Tom Flynn - In Like Flynn
Posted: 25 June 2010 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Tom Flynn is Executive Director of The Council for Secular Humanism, Editor of Free Inquiry magazine, Director of Inquiry Media Productions, and Director of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum.

A journalist, novelist, entertainer, and freethought historian, Flynn is the author of numerous articles and editorials for Free Inquiry magazine. In addition to The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, his books include two black comedy science fiction novels, Nothing Sacred, its prequel Galactic Rapture, and The Trouble With Christmas, a secularist critique of the holiday. He has made hundreds of radio and TV appearances in his role as the curmudgeonly “anti-Claus.”

In this conversation with Robert Price, Tom explains how he transitioned from his conservative Catholic youth Secular Humanist he is today. He talks about the part Mormonism played in his transition to non-belief. Perhaps one of the most consistent secularists around today, Tom elaborates on the problems he has with rites of passage ceremonies and marriage. He talks about what he sees as problems with some secular charity programs and the parts of life he believes should be off-limits to a secular community. Finally, he and Price discuss radical Islam and how we should approach talking about it.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/tom_flynn_in_like_flynn/

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Posted: 01 July 2010 07:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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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.

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Posted: 02 July 2010 06:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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vinny, I consider myself a secular humanist and do not agree with the very individualistic views expressed by Tom Flynn in this interview. Most of the secular humanists that I know understand that we are a social species and the importance of marriage and other social constructs to humans. I would recommend that you look at other views of secular humanism both from organizations associated with CFI and from other organizations (like AHA) before giving up on the philosophy.

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Posted: 02 July 2010 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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My general impression of the interview is that exemplifies the expression “throwing the baby out with the bath water”. It seems to me that Tom Flynn does not want secular humanists or secular humanist organizations to support any human social constructs that have been integrated into (co-opted by) religions. While he personally may not value those constructs, many people do, and I think that secular humanist organizations can and should work to provide those constructs without the supernatural aspects of religions.

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