Forum
Filter     |   View Watchlist
[ Print Friendly ] [ Watch Thread ]

Chi_Mangetsu EmEffin TRex
Secular Humanism

Some background information: SecularHumanism.org

And something to start a discussion: Is "Science Fiction Humanism" a Contradiction in Terms?

Post edited 3/14/10 9:42AM
#1  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
101 REPLIES Watch  |  Sort by Likes · Date
skamunisM
I'll have to finish reading the article when I get home from work, but damn, if humanism requires one to be a bitter cynic, as the author seems to be, then count me out.
#2  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 2 Cool
NaraVara Forum Mod
In reply to Chi_Mangetsu, #1:

So religious discourse for the remainder of the 21st century is just going to be successive layers of "meta-" prefixed to religious discourse isn't it?
Oh what a postmodern new world with such navel-gazers in it.
#3  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
Chi_Mangetsu EmEffin TRex
In reply to skamunisM, #2:

One person's review of certain subsections of science fiction hardly denotes the nature of an entire group.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_humanists

This fellow is by far my favorite, though Pullman is also a rather stand-up chap.

In reply to NaraVara, #3:

Care to elaborate?

Post edited 3/15/10 3:03PM
#4  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
NaraVara Forum Mod
In reply to Chi_Mangetsu, #4:

Once people start defining their religious beliefs as being specifically "humanist" or "monist" or whatever then you're not even really talking about God anymore. You're talking about how people talk about God. And from there you're on how people talking about God talk about talking about talking about God.

Post edited 3/15/10 3:15PM
#5  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 1 Lame
NaraVara Forum Mod
I gotta say though, the logo the Secular Humanists have chosen for themselves looks like it was taken off the label for an anti-depressant.
#6  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 2 Funny
skamunisM
In reply to Chi_Mangetsu, #4:
Oh I know, I was just being cheeky. I actually do consider myself a humanist, in the loosest sort of way, and I've always thought of people like Gene Roddenberry and Carl Sagan as heroes of my way of thinking.

In reply to NaraVara, #5:
I think this is to be expected when people who think of god as a concept, and not as an actual being, talk about religion.

#7  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 1 Ditto
NaraVara Forum Mod
In reply to skamunisM, #7:

But at some point you're not even discussing the concept. It's kind of annoying when any article or discussion you read about religion and spirituality inevitably fills itself up with how to appropriately label groups and define terms instead of discussing the actual concept at issue. For example, who the hell cares what "Secular Humanism" is? Shouldn't our concern be the philosophy itself? Its impact and implications seem much more interesting than how exactly we are going to draw a line around a variegated mish-mash of beliefs and stick the label on it. Why is modern academia so concerned with coining labels instead of saying anything new?
#8  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 1 Ditto
Chi_Mangetsu EmEffin TRex
In reply to NaraVara, #5:
You're not talking about God

That's... kind of the point.
Far from living in a moral vacuum, secular humanists “wish to encourage wherever possible the growth of moral awareness.” (The quote comes from “A Secular Humanist Declaration,” the Council for Secular Humanism’s founding document, authored by Paul Kurtz.)

Secular humanists believe human values should express a commitment to improve human welfare in this world. (Of course, human welfare is understood in the context of our interdependence upon the environment and other living things.) Ethical principles should be evaluated by their consequences for people, not by how well they conform to preconceived ideas of right and wrong.

Secular humanism denies that meaning, values, and ethics are imposed from above. In that it echoes simple atheism. But secular humanism goes further, challenging humans to develop their own values. Secular humanism maintains that through a process of value inquiry, reflective men and women can reach rough agreement concerning values, and craft ethical systems that deliver desirable results under most circumstances.

Indeed, say secular humanists, the basic components of effective morality are universally recognized. Paul Kurtz has written of the “common moral decencies”—qualities including integrity, trustworthiness, benevolence, and fairness. These qualities are celebrated by almost every human religion, not because God ordained them, but because human beings cannot thrive in communities where these values are ignored.

