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What is Humanism?
Posted: 30 July 2010 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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GdB - 30 July 2010 01:19 AM

Humans are so successful because they can hold together in groups, and can make plans, can reason? Just as a thought?

What do you mean by “successful”? That we can fly to the Moon? Well, bees also live in a group, but cannot fly to the Moon. Are they successful? This is just a silly talk. You might as well say that trees are successful because they have green leaves. I am beginning to wonder if you actually understand how evolution functions.

GdB - 30 July 2010 01:19 AM

Tell me George, how did your life change since you are aware of evolution, and think of yourself, your wife, you children, as being programmed. How would you imagine that your life would be different if you would base it on reason, love and compassion, and on reasoned moral values? Tell me how you factually do this, and not give just a theoretical answer.

I don’t go around thinking about evolution every second of my life. I feel compassion for people close to me, I use reason to solve every-day problems, and I even exercise free will on daily basis. But I also refer to a mixture of 35% of magenta and 55% of yellow as “peach” when shopping for paint with my wife at Benjamin Moore. It is only when I am by myself, when I read my books, visit this forum or discuss these topics with some of my friends, that I stop and try to understand who I am. No, I am not a reductionist 24/7.

GdB - 30 July 2010 01:19 AM

Oh, and when I just make love, as you suggest, I would get more children than I can afford, we would get poor, have a shit life, and born in such circumstances, my children would get no chance to reproduce. You see, even if they would, I don’t just want to give my genes further, but also my ideals, like compassion and reason. In a small 2 child family chances are much better… One could say I would even prefer to give my ideals further, than my genes.

Having more children than one can afford will hardly result in a large fitness. The fact that you prefer to have two kids instead of ten because you find it easier to teach them about your ideals may look admirable and necessary to you, nevertheless, a person who has ten kids will be fitter than you. Evolution doesn’t care about our ideals. Actually, maybe it does and doesn’t approve of the ideals of Western civilization, since compared to the rest of the world Europeans have less babies than any other race. Maybe our ideals are to us what the comet was to the dinosaurs.

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Posted: 31 July 2010 09:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Belief is just how the brain works, that is how people become settled with an idea, how they become defenders of the idea.  It is not a problem. 

The problem is when people take them to extremes, blind-faith, closed to any new relevant ideas, too lazy to make the effort to look at the new ones, or too fearful to do so.  I see belief as foundational and no more wrong than blood that circulates (sometimes nutrition, sometimes poison), neurons that fire (passing sometimes good constructive ideas, and sometimes pathogenic destructive ones), or electric circuits (sometimes passing communications that connect distant people, and sometimes passing commands to destroy and detonate).

Humanism can be believed in, and can be proven, pick which one is your favorite reason to accept it.  There is some proof of Humanism, humans create society, all that has happened in history, all that we know of the universe, the history proves that.  Prove that it comes from a god!

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Posted: 01 August 2010 12:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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George - 30 July 2010 07:07 AM

What do you mean by “successful”? That we can fly to the Moon? Well, bees also live in a group, but cannot fly to the Moon. Are they successful? This is just a silly talk. You might as well say that trees are successful because they have green leaves. I am beginning to wonder if you actually understand how evolution functions.

Well, when you, I suppose intentionally, fill in the wrong success, then it is as absurd as you said. No, we were successful because we got so much off-spring, are such a an important factor on the planet earth.

George - 30 July 2010 07:07 AM

I don’t go around thinking about evolution every second of my life.

I did not expect that. I am not thinking every second about astronomy, physics, philosophy or databases. But the first three had surely influence on the way how I feel about my life and the persons around me.

George - 30 July 2010 07:07 AM

I feel compassion for people close to me, I use reason to solve every-day problems, and I even exercise free will on daily basis.

So in daily life you very well know what the difference between having free will, and not having it, is. If you are bound to a chair, drank a bottle of whiskey, are in a heavy moral dilemma, or are threatened by militant henchmen of some abstruse ideology, don’t you think you would be less free? Do your evolutionist ideas help you in understanding this? Or your knowledge of the neural structure of the brain? Both are true, evolution is taking place, your brain has this neural structure, but my point is they are useless in solving many human situations. Being fully dependent on its physical implementations, consciousness, compassion, and free will still exist. They can be recognised, distinguished, and we actually live with them.

