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How anti religious is humanism, really?

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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Noggin
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How anti religious is humanism, really?

#1 Post by Noggin » July 23rd, 2007, 3:21 pm

Is secular humanism inherently anti-religious? If it is a world view that rejects supernatural explanations where does it leave humanism in relation to religious faith? Does it sit along side religions simply as an alternative world view or is it a rival whose aim is to triumph and whose triumph depends on the defeat of religion?

I'm aware that many people who join humanist organisations do so because they are virulently anti-religion but should the death of religion be a clear - or perhaps an unstated - objective of organised humanism?

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Alan C.
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#2 Post by Alan C. » July 23rd, 2007, 4:00 pm

Noggin
or is it a rival whose aim is to triumph and whose triumph depends on the defeat of religion?
I don't think religion will ever be "defeated" it might evolve as it has done in the past.
I'm aware that many people who join humanist organisations do so because they are virulently anti-religion
Yep! that's me to a certain extent.
I have no problem with anybody believing anything they choose, what I do have a problem with is bairns being brainwashed before they are old enough to choose.
If religion was confined to the mind of the believer and places of worship, that would be fine by me.
But it's not is it? Get rid of ALL the faith schools and get the unelected Bishops out of our law making process, that would be a start.
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Bryn
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Re: How anti religious is humanism, really?

#3 Post by Bryn » July 23rd, 2007, 11:22 pm

Noggin wrote:Is secular humanism inherently anti-religious?
If having a religious faith is incompatible with secular humanism, which it is, then I would say that secular humanism as a world view is by definition anti-religious. I don't necessarily think this means that individual humanists are anti religion. Some are but others might accept that having a religious faith is of some benefit to some people or at least does them no harm.
If it is a world view that rejects supernatural explanations where does it leave humanism in relation to religious faith? Does it sit along side religions simply as an alternative world view or is it a rival whose aim is to triumph and whose triumph depends on the defeat of religion?
Can't it be both? Religions sit alongside eachother but religious believers believe that theirs is the one true religion and some religions have the objective of converting everyone to their own faith. Humanism sits alongside religion at the present time, but don't we all think that the world would be a better place if everyone embraced humanism and rejected religion?

For some humanists this might mean active proselytising against religion and for humanism/secularism. Others might think this would no more harm than good.
I'm aware that many people who join humanist organisations do so because they are virulently anti-religion but should the death of religion be a clear - or perhaps an unstated - objective of organised humanism?
Now is not the right time for the death of religion to be a clearly stated aim of humanist organisations.

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Alan C.
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#4 Post by Alan C. » July 23rd, 2007, 11:47 pm

Bryn
Now is not the right time for the death of religion to be a clearly stated aim of humanist organisations.
I must say I don't often agree with people of a "welsh" persuasion, but hear, hear on this one.
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#5 Post by Moonbeam » July 24th, 2007, 3:09 pm

Isn't secular humanism, what secular humanists make it? Sometimes I get the impression that we're obsessed with religion and that if religion were to stop annoying us in the form of faith schools, Bishops in the Lords, Thought for the Day and all the other things we gripe about, then that would be enough for most of us. We wouldn't feel the need to do anything towards promoting humanism. Anyone agree?

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#6 Post by Alan C. » July 24th, 2007, 3:41 pm

Moonbeam
if religion were to stop annoying us in the form of faith schools, Bishops in the Lords, Thought for the Day and all the other things we gripe about, then that would be enough for most of us.
Yes, I couldn't agree more, if they keep their religion in their own heads, and places of worship, I would have no problem with that.
Unfortunately it won't happen, they have this built in uncontrollable "need" to indoctrinate kids.
It seems they also have this same "need" to try and interfere in the running of the country and the law making process.
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#7 Post by Titanium Wheels » July 24th, 2007, 4:44 pm

Well, I wonder if religion will, finally, disappear. I somehow doubt it unless, as we sometimes see, religion takes on new forms suh as football teams and music stars.