Secular humanism offers a nonreligious template that may one day guide much of humanity in pursuing fulfilling and humane lives—lives that are rich intellectually, ethically, and emotionally, without reliance on religious faith.


Post edited 3/15/10 4:14PM
#9  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
NaraVara Forum Mod
In reply to Chi_Mangetsu, #9:
That's... kind of the point.
Secular humanism offers a nonreligious template that may one day guide much of humanity in pursuing fulfilling and humane lives—lives that are rich intellectually, ethically, and emotionally, without reliance on religious faith.
See right there? You can't be talking about not-God without understanding God.
#10  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
Chi_Mangetsu EmEffin TRex
In reply to NaraVara, #10:



Occam's Razor is a thing of beauty, my friend.

And doesn't your statement fly in the face of what the True Believers think about their god, that it can't be explained?

Post edited 3/15/10 4:33PM
#11  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 0 Funny
NaraVara Forum Mod
In reply to Chi_Mangetsu, #11:
Occam's Razor is a thing of beauty, my friend.
When did Occam's razor become a syllogism?
(Protip: Never.)
And doesn't your statement fly in the face of what the True Believers think about their god, that it can't be explained?

Funny how easy it can be to find contradictions between the opinions of normal people and those of strawmen.
#12  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
Chi_Mangetsu EmEffin TRex
In reply to NaraVara, #12:

I really don't know what you are trying to argue. If you have a point other than flailing indignantly (sound, fury, et al)...
#13  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 0 Lame
NaraVara Forum Mod
In reply to Chi_Mangetsu, #13:

Perhaps you can make on OP with a point for discussion?
#14  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
Chi_Mangetsu EmEffin TRex
In reply to NaraVara, #14:
And something to start a discussion: Is "Science Fiction Humanism" a Contradiction in Terms?
Forgive me. I didn't realize the point of discussion I provided was inadequate for you, O Most Righteous Forum Maven.
#15  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  - 1 Flamebait
skamunisM
Im sensing some history between you, because this argument seems like it started before this thread :P

I think I understand where you're coming from, NaraVara. I never use Secular Humanism as a label for anything that I believe, because it means vastly different things to different people, and it doesn't effectively communicate anything that I intend. The arguments over what it is, and what to call everything else is incredibly tiring and ultimately useless.

I also understand why it happens. Non-religious people, myself included, are really flailing to find or create an institution that replicates the community, tradition, and life-organizing principles that come along with religion. This is complicated by the fact that, as you've pointed out, being an atheist, or framing your beliefs as non-supernatural, doesn't have any meaning on it's own, because it's simply a rejection of something else.

I'm sure most humanists (whatever that means), would love to move past talking about god at all. But in a world where the vast majority of people hold supernatural beliefs, that won't happen any time soon.
#16  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
NaraVara Forum Mod
In reply to Chi_Mangetsu, #15:

So this isn't a thread about Secular Humanism then, but about Secular Humanism as a trope in Science Fiction?
Shall I modify the thread title to reflect this?
O Most Righteous Forum Maven.
P.S. You're trying my patience child. You know how we have expectations for threads that start discussion here and this one is looking to me more like a thinly veiled roll-call than anything else. You can either be useful and help develop something worth discussing or you can be a snarky git and I will go ahead and put the thread to bed.
#17  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  - 1 Flamebait
NaraVara Forum Mod
I'm sure most humanists (whatever that means), would love to move past talking about god at all. But in a world where the vast majority of people hold supernatural beliefs, that won't happen any time soon.
I never really understand how American I've become until I go back to visit India. As much as I can be made to feel like an outsider here for being Indian, I realize that having grown up in this environment has conditioned me to be more American than anything else.
While the general principles of secular humanism are basically enshrined as "truth" by the world's top-university educated bunch, I think any such person who has to spend time in some rural African village somewhere is going to find that in terms of world-view and ethics and perspectives on how the universe works, is going to find they have a lot more in common with the people of their Christian buddies back home than even a fellow atheist from rural Malawi.

