Humanism is an ism, what a tragedy
Posted: 21 March 2018 12:30 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’m taking a class on futurelearn. It’s on humanism, created by Humanists UK. The chapters are short and there is very little homework. It’s okay, lots of stuff I already know, but some good quotes. Also there is discussion and the class is well attended. The comments have mostly good. No trolls, really.

BUT.

Fairly often, someone is compelled to say that the course is trying to push an agenda or create a religion out of acting like a decent human being. They don’t point to much specific and don’t respond to questions. Wondering what your experiences are with anything similar. On one end of the scale, they’re right, the official humanist groups do create lists of values and creeds of a sort and they do attempt to quantify and turn general principles in to sets of rules. On the other end, the rules are things like “be open minded” and “be tolerant”.

To me, if you can’t agree on, or at least discuss some basic principles, you’re really not talking about humans at all. We are a social creature and made our way out of the jungle because we learned to cooperate and learned to set goals for the future by sacrificing our basic needs in the present. I don’t see a choice other than agreeing on some principles. It’s either that or anarchy, no civilization.

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Posted: 21 March 2018 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Lausten - 21 March 2018 12:30 PM

I’m taking a class on futurelearn. It’s on humanism, created by Humanists UK. The chapters are short and there is very little homework. It’s okay, lots of stuff I already know, but some good quotes. Also there is discussion and the class is well attended. The comments have mostly good. No trolls, really.

BUT.

Fairly often, someone is compelled to say that the course is trying to push an agenda or create a religion out of acting like a decent human being. They don’t point to much specific and don’t respond to questions. Wondering what your experiences are with anything similar. On one end of the scale, they’re right, the official humanist groups do create lists of values and creeds of a sort and they do attempt to quantify and turn general principles in to sets of rules. On the other end, the rules are things like “be open minded” and “be tolerant”.

To me, if you can’t agree on, or at least discuss some basic principles, you’re really not talking about humans at all. We are a social creature and made our way out of the jungle because we learned to cooperate and learned to set goals for the future by sacrificing our basic needs in the present. I don’t see a choice other than agreeing on some principles. It’s either that or anarchy, no civilization.

The ability and tendency to create civilizations is built into our genes. Humans are social animals, as all primates are social animals. Humans have dveloped more abilities in that area than nonhuman animals, but the cooperative instincts are intrinsic. Unfortunately, so are destructive instincts.

Lois

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[color=red“Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.”
― George Eliot, Silas Marner[/color]

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Posted: 23 March 2018 01:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Lausten - 21 March 2018 12:30 PM

I’m taking a class on futurelearn. It’s on humanism, created by Humanists UK. The chapters are short and there is very little homework. It’s okay, lots of stuff I already know, but some good quotes. Also there is discussion and the class is well attended. The comments have mostly good. No trolls, really.

BUT.

Fairly often, someone is compelled to say that the course is trying to push an agenda or create a religion out of acting like a decent human being. They don’t point to much specific and don’t respond to questions. Wondering what your experiences are with anything similar. On one end of the scale, they’re right, the official humanist groups do create lists of values and creeds of a sort and they do attempt to quantify and turn general principles in to sets of rules. On the other end, the rules are things like “be open minded” and “be tolerant”.

To me, if you can’t agree on, or at least discuss some basic principles, you’re really not talking about humans at all. We are a social creature and made our way out of the jungle because we learned to cooperate and learned to set goals for the future by sacrificing our basic needs in the present. I don’t see a choice other than agreeing on some principles. It’s either that or anarchy, no civilization.

My experience is even worse. Some people think that from humanism stemmed fascism and communism and that “cult of personality” in Russia and many totalitarian regimes is a direct result of humanism (based on idea that “human” in humanism is the most important thing).

Religious people tend to see humanism as an ideology, which is a derogatory term and attempts to put communism, fascism and humanism on same table. Dr. Turek in discussion with Christopher Hitchens tried to say that Hitler was a humanist.

Its important to mention that fascism as a political movement had no connection to humanism. In case of communism, Marx started as a humanist, but no practical communist politician (in power) was a humanist.

In the late 19th century and early 20th, humanism indeed served as a basis for many political thinkers, who were interested either to end monarchy in Europe, or how to deal with the situation after monarchies fallen after 1st WW.  But both communism and fascism go straight against humanism, as they see individual as a part of bigger society, with no regard to personal happiness - as its the state and country which matters the most. The fallacy in “cult of personality” claim is that its not singular human what matters. Its “humans” in plural while everyone is special, and ordinary at the same time.