As far as Humanism being anti-religious, let's see it from the Christian perspective. Christians are persuaded that they have a Saviour in Jesus and that they have a life hereafter. They know this is true and want to tell everyone about it. The only shame is that it is Mormons and JWs who do most of this. now we are of the opposite persuasion; we are in some degree certain that this life is it, not gods not afterlife etc. now if we have this knowledge surely we would want t share it as it makes a difference if this is the only life as we have to make sure to use it wisely. Thus we ought to be, to some extent, evangelists for Humanism. Yes, it makes us anti-religious but we don't have to declare war to tell individuals and to try and 'convert them'.

As far as the House of Lords is concerned, yes the bishops should be out of there, but not for the reason you may think. at the end of June, there was a lot of complaining but the bishops and other church people about the requirement to put no smo,ing signs outside cathedrals and similar ancient buildings. They wanted the church to be exempted as no one has smoked in a church for as long as I have know and longer time before theta too. The problem? Where were the Bishops when this was bweing discussed; a matter that directly affected the church and the Bishops were either elsewhere or asleep on the back row. now come on,they failed the church in not objecting to the bill that mattered? They should be thrown out of the house as pointless in the passing of legislation.
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Noggin
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#8 Post by Noggin » July 25th, 2007, 11:49 am

Moonbeam wrote:Isn't secular humanism, what secular humanists make it? Sometimes I get the impression that we're obsessed with religion and that if religion were to stop annoying us in the form of faith schools, Bishops in the Lords, Thought for the Day and all the other things we gripe about, then that would be enough for most of us. We wouldn't feel the need to do anything towards promoting humanism. Anyone agree?
I think that is true of many people who join humanist organisations but it's not true of all of us. Even without what I perceive as the nuisance or dangers of religion, I would still be interested in developing and promoting humanism as the best way to live.

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#9 Post by God » July 25th, 2007, 1:27 pm

Humanism is founded upon rationality (reason). The problem about goddism (as I prefer to call religion nowadays) is that it poisons reason. Because reason of its very nature cannot explain everything, there are (obviously) always questions outstanding. Goddists offer spurious explanations for such questions, which all too easily get adopted by frail human minds as in some way representing a form of truth, and thereby corrupting rational thought. This leads to corruption of social institutions such as the legal system, etc.

It is essential therefore that all instances of goddism be identified and vigorous (but appropriate) efforts be made to dispose of them. This however to be done always in a spirit of compassion and goodwill. EG: Stalin did not have the right approach.

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#10 Post by Chris » September 27th, 2007, 4:29 pm

Moonbeam wrote:Isn't secular humanism, what secular humanists make it? Sometimes I get the impression that we're obsessed with religion and that if religion were to stop annoying us in the form of faith schools, Bishops in the Lords, Thought for the Day and all the other things we gripe about, then that would be enough for most of us. We wouldn't feel the need to do anything towards promoting humanism. Anyone agree?
No I don't agree.
Though no doubt I will be accused of writing rubbish as usual.

Secular is fairly specific in both its meanings. It means supporting the secular state as a way to avoid the conflict caused or exacerbated by competing religious beliefs (sectarianism), and supporting the idea that the state should be secular (not secularist) i.e. that it should not advantage religion over secular opinion and rights.

Humanism I take to mean that we strive for a good life without belief in god/s. which means we have more than a passing interest in the many reasons why why we do not go along with the traditional beliefs (and this for me includes saying why we are against it).

For the most part the problems of religion are little more than a petty irritation to those of us in the UK, though many people only come to the organisation when some such issue affects them personally e.g. remarriage, which school to send our children to, the faith school within walking distance or the secular one miles away - and the growing traffic problems etc.etc. And it affects such things as whether we have a right to opt for Voluntary Euthansia or the recognition of living wills or the right to termination of unwanted pregnancies without hindrance from Catholic priests or doctors.

But there are much more serious effects of various religious dogma suffered by millions of people, all over the world - especially women and girls - that cause disease, starvation and untimely deaths of adults and children in developing countries.

