INFORMATION

This website uses cookies to store information on your computer. Some of these cookies are essential to make our site work and others help us to improve by giving us some insight into how the site is being used. For further information, see our Privacy Policy. Continuing to use this website is acceptance of these cookies.

Humanism on the wrong track?

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
Message
Author
mdean
Posts: 26
Joined: February 27th, 2008, 4:56 pm

Humanism on the wrong track?

#1 Post by mdean » February 28th, 2008, 7:47 pm

Could it be that the humanism movement has taken the wrong track?

I'm new to the idea of organised humanism but not to the concepts that are embodied within it. I just thought you may be interested in my first impresion.

Firstly, I seem pretty typical of many others on this site and others like it. I was brought up catholic, lost it, read around most of the other world religions but only found somthing akin to my own veiws when I hit on the corpus of atheist books now familiar to most of you - Dawkins, Hitchins et al.

However, I think if we, as humanist, are serious in trying to offer an alternative to organised religion we are not doing a very good job.

The reason the religion is an almost universal part of human society is that it provides things that all people want. Explanation, comfort, ceremony, values and a moral compass, the ability to influance random and threatening events.

It seems that most of the well known parts of the humanist argument focus almost entirly on the interlectual - existance of god etc

Is the focus on the wrong part to appeal to what most people use their religion for?

Thought I'd be controversial for a first post

User avatar
Lifelinking
Posts: 3248
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 11:56 am

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#2 Post by Lifelinking » February 28th, 2008, 9:01 pm

Hi mdean, welcome.

It would be interesting to know how much you have looked in to this before trying to give a relevant response.

Have you for example looked at the work of the British Humanist Association or the Humanist Society of Scotland? Are you aware of the work of Humanist Celebrants?


L
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

User avatar
Alan C.
Posts: 10356
Joined: July 4th, 2007, 3:35 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#3 Post by Alan C. » February 28th, 2008, 9:24 pm

Welcome mdean.
However, I think if we, as humanist, are serious in trying to offer an alternative to organised religion we are not doing a very good job.
I can't speak for anyone else, but I personally am not trying to offer anyone an alternative to religion, I couldn't give a monkeys what anyone chooses to believe.
All I ask is that religions aren't given special privileges that are denied to the rest of us, and that the privileges they already have, be removed.
The reason the religion is an almost universal part of human society is that it provides things that all people want. Explanation, comfort, ceremony, values and a moral compass, the ability to influence random and threatening events.
I must take issue with you here, religion provides no explanation of anything, comfort? Probably, ceremony certainly, a moral compass? Certainly not, what kind of person gets their morals from a book that condones slavery, genocide, rape, infanticide, incest, stoning to death, and has a talking snake? :grin:

As Lifelinking said, you'll need to tell us a bit more about exactly where you stand.
Cheers, Alan.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

Robert Ede
Posts: 22
Joined: February 23rd, 2008, 9:48 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#4 Post by Robert Ede » February 28th, 2008, 9:45 pm

I think what you're driving at is that religion has historically provided social structures and frameworks, such as marriage, and baptism etc. The BHA does offer secular alternatives to these, but I find many humanists aren't looking for an "alternative" they just aren't bothered about the whole ritualistic aspects.

Personally I like the idea of ceremonies, for rites of passage such as birth, marriage and death. However it is not an essential part of a humanist life. When I got married we had a registry office do attended by my Son and two witnesses (close friends). It took all of about half an hour, and there was no mention of God or religion anywhere.

As for my moral compass it is derived entirely from reason, experience and shared human values.

-Rob

User avatar
Ninny
Posts: 545
Joined: December 13th, 2007, 12:03 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#5 Post by Ninny » February 29th, 2008, 9:46 am

things that all people want. Explanation, comfort, ceremony, values and a moral compass, the ability to influance random and threatening events.
I don't want any of these things, mdean!

Fia
Posts: 5480
Joined: July 6th, 2007, 8:29 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#6 Post by Fia » February 29th, 2008, 11:07 am

I think we also have to go back to the herding cats analogy - organising Humanists to speak with one voice being akin to herding cats that is.

Explanation doesn't come from Humanism per se, but from reading, discussion and experience. We have no sacred text, we're free thinkers. Generally.

Comfort is an odd one - I find no "comfort" in just being a Humanist, but by being human and interacting with my fellow human beings, making friendships, sharing ideas, giving and accepting support.

