I just want to offer some affirmation, since I am quite pleased by garythehuman and PLaClair’s views on what religion, and humanist religion, is. I like to call myself a “religious humanist,” being impressed by the articles in the periodical of the same name, though the term is rare enough that I always have to explain it, and people get the gist more quickly if I just say “secular humanist.” I might start capitalizing it, too, PLaClair :-).
Under my definition humanism would be a religion where atheism is not.
Aha. Well said. Atheism is a doctrine, a component of a metanarrative. Religion goes much deeper than doctrines or metanarratives.
One thing I have observed about my fellow humanists is that they seem to have no understanding that the activity by the religious right in the US draws its support from people who are reacting to what the Marxists call alienation. What Buster Keaton was addressing this in “Rage Against the Machine,” To many Humanists simply reject these people as superstitious no nothings with no thought or analysis given to why they are reacting to society the way they are
Amen! When I sit down with fellow humanists, there’s often a disconnect. My experience growing up in religion—er, rather, theism—was very positive. I just decided it was wrong, and a bit shallow. Many of my comrades, however, are quite bitter about “religion,” and draw shallow caricatures of it which, while probably accurate in many scenarios, do not at all apply to what I experienced. Religion is a human thing—and as such comes with human flaws, but also human excellence.
I do not think that my fellow Humanists have given much the extreme individualism that they seem to be supporting to the point where we are required to discuss the excesses of libertarianism in Free Inquiry (see editiorial by Kurtz in the current Free Inquiry.)
That’s a very interesting point—I’d never given much thought to the correlation between Humanism and disestablishmentarianism, leastwise not in so many words. I’ll have to mull on that for a while.
The fundamentalists are looking for answers to this “family value” problem and if they find a workable answer before we do they are going to win the long term battle for how our society defines itself.
I like that example—religion as a personal/family-level social philosophy. I only hope my form of Humanism becomes developed enough by the time I have children to play the same positive role my parents’ religion did for me. A set of vague affirmations of “love” and “tolerance” are a step removed from practical religion and the pursuit of excellence: the sort of aphorisms and proverbs that Christ, Krishna, and the Buddha could repeat again and again so that they became a formative factor in their follower’s attitude and behavior. I’m a Humanist because I’m skeptical and like to establish things before I tout them—which means I’m slow to construct a list of proverbs I’m willing to commit to.
Anyway, thanks guys. My sister recently commented that she felt like the Freethinker Society at University of Northern Iowa was really a “religion haters” society (and their recent stunts involving literal soap boxes and belligerent anti-God speeches sure reinforce the image). It makes me feel more at home with the CFI, which I sometimes fear falls to the same negative attitudes, when I see people express a deeper appreciation for what religion is and means.
As a member at my local UU congregation likes to say: “I’m a born-again, militant, evangelical agnostic.”