Poll

Are you a secular humanist?

Yes.  I'm a secular humanist.
16 (59.3%)
No.  Atheists and secular humanists are different, and I'm a different kind of atheist.
2 (7.4%)
No.  I'm an objectivist.
0 (0%)
No.  I'm a new atheist.
1 (3.7%)
What is a secular humanist?
1 (3.7%)
Other.
6 (22.2%)
I'm a theist, but I wanted to vote anyway.
1 (3.7%)

Total Members Voted: 21

Author Topic: Secular Humanism  (Read 948 times)

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Offline Quesi

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Secular Humanism
« on: September 19, 2012, 10:38:05 AM »
I was raised in a family that identified as secular humanists.  Interpretations of ethical decisions were debated over dinner, and social justice, economic justice, and protection of the environment were the values that I was taught to embrace. 

I thought those issues were priorities to all atheists.  And I thought that atheist and secular humanist were synonyms. 

But then I got to college and everyone was reading Ayn Rand and I learned about objectivism and a whole different side of atheism, that promoted self-interest above all.  I was actually kind of shocked. 

Most of the folks here are, I guess, what are known as "new atheists."  I'm not sure I even understand what that means. 

So I'm interested in hearing how many of us here consider ourselves secular humanists.  Because I am not particularly confident with the wording I used in the poll for those who do not identify as secular humanists, I'm giving the option of up to three votes.  But if one answer works, then don't vote three times. 

If you are a secular humanist, what does that mean to you.  If you are not, how do you self-identify? 


Offline screwtape

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2012, 11:27:34 AM »
I'm sort of a secular humanist. Or, a de facto secular humanist.  I don't know enough about SH to really know what I am talking about, but what I do know of it, I seem to more or less endorse and practice.

I could say the same about being an atheistic buddhist or taoist.

I'm glad you brought this up.  I think it would be good - useful - for more people who identify as atheist to know what SH is.  It helps in fights with stupid xians about morality.
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Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2012, 11:38:31 AM »
I consider myself something sort of like a secular humanist but I don't consider myself an atheist.

I never viewed Secular Humanism as a positive statement of political beliefs. I guess I just never thought of it as a movement and I don't see how Secular Humanism and atheism would necessarily have to be ideologically connected.

In other words, I thought Secular Humanism was more of a philosophical point of view in regards to how we should treat each other in a society. Mutual respect without forcing a point of view.

I thought the Declaration of Independence echoed that sentiment as far as trying to not create a theocracy goes.

At this point I must concede with screwtape that I don't know much about SH.

I didn't vote because I didn't see an option or a combination of options that I could honestly choose.

Edit
Never mind, re-read the options and chose Yes and Other.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2012, 11:40:19 AM by Mr. Blackwell »
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Offline Quesi

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2012, 12:09:35 PM »
Ok.  Let's start out with a wikipedia defination:

Secular humanism

The philosophy or life stance secular humanism (alternatively known by some adherents as Humanism, specifically with a capital H to distinguish it from other forms of humanism) embraces human reason, ethics, social justice, philosophical naturalism, while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision-making.[1][2][3]

It posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a god. It does not, however, assume that humans are either inherently evil or innately good, nor does it present humans as being superior to nature. Rather, the humanist life stance emphasizes the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions. Fundamental to the concept of secular humanism is the strongly held viewpoint that ideology—be it religious or political—must be thoroughly examined by each individual and not simply accepted or rejected on faith. Along with this, an essential part of secular humanism is a continually adapting search for truth, primarily through science and philosophy. Many Humanists derive their moral codes from a philosophy of utilitarianism, ethical naturalism or evolutionary ethics, and some advocate a science of morality.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism

My dad was active in the secular humanist movement when I was young.  He had correspondence with Betrand Russell when I was very very young.  I got to meet Isaac Asimov as a kid.  I didn't even realize that there was a difference between secular humanism and atheism, until, as I said, I went to college and met the objectivists.  With that discovery, I guess I created an us/them in my mind.  That there were some atheists that bought into social darwinism, and then there were the rest of us who were secular humanists. 