Ceremony - plenty of trained celebrants out there if you want them.

Values & moral compass? Surely we create our own in the light of reading, listening, debate, understanding and experience, as Rob said.

The ability to influence random and threatening events? I'm not sure I understand what you mean. The ability to take meaning from such things? How can anyone influence the random?

I don't think we are, or should be, trying to offer an alternative to organised religion. What most of us would say is that organised religion is not for us. As mdean (welcome!) was brought up a catholic with all the strictures, fear, guilt, and weekly re-inforcement, and now coming to Humanism which has none of that baggage perhaps the need for religion's hold on life be let go of too?
Try it - it's liberating :)

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9307
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#7 Post by Maria Mac » February 29th, 2008, 1:08 pm

mdean is offering an explanation of why so many people have always continued to adhere to one religion or other and I think this explanation is a reasonable one. Religions have always offered explanations for natural phenomena and people have always accepted those explanations. People do derive comfort from their beliefs, however false they are, and from their rituals. People certainly get their morals from religion - that's why people in the 21st century still talk of homosexuality being a 'sin'. Some people seriously believe that prayer works and also that by believing and/or behaving a certain way, they will guarantee themselves an eternal life in a nice place.

The fact that an increasing number of us may not accept what religions tell us or want what religion offers doesn't really address mdean's point about what humanised organisations are actually for and what should they be doing.
mdean wrote: It seems that most of the well known parts of the humanist argument focus almost entirly on the interlectual - existance of god etc

Is the focus on the wrong part to appeal to what most people use their religion for?
I don't think organised humanism concerns itself too much with the existence of god or with other philosophical questions, although these can certainly be a preoccupation of individual humanists - and rightly so, in my opinion. Thinking, questioning and debating philosophical and ethical questions is very appropriate for those of us with a world view that doesn't presume to tell people what to believe but who want to work out the best way to live and preserve our world for the future.

The BHA focuses on promoting humanism as a world view through its publications and educational resources, its campaigns e.g on 'Thought for the Day' and its ceremonies. It also campaigns to combat religious privilege as well as on equality/discrimination and various human rights issues. As an organisation, it punches well above its weight.

Do people want more than this from a humanist organisation? My experience of working for the BHA told me that, for many people, the answer is 'yes'. What they wanted was contact with like-minded people and for various different reasons. For some, it was perhaps mostly about wanting companionship and a social life in a more stimulating environment than a knitting circle;I believe many of the older people would have welcomed the idea of 'pastoral care' - the knowledge that in joining a local humanist group, there would be people concerned for their welfare so that if their mobility deteriorated, they could at least know that they weren't forgotten, that people would keep in touch with them. For others there was a feeling of wanting to do something positive but not knowing how to do it on their own.

Other posters have mentioned humanist ceremonies and these fulfil an important function for many of us; there is also a nascent humanist chaplaincy service. These, I think, can be seen as alternatives to what organised religion provides but, like the humanist groups, they are really just about fulfilling ordinary human desires.

I wonder, mdean, do you have some specific ideas yourself about what organised humanism should be doing?
mdean wrote:
Thought I'd be controversial for a first post
It was a good start and you're very welcome! :wave:


PS. I moved this from the Positive Humanism forum which is for announcement for specific events and campaigns.

Robert Ede
Posts: 22
Joined: February 23rd, 2008, 9:48 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#8 Post by Robert Ede » March 15th, 2008, 7:09 pm

Humanism is not on the wrong track, I'm para-phrasing from various definitions here but they support my case.

Humanists make sense of the world using reason, experience and shared human values. We seek to make the best of the one life we have by creating meaning and purpose for ourselves. We take responsibility for our actions and work with others for the common good.

Humanists believe in individual rights and freedoms but also believe that responsibility, social co-operation and mutual respect important.

Humanists believe that people can and will continue to find solutions to the world’s problems so that the quality of life can be improved for everyone.

We gain inspiration from our lives, from art and culture, and from the rich diversity of the natural world. Humanists believe that we have only this one life. It is up to us to make it a good life, to live it to the full and to be happy with it.


These ideas are at the core of my values and beliefs, and shape my ideas about what is right and wrong in the world. If other humanists derive their values from these same principles then I would say we are on the right track for sure. That includes challenging injustice in the name of religion.

