh… I hate finding out I graduated with the wrong major, Thanks Truth…
I looked into Ed O. Wilson & sociobiology and found a bunch of interesting concepts I have never taken the time to explore.
Cultural selection theory
Dual inheritance theory
Ethics and evolutionary psychology
Evolutionary developmental psychology
Human behavioral ecology
Iterated prisoner’s dilemma
evolution and human behavior
The Gene Illusion
I think I am going to quit my job & go back to school.
I’ll now more once I read one of Wilson’s books & Steven Pinkers “Blank Slate”
I want to just throw this out there, from the posts I’ve read and all, but I hear all sorts of stuff like
[Quote]Christians can be humanists
Muslims can be humanists
Atheists can be humanists
And I wonder (it’s in my nature). But anyway, as to that thing I was going to just throw out there: Why do we need humanists? I mean, we don’t, obviously, but - what I mean to ask here here is why do you think we need humanism? Now, you’re dealing with Narwhol here, so don’t think this is just some kind of a I don’t know what humanism, I’m just curious and need to be set straight kind of a question. No, what I really mean is: do you think humanism (holistically speaking) actually does any good that wasn’t already being done. As I understand it (and punch me if I’m wrong here), humanism was a response to the semi-valid question: “if there is no god, and no ten commandments, what is your basis for decent living?” Now, I would answer that question with a much more reasonable answer: “get off my doorstep before I go and fetch my gun” or “it’s none of your sodding business”, but humanists seemed much more willing to fall into this trap. Back to why Atheists can be humanists: well, thank you very much, you lot can be atheists too if you like, but we atheists don’t want to and why obsess about something you already do. We’re alright, us atheists. We’re not the best people in the world generally (although one or two of us might coincidentally be), but we’re alright, same as the members of any group (broadly speaking) are (except that we’re not a group). We don’t need to show everyone how wonderfully nice we are and to compete with religious people in a niceness contest and claim we’re winning. We just quietly (or vocally, as suits) get on with stuff. We don’t strategise how we’re going to get our points across because we don’t care whether other people get them or not. We don’t try to build bridges with religious people, we let them know early on that we’re athesists and that we can still have fun together if we respect each other’s boundaries and we don’t care how wer’re percieved by others on the basis of our lack of belief, because if most of the world believe beardy cloud guy created everything, then most of the world’s opinions are idiotic, and their opininons about us ditto. We don’t need humanism because it s a response to how can atheists be decent, despite the self-evident fact that we can, and it leads to catholic guilt and oneupmanship in the “I’m decent because…” contests and all that kind of stuff. The best bridge building you can do with people of other ideas is, if they start any funny stuff, just say straight out: look I’m not going to waste my time arguing you on this one because you strike me sa a bigot… but we can still have fun, and here’s how… And you lay down some ground rules and if they don’t stick to them you tell them your conversation is over, leave them and don’t miss them.
Narwhol, I don’t think humanism is just, as you imply, a public relations scheme. It’s not just about showing people that ethics and proscoial behavior can be justified without reference to God. Yes, that’s part of it, and I thik sadly it is styill a necessary part, at least in these Benighted States where most people still think atheism and hedonsim/stalinism/pick you bad -ism are synonymous. But humanism responds to a need many of us (though clearly not you, and good on you for it) feel for a sense of community, for some structured expression of our world view to read, share, teach our kids, etc. I don’t buy the notion that atheists are all lone wolves, and if that is the only thing they can be then we might as well give up trying to diminish the role of religion because most people won’t go the lone wolf route by temperment. So humanism gives us some of the social and psychological and intellectual benefits of a party and a platform, a church and a doctrine without the BS that religion offers or the need to give up individuality, critical thinking, or scientific naturalism. While I would agree plenty of atheists don’t need humanism, you seem to be confusing what you do or do not need with what does or does not have utility in the world. Just a religion meets needs LOTS of people have, even if we don’t have them, so humanism meets some needs that yhou may not have but others do. At least we don’t go door to door with it!
Well said Brennen.
I have often wondered if my humanist emotions are a byproduct of my religous upbringing and a desire to be respected by my religious family and peers. I have found no explenation why I should abandon these emotions. I think this is because there are strong economic advantages to fitting in and being a part of a community. This is the main reason I avoid letting my co-workers know I am an Atheist. Thank evolution, for our ability to predict.
Another problem with atheist (or humanist, or secular) churches is that in the US, nontheism is a form of rejection of social life. Here participation in community activities, even secular ones, increases with (reported) church attendance, and is lowest among nonreligious people. The most visible indicator of that is voting trends: while as of 2001 15% of American adults are nonreligious, only 10-11% of voters say they’re nonreligious on exit polls. If Paul Kurtz is right and the actual percentage of nonreligious Americans is 18 rather than 15, then it translates to a voter participation rate in the mid-30s. If he’s wrong and it’s 15%, then it’s still only about 40%.