This is usually the way how i draw line between those “isms”.

[ Edited: 23 March 2018 01:34 AM by Offler ]
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Posted: 27 March 2018 10:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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What’s really sad about that is Christianity and Humanism were close partners for a few hundred years. Erasmus was an early writer bringing us out of the so-called Dark Ages. His work led directly to Martin Luther, who still has many flaws, but reformed the much more flawed Catholic Church. Erasmus didn’t want war, so isn’t quite as famous. The religious leaders continued to study their own scriptures and improve the translations and find the errors and forgeries and interpolations. That kind of work is now considered blasphemy, but it used to be scholarly and pious. The most liberal churches I know will acknowledge it, but they keep going on as if it doesn’t matter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_humanism

The problem of course is they set aside the scientific principle of following the evidence to the conclusion. They thought the scripture was God’s word and they just needed to prove it and to follow the evidence to the find the “real” God’s word. This has proven to be impossible, especially since the Godly people of the 4th century destroyed the paper trail of how the Bible came to be what it is. Burning things you don’t agree with was a good strategy back then, but it doesn’t work so well now. We don’t know who wrote what first, or who had the best sources or was closest to the sources, but we know there were a lot of people writing whatever they wanted and changing it to fit their needs.

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Posted: 27 March 2018 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Lausten - 27 March 2018 10:13 AM

What’s really sad about that is Christianity and Humanism were close partners for a few hundred years. Erasmus was an early writer bringing us out of the so-called Dark Ages. His work led directly to Martin Luther, who still has many flaws, but reformed the much more flawed Catholic Church. Erasmus didn’t want war, so isn’t quite as famous. The religious leaders continued to study their own scriptures and improve the translations and find the errors and forgeries and interpolations. That kind of work is now considered blasphemy, but it used to be scholarly and pious. The most liberal churches I know will acknowledge it, but they keep going on as if it doesn’t matter.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_humanism

The problem of course is they set aside the scientific principle of following the evidence to the conclusion. They thought the scripture was God’s word and they just needed to prove it and to follow the evidence to the find the “real” God’s word. This has proven to be impossible, especially since the Godly people of the 4th century destroyed the paper trail of how the Bible came to be what it is. Burning things you don’t agree with was a good strategy back then, but it doesn’t work so well now. We don’t know who wrote what first, or who had the best sources or was closest to the sources, but we know there were a lot of people writing whatever they wanted and changing it to fit their needs.

This is great find to me.

I was aware that christian humanism existed through renaissance to the 19th century. This is where my interest in humanist philosophy starts as most of the current humanist political and christian religious philosophies derived from 1830-1850s philosophers. But at that point i started to notice that it was carried by people who were not direclty recognized as religious, even when it was considered as a norm. Thats why i tend to overlook that. But i was clearly surprised that christian humanism survived to these days, with important figures of catholic Church. It would definitely explain why those figures appeal to me more than rest of the church. Keep in mind that each text is open to interpretation, while religious texts are subjected to interpretation over and over and over again. And yes, you can interpret literally any religious text from that point of view, and cover your eyes over the parts you dont like.

Also from my experience, catholics in Slovakia simply made things up.

If this is common, there is a tendency to claim that humanists or scientists are trying to replace religion by science. To replace God with human being, to replace morality with sin, to replace church with some shady organization - which would follow to inevitable downfall of civilization. You might heard about this as “New world order” and its sort of conspiracy theory.

Its hard to explain that science does not use principle of authority, it uses scientific method. Its hard to explain that Humanism does not try to put human in position of God, it tries to do exact opposite.

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Posted: 27 March 2018 03:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Offler - 27 March 2018 12:58 PM

Its hard to explain that science does not use principle of authority, it uses scientific method. Its hard to explain that Humanism does not try to put human in position of God, it tries to do exact opposite.

That is a great sound bite. Humanism, from the beginning, including when it was Catholics trying to find the more universal values in scriptures, has been about putting humans in charge of being good, responsible for their own righteousness. The New Testament completely supports this as does some of the Old. Mostly, the Bible is a repetition of “God is the source of all good, and we sinners create the bad.” In those rare occasions where a few examples are given of being good, like caring for widows or visiting the sick, they are given as just that, examples. It is clear that you are supposed to extrapolate from them and figure out how to be good for goodness sake.