I cannot tell you how happy I was when I found other humanists who shared my values and beliefs. Don't get me wrong, some of them are completely obnoxious and self righteous. However most are kind and intelligent human beings with a strong sense of justice and compassion.

-Rob

:)

Jem
Posts: 973
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:37 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#9 Post by Jem » March 17th, 2008, 3:49 pm

As most people on this forum seem to identify, to some extent at least, as humanist, I shouldn't think anyone would disagree with your sentiments Rob. But mdean did specifically talk about organised humanism, by which I suppose he's thinking of formal humanist organisations. My own experience of the one here in Scotland has kind of put me off organised humanism for life and I can't imagine ever wanting to join another one if I moved from Scotland. :sad2:

Robert Ede
Posts: 22
Joined: February 23rd, 2008, 9:48 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#10 Post by Robert Ede » March 17th, 2008, 5:36 pm

I understood what you're talking about, and I am speaking collectively. My experience of my local humanist group is very positive and I would say that the people that attend those meetings share those values I mentioned. At a national level the focus is on more political issues, but that's fine, and probably as it should be.

Obviously I can only speak from my experience, and there are certainly some humanists that I find less than agreeable, but on the whole collective humanism from my perspective is a positive thing. I've heard other people talk of the "political" issues that go on between national and local organised humanism, but I have never had any first hand experience of it. The minute that organised humanist groups stop living the values of their members their support would surely fall away?

If the question was, "Is organised humanism not all that well organised?" I'd probably agree. There should definitely be more joined up thinking between all the humanist and secular groups as to how they approach different issues and serve the interests of humanism. The only problem with that is we come back to the good old herding cats analogy. I know many humanists I've spoken to find this frustrating and I myself have become dismayed at the way in which some issues are dealt with.

So, as an ideology humanism is great, we just need to work on the practical implementation.

-Rob

User avatar
grammar king
Posts: 869
Joined: March 14th, 2008, 2:42 am

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#11 Post by grammar king » March 18th, 2008, 1:26 am

I'd certainly agree that humanist organisations need to be more organised. The student Humanist Society at Edinburgh have recently got involved in the creation of a national umbrella organisation, uniting atheist groups at universities across the UK, similar to the Secular Student Alliance over in the US.

David Flint
Posts: 22
Joined: October 22nd, 2007, 4:45 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#12 Post by David Flint » March 21st, 2008, 8:55 am

Mdean raises some good points. Some of his first impressions echo mine over 40 years.

Most humanists (defined as: 'atheism plus a feeling of benevolence') don't feel the need for an alternative orthodoxy - they've escaped from one already. They don't even feel the need for a supportive community of humanists. Therefore they don't join humanist orgs either national or local. That's why these orgs have such limited (though currently growing) memberships.

Even those that do join tend to make only a limited commitment to any humanist organisation. They don't want "an alternative to organised religion" and would not support a national org in developing such a thing. So we are not so much doing a bad job of this as not doing it.

But it's possible that majority humanist opinion is mistaken. Maybe a rational religion would offer real benefits. Religion is an almost universal part of human society so it must be doing something right. In fact, religious people are, other things being equal, happier than the non-religious. In my view (following mdean):
* It provides such widely desired goods as explanation, comfort, ceremony and a moral compass. People value these even when false. Sometimes even when known to be false!
* It providers the illusion of influence on random and threatening events.

Of course a rational religion would have to be consistent with science and would have to provide considerable room for disagreement. The history of the CoE suggests that the latter, at least, is possible. But it could offer ceremonies, community and a sense of belonging to a wider movement. Music and art could play their part - it need not be overly intellectual. It would require some commitment to social service as well as weekly meetings.

The problem, however, is that this has been tried several times and without long-term success. For instance, there used to be a number of local Ethical Societies which functioned like secular churches. Of these (I believe) only the South Place Ethical Society still exists. Certainly most have closed.

Perhaps herding these cats is just too hard.

Or perhaps we yet await a prophet to lead us!

