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Atheist school's values & ethics

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coffee
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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#181 Post by coffee » February 7th, 2014, 9:31 am

Latest post of the previous page:

Hi Nick,

It is ok to me, but you are welcome if you would like to put forward the alternative or to improve it so that I could learn from it.

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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#182 Post by Nick » February 7th, 2014, 3:46 pm

coffee wrote:Hi Nick,

It is ok to me, but you are welcome if you would like to put forward the alternative or to improve it so that I could learn from it.
Hi Coffee, :)

I tend to avoid drawing up such lists, as there are always exceptions and quibbles which lead to arguments over the definitions, instead of promoting a worldview.

For example:

I don't think secularist is a good word to use. One could be a religious secularist.

I have trouble with declaring just about anything as a "right". Not because I do not think that some things should apply to all, but because "rights" always bring up the question "says who...?"

Harm, whether "physical, psychological, social, economic" is too uncertain and often contradictory, depending on whom you ask.

If one calls for "harm" in the name of one's beliefs, ISTM that you would not regard it as harm anyway.

Sometimes we should discriminate on the basis of gender and sexuality. Not negatively, but in a positive way.
they don't deny people the right to make a free and informed choice about what to believe
, ...that word "rights" again....
they don't try to impose their beliefs onto anyone else,
they don't attempt to indoctrinate children,
Hmmmm.... Impose? Indoctrinate? I would seek to convince anyone I come across that there is no god, especially if they were my children (though sadly I don't have any).
they don't expect employers to subsidise their religious activities with "worship rooms" and days off on holy days.
I know what they mean but surely that's a matter for negotiation? If a firm employs a bunch of muslims, why not ask their employer for a prayer room? Other employees might want a bicycle rack or showers. That's not a matter for a belief system.
none of their activities are funded by taxpayers
In a democracy, I'm loath to start telling a democratically elected government exactly what they can and can't do. Lots of people have things they object to government spending money on. Nuclear weapons, say? I can imagine some people being far more upset by such expenditure than by, say, the preservation of Westminster Abbey.

Sorry I havn't proposed anything instead, but that's because I don't think such "rules" are particularly useful in progressing society.

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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#183 Post by coffee » February 8th, 2014, 9:26 am

Thank you for the explaination Nick, but I still feel the list are useful because then we know roughly where we stand so that we can start to push back if and when we liberal are under pressure.

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coledavis
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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#184 Post by coledavis » February 8th, 2014, 10:38 am

Not only do I wish to convince that there is no god, but I wish to bring in the inquisition. The comfy chair!
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trusleymike
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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#185 Post by trusleymike » February 11th, 2014, 2:43 pm

Nick

I don't know how involved you are in talking to people outside atheist/secularist/humanist circles but I have become used to them not understanding what words mean. In fact many of them, particularly the religious ones, seem to believe that the "a" in atheist is short of "anti" - as if we were "anti-theists" rather than "not-theists". The world seems to be going to hell in a hand cart when people cannot even agree on the meaning of words - without which we cannot begin to communicate.

Personally I am involved as a volunteer in speaking to thousands of pupils in schools on behalf of "a non-theist world view" now containing on most of the 150+ Agreed Syllabuses ("syllabi" for pedants) for Religious Education in England. We need more atheists/humanists willing to get off the intellectual sofa and talk in schools - we need to provide that one 50 minute lesson in a child's entire school career where they will be presented with a non-theist world view from someone who is not religious.

Religion is a VERY wooly subject - must religious people cannot even define what the words "religion" and "god" actually mean.

It is therefore very important to have something to present when we talk about what we believe: what we personally mean when we call ourselves "atheists", what we mean when we talk about a "secular society" and what we mean by "humanism".

I have no difficulty with the first two apart from the obvious fact that there is no such thing as "atheism" other than it the state of being a "not theist." Even philosophers like A C Grayling (who should know better) get into knots with this one and tend to assume that we atheists share some world view beyond that of being "not theists". We don't. Some atheists are really bad people, some are really good people and most of us are somewhere in between. You can be a fascist atheist working in the City or a goody-two-shoes atheist doing good works - but what we don't share is any form of common philosophy or ideology.

