I’ve been on the hunt on and off for a few years as to just what kind of “-ist” I am. I’ve skirted around the edge of thinking I just might want to consider myself a secular humanist (although I don’t like the human-centric sounding name - if being a christian means you worship christ then ...). After listening to this podcast it became clear that if the guest is a mainstream secular humanist then I’m definitely not one. The world view presented came across quite simply as selfish. The idea that being a secular humanist means that you are freed from being a member of the group then I think that’s a world view that goes against who I am, who I wish to be and basic human nature. As a specific point, I was surprised on the idea that marriage should be a private covenant between two people and that there are no other stakeholders in this. I was divorced a few years back and may some day marry my girlfriend. Marry as in publicly demonstrate to the group (her friends, family, my friends family) that we’re taking this step. I’m pretty sure that’s what “marry” means. Otherwise, why the debate over gay marriage rights? The idea that it is either/or or somehow an imposition of the group on my personal space is frankly odd.
For the rest of this comment, i wish I wrote as well as Jackson, but I’m going to try anyway. I saw James Taylor and Carol King last night at Madison Square Garden with 20,000 of my closest friends. It was an amazing, wonderful, uplifting, fun, joyous experience. I could easily describe it with adjectives that would normally be used to describe religious experience but without any of the supernatural trappings (although Ms. King’s beauty borders on supernatural ;). It’s pretty clear to me that I would not have had the same emotional reactions had I been sitting home watching the same event on TV. Being a member of the group is deeply embedded in us. I see no transcendence in ignoring that part of our nature.
We are social creatures. My take-away from the podcast was that secular humanism frees you from the need to follow or participate in the group. Seems like a pretty barren worldview. I’ll keep looking.
One last thought. The idea to combine charitable contributions with other secularists so that we make a make ourselves known makes nothing but sense. I’m thoroughly confused trying to see the speaker’s point on that.