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Posted: 27 March 2018 04:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Lausten - 27 March 2018 03:22 PM

That is a great sound bite. Humanism, from the beginning, including when it was Catholics trying to find the more universal values in scriptures, has been about putting humans in charge of being good, responsible for their own righteousness. The New Testament completely supports this as does some of the Old. Mostly, the Bible is a repetition of “God is the source of all good, and we sinners create the bad.” In those rare occasions where a few examples are given of being good, like caring for widows or visiting the sick, they are given as just that, examples. It is clear that you are supposed to extrapolate from them and figure out how to be good for goodness sake.

I havent been studying christian scriptures of any kind. I would not consider it to be a waste of time, but i now already know i would not be able to tell the difference between christian, greek, slavic or norse mythology (mainly on question which one is the “real” one). I would not be able to study religion of any kind, because its a white noise to me. Thats sort of problem i have - if things dont make sense to me, i am unable to remember them. In the best case scenario I would keep the moral teaching, and forget about their “holy” origin.

Studies of morals from authors as Erasmus would be a different thing, regardless their affiliation.

But i received an interesting question from a religious nut here… We had an discussion and when I mentioned my goal in life is to do good, and live as good as possible, he asked me “Why not joining the church, if you wanted to do good?”. I didnt replied, i wasnt atheist at that time (yet). Today I would ask what are extra benefits of doing good within the church, if I can do the same outside of religion. He would certainly give me his rationalization, but it would only explain he for some reason require all the “fluff”, while i can live without it.

And here is the thing… If i can be skeptic about supernatural claims, and have morals from humanism, and education by my parents, does religion have any meaning of life of an individual?

Hitchens and Dawkins would most likely answer “No”, but there is a social aspect (i dont need either) to it, which for example is present on secular and atheist meetings in USA, but so far i absenting in Slovakia. But all organized religions, have to me more than aware, that such question might be asked. They HAVE to insist on certain exclusivity of christian morals. Only the possibility that the question would be asked might cost them more than a few souls. (note to self: find a secular translation of last sentence). Religious structures cannot afford that to happen, and calling humanism to be “an ideology” is a way how to “label” it, without actually discussing it as a topic.

From my point of view its true that people wish to have morals approved by higher authority, and who has better authority than a supernatural creator of everything? A wish to be slave…

In case of christian humanism, at this moment i am not sure, whether Pope Francis is an authority on christian morale - 2nd in line, or he is a humanist who just happens to be in position of christian authority. And the important thing is whether he is perceived like this by the believers.

Edit:
Btw… during july last year, Conference of Bishops in Slovakia made a statement that they are against teaching humanist values in schools.
https://www.postoj.sk/24419/naozaj-ide-humanizmus-proti-ustave-a-krestanskym-tradiciam

It was so surprising, that even christian-conservative newspaper (I usually disagree with) made an article stating they are surprised. (And sorry, it appears there is not english resource on that)

[ Edited: 28 March 2018 12:53 AM by Offler ]
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Posted: 28 March 2018 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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That “why not” question is not unusual anywhere. It sounds like your friend is one who just assumes churches are the place where good is done, and that’s it. He probably also believes God is the source of goodness. I also meet people who have thought about it, and realize there are a lot of bad things coming out of churches, but they go to some church that is good. So they realize it’s the people, but they still hang on to it being something about it being a church. Then there are a whole lot of people who don’t think much about it at all.

If it was just church goers who weren’t thinking, that would be one thing, but sociologists have also been making assumptions. Consequently, there is very little data on what you are talking about. We don’t normally try to figure what those “extra benefits” are. CFI helped with a study done here in the Midwest that examined the benefits of being in a group of any kind and found many of the those benefits have nothing to do with religion. That is definitely a threat to keeping those “souls”. They seemed to have known this before any studies were done, so they denigrate humanism and claim they are the source of morality.
https://www.centerforinquiry.net/newsroom/profiles_of_the_godless_results_from_a_survey_of_the_nonreligious/

The question about Pope Francis is a good one, but I don’t think we’ll ever know. He couldn’t be Pope if he didn’t convince enough people of his belief. He also needs to show he is going to make decisions based on values we all agree on. But he doesn’t have to say anything about how those values agree with other religions or the non-religious.

Good to hear that a Christian newspaper in Slovakia would make that statement.