I am quite happy for religious people also to be secularists - I know many who are.

We need some definition of secularism if we are to communicate the basic ideas behind it. Failing to come up with a definition, or list of things that secularism involves (naive or not) is a cop-out - and would not go down well in front of a bunch of school students. We won't get far by refusing to produce lists or refusing to define what we mean, or don't mean, by "rights". BTW: to me, the words "rights" and "responsibilities" always go together - you have no rights unless you accept your social responsibilities - assuming an individual is intellectually capable of accepting such responsibilities.

I do have a problem with "humanist" and "humanism". As represented by the BHA the word comes from the 19th century religious tradition, from non-conformists who eventually dropped the god-bit and stuck to ethics. There are lots of Christian Humanists from Erasmus onwards and I am a little concerned that many modern day "humanists" think of themselves as "Christians without the god bit."

There is some discussion of this on:

http://www.secularderby.org/humanist.htm

Yes, I carry the can for that site and I am ALWAYS willing to modify the contents if things can be made clearer to those of our persuasion and to others. I really look forward to seeing your own definition of secularism - with or without a list.

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Dave B
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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#186 Post by Dave B » February 11th, 2014, 3:07 pm

Hi, Mike and welcome!

Understand what you say about "secular-", it is merely the doings of society that have no religious connotations - as in working for a living for an e.g.!

I personally think that those "secular societies", groups promoting a secular society above religious, in a militant way, have muddied definitions even more, people attach "anti-theism" to "secularism" because of the responses of some of these groups. To me secularism says, "Those who wish to render themselves liable to religious teachings are entitled to do so, however secular law will always remain the ultimate authority by which society will judge their actions." That is not "anti-theist" in my mind - in the privacy of their homes and churches they can carry out any practice that is not illegal under secular law.

Language shifts by usage and that can be unfortunate at times - "discipline" now often means "punishment" when it was the former that one practised to avoid the latter. Whatever happened to "self-discipline" I wonder?
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Altfish
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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#187 Post by Altfish » February 11th, 2014, 3:25 pm

Mike, yes welcome.
I too have done talks in schools on "Humanism" and have usually given these definitions: -

Atheism: A lack of belief in a god (a-theist = without god)
Agnosticism: It is impossible to know if a god exists (a-gnostic = without knowledge)
Secularism: That government and society should be separate from all religions.
Humanism: A collection of all of above plus ethical and environmental concerns.

...obviously, I talk around those headlines

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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#188 Post by Nick » February 11th, 2014, 5:00 pm

Hi Mike, and welcome from me too! :wave:

Thanks for your thoughtful reply, which definitely deserves a more considered response than I have time for right now.

I hope, now that you have found us, that you will have a look at the rest of the forum, and dive in wherever you feel inclined.

I'll come back shortly.

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trusleymike
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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#189 Post by trusleymike » February 11th, 2014, 5:18 pm

Altfish

Your definitions are straightforward - though "Humanism" remains wooly <g>

I'll bet you are like me - you modify your presentation depending on previous experience. Mine seems to undergo changes after almost every session but the core has now stabilised. Sometimes it has to include stuff about miracles: "my aunty was given six months to live and she is still alive after three years - it's a miracle" - no it's not, it's the normal distribution - cue short deviation into statistics <g>

Anyway, if anyone is interested, the current incarnation may be downloaded from:

http://www.secularderby.org/v_resources.htm

As you said, these are things to talk around - particularly the slide on the "why I am an atheist" which involves personal chat about why I have never been a theist. I am not making any value judgements (much <g>) but I think there is a big difference between those of us who never went for the god bit (she was on a par with Santa) and those whose eyes were opened later. That may explain the stridency in some of the born-again atheists I have met - maybe even Dawkins kicks himself for falling for it in the first place. (Mind, I can be overwhelmingly strident at times <g>)

I certainly welcome comments on the presentation - but what works for one person almost certainly would not work for another - and a key part of any presentation is HOW you do it, not WHAT you do. A talk is as much a performance as it is an exposition.