I've said before that a lot of the way an atheist or a humanist define themselves and their beliefs only really make sense in the context of Christianity or Islam where faith/submission before an all-knowing, all-powerful God are considered to be a big deal. Take any pre-Christian/Islamic pagan religions, though, and that kind of devotion is mostly regarded as optional. It's good to do, but not all that important.

Even with Christians I think the moral certitude is mostly restricted to the missionaries and nutty evangelical types who will insist that you need to be some fanatical nutcase to be considered a Christian. Most of my Christian friends who function normally in society aren't all that obsessive about it. They go to Church as often as they feel is appropriate, they kind of agree with the liturgy, but for the most part they're asking questions and seeking answers themselves. For most people their religious identity is a central part of their identity, but it's in the background and it's kind of fluid. They don't rigidly fixate on it the way this tendency towards labeling stuff implies that they must.

Post edited 3/15/10 5:30PM
#18  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
Chi_Mangetsu EmEffin TRex
In reply to NaraVara, #17:
P.S. You're trying my patience child. You know how we have expectations for threads that start discussion here and this one is looking to me more like a thinly veiled roll-call than anything else. You can either be useful and help develop something worth discussing or you can be a snarky git and I will go ahead and put the thread to bed.
It's just as much of a legitimate thread of discussion as "Discussion of Christianity," "Discussion of Catholicism," "Discussion of Judaism," et al.

So here's a better opening for you, old man:

"What does Secular Humanism mean to you?"
#19  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
Chi_Mangetsu EmEffin TRex
In reply to NaraVara, #18:
I think any such person who has to spend time in some rural African village somewhere is going to find that in terms of world-view and ethics and perspectives on how the universe works, is going to find they have a lot more in common with the people of their Christian buddies back home than even a fellow atheist from rural Malawi.

My goodness, it's so nice to know that you know what everyone's thinking. I'm sure it wouldn't have anything to do with their subjugation by Christian masters for hundreds of years and only having been truly free for, oh, twenty-some years or less. Certainly not.
They don't rigidly fixate on it the way this tendency towards labeling stuff implies that they must.
Why must it imply that?
How are they rigidly fixating on this tendency towards labeling?
How is it only THEY are rigidly fixating on this tendency towards labeling?
Doesn't humanity tend towards this in general?
#20  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 0 Zing!
skamunisM
In reply to NaraVara, #18:

I guess I'm not really sure what you're taking issue with.

I couldn't agree more that Secular Humanism is a product of western, Christian culture. The arguments by Humanists are going to be directed at other people in the same culture. I know for certain that I have more in common with my Christian friends, who I argue with regularly, than I would with a rural farmer in a developing country.

Are you saying that a debate has to be universal to all people in all cultures for it to be valid or relevant?
#21  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 1 Ditto
skamunisM
Secular Humanism for the developing world

It stresses economic equality, anti-colonialism, and critical-thinking focused education.

"We must aspire to reach a situation where scientific, rational, ethical and even philosophical information reaches everyone and flourishes with a greater case. A form of positive atheism that will become the liberation of humankind from theistic falsities that tie all of us to pain, guilt, misery and permanent despair. We want freedom from irrationality and superstition for even the humblest and most marginal of all human beings."
#22  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
pal_sch
In reply to skamunisM, #22:

Urg. That sounds like the kind of statement that won't convince anyone and will put off most.

It also sounds like they have things backwards. The idea that atheism precedes scientific acceptance, etc. It's very short sighted.

Atheists mostly do accept science in general, talking here about various controversial theories and the overall reliability/applicability of the scientific method to the understanding of the natural world. But that doesn't make them good scientists or even rational.