George - 30 July 2010 07:07 AM

It is only when I am by myself, when I read my books, visit this forum or discuss these topics with some of my friends, that I stop and try to understand who I am. No, I am not a reductionist 24/7.

That I thought. In this forum you are somebody else than the person you really are. I even assume you are very sympathetic, seeing the kind of humour you have, and your choice of ‘Curious George’ as avatar.

George - 30 July 2010 07:07 AM

Evolution doesn’t care about our ideals. Actually, maybe it does and doesn’t approve of the ideals of Western civilization, since compared to the rest of the world Europeans have less babies than any other race. Maybe our ideals are to us what the comet was to the dinosaurs.

You are contradicting your self here. If our ideals are to us what the comet was to the dinosaurs, then evolution does care! When in 30 million years some intelligent land octopus evolutionist wants to understand why homo sapiens became extinct, he will never understand, unless he knows it were our ideals.

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Posted: 09 August 2010 07:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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George - 29 July 2010 06:22 AM
jimclay - 28 July 2010 06:36 PM

Despite what some people say, secular humanism is not a religion.

No it is not a religion. But just like religion, or communism, or fascism, or any other type of ideology, it is based on faith. Most claims made by humanists are based on wishful thinking and have probably very little to do with reality.

On the contrary, it is my religion. A person who disagrees may speak for himself on the point, but not for me.

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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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Posted: 09 August 2010 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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PLaClair - 09 August 2010 07:13 AM
George - 29 July 2010 06:22 AM
jimclay - 28 July 2010 06:36 PM

Despite what some people say, secular humanism is not a religion.

No it is not a religion. But just like religion, or communism, or fascism, or any other type of ideology, it is based on faith. Most claims made by humanists are based on wishful thinking and have probably very little to do with reality.

On the contrary, it is my religion. A person who disagrees may speak for himself on the point, but not for me.

I can see how it could be to some people.  However, keep in mind not to make it dogmatic like most religions.

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Posted: 09 August 2010 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Mriana - 09 August 2010 10:36 AM
PLaClair - 09 August 2010 07:13 AM
George - 29 July 2010 06:22 AM
jimclay - 28 July 2010 06:36 PM

Despite what some people say, secular humanism is not a religion.

No it is not a religion. But just like religion, or communism, or fascism, or any other type of ideology, it is based on faith. Most claims made by humanists are based on wishful thinking and have probably very little to do with reality.

On the contrary, it is my religion. A person who disagrees may speak for himself on the point, but not for me.

I can see how it could be to some people.  However, keep in mind not to make it dogmatic like most religions.

That’s ok, many Christians I’ve come across these days tell me Christianity is not a religion. “It’s a way of life” seem the popular response.

Good post…. Dogma says Humanism is not a religion.  grin

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Posted: 10 August 2010 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Humanism is explicitly not supernatural, and therefore is not a religion.  It is just a philosophy.  It has lots of proof, it is believed in, and no-one at all has zero beliefs.  Belief is just how our brains work.

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Posted: 11 August 2010 09:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 10 August 2010 08:13 AM

Humanism is explicitly not supernatural, and therefore is not a religion.  It is just a philosophy.  It has lots of proof, it is believed in, and no-one at all has zero beliefs.  Belief is just how our brains work.

Sure I was just joking about the dogma. However just to point out supernatural is not a necessary component of a religion. Well in one sense perhaps but saying something is a religion doesn’t necessarily mean there is a supernatural component.

And there is at least one secular humanist who takes it as a religion.

Point being I think it up to the individual to define for themselves if it is a religion or not. Anyway I thought the was some rule here against defining who is and isn’t a humanist. That would include whether the individual themselves see it as a religion or not I think.

[ Edited: 11 August 2010 10:18 AM by Gnostikosis ]
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Posted: 11 August 2010 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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jump_in_the_pit - 10 August 2010 08:13 AM

Humanism is explicitly not supernatural, and therefore is not a religion.  It is just a philosophy.  It has lots of proof, it is believed in, and no-one at all has zero beliefs.  Belief is just how our brains work.

