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Paul Kurtz’ Neo-Humanist Letter to the Atheists
Posted: 30 March 2010 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I do note that St. Ron has denied any knowledge of Paul Kurtz at least three times in his blog…

If you read down the list of posts (by Ron Lindsay) you will note that every one is concerned with religion. Paul Kurtz maintains that this is not a Humanist perspective, it is exclusively atheist. Why invoke a noble philosophy like Humanism alongside it?

If you can disclaim any support for neo-Humanism, please drop any affectation of Humanism in any guise as well. Allow people with a legitimate sensibility for our species, planet and lives some space and oxygen outside of religious acrimony.

There is real work to be done and it won’t be led by obverse missionaries spreading ‘the truth’ - religion is a personal matter and the first responsibility of a Humanist is to understand and respect that concept.

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Posted: 30 March 2010 08:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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If you want anyone to take a position, you have provided very little information to even begin to make any decisions, much less comments..

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Posted: 30 March 2010 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Humanism is a progressive philosophy, not an atheist philosophy per se, although too many make the mistake of conflating the two. I completely agree, humanism is the rational concern for ecology, environment and the human condition. Religion is part of the human condition. We should try to understand religion as part of human culture and recognize our allies in taking care of the planet, and each other, regardless of the god belief of individuals. I’m not comfortable, not even as an atheist of over 40 years, with being part of a “belief system” whose main project is militant opposition to religion. I find that divisive and un-productive. Thus, I do not and very seldom attend “atheist” organizations. [by atheist organizations, I mean organizations that have “atheist” in their organizations name].  What we should oppose or critique is behavior that is destructive of humanity and the environment we depend on. I think of myself as a progressive without God.
—Gary the Grouch, a lifelong humanist.

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Posted: 30 March 2010 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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There you go, Asanta, if you needed more details, Gary just laid it out for you..

My feelings exactly, along with those of every other Humanist who resents pop-atheism displacing a progressive desire to see our species close ranks and get to work.

When I try to understand militant atheism, I conclude that two countries, the US and UK, are basically religious countries, more so than Canada, Holland, Germany etc.  Maybe even more so than France and Italy, who have moved on.

Indeed, England is still much influenced by the Church of England, so English intellectuals flock to that fight. Neither they, nor US atheists, little realize how odd this looks to thinkers in other countries- it’s truly retro. They can’t understand why we don’t want them taking the name of Humanism in vain in the process.

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Posted: 30 March 2010 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I consider myself a secular humanist, atheism is part of my world view but it is not the main “driver” of my politics.

I’m torn on the issue.

On the one hand, I do see the writings of Dawkins, Hitchen’s et.al. as a necessary corrective to the constant stream of propaganda put out by religious persons and organisations. In the market place of ideas it is important to have a credible alternative. If the so called new-atheists were to simply “be quiet” it leave the public space purely to the religious.

However, I agree the larger majority of people have some form of religious belief and are not comfortable with having that challenged. Indeed, throughout my life I’ve experienced anger and hostility from religious people for simply stating I have no beliefs.

We live in this world and have to work with and attempt to solve real world problems. I take a “cosmopolitan” view. I’m happy to respect a persons beliefs, however the great thing about our civilisation is the exchange of ideas. I’ll happily share those views with others if they are interested and willing to engage in a civil conversation.

When you use your religion to shape public policy, then it is subject to critical debate. No belief should be sacred and exempt from critical examination, including my own. Whether it is the Catholic Church advising people not to use condemns (and thus facilitating the spread of AIDS), evangelical Christians picketing abortion clinics or Muslim fundamentalists wanting to impose Sharia law - all their claims are rightly open to debate in a democracy.

That’s why I emphasise the *secular* aspect of my beliefs.  Keep personal beliefs out of politics. However, a great many do not.

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Posted: 30 March 2010 04:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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You can read his Neo-Humanist Manifesto in full here:  http://paulkurtz.net/index.html

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“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: 26 April 2010 02:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Lindsay blogs:
3/22 http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/show/atheism_humanism_and_the_neo-humanist_statement/

4/22 http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/humanism_and_atheism/

[ Edited: 26 April 2010 02:50 AM by Jackson ]
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Posted: 26 April 2010 03:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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In the appendix Paul Kurtz clarifies his point about the New Atheists:
http://paulkurtz.net/documents/appendix.html

A new challenge has emerged today to confront secular humanism; for several secular authors have advocated “the new atheism.” These include Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Victor Stenger. They insist that there is sufficient evidence for atheism and urge that secular humanists aggressively advocate the view that “God does not exist,” that the classical religions are false, that people who believe in them are deceived, and that their ethical values are also false. The new atheists have published several books that have become mini-bestsellers. They have received widespread public attention, and this has attracted some secular humanists who insist that secular does imply atheism (or agnosticism).