In some areas, someone who has been convinced there is no god is going to be needing answers. They are likely to accept the answers that fit with a scientific view, but that doesn't mean they will understand those answers. Rather they do almost become points of faith. There is no deeper understanding from accepting the theory either of the world or of the science itself. A hole is plugged in their questions about the universe and that's it.

If you want to promote scientific understanding and rationality, promote science. You might find yourself in conflict with certain religious arguments, but you should not seek to destroy religion first to leave rationality in it's place. You are just getting into a very ugly fight and it won't work.

Now if your goal is to destroy religion, fine. Maybe try to actually understand what you are talking about first, but fine. But don't dress it up as trying to advance science and rationality. The two are separate goals.
#23  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 1 Ditto
NaraVara Forum Mod
My goodness, it's so nice to know that you know what everyone's thinking.
Spend some time away from the ivory tower. It's messy down here, but exciting.
Why must it imply that?
Do you really need to ask why creating rigid definitions of fuzzy concepts might require you to fixate on it more rigidly than you would otherwise?
Secular Humanism for the developing world
This is the worst idea since the Crusades. You just agreed with me that Secular Humanism is the byproduct of a Christian society right? Trying to go around preaching secularism is just going to end up Christianizing them. What this ends up being is pompous Westerners going into other countries and trying to replay the ideological conflicts they have back home on a battlefield to which it's not even relevant just because the people there are too poor and ignorant to resist.

Can't win an argument with superstitious fundies here? Go to Africa and you can win over a bunch of people who don't even know how to read. Brilliant!

Post edited 3/16/10 9:26AM
#24  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  - 1 Flamebait
Chi_Mangetsu EmEffin TRex
Humanism in Africa

History of Humanism in Africa

History of Humanism via Wikipedia Oh, gee, will you lookee there? Chinese humanism in sixth century BCE! That's so Western!

The view from the other side since you seem so keen to focus on it.

The evils of Humanism: booga booga booga!
One basic deception of secular humanism is that humanity is an accident of nature and that there is no plan of salvation. The result of this belief is the propagation of evolutionary theory, support of abortion and euthanasia, and disdain for organized religion. The societal consequences of these ideas include attempts to remove the Bible from public schools, the defamation or ridicule of those who claim to have a relationship with God, loss of a sense of purpose for humanity and abandonment of hope in a future after this life.

A second deception is the belief that all religions are equal. Not all humanists are atheists; some believe in some form of Supreme Being. But in the humanistic model, the Bible becomes just another book containing many ethical ideas but also one filled with myths and even promoting evil. This has led to dismissal of the Bible while accepting and propagating many forms and variations of non-Christian beliefs.

A third deception of humanism is that each person is his or her own ultimate authority. Frederick Edwords writes in "What Is Humanism?" published on the American Humanist Association Web page:

"The Secular Humanist tradition is in part a tradition of defiance, a tradition that dates back to ancient Greece. One can see, even in Greek mythology, humanist themes that are rarely, if ever, manifested in the mythologies of other cultures. And they certainly have not been repeated by modern religions. The best example here is the character Prometheus.

"Prometheus stands out because he was admired by ancient Greeks as the one who defied Zeus. He stole the fire of the gods and brought it down to earth. For this he was punished. And yet he continued his defiance amid his tortures. This is one source of the Humanist challenge to authority.

"The next time we see a truly heroic Promethean character in mythology it is Lucifer in John Milton's Paradise Lost. But now he is the Devil. He is evil. Whoever would defy God must be wickedness personified. That seems to be a given of traditional religion. But the ancient Greeks didn't agree. To them, Zeus, for all his power, could still be mistaken.

"Imagine how shocked a friend of mine was when I told her my view of 'God's moral standards.' I said, 'If there were such a god, and these were indeed his ideal moral principles, I would be tolerant. After all, God is entitled to his own opinions!'

"Only a humanist is inclined to speak this way. Only a humanist can suggest that, even if there be a god, it is OK to disagree with him, her, or it."