Please don't panic if you look at the presentation - I am also Senior Hippoist - I can't stand that childish American Spaghetti thing - no thoroughly developed theology - positively infantile - and not relevant to the English (i.e. Derbyshire) historical and cultural experience. Sectarianism is alive and well and living in the land of fake gods <g> It goes down well though. I had a 15 year old speak to me after my presentation: "Are you the Hippo man?" he asked. "Yes" say I, even though I had not mentioned The Pink Hippo this time. "I have always remembered when you came to my primary school and told us about The Pink Hippo" he replied. See, daft - but it sticks in the mind.

BTW: is this forum moderated? I tried to post this a few minutes ago and nothing appeared - please accept my apologies if it appears twice.

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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#190 Post by Dave B » February 11th, 2014, 5:32 pm

No moderation "by delay", Mike, but our two leaders (Alan H. & Athena) will verbally slap your hand if you post something a bit off and may remove it!

Added later:. oh, and you may get banned if you continue to transgress after the warning of course.
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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#191 Post by Nick » February 11th, 2014, 6:13 pm

Dave B wrote:No moderation "by delay", Mike, but our two leaders (Alan H. & Athena) will verbally slap your hand if you post something a bit off and may remove it!

Added later:. oh, and you may get banned if you continue to transgress after the warning of course.
...but you'd have to be pretty determined to achieve either of those things! :D

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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#192 Post by Nick » February 11th, 2014, 8:00 pm

Hi Mike :)
trusleymike wrote:I don't know how involved you are in talking to people outside atheist/secularist/humanist circles but I have become used to them not understanding what words mean.
I'll talk to anyone who'll listen! And some who won't! And yes, I'd agree with you about lack of understanding.
In fact many of them, particularly the religious ones, seem to believe that the "a" in atheist is short of "anti" - as if we were "anti-theists" rather than "not-theists". The world seems to be going to hell in a hand cart when people cannot even agree on the meaning of words - without which we cannot begin to communicate.
Yes, many religionists don't understand, but sometimes, some of us are indeed anti-religion. Some do self-describe as anti-theist.
Personally I am involved as a volunteer in speaking to thousands of pupils in schools on behalf of "a non-theist world view" now containing on most of the 150+ Agreed Syllabuses ("syllabi" for pedants) for Religious Education in England. We need more atheists/humanists willing to get off the intellectual sofa and talk in schools - we need to provide that one 50 minute lesson in a child's entire school career where they will be presented with a non-theist world view from someone who is not religious.
I'd be very happy to do that. I volunteered through the BHA, but heard nothing.... :sad: Maybe I should prod them again....
Religion is a VERY wooly subject - must religious people cannot even define what the words "religion" and "god" actually mean.
Agreed, especially "god".
It is therefore very important to have something to present when we talk about what we believe: what we personally mean when we call ourselves "atheists",
agreed, see above.
what we mean when we talk about a "secular society"
Trickier, but let's say a society where you can believe if you want to, but laws and rules are not determined by religion. Will that do?
and what we mean by "humanism".
Perhaps oddly, I'm not too concerned about this. If a person endeavours to think about the world, society and how they interact with it in some sort of positive manner without resorting to religion and other doctrines, then I'm pretty happy. Most discussions after that are philosophical, political or economic etc.
I have no difficulty with the first two apart from the obvious fact that there is no such thing as "atheism" other than it the state of being a "not theist." Even philosophers like A C Grayling (who should know better) get into knots with this one and tend to assume that we atheists share some world view beyond that of being "not theists". We don't. Some atheists are really bad people, some are really good people and most of us are somewhere in between. You can be a fascist atheist working in the City or a goody-two-shoes atheist doing good works - but what we don't share is any form of common philosophy or ideology.
Working in the City does not, of itself, make one a scumbag.... :wink:
I am quite happy for religious people also to be secularists - I know many who are.
I made much the same point.
We need some definition of secularism if we are to communicate the basic ideas behind it. Failing to come up with a definition, or list of things that secularism involves (naive or not) is a cop-out - and would not go down well in front of a bunch of school students.
Hmmm... we can fairly easily cover secularism, but I don't think that gets us very far.
We won't get far by refusing to produce lists or refusing to define what we mean, or don't mean, by "rights". BTW: to me, the words "rights" and "responsibilities" always go together - you have no rights unless you accept your social responsibilities - assuming an individual is intellectually capable of accepting such responsibilities.
Hmmm... I think the important thing is to get children to think. And to think about what might be good or bad without justifying it by religious doctrine.