    For a variety of reasons we submit that this position is mistaken, for it has distorted both secular humanism and humanism in general. We reaffirm that secular humanists are (a) skeptical of supernatural claims, (b) no not think that there is sufficient evidence for God’s existence, and (c) do not believe the historical claims of revelation in the Bible or the Koran are evidential. (d) Ethics should be independent of theological foundations; nor do we think (e) that we should lampoon or ridicule religious believers per se. (f) We should indeed critically examine the many claims of religious traditions with a skeptical eye, and (g) and we should be willing to engage in constructive dialogue and debate with those within the religious communities. (h) Although we may profoundly disagree with our religious colleagues and/or adversaries, we should be tolerant, respectful, and dignified. (i) Even though we may disagree about fundamental doctrinal, philosophical, or theological issues, our discourse should be civilized.

It appears to me that Paul Kurtz is jealous of their success and their leadership. 

I find it objectionable and not entirely rational that Kurtz links atheism to totalitarianism:

One should not overlook the fact that the old atheism had a strong impact in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, insofar as it was allied with Marxism, including its totalitarian versions. Indeed the communists at first attempted to eradicate religious institutions from the societies in which they ruled, and this led to extensive persecution of believers.

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Posted: 26 April 2010 05:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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A new challenge has emerged today to confront secular humanism; for several secular authors have advocated “the new atheism.” These include Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Victor Stenger. They insist that there is sufficient evidence for atheism and urge that secular humanists aggressively advocate the view that “God does not exist,” that the classical religions are false, that people who believe in them are deceived, and that their ethical values are also false.

Gasp! How dare they urge people to tell the truth! Why, we’d be better off letting the religious dictate our lifestyles: tell us who we can marry and who we cannot marry, teach our children an invisible man created the Universe 6,000 years ago and convince the populace atheists are evil and have no civil rights. All this truth business might offend religious believers, don’tchya know.

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Posted: 26 April 2010 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I think of the new atheists as being the front point in the movement against theism. The shock troops. Behind them come the humanists and the rest of the horde. The people at the front *must* be brutal in order to drive the wedge forward. Whining about their tactics is disingenuous when you’re walking in behind them after they’ve prepared the way.

Progressives really have a way of organizing into circular firing squads…

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Posted: 26 April 2010 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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As far as I can tell, drawing this line against “new atheists” is actually something of a strawman argument.  The “new atheists” listed above have publicly stated that their atheism is not a reflection of their moral values; it simply means that they reject theism.  Each one of them has an individual take on their view of the battle.  For example, I found that Sam Harris stated his position very clearly: he’s against all forms of dogmatism, whether that be theist dogma or atheist.  The important thing is to approach the world with honesty, compassion, and sound logic.

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Posted: 27 April 2010 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Tom Wood - 26 April 2010 09:06 AM

I think of the new atheists as being the front point in the movement against theism. The shock troops. Behind them come the humanists and the rest of the horde. The people at the front *must* be brutal in order to drive the wedge forward. Whining about their tactics is disingenuous when you’re walking in behind them after they’ve prepared the way.

Progressives really have a way of organizing into circular firing squads…

I like this post Tom. Above I heard mention from Martinus about “Pop Atheism”. Pop Atheism? I have heard your stance regarding atheism for awhile now Marty and I respect it-to a point. The thing I think you and others are mistaking is the fact that there is no room for your Humanist values in the main venues of religion. As long as giant, organized religions prosper with their political and social connections your ideas of Humanism are not going to be realized-and I’ve read some of your idealized visions of Humanism.
Plus you are not going to supplant Humanism into the dogmas, and doctrines of any religion. They are by their very nature already built in with any number of moral codes, and Standard Operating Procedures. In otherwords religions have no use for your Humanism.
On the other hand, plenty of atheists, and agnostics do already conform to Humanism to varying degrees. Of course the vast majority of people will never subscribe fully to all the Humanist Virtues. But that’s human nature-it doesn’t matter if their jews, or muslims, or atheists.
I really hope your not pinning Humanism’s stagnancy on atheism, or your perceived version of atheism.

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Posted: 28 April 2010 03:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Martinus - 30 March 2010 07:55 AM

....- religion is a personal matter and the first responsibility of a Humanist is to understand and respect that concept.

If religion were a “personal matter” there wouldn’t be a problem and we wouldn’t need a First Amendment.

We can Google “religion in the public square”—- for example
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/06/religion_event.html

Hollinger provoked discussion by asserting that, “Perhaps the salient solidarities are not communities of faith and of unbelief, but of people adhering to modern structures of cognitive plausibility and of people rejecting those structures.” Patel and Rogers both disagreed with him, arguing that Hollinger failed to adequately understand religious Americans.