Millions suffer in conflicts that could be solved by rational political negotiations if only the religions had not divided the people. And what about the problem of George W. advised as he is by his god and his godly advisers,evangelicals and his born neo cons. - to drop bombs on countries around the world, undermine the UN and interfere in the economies of most countries in the interests of International Capitalist Companies, agri-industry , pharmaceuticals, scientific monopoly, weapons and oil industry.

If humanists claim to have 'that little bit extra' over and above atheism and secularism - what is it if not care for all humanity and not just ourselves?

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#11 Post by Don Alhambra » September 27th, 2007, 7:15 pm

I know some Christian humanists. Maybe not with a capital H, but those that share the essential beliefs. They happen to believe that Jesus existed (and either was divine or just had some good ideas) but crucially they espouse humanist principles and not the ones their religion instructs them to follow.

Now we could have a big debate on what constitutes a Christian and what doesn't, but that's been done to death on IIDB so I am quite prepared to class them as humanists for the sake of argument. Or for the sake of not having an argument, to be precise. :)

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#12 Post by Alan C. » September 27th, 2007, 8:39 pm

Don Alhambra
what constitutes a Christian
I like to tell them.
"Going to church; no more makes you a Christian, than going to a garage makes you a mechanic, or going to a hospital makes you a surgeon"
If they could agree on what a Christian is, they wouldn't need 3000 different sects.
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#13 Post by Chris » September 28th, 2007, 10:18 am

Don Alhambra wrote:I know some Christian humanists. Maybe not with a capital H, but those that share the essential beliefs. They happen to believe that Jesus existed (and either was divine or just had some good ideas) but crucially they espouse humanist principles and not the ones their religion instructs them to follow.

Now we could have a big debate but that's been done to death on IIDB so I am quite prepared to class them as humanists for the sake of argument. Or for the sake of not having an argument, to be precise. :)
You are right Don, that that is indeed The big debate between big H and small h humanists, if not the only debate, until and unless there is some consensus. If, for "the sake of argument" humanism can be construed as the same as christianity and the only essential belief is humanitarianism (everyone, including all the religions claim to be humanitarian), what does that leave small 'h' humanists to talk about? It is the 'end of argument'

So where do 'we' go from here? How can humanism contribute anything distinctive to the issues that arise from the beliefs and practices of religion and how they affect humanity?

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#14 Post by Chris » September 28th, 2007, 10:27 am

Alan C. wrote:
Don Alhambra
what constitutes a Christian
I like to tell them.
"Going to church; no more makes you a Christian, than going to a garage makes you a mechanic, or going to a hospital makes you a surgeon"
I agree. Unfortunately all religionists use this as the perfect, all purpose get out. to answer any criticism or opposition to religion. It is always 'the others' who are not 'doing' it right, causing conflict, not following the right prophet, not reading or interpreting the scriptures right, not following the right doctrine etc.

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#15 Post by DougS » September 29th, 2007, 4:31 pm

Chris wrote:
Moonbeam wrote:Isn't secular humanism, what secular humanists make it? Sometimes I get the impression that we're obsessed with religion and that if religion were to stop annoying us in the form of faith schools, Bishops in the Lords, Thought for the Day and all the other things we gripe about, then that would be enough for most of us. We wouldn't feel the need to do anything towards promoting humanism. Anyone agree?
No I don't agree.
Though no doubt I will be accused of writing rubbish as usual.
I don't think you're writing rubbish, Chris, I just think you've slightly misinterpreted Moonbeam's question or it could be me but I thought she was describing how she perceives most humanists (or, at any rate, those who join humanist organisations) and it's a perception I share. I do get the impression that your common or garden humanist, so to speak, is far more interested in the secular part than the humanist part of 'secular' humanism and when I ask people why they joined the BHA the response is often along the lines of unease/anger at religious privilege generally and faith school in particular. If religion disappeared I doubt if there would be many people that bothered in developing the humanist world view.

So my answer to the question in the OP - Is secular humanism inherently anti-religious?- would be that it certainly looks like it.

