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A critical look at secular humanism
Posted: 13 February 2007 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
Jr. Member
Total Posts:  44
Joined  2006-12-30

Brennan, thank you for your remarks. I had not taken into account the varieties of economic philosophy associated with secular humanism. It may come down to deciding what are the priorities: secularism vs a particular economic philosophy. I suspect that ‘have-nots’ (and have-littles) are much more inclined to put real (positive social programs) or imagined (religious) support ahead of debates on the “best” social system.

Insistence on on a particular economic agenda may have the short term satisfaction of righteousness, but have little hope of success in the long term. Perhaps we haves should ‘suck up and deal’ with the consequences of economic and social inequality on the principle that it is the way of natural selection - at least until ‘comes the revolution’.


Robert Burdick

A member of the reality-based community.

Posted: 14 February 2007 08:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
Sr. Member
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2003-09-24

Brennen said:

As we see from these boards, however, there is quite a diversity of opinions about what socioeconomic program is most appropriate to achieve greater economic equity. Though there appears to be some positive correlation between self-proclaimed secular humanism and traditional liberal democrat politics, there are plenty of libertarians (both free market and Barry’s socialist/anarcist variety), and you can even find secular conservatives, though arguably not very many secular humanist conservatives. So I wonder if organized secular humanism can have a strong economic agenda given the internal divisions. The new CFI political lobby seems likely to focus on separation of church/state and pro-science issues because of these divisions on economic issues.

Yes, many secular humanists tend to follow democratic liberal politics - which seem to be some sort of New-Deal Liberal politics mixed with Classical Liberal politics… and even sometimes, social democratic politics as in the Swedish model of the 1950s-1970s (failing since then).

Free Market Left or Center Libertarians are really “soft” capitalists and offer no real humanist solutions and Right Libertarians or conservatives offer even less. 

Indeed, I think that even New-Deal social democracy offers only temporary solutions, and the “good intentions” of such politics will not come through less we get rid of capitalism and markets altogether (and keep the democracy!). 

Secularists are indeed divided in these ways, but humanists ought not be.  Humanists need to decide which is the best short term and long term sociopolitical and economic means/goals to strive toward in order to meet their ethical goals.  I’d argue that the best long term goal is libertarian-socialism and inclusive democracy a la the work of Robin Hahnel, Michael Albert, Takis Fotopoulous and perhaps Michael Perelman and Joel Kovel.

As for CFI’s “political lobby” in DC, I am sure that it will ONLY be about secularism/atheism (and pro-science issues) because CFI has philosophically abandoned humanism (and CSH in the process) because it lets secularists and atheists dictate their political and economic ideas rather than humanists… and have the nerve to call this applied humanism :shock:

Brennon said:

I think the Norris and Inglehart paper is quite interesting. There are lots of correlations between education, IQ, etc and an non-religious outlook ... I think Barry’s right that too much “evangelical atheism” serves only the interests of one part of the overall humanist agenda, diminishing the role of religion in society.

Yes, and that essay points out more than just information about religion and education, etc.  I think the most important point of that essay was this:

“What matters for the societal vulnerability, insecurity, and risk that we believe drives religiosity are not simply levels of national economic resources but their distribution as well.  Despite private affluence for the well-off, many American families, even in the professional middle classes, face serious risks of loss of paid work by the main breadwinner, the dangers of sudden ill health without adequate private medical insurance, vulnerability to becoming a victim of crime, as well as the problems of paying for long-term care of the elderly. Americans face greater anxieties than citizens in other advanced industrialized countries about whether or not they will be covered by medical insurance, be fired arbitrarily, or be forced to choose between losing their jobs and devoting themselves to their newborn children. Growing up in societies in which survival is uncertain is conducive to a strong emphasis on religion; conversely, experiencing high levels of existential security throughout one’s formative years reduces the subjective importance of religion in one’s life.”


Barry F. Seidman
Exec. Producer of Equal Time for Freethought

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