The result of each person becoming his or her own ultimate authority is situation ethics. Institutions like lifelong marriage become merely personal choices on par with purchasing a new car. Homosexuality and divorce become acceptable as long as "no one gets hurt." The societal consequences? Epidemic sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, mental illness, broken families, poverty, crime, war—the very ills humanists claim to want to change.
It's funny that he decides to mention divorce when Christians have more divorces than anyone else--certainly more than those that don't ascribe to a deity of any sort since they prefer to focus on the life and relationships they have in the here and now rather than what they imagine will come after they die.
#25  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
NaraVara Forum Mod
In reply to Chi_Mangetsu, #25:

Yes. I'm absolutely sure than an American based secular humanist group is going to be well attuned to whatever tradition this fellow seems to have interpreted as "secular humanism" to describe it in terms you, a Westerner, would understand. Moreso, the fact that you're putting up links about humanism while I'm talking about secularism makes me think your erroneously conflating the two.
#26  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
Chi_Mangetsu EmEffin TRex
In reply to NaraVara, #26:

The Humanism part of the equation is the more essential of the two to be certain.
#27  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
skamunisM
Chillax dudes, it's just the internet :)

In reply to pal_sch, #23:
There's a lot of baggage that came along with your claims that wasn't contained in that link. The speaker did not assume that atheism precedes scientific acceptance. Quite to the contrary, the claim was that humanists should aim to support fair trade, education, and political independence, and should resist the hegemony of western institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. The hope is that independent, educated, and economically stable nations would have less dependence on tribal superstitions. In addition, she suggests that nations with secular constitutions, like Mexico, should resist the creep of religious institutions into government.

In reply to NaraVara, #24:
I don't think that I nor the speaker I linked to promote preaching Humanism to anyone; the point was that humanists should support the independence and economic development of underdeveloped nations. I did not agree that Secular Humanism is a byproduct of Christian society. I agreed that is is a product of western, Christian civilization, and that it's arguments must of course be understood in that context.
#28  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 1 Ditto
skamunisM
Also, In reply to pal_sch, #23:
You're also making a pretty big assumption about my knowledge and understanding of religion. If there is a particular item that you think I'm missing, then please point it out, but don't resort to "you just don't get it, man."In reply to NaraVara, #24:

In reply to NaraVara, #24:
Can't win an argument with superstitious fundies here? Go to Africa and you can win over a bunch of people who don't even know how to read. Brilliant!
You used the strawman defense yourself, so you should be wary of building your own so soon afterward.
#29  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote  |  + 1 Ditto
NaraVara Forum Mod
the point was that humanists should support the independence and economic development of underdeveloped nations.
But why should this always be done through some (ir)religious mandate? Can't you just support economic development with organizations meant to support their economic development rather than bringing the baggage of whatever high-falootin' philosophical norm you want to carry along with it?
It's not just about economic development with this, part of the issue is that "development" implies acceptance of the values of the secular humanist group. So rather than trying to enable these people to get the resources they need to pursue their own good in their own way, you're trying to condition them to pursue what you believe to be good in your way. This was the same story with Christian missionaries and their attendant European colonizers in the last century.

Bear in mind, the issue with colonialism wasn't that the countries weren't independent. The independence wasn't an end in itself. The point was that being governed by foreigners who look down on you inevitably creates an inferiority complex among the people being dominated. They find themselves in the position where the only way to get ahead is to leave themselves behind.
They needed to be independent so they could be themselves, rather than who their colonial masters were trying to mold them into being. The thing is, you don't need political dominance over the people to mold them in your own image. You can do it just as well by making sure that most of the books, journals, and articles that get published are written from your perspective. You can then go about declaring the "smart" and "enlightened" ones as being the people you happen to agree with and assuming a hierarchy of thought processes that puts your own at the top. Presto, you've got yourself another generation of young Macaulites.
#30  Posted 4 years ago  |  Reply  |  Quote
[ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ] [ 4 ] [ Next ]
Please sign in or sign up to post a comment.