I'm afraid I have a personal downer on describing anything as a "right", because I don't think there are any absolute rights as such, and also because the term is so devalued. For example, I don't think it makes sense for a "right" to be "taken away". If it can be, then it's not a "right". Similarly, if one decides on "rights" just because you think it's a good idea, then that is what it is: a good idea, in your opinion.

I think people should think long and hard about all sorts of ideas, and try to form opinions when it matters, but we don't need to call them "rights".
I do have a problem with "humanist" and "humanism". As represented by the BHA the word comes from the 19th century religious tradition, from non-conformists who eventually dropped the god-bit and stuck to ethics. There are lots of Christian Humanists from Erasmus onwards and I am a little concerned that many modern day "humanists" think of themselves as "Christians without the god bit."
Most people are unaware of Erasmus and his ilk, and many haven't come across "humanism" as a concept, so it seems a pretty useful label to me. It says something more positive than atheist (which as you say, can be good or bad) and leaves the field wide open to hold a whole variety of opinions, which, to my mind, is as it should be.
There is some discussion of this on:

http://www.secularderby.org/humanist.htm
Thanks, I'll take a look. :)
Yes, I carry the can for that site and I am ALWAYS willing to modify the contents if things can be made clearer to those of our persuasion and to others. I really look forward to seeing your own definition of secularism - with or without a list.
Very happy to discuss further. :)

(Mods: maybe this deserves a thread of its own...?)

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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#193 Post by Maria Mac » February 11th, 2014, 9:32 pm

Welcome, Mike. :) No, posts are held for moderation. You can edit or delete your own post up to 2 hours after posting.

Nick said,
(Mods: maybe this deserves a thread of its own...?)
Suggested topic and where to split thread from? Sorry if I'm not really with it at the moment.

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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#194 Post by trusleymike » February 12th, 2014, 9:26 am

Nick

I label my presentation "Atheist Humanism" rather than just "Humanism" because I have been caught out twice by teachers who have introduced me and said "Mike is like me, a humanist". Later I found out they were both Christians who considered themselves humanists in the Dietrich Bonhoeffer mold.

I get the same thing from many of the vicars I chat to (I do mix in funny circles - maybe it's because I live in an Old Rectory and mow the church yard <g>) - they tend to be at the liberal end of the spectrum and "humanism" to them does not require theist or non-theist beliefs. A classic was at the second Derbyshire Secularists meeting I organised at the Derby Multi Faith Centre (they were quite happy to welcome a bunch of rampaging atheists and they have very nice cheap rooms.) I passed a dog-collared type on the way in and mentioned the meeting. "Ah, he said, "so, you are the Christians without the god bit." Naturally I took umbrage!

The BHA seems to think that "Humanism" (capital "H") is sufficient to define us - it isn't.

BTW: I disagree with your point about those working in the city - they are all parasites on those of us who actually generate value. I have been inventing things, making things, selling things and employing people for almost 40 years - we add value, the city steals it and screws the world up in the name of greed. And no, I have never borrowed (I have an old fashioned attitude towards usury) and I have never needed a lawyer to draw up a contract or to fight my end in a dispute. (That's definitely a separate thread <g>)

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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#195 Post by Dave B » February 12th, 2014, 9:43 am

BTW: I disagree with your point about those working in the city - they are all parasites on those of us who actually generate value. I have been inventing things, making things, selling things and employing people for almost 40 years - we add value, the city steals it and screws the world up in the name of greed. And no, I have never borrowed (I have an old fashioned attitude towards usury) and I have never needed a lawyer to draw up a contract or to fight my end in a dispute. (That's definitely a separate thread <g>)
Well said, Mike. You may have other discussions along those lines with our Nick!