Felicia
Posts: 495
Joined: August 3rd, 2007, 9:16 am

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#13 Post by Felicia » March 21st, 2008, 10:28 am

My recent flirtation with quakerism seems relevant to this. I very much endorse mdean's analysis of why religion is so pervasive. The angle which really speaks to me is the sense of community. I suppose I live far from all my family, my husband is not a sociable type, and quite frankly I'm bored much of the time. I remember liking the few quaker meetings I went to decades ago, and respect the quakers' firm moral compass. I know they have no doctrine, priest, forms of ceremony etc. BUT they call themselves the 'Religious Society of Friends' and their meetings are for worship. Their website claims that they see god in each of us. I've known buddhists, agnostics and athiests attend quaker meetings. But can I bear the religiosity? Really, I want a meeting of humanists or brights locally, but there isn't one. And though I very much enjoy playing around with you all here, its not the same as people in the flesh.

Anyway, this is what I did:

My question to 'Ask a quaker a question' was this:
I went to a few quaker meetings many years ago and really loved the silences and the sense of community. However, I am an agnostic and definitely NOT christian. Would there be a place for me in a quaker meeting?


This was the reply:

Thank you very much for your question.

Many Quaker:s would call themselves Christian, but others would not. We do not have a creed, or a compulsory statement of faith, so there is no one position to which all Quakers would agree. This is especially true of theological questions such as the trinity or the christhood of Jesus. Quakers emphasise a religion grounded in experience, and encourage each other to have direct contact with God. Although Quakers developed within Christianity and has deep roots there, we also aim to be "open to new light, from whatever source it may come".

I am glad that you enjoyed attending Meeting in the past, and I am sure that you would receive a welcome were you to attend in the future. The sense of community that you wrote about is the part of Friends that can transcend the theological differences that most meetings will experience. In my own experience once you have started to be part of a worshipping community, the differing theologies of individuals matters less than a common spiritual journey together.

If you are looking for a Meeting then you can visit http://www.quaker.org.uk/sing and put in your postcode. You may find a number of meetings close to where you live. You might like to visit more than one as even though each meeting will be based on silence, you may find that some resonate with you more than others.

I do hope that you will feel ready to visit a Meeting soon, and find one that suits you.

Yours, in Friendship,

Michael


Michael S Booth

Support for Meetings officer
Quaker Life
Friends House
Euston Road
London
NW1 2AX

Telephone 020 7663 1023

michaelsb@quaker.org.uk

I think I might give it a go. What do you all reckon? Would I be blotting my agnostic/atheistic/humanist copybook? (sorry for derailing this thread - perhaps this should go to the private club?)

Robert Ede
Posts: 22
Joined: February 23rd, 2008, 9:48 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#14 Post by Robert Ede » March 21st, 2008, 11:08 am

Well when you talk of religious humanism, you should perhaps read some of the books which the Dalai Lama has written. I've not read them myself but apparently he has some very rational views on evolution and big bang theory. There are also humanistic Jews, Buddists and even Christian groups, which basically follows the ideas of the "prophets" but doesn't subscribe to the supernatural element. I even found one web site which says that Jesus was an Alien! (not quite sure how rational that is). As Felicia states quakers are another good example along with the Unviersal Unitarian movement.

I know there is school of thought in Humanism which lumps all religious views together and says they're mental (i.e. pink unicorns and sky faries), but I've always found Johnathan Bartley from the group Ekkleisa to be quite rational and sensible in his thinking when he's been on TV. Very similar to the way Quakers follow their religious views.

For me humanism isn't about being atheist, although I'm probably an agnostic in the technical sense. It is more about how I live and not about what I don't believe. Organised humanism in my view is a very specific and political entity, so when I talk about issues relating to religion I am being political, from a humanist standpoint. I think that is why many humanists aren't interested in organised groups, because like the majority of the population they aren't interested in belonging to a campaign group or political party.

What I think would be interesting is if we had an organised social humanist gatherings which is effectively what churches are. These would be definded as social activities where humanists come together for non-political reasons. e.g. a whole bunch of humanists meet up for a day at a theme park. Akin to the church picnics they have in the USA.

Then you have what I call autruistic humanism, when individual humanists do chartiable work or events. If we did this collectively it would put a different face to organised humanism.

So when I talk of organised humanism the only form of organised humanism I see is really the political one, and for many people that doesn't provide enough of an incentive to sign up, largely because of the "what's in it for me" response. In Humanism the religious aspect is beside the point for most people as long as they like good lives and make a positive contribution to their community they don't feel they need a label.

Perhaps what is needed is a separate organised community and social humanist organisation which is separate and distinct from the political humanist movement, which is focused on community and socialisation. Imagine if we came together to live the good life instead of just talking about it.