I guess it has sort of been dawning on me slowly that a significant percentage of atheists don't ascribe to either worldview.  So I need to really re-examine my assumptions about self-identified atheists.

Maybe I should have asked how many members here consider ethics a driving force in your lives?  And if you do, what informs your ethical decisions. 




Offline screwtape

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2012, 12:20:13 PM »
old link to the secular humanism website and the humanist manifesto

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,15377.msg343205.html#msg343205

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Offline Lectus

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2012, 12:29:21 PM »
How's that different from Deism? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism

Depending on the definition of God I may be a Deist or a Secular Humanist.

I think to be an atheist you need to still have faith in the non-existence of God. Since there is no scientific proof. That's not much different from theists believing blindly in something.

I believe in science, reason and morals so humans, animals and plants live in harmony.

In what category am I?
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Offline pianodwarf

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2012, 12:59:36 PM »
I think to be an atheist you need to still have faith in the non-existence of God.

No.  Atheism is not the belief that a god does not exist.  It is lack of belief in the existence of a god.  It is not a matter of faith.  You either have belief in a deity (or deities), or you don't.  If the former, you are a theist; if the latter, you are an atheist.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2012, 01:27:53 PM »
I think to be an atheist you need to still have faith in the non-existence of God. Since there is no scientific proof. That's not much different from theists believing blindly in something.

I don't believe in mermaids, unicorns, leprechauns, vampires or Zeus.  Does any of that require faith?
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Offline Quesi

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2012, 01:35:50 PM »
old link to the secular humanism website and the humanist manifesto

http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,15377.msg343205.html#msg343205

Thanks  for this link, Screwtape.  I don't think I have ever read the 2003 document, but it certainly articulates my worldview.  I think it is interesting that the website that you linked bills itself as "Beyond Atheism."  I guess it is only now occurring to me that one can be an atheist without having examined ethics. 

How's that different from Deism? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism

Depending on the definition of God I may be a Deist or a Secular Humanist.

I think to be an atheist you need to still have faith in the non-existence of God. Since there is no scientific proof. That's not much different from theists believing blindly in something.

I believe in science, reason and morals so humans, animals and plants live in harmony.

In what category am I?

I don't pretend to know very much about Deism, but as I understand it, it is sort of about a laissez faire diety, with a strong emphasis on science.  Please correct me if I am wrong.

Secular humanists are atheists.[1]    Secular humanists obviously look to science rather than sorcery to explain the natural world, the origins of the universe, etc.  But the driving force behind secular humanism is the respect for the value of life. 

Which one are you?  I don't know!  You tell us. 
 1. Or, I guess, agnostics, but I know that is a buzz word for a lot of folks.

Offline wright

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2012, 06:53:48 PM »
While I was a Christian, the anti-humanist bits of the bible and many of the policies of my church appalled me. In part, it was realizing those things were inherent to mainstream Christian doctrine that let me reject my religious faith entirely.

Secular humanism encompasses my values pretty well, especially since I became an atheist.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2012, 08:05:16 PM »
I think to be an atheist you need to still have faith in the non-existence of God.

Faith in the non-existence of which god?
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Offline Quesi

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2012, 08:14:59 PM »
While I was a Christian, the anti-humanist bits of the bible and many of the policies of my church appalled me. In part, it was realizing those things were inherent to mainstream Christian doctrine that let me reject my religious faith entirely.

Secular humanism encompasses my values pretty well, especially since I became an atheist.

Very interesting.  I was starting to think that perhaps secular humanism is a second-generation atheist affiliation, rather than something embraced by those deconverting from religion.  Or maybe it was just old-fashioned. 