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Posted: 28 April 2010 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I am constantly amazed at the dogmatic stance on both sides.  Theists claim there is a God. Atheists claim there is no God. And all this hinges on the concept of God being an intelligent purposeful Being.
Theists recognize the majesty of the universe and conclude that only intelligence could have created this. Atheists see the majesty and conclude that the universe is infinitely complicated and thus no intelligence could have created it. But all recognize the fact that the universe was created at some point. Thus the only conflict we have is how we see this creative process and what we should call it. Actually there is a word that satisfies both concepts and does allow for a rconcilliation of both Theism and Atheism. Once we have reconciled the two we can begin to address the ethics of Humanism.
The word is Potential. Websters broadest definition of Potential is “That which may become Reality”
Theists claim god was before reality, thus the word and definition of Potential applies to the general definition of God as a creative force.
Atheists claim an energetic latency before reality, thus the word and definition of Potential applies to the general concept of a condition before the Big Bang.
Potentialists can claim that Humanism is possible only if a concerted effort is made to reconcile the opposing views into one single view which embraces all possibilities without claiming to be exclusive of the other. Potential allows for such a reconcilliation of views, without the dogma.

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Posted: 28 April 2010 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Atheists see the majesty and conclude that the universe is infinitely complicated and thus no intelligence could have created it.

Scientists look at the Universe and spend their lives trying to find the underlying simplicity. Atheists believe there is no god because there is no evidence for a god. Your reasoning about atheists viewing the Universe as “infinitely complicated” is a straw man.

But all recognize the fact that the universe was created at some point.

Wrong again. There is no evidence one way or the other. Rational people withhold judgment.

Thus the only conflict we have is how we see this creative process and what we should call it.

You have not established there was a “creative process,” therefore your next conclusion is unwarranted.

The word is Potential.

You keep jumping into threads to assert this, and yet you have no idea how to define Potential other than falling back on things we already know. You are offering nothing new, merely blathering about an ill-conceived concept. I am surprised the moderators have not called you out for repeatedly and inappropriately posting the same material without backing up your assertion.

Atheists claim an energetic latency before reality…

Another straw man.

...thus the word and definition of Potential applies to the general definition of God as a creative force

Here you come full circle.

Potentialists can claim that Humanism is possible only if a concerted effort is made to reconcile the opposing views into one single view which embraces all possibilities without claiming to be exclusive of the other. Potential allows for such a reconcilliation of views, without the dogma.

Making claims is easy, backing them with evidence is the hard, and necessary, part. Your chain of logic is built on a false premise and you offer no reasoning or data to back your conclusion, therefore the logical deduction is you are wrong.

[ Edited: 28 April 2010 09:36 AM by DarronS ]
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Posted: 28 April 2010 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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DarronS - 28 April 2010 09:20 AM

Atheists see the majesty and conclude that the universe is infinitely complicated and thus no intelligence could have created it.

Scientists look at the Universe and spend their lives trying to find the underlying simplicity. Atheists believe there is no god because there is no evidence for a god. Your reasoning about atheists viewing the Universe as “infinitely complicated” is a straw man.

ok, scientists are trying to find the underlying simplicity in what appears to be an infinititely complicated universe. Better?

But all recognize the fact that the universe was created at some point.

Wrong again. There is no evidence one way or the other. Rational people withhold judgment.

There is no evidence that this universe was created at some point? The Big Bang theory is a straw man?

Thus the only conflict we have is how we see this creative process and what we should call it.

You have not established there was a “creative process,” therefore your next conclusion is unwarranted.

Unless you propose that there was no beginning, I believe that most scientists agree that there was a beginning and that by definition is a creative process.

The word is Potential.

You keep jumping into threads to assert this, and yet you have no idea how to define Potential other than falling back on things we already know. You are offering nothing new, merely blathering about an ill-conceived concept. I am surprised the moderators have not called you out for repeatedly and inappropriately posting the same material without backing up your assertion.

If you would actually take the time and research the word Potential in all of its aspects, you might find that my use of the word is in fact accurate and pertinent. I believe my Potential paradigm is as valid as any in any discussion on this subject. To threaten me with censure is not productive and smacks more of the tactics employed by the dogmatics than a reasoned rejection, which I am still awaiting.

Atheists claim an energetic latency before reality…

Another straw man.

Bohm thought otherwise and I believe his credentials did not require him to invent straw men.

...thus the word and definition of Potential applies to the general definition of God as a creative force

Here you come full circle.

Isn’t it wonderful to actually come full circle instead of having nothing but open ended discussions which lead nowhere.

Potentialists can claim that Humanism is possible only if a concerted effort is made to reconcile the opposing views into one single view which embraces all possibilities without claiming to be exclusive of the other. Potential allows for such a reconcilliation of views, without the dogma.

Making claims is easy, backing them with evidence is the hard, and necessary, part. Your chain of logic is built on a false premise and you offer no reasoning or data to back your conclusion, therefore the logical deduction is you are wrong.

Yes, making claims is easy and that is why I keep introducing the concept in the hope that someone will come up with evidence to the contrary or, in my hopeful desire, come up with some supporting thoughts on the matter. The concept of Potential is not outrageous in scope and to me has several aspects which can be supported by science. I just lack the scientific skills to put them in mathematical language. But to ridicule without actually trying to understand my conception is not scientific either. I am not a wild eyed “savior” trying to convert. I am merely making a proposition which might help reconcile this seemingly unresolvable problem.
Can you do better??

[ Edited: 28 April 2010 10:30 AM by Write4U ]
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