:)

-Rob

crabsallover
Posts: 152
Joined: July 29th, 2007, 7:14 am

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#15 Post by crabsallover » March 21st, 2008, 12:59 pm

mdean wrote:Could it be that the humanism movement has taken the wrong track?

However, I think if we, as humanist, are serious in trying to offer an alternative to organised religion we are not doing a very good job.
With only 7,000 British Humanist Association members I understand why you might accuse BHA of 'not doing a good job'.

However a MORI poll conducted by BHA suggests that there are 17 million in Britain (36%) who share broadly humanist values! http://www.humanism.org.uk/site/cms/new ... ticle=2288

Read the figures from BHA Mori poll on humanist beliefs and also on the influence of religious groups and leaders: http://www.humanism.org.uk/site/cms/new ... ticle=2287

If you were a hitherto unwitting humanist - why not join BHA? http://www.humanism.org.uk/site/cms/con ... hapter=343

So if you accept the BHA definition of 'broadly humanist values' then the humanist movement is doing a fantastic job with over a third of the population sharing humanist views!

Robert Ede
Posts: 22
Joined: February 23rd, 2008, 9:48 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#16 Post by Robert Ede » March 21st, 2008, 1:25 pm

Hi Chris,

As a fellow BHA member, I don't think the BHA is doing a bad job. I think it's remit is just very narrow, and it does serve the interests of humanists in specific areas very well. The BHA is there to promote humanism and challenge religious discrimination. There is of course the element of ceremonies which is also very positive, but only helpful if you want to name your child, get married or you're dead.

I'd imagine people who join are then left with the feeling of, what now? If other humanists are like me, they come to find a community, people they can be social with and share common interests. They don't just want to be a recognised statistic in the humanist camp. There is a definitely a big social element to humanism which is missing and I'm not sure how we plug the gap.

It's my belief that humanists want more than an activist group, they want a cultural, emotional and philosophical identity. I know many humanists that don't care about the BHA, NSS or even label themselves as humanists. What they want is "The good life", with political humanism and religion being beside the point. Some even think that I am strange because of my affiliation with organised humanism.

-Rob

Robert Ede
Posts: 22
Joined: February 23rd, 2008, 9:48 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#17 Post by Robert Ede » March 21st, 2008, 3:50 pm

In relation to the "The Good Life", I just mean having a good social life, being a decent upstanding citizen and enjoying my life. I guess that isn't specifically humanist, and perhaps the argument is how do local groups offer something which your average humanist is interested in participating in?

It sounds like your local group has lots of events going on, but I wonder how many other local groups are the same. My local group only meets once a month, and it is more of a committee style meeting with pre-meeting drinks at a local pub. So perhaps there is something to learn from what you're doing.

The question from the statistics is if there are all these humanists out there why don't the they sign up to a group? What do they gain which makes them say, I'll sign up for that. Humanist values are by definition shared human values, so I'm not sure if humanism does offer much in a modern social context because we are already living a positive life regardless of our affiliation to a group.

The more I think about this my feeling is that we need some kind of separate social network with regular events open to all. Perhaps this topic deserves more study as to what people want to get out of humanist groups.

crabsallover
Posts: 152
Joined: July 29th, 2007, 7:14 am

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#18 Post by crabsallover » March 22nd, 2008, 7:36 am

Robert Ede wrote: It sounds like your local group has lots of events going on, but I wonder how many other local groups are the same. My local group only meets once a month, and it is more of a committee style meeting with pre-meeting drinks at a local pub. So perhaps there is something to learn from what you're doing.

The more I think about this my feeling is that we need some kind of separate social network with regular events open to all. Perhaps this topic deserves more study as to what people want to get out of humanist groups.
Richard Hogg, Kim Norwood and I setup the Promotion and Marketing Group to increase membership of BHA and all affiliated local groups.

a) Raising awareness in local communities about humanist values and the
benefits of a secular society.
b) Highlighting the reasons why a non-religious voice is needed in society.

http://www.humanism-pmg.org.uk/

Maria Mac
Site Admin
Posts: 9307
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:34 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#19 Post by Maria Mac » March 23rd, 2008, 11:53 am

Felicia wrote: I think I might give it a go. What do you all reckon? Would I be blotting my agnostic/atheistic/humanist copybook? (sorry for derailing this thread - perhaps this should go to the private club?)
If I were you, I'd go for it. I'm staggered that there is no humanist group in or near Gloucester - a part of the country I would have thought would be ripe for it (Stroud even more so). There seems to be no shortage of humanist celebrants covering the region so presumably there is a demand for humanist ceremonies.