I started thinking about my own life experience, and the fact that I did not really embrace the label of secular humanism as an adult, until I became a mom, and was faced with the task of helping my daughter make both moral and ethical decisions.  Two of my daughter's playmates are also being raised in families that identify as secular humanist, and both of the moms of those girls were raised in atheist households. 

I wonder if parenthood is a sort of catalyst for taking on the identity of secular humanist as a means to facilitate the children's ethical development. 

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2012, 06:12:52 PM »
Quesi, Thank you posting this thread. It has given me cause to examine my beliefs. I have previously thought of myself as an out and out atheist, not a militant one but a complete disbeliever with mild disdain for the irrational beliefs of the nice people that I think of as sheeple. Too much Sagan, Hubble, Green, Kolb, and all the rest makes it impossible to believe in a supernatural being of some kind.

The wiki reference pretty much sums it up for me. Based on the wiki definition, I reckon that I am a secular humanist to the core. We have a semantic discussion in the making. What is the difference between atheist and humanist?.  I do hope that this thread blossoms so that we can reach some kind of agreement as to what differences exist, between those titles. Such an accord would not be possible with a public forum because the theists are famously disinclined toward objective reasoning.

Offline Quesi

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2012, 07:18:55 PM »
Poseidon, you made my day with that post. 

So yeah.  You've asked the right question.  What is the difference between an atheist and a humanist? 

I believe that for each of us, there is not afterlife.  No next life.  No reward or punishment.  This is our life, and it is precious. 

I can't imagine not being driven by a consideration of ethical consequences.  I've always been baffled by religious people who somehow believe they have some superior moral standards, when most live by some simplistic system of reward or punishment.  And there is always an afterlife providing justice for those who didn't get justice during their lifetimes. 

Are there atheists who are not driven by an examination of the human condition, and concern for our current reality and our future as a species?[1] 
 1. Other than objectivists, who I really don't understand

Offline Poseidon

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2012, 11:38:26 PM »
You used the word, objectivists above. Are you referring to the ARI (Ayn Rand Institute) brand of objectivism that they hold so dear?

That is one more ism that we can add to the list of indeterminents,

Offline Quesi

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2012, 05:43:05 AM »
You used the word, objectivists above. Are you referring to the ARI (Ayn Rand Institute) brand of objectivism that they hold so dear?

That is one more ism that we can add to the list of indeterminents,

Absolutely.  As I stated in my op, I've read Rand, and  I've known people who adhere to this worldview.  But I continue to be genuinely baffled by these folks with whom I share an atheistic worldview, but who embrace a set of values that are the antithesis of what I would consider an ethical worldview.  They claim a sort of monopoly on rational thought, but so many of the premises on which they build their worldview are so flawed, that their conclusions are a muddled mess of greed and delusions of self-superiority. 

Offline Bereft_of_Faith

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #16 on: October 01, 2012, 06:40:03 AM »
They claim a sort of monopoly on rational thought, but so many of the premises on which they build their worldview are so flawed, that their conclusions are a muddled mess of greed and delusions of self-superiority.

Where it gets sticky, is that the atheist has no higher authority from whom/which he/she may derive morality.  The theists know this, and accuse us of being guided by situational ethics.  Unfortunately, this is to some extent true.  There is no absolute 'higher' reason why people can't choose to be greedy, selfish or even murderous. 

A hot-house philosophy like Rand's, a myopic view of history, and a fundamental misunderstanding of how societies flourish and how people interact leads some people to conclude that they are free to behave only in their own self-interest. 

Their mistake lies not in their conclusion but in the means by which they arrived at that conclusion.  When dubious untested and untenable theories are discarded, when history is studied properly, and when efforts are made to understand human behavior and interaction, one will realize that it is in fact in one's own best interest to be kind, generous, mindful of the environment and humane.  Not only will one benefit from living in such a society, but that society will be preserved for one's progeny, which shall meet the needs of one's own genetic legacy as well as that of the species as a whole.