But Nick is correct, the cleaners, cooks, waiters, drivers etc. who work in the city are not scumbags. Among the major scumbags are the ones who can take a reasonably priced export from another country and convert it to a luxury by artificially inflating its price (but not intrinsic value) as it travels to us. They pocket the money and not the poor sods who actually do the real work.

I'm with those like you who actually make the things we need. And are often treated like shit by the bankers.
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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#196 Post by coledavis » February 12th, 2014, 10:51 am

There are plenty of people who work in London who are not bankers or money shufflers. There may even be some bankers who are honest, if the facts were to be pursued.
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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#197 Post by Nick » February 12th, 2014, 4:27 pm

Athena wrote:Welcome, Mike. :) No, posts are held for moderation. You can edit or delete your own post up to 2 hours after posting.

Nick said,
(Mods: maybe this deserves a thread of its own...?)
Suggested topic and where to split thread from? Sorry if I'm not really with it at the moment.
Maybe from Coffee's post of Wednesday 5th, where he introduces secular Derby site. Suggested forum, humanism, secularism & freethought. Title: something like "Devising a Humanism Manifesto" But maybe Mike should have a say. :)

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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#198 Post by coffee » February 15th, 2014, 9:29 am

:welcome: Welcome mike. I like your website.

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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#199 Post by trusleymike » February 15th, 2014, 2:02 pm

I absolutely accept the point about "workers" in the city. My concern is those barrow-boys and mathematicians-who-have-sold-their-souls who gamble with other people's money. Am I the only one who has been to Vegas (several times on business) and never gambled a buck? Must be my statistics background - either that or I am a miserable old git <g>

On a more positive note I am going to produce/print a leaflet designed for schools - from top/bright end of primary up to year 11. I know it is a wide age range but some of the kids I taught in primary school (yes, I did six years teaching in my 20s/30s before I became a capitalist) at the age of 11 were far brighter than many 16 year olds I have met since!

It will either be four A5 sides or eight A5 sides stapled and it will be professionally designed after the text is ready. A number of humanist groups are getting off their philosophical backsides and getting into schools so there is a need for something attractive. I did "No Need For God" but that is a bit pricey for a hand out:

http://www.noneedforgod.com/

and I did "A Guide to Humanism" for adults but that is a bit heavy for schools:

http://www.secularderby.org/links.htm

This morning I started to put some ideas together initially in the form of a web page (far from finished) and I welcome comments and suggestions:

http://www.secularderby.org/occam.htm

I will check back here every now and again but anyone interested in providing ideas may contact me directly via mjlake at btconnect.com.

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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#200 Post by Dave B » February 15th, 2014, 2:13 pm

Well done, Mike, looks like you are putting a lot of effort into spreading this word.

Please do keep us appraised of how things are going.
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Re: Atheist school's values & ethics

#201 Post by Nick » February 15th, 2014, 2:38 pm

Hi Mike!

I've had a quick butcher's at your site and have a few thoughts.....

Humanists: are a diverse bunch. If I were drawing up a list, I'd put that as a first point, and be less dogmatic about the list. I'd say "they are likely to support..." or some such. Seems more inclusive and welcoming. ISTM that humanism is more an approach to life than a set of rules.
are atheists - they believe that god is an unnecessary idea for which there is no evidence.
I'd put it slightly differently: they believe that there is no evidence for the existence of God or gods.

can answer address the big questions of life without inventing the idea of gods.
support the right to believe what you like - as long as you cause no harm to anyone else.
Hmmm... should we not encourage others not to believe the moon is made of cream cheese, or that the world is controlled by lizards....?
feel that people must earn respect by what they do, not by what they say or claim to believe.
Hmmm... Could not Professors Dawkins and Hawking be unintentionally caught by that one?

put people first in the one life we lead together - people are far more important than [ human-invented] gods.
are against worship in schools because it assumes the existence of a god.
and presumes the efficacy of worship.
are against faith schools - you should make a free and informed choice about belief.
Hmmm... I'd be more concerned about inclusion. After all, parents don't let children make free and informed decisions about their education. They (the children) don't generally have the capacity.
are upset by many of the things done in the name of religion.
This may well be true, but is it really a tenet of humanism....?

Just some thoughts, which you are free to ignore! :)

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