I totally agree with what Robert says. IMO, Glasgow Humanist Group fails miserably in any social or even educational function. In fact I don't know what its purpose is and I don't think any of its members do. It has monthly meetings September through May on a Sunday afternoon. The meetings are formal - everyone sitting facing the front and listening to an invited speaker then going home again and having no contact in between meetings - not even a newsletter. (There's a summer outing and a Christmas drink attended by a fraction of the 200+ members). Suggestions for a change from this format and to continue meetings through the summer were strongly resisted by the Group's convenor a couple of years and many of those who try the group once, don't bother going again. I stopped going over a year ago, finding the Glasgow Brights meetings far more enjoyable and stimulating.

The traditional way to start up humanist groups seems to be to decide on a public venue like a community centre, advertise a meeting and hope for the best. I'm wondering whether a better alternative would be to do as the Brights do and advertise informal gatherings in a pub initially then develop from there. Of course, as with any new venture, one needs a committed group of individuals to get it going.

A question all this raises is what should be the relationship between national humanist organisations and the local groups. I know the recently departed BHA membership officer was in favour of the Scottish system of the local groups effectively being branches of the national organisation. I know there are sound arguments in favour of this but, having found the experience of organised humanism in Scotland to be absolutely vile and enough to put one off humanist organisations for life, I have come to heartily disagree with this. The system of independent groups choosing whether or not to affiliate to the BHA and individual members having to pay membership fees both to their local group and to the BHA (if they want to belong to both) is not without problems however.

Ian Abbott
Posts: 145
Joined: December 4th, 2007, 3:23 pm

Re: Humanism on the wrong track?

#20 Post by Ian Abbott » March 23rd, 2008, 3:49 pm

As someone involved in the birth of a new Humanist group I’m completely at a loss as to which way is the best way to (a)become established and (b) encourage future development.
It’s a bit like the Aesop’s Fable of the man, his son & their donkey. Everybody you meet tells you that you should be doing it different to the way you are doing it!
The old group comprised of four of five like minded individuals who met once a month in one another’s homes and talked about whichever subject the host had decided upon. They are all articulate, intelligent, well-read and thoroughly nice people but almost every new-face that ever came along to find out about Humanism (as they did from time to time - having first plucked up enough courage to find out where the meeting was to take place then go to the home of a complete stranger to meet a small group of other complete strangers) never ever came back.
I thought we should be more open and welcoming, by meeting in a public place and also endeavour to appeal to a (geographically) wider community. The suggestion of meeting in a pub didn’t even get out of the starting gate; most existing members had already clocked up a good few years and would not be interested in going to pubs plus many of them were concerned about mixing alcohol with debate.
So, we use a village hall and welcome everybody; members & non-members; Humanists and ‘others’ and select a subject to debate (if possible with an invited speaker) that we think people will be interested in [and so far we’ve had Humanist Ceremonies; Dignity in Dying; Faith Schools and Chaplaincy for the non-religious … coming up is RE in Schools; The case for Secularism; The Trouble with Religion is ‘God’; Pro-Choice (abortion); and Animal Testing].
Membership numbers are growing (slowly); but now people say why are you concerned with getting more people? Then there are those who say having a subject every month is all very well but how do you make time for just chatting and considering Humanism in broader terms? Others used to say I’m fed up with constantly debating Humanism in broader terms; it’s just self obsessed navel gazing. Now some say why are we paying to hire a room, meeting in each others houses was better? Still others say this is much better than meeting in houses, look at all the new faces that turn up. And so it goes!
Clearly, the only answer is to decide on what you think is the right course and stick with it … but … you also want to pick out what other groups do that is successful or unsuccessful (and analyse why).
Group affiliation with BHA is desirable (but very much a one way street) and telling new members how membership of the group doesn’t mean membership of BHA (and vice-versa) confuses some.
The alternative however; whereby groups would be part & parcel of the BHA means they lose much of their autonomy and, given that Humanists pride themselves on being freethinkers, having a central body dictating strategy / format etc would not sit easily with them (and also seems to contradict the very ethos of ‘humanism’)
I suppose, in the end, we have no alternative but to leave it to natural selection and let it evolve as it does.
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.

Post Reply