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Posted: 29 March 2018 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Lausten - 28 March 2018 08:15 AM

That “why not” question is not unusual anywhere. It sounds like your friend is one who just assumes churches are the place where good is done, and that’s it. He probably also believes God is the source of goodness. I also meet people who have thought about it, and realize there are a lot of bad things coming out of churches, but they go to some church that is good. So they realize it’s the people, but they still hang on to it being something about it being a church. Then there are a whole lot of people who don’t think much about it at all.

If it was just church goers who weren’t thinking, that would be one thing, but sociologists have also been making assumptions. Consequently, there is very little data on what you are talking about. We don’t normally try to figure what those “extra benefits” are. CFI helped with a study done here in the Midwest that examined the benefits of being in a group of any kind and found many of the those benefits have nothing to do with religion. That is definitely a threat to keeping those “souls”. They seemed to have known this before any studies were done, so they denigrate humanism and claim they are the source of morality.
https://www.centerforinquiry.net/newsroom/profiles_of_the_godless_results_from_a_survey_of_the_nonreligious/

The question about Pope Francis is a good one, but I don’t think we’ll ever know. He couldn’t be Pope if he didn’t convince enough people of his belief. He also needs to show he is going to make decisions based on values we all agree on. But he doesn’t have to say anything about how those values agree with other religions or the non-religious.

Good to hear that a Christian newspaper in Slovakia would make that statement.

According to last census (2011) in Slovakia, there is 75% of christians while 62% are catholics. Then are protestancts and other christian religions, while all other religions have very little representation. Those numbers might be way off because of certain events, maily in years 2014 and 2015.

Therefore “Going to another church” isnt much of a choice here.

On other hand I am almost sure that Humanism and religious moral teaching (in its core, when we cover our eyes over disputable texts in bible) is not much different, especially when speaking about progressive figures in catholic churches such as popes Francis and John Paul II. Thats exactly why was the christian-conservative newspaper editor so puzzled at statemend made by KBS (Konferencia Biskupov Slovenska - Conference of Bishops in Slovakia).

Christian Conservativds in our country went through strange transformation. In 1989 many of them were forces driving to dismantling of communism. For like 20 years they were part of progressive democratic forces in our country. In 2010 they left government and caused early elections, because they wanted to have Vatican treaty. In following years, this decision led to complete discreditation of centrist-right political movements and rise of corrupted government (they claim they are leftists, but they are not).

Now, some of them joined far-right movements, some of them is trying to push their own view of world to other citizens. Many of them are trying to refuse already signed, but not ratified Istanbul Agreement, while they are arguing using a lot of lies. If a womam, with university education, and rich career has written a blog which is arguing that “non-stereotypical gender roles are not in Slovakia”, she is either misunderstanding the terms, or being outright lying.

[ Edited: 29 March 2018 06:03 AM by Offler ]
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Posted: 29 March 2018 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Offler - 29 March 2018 05:33 AM

According to last census (2011) in Slovakia, there is 75% of christians while 62% are catholics. Then are protestancts and other christian religions, while all other religions have very little representation. Those numbers might be way off because of certain events, maily in years 2014 and 2015.

Therefore “Going to another church” isnt much of a choice here.

I can sympathize. The nearest thing for me is 40 miles away, and it’s a once a month talk with breakfast. There are better organized groups 100 miles to my south, the nearest metropolitan area. You may have heard of “Sunday Assembly”, but there are only a few of those spread across the country so far. Unitarian Universalists are too much like church for me.

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Posted: 29 March 2018 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Lausten - 29 March 2018 10:25 AM

I can sympathize. The nearest thing for me is 40 miles away, and it’s a once a month talk with breakfast. There are better organized groups 100 miles to my south, the nearest metropolitan area. You may have heard of “Sunday Assembly”, but there are only a few of those spread across the country so far. Unitarian Universalists are too much like church for me.

Well… :D what i meant was that despite that revolution in 1989 was calling for pluralism on political level, it actually did not happenned on religious level. Slovak Christians are almost all under control of single organization - KBS - which consists of all christian denominations and their bishops.

They together made statements called “Shepher’s letter” which is read in every church in the country, usually contains political agenda, not religious one. Once christian in Slovakia, its not a big difference between denominations.

But sorry for going so much off topic.

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Posted: 06 April 2018 01:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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By chance i found an interesting answer.

there is Christian humanism, there is Secular humanism…


And then there is Integral Humanism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_humanism_(Maritain)

Slovak Conference of Bishops referred to Integral humanism when they asked government to remove humanism from education system. Recently i found an article that anti-gay marriage activists in France in 2013 identified with integral humanism.

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