We are sometimes duped into trying to make our ethics match the xian morality that has held sway for two thousand years.  If we can only craft an ethical code that arrives at the same place, we would be safe from recrimination by those who claim the high ground based on their religiosity.  We don't have to do this.  We should not do as the Creationists do; work backwards from a conclusion in an effort to effect a cause.  We don't need to do this.  The reasons for moral or ethical behavior are self-evident  They require a long view, perspective.  They are not black and white.  They are difficult and nuanced.  Harder to grasp than ten laws carved into a stone tablet.  For the more pressing concepts, man-made laws, judicial systems, systems of checks and balances in government and so on will have to suffice.

Offline Poseidon

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #17 on: October 01, 2012, 02:22:53 PM »
Visit http://Secularhumanism.org. They have some clear definitions of exactly what they believe themselves to be. The humanist emphasis is to maintain a respectful, benevolent, and serviceable relationship with other humans. They are painfully conscious of the indictments about  absense of morality that the xtians like to lay on non theists.

While searching for the humanist web sites I came across this one....Instantcheckmate.com. Their headline invites you to use their service to check the criminal history of secular humanists.  The implication is surely sufficient to cause humanists some non humanist thoughts.


Offline screwtape

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #18 on: October 01, 2012, 02:50:00 PM »
Instantcheckmate.com.

as far as I can tell, that is just a search service for criminal records.  The site analyzes what you are looking for and plugs it into their generic ad.  Looking for nazis?  The ad tells you you can search for criminal records for nazis.  Looking for mormons?  The ad tells you you can search for criminal records for mormons.
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Offline Quesi

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2012, 04:47:46 PM »

....in fact in one's own best interest to be kind, generous, mindful of the environment and humane.  Not only will one benefit from living in such a society, but that society will be preserved for one's progeny, which shall meet the needs of one's own genetic legacy as well as that of the species as a whole.

Absolutely!

We are sometimes duped into trying to make our ethics match the xian morality that has held sway for two thousand years.  If we can only craft an ethical code that arrives at the same place, we would be safe from recrimination by those who claim the high ground based on their religiosity.
 

I genuinely have no idea what a "xian morality" would be.  There are the fundamentalists, of course, who embrace all kinds of foolishness from "curing gays" to opposing stem cell research.  But there are Christians who believe that giving to the poor is a good Christian thing to do, and there are Christians who believe that their god rewards them with material possessions in this life, and they get to look down on the poor the same way the objectvists do.  I mean, if they were really worthy, god would give them a nice house and car.  There is a small group of Christians who are opposed to war and violence, and there are Christians who believe god is on our side of any war we engage in.  There are Christians who believe that living a good, moral life is the key to the afterlife, while there are others who think that we are all hopeless sinners, and that helping others or being a good person is irrelevant.  You just need to promise yourself to your deity's offspring, and apologize to him personally when you screw other people over.  And there are still others who think they need to tell a clergy that they are really sorry, and whatever crap they did will be forgiven. 


(snip) The reasons for moral or ethical behavior are self-evident  They require a long view, perspective.  They are not black and white.  They are difficult and nuanced.  Harder to grasp than ten laws carved into a stone tablet.  For the more pressing concepts, man-made laws, judicial systems, systems of checks and balances in government and so on will have to suffice.

Yes

Offline Kimberly

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Re: Secular Humanism
« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2012, 04:02:28 PM »
You've posed a curious question Quesi. I really don't know. I've not taken the time to research Secular Humanism . The snip-it from Wiki sounds like me but I wouldn't feel comfortable labeling myself Secular Humanist until I fully understood it.

My general opinion is that atheism doesn't default to any philosophies. I deconverted on the forum so my opinion of atheism has been formed strictly off of the this forum, ATT, and other internet resources. The only other atheist I interact with IRL is my significant other who also used the forum as a stepping stone to deconversion. So my world view is rather limited. I wish I had similar experiences that you have but honestly it just doesn't come up that much in my life.
Thank you for considering my point of view; however wrong it may be to you.