Religion is what ties everything together and helps one make sense out of the world and live in it. Religion asks great questions, such as “who are we,” “what are we doing here” and “what does it all mean.” Those questions can be asked from a supernatural perspective but they need not be. A person can be a scientific naturalist who finds beauty and meaning in life and chooses to bite in to life as one would bite into a chunk of watermelon, with such enthusiasm that a bit of the juice may run down the chin. This is what I would call a religious attitude. There isn’t a speck of supernaturalism in it.

jump, if you associate religion with the supernatural, then that is how you see it. But please, if you intend to speak on behalf of scientific naturalists or Humanists, do not make the categorical statement that all religion is based on supernaturalism. Such a statement is demonstrably and unequivocally false. Therefore, no one who is committed to reason and scientific naturalism, or the success of our endeavors, should ever make such a statement. It’s not just arguably wrong. It’s demonstrably and undeniably wrong. This false notion has divided our communities and our movements and will continue to do so for as long as it persists.

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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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Posted: 11 August 2010 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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PLaClair - 11 August 2010 10:03 AM
jump_in_the_pit - 10 August 2010 08:13 AM

Humanism is explicitly not supernatural, and therefore is not a religion.  It is just a philosophy.  It has lots of proof, it is believed in, and no-one at all has zero beliefs.  Belief is just how our brains work.

Religion is what ties everything together and helps one make sense out of the world and live in it. Religion asks great questions, such as “who are we,” “what are we doing here” and “what does it all mean.” Those questions can be asked from a supernatural perspective but they need not be. A person can be a scientific naturalist who finds beauty and meaning in life and chooses to bite in to life as one would bite into a chunk of watermelon, with such enthusiasm that a bit of the juice may run down the chin. This is what I would call a religious attitude. There isn’t a speck of supernaturalism in it.

jump, if you associate religion with the supernatural, then that is how you see it. But please, if you intend to speak on behalf of scientific naturalists or Humanists, do not make the categorical statement that all religion is based on supernaturalism. Such a statement is demonstrably and unequivocally false. Therefore, no one who is committed to reason and scientific naturalism, or the success of our endeavors, should ever make such a statement. It’s not just arguably wrong. It’s demonstrably and undeniably wrong. This false notion has divided our communities and our movements and will continue to do so for as long as it persists.

And one might point out that there are Religious humanists as well as Secular humanists.  In this case, “religious” does not mean anything by way of the supernatural.  It is far from it.

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Posted: 15 August 2010 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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PLaClair - 11 August 2010 10:03 AM

Religion is what ties everything together and helps one make sense out of the world and live in it.

For those who believe in religion, yes I agree that it helps them.

PLaClair - 11 August 2010 10:03 AM

Religion asks great questions, such as “who are we,” “what are we doing here” and “what does it all mean.”  Those questions can be asked from a supernatural perspective but they need not be.

These questions are fundamental, I agree that anyone can ask them.  I expect that that everyone asks them.  The questions are a part of most religions, some religions try to answer them; but they exist apart from religions, and so are not from any religion.  They are from something deeper than religion, they are from humanity.

PLaClair - 11 August 2010 10:03 AM

... chooses to bite in to life as one would bite into a chunk of watermelon, with such enthusiasm that a bit of the juice may run down the chin. This is what I would call a religious attitude. There isn’t a speck of supernaturalism in it.

That was vivid!  smile Now let me try…

Hunger is also more fundamental than religion, I see it as a drive, every cell of our body needs nourishment, we can hardly stop hunger without the greatest restraint, if you’ve been hungry you know it compels us with the strength of our drive to breath that you feel when you hold your breath.

Maybe the watermelon thing is something a little different though, we don’t savor broccoli, potato, nor water the same way that we do watermelon.  I think of that as a reaction to the anticipation, we get appetized by a description of: Some tender golden fingerling potatoes, oven roasted with a crisp skin, oiled and salted to succulence, served steaming hot.  Roasted around a thick pork chop, browned on the outside and juicy white on the inside, pepper corns and mint jelly on top, trimmed lean, served with the bone, I invite you to tear into that with your teeth.  With Caprice salad on the side, red ripe tomatoes at their sweet and zesty peak, sliced a dozen times, shuffled with fresh alabaster white mozzarella, so tender and milky fresh, the classic pair complimenting one another so well that you can hardly tear your attention from it.  And don’t leave out the watermelon salad, the watermelon chopped, its sweet lovely juices pooling at the bottom of a deep oval plate mingling with some sweet and intensely zesty cheap American red wine vinegar, the red onions sliced, and the rings cut again and scattered among the watermelon (yes, I said it), but not before it is sautéd in extra virgin olive oil to a juicy translucent brown, the lovely onion’s sweet inner character bought to center stage, and its wild acid tamed, garnish it with some refreshing and powerful mint leaves and a hot cinnamon stick to suck on.  We’ll serve this on a sunny breezy day in the late Spring, sitting on a cantilevered and brick paved balcony overlooking a canal, the paddle boats cruising by with their sloshing sounds, the children laughing and singing, joggers bouncing along, and ducks diving under and surfing on the ripples.