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#16 Post by JoelWildtree » September 29th, 2007, 8:16 pm

From the Wikipedia article on Humanism
Humanism is a broad category of ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on the ability to determine right and wrong by appeal to universal human qualities—particularly rationality ... Humanism rejects the validity of transcendental justifications, such as a dependence on belief without reason, the supernatural, or allegedly divinely revealed texts .... Humanism clearly rejects deference to supernatural beliefs in resolving human affairs but not necessarily the beliefs themselves
Humanism most importantly deals with using the human capacity of rationality and reason to make moral decisions. Religious beliefs themselves, such as a belief in the supernatural, don't violate Humanism directly. Religion, though, is generally defined as a set of both beliefs AND practices, the practices of which are based on the beliefs, and the beliefs themselves inherently irrational. So most religious beliefs will in some way impact decision making, and thus not hold up to humanistic values. Humanism is anti-religious for certain, because it encourages free-thinking, and rationality above all, and any sort of religious or dogmatic belief is the opposite of that.

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#17 Post by Chris » September 29th, 2007, 8:19 pm

Yes Doug, I think the only purpose of organised humanism is to demonstrate that one can live a better life in a better world without superstition and the sectarianism and other effects of belief in gods and the practices of religion.

In order to do that we have to explain the reasons why. Religion affects its adherents and that is their choice, but where through law and tradition it affects us all, and prevents secular humanism we have to do something about it.. All we want is freedom from religion, which I think is eminently reasonable, since we also accept freedom of religion.

Most people in the UK already live happy, good humanist lives - it is only when they become aware of the malign effects of religion, or it affects them personally that they see the need to get together to change things.

Organsed humanism is, or should be, primarily a pressure group not a social club. It only becomes an issue of argument AFAIK when some humanists deny this and try to prevent humanists from criticising and opposing religion.

If that is what Moonbeam was saying then I agree with her.

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#18 Post by Ted Harvey » September 30th, 2007, 10:28 am

On the general point about being 'anti religious'. I don't want to be 'anti' but I don't want to have anything to do with it - or it to have anything to do with me. I find it wearying to have to contend with the endless encroaching and claiming ownership of so much of civic and social life by people with overtly (and sometimes covertly) religious agendas.

You know, the kind of thing where relatives 'invite' the kids to go with them to activities organised by church groups. If you object you are frowned upon as narrow-minded or anti-religious; if you consent, you're on that slippery road of your kids being taken into a world where religious fantasises are normalised.

Another symptom is where task forces or advisory groups are set up by local or central government and it is automatically taken as given that organised religion must be represented - regardless of its locus in the matter at hand.

In fact this symptom has got worse in recent years because a) Due to the mutual intolerance and atagonism of religious groups, it is now seen as 'proper' and 'inclusive' to have a range of religious groupings represented in task forces or advisory bodies b) The quite sickening deference by Tony Blair to organised religion with worrying signs that Gordon Brown is going down the same road (utterly instrumental and self-serving)

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#19 Post by Chris » September 30th, 2007, 3:52 pm

Ted Harvey wrote:
On the general point about being 'anti religious'. I don't want to be 'anti' but I don't want to have anything to do with it - or it to have anything to do with me. I find it wearying to have to contend with the endless encroaching and claiming ownership of so much of civic and social life by people with overtly (and sometimes covertly) religious agendas.
I absolutely agree.
I would be delighted not to have to waste so much time countering religious intrusion into public life and what it does to other people. And I particularly don't want to have to defend, to other humanists, the basic need to explain our criticism and opposition to the persistent promotion of religion, its harmful activities and false claims.

I can understand that some humanists do not want to actively do this themselves, for a variety of personal reasons, but I cannot accept them arguing against us, and trying to prevent those of us who do from doing so. I think it totally undermines the effectiveness of organised humanism.

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#20 Post by Maria Mac » October 2nd, 2007, 3:20 pm

The subsequent row that erupted after the previous post has been split off to a new thread here.

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