Appetite, you just can’t help it, its a reaction, even when you’ve been fed, don’t you agree?  Remember if the ingredients don’t appetize you, then don’t eat it.

I don’t see the watermelon thing as a belief, nor religious.  Appetite is all about biology.  I am unconvinced.

PLaClair - 11 August 2010 10:03 AM

jump, if you associate religion with the supernatural, then that is how you see it. But please, if you intend to speak on behalf of scientific naturalists or Humanists, do not make the categorical statement that all religion is based on supernaturalism.  ... demonstrably and unequivocally false.  ...not just arguably wrong. It’s demonstrably and undeniably wrong.

I am unconvinced by repetition, and not even corroboration from Mriana.

Maybe you could demonstrate religion without a supernatural foundation, maybe by some real world examples, or by some authoritative definitions, or maybe other possibilities.

I think that the Jews don’t require their members to believe in God… but on the other hand they’d probably still consider you a Jew if you converted to Islam as long as your mother was Jewish!

I see religion defined in Merrium-Webster’s (p. 988 of the tenth paper edition), some senses mention the supernatural, some don’t.  The more modern forms of “religion” mention the supernatural, and the older ones talk about adherence to the practices.  The supernatural is definitely in that definition, but not explicit everywhere in there.

I’m not convinced that religion doesn’t need a supernatural element by those two examples.

Religious Humanists really puzzle me.  What are they doing that is religious, if they are Humanists who’ve focus on the natural world?

What are they calling religion, maybe a practice of attending church and holding a discussion?  Well a discussion in a ritual space is no more religious than the ritual practice of visiting the bars on the weekend, while dressed in those particular outfits that get warn in the night, the club wear (ritual robes, or whatever your style is).  They are not religious about a night out, because there is nothing supernatural about it, its just a habit and is neither a religion nor a ceremony.

PLaClair - 11 August 2010 10:03 AM

This false notion has divided our communities and our movements and will continue to do so for as long as it persists.

Divide?  Where?

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Posted: 23 September 2010 05:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Humanism is an enormous term encompassing various movements in the arts, philosophical stances, and broad applications to disciplines like psychology and education. You can boil down the term to a philosophy that asserts the worth of the individual, the human, essentially. Each human is gifted with the ability to think (rationality) and to make rational determinations, like differentiating bad from good, so that each person may become a more moral self. “Moral” in this sense is not used to preference one set of religious beliefs but refers to a more universal concept of morality that allows for the belief that all people have an intrinsic worth.

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Posted: 23 September 2010 04:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Quit reasonable, Deb.  Your last statement is one that people often, but incorrectly, criticize by asking something like, “How can you claim that Hitler had intrinsic worth?”  My answer has been that we are all, including Hitler, as living beings, born deserving of respect and recognition of our intrinsic worth.  Our actions after birth determine whether we increase that worth, or we subtract from it to the point of having a strongly negative worth.

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Posted: 26 September 2010 12:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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So what is religious humanism?  Practitioners, do please tell!  smile  What part of Humanism are you calling religious?

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Posted: 23 November 2010 08:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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PLaClair said:

If we wait until we have perfect agreement on everything, we will never have an operational set of ethics, or laws for that matter. Our species would advance by light years if we truly followed the idea that all humans are entitled to equal treatment. Yet I do not wish to foreclose extending protections to other species. That’s why I phrased it as I did.

Are you saying that humanists have something against the beloved ebola viruses or something? Are you guys anti-virusists? What am I doing here associating myself with such demeaning people? I was fond of my last cold. It gave me such chills!

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I eat without fear of certain Death from The Tree of Knowledge because with wisdom, we may one day break free from its mortal curse.

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