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Spirituality in Humanism

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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jason dare
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The theory ofEvolution & Humanism- How does this work?

#1 Postby jason dare » December 31st, 2009, 1:36 pm

if we all come from evolution and it has no feelings in the God sense. by logic should it not always work on survival of the fittest, and if that is true why are we here on this website, and Humanists in the first place, i assume we are here because we wish to fix/heal the world, but is there any room for caring and for wishing to help the weakest in society within the that framework

Hundovir
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Re: The theory ofEvolution & Humanism- How does this work?

#2 Postby Hundovir » December 31st, 2009, 1:52 pm

jason dare wrote:if we all come from evolution and it has no feelings in the God sense. by logic should it not always work on survival of the fittest, and if that is true why are we here on this website, and Humanists in the first place, i assume we are here because we wish to fix/heal the world, but is there any room for caring and for wishing to help the weakest in society within the that framework


If nature doesn't care, why do we? Good question. Haven't a clue.

Hello.

jason dare
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Spirituality in Humanism

#3 Postby jason dare » December 31st, 2009, 2:10 pm

If our deep knowing & understanding of the truth (What is right etc) doesen't come from God where does it come from? Also if there is no reward or punishment after death what is the point of caring about other people, or what we do to the world & should not-believing in a God make us less, not more caring because we believe we have nothing or no-one to answer to afterwards?

Hundovir
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#4 Postby Hundovir » December 31st, 2009, 2:19 pm

jason dare wrote:If our deep knowing & understanding of the truth (What is right etc) doesen't come from God where does it come from?

What "deep... understanding of the truth" is that then? Because I''m pretty convinced that "what is right" is just a matter of human preferences.
Also if there is no reward or punishment after death what is the point of caring about other people, or what we do to the world & should not-believing in a God make us less, not more caring because we believe we have nothing or no-one to answer to afterwards?


A Confucian, Mencius, talked about the "inability to put up with the suffering of others" as a mark of being human. It's not a rational thing, it's emotional. Now, as to why such suffering might upset us, I don't have a complete answer, but I'm pretty sure it's not because a god exists.

Maria Mac
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#5 Postby Maria Mac » December 31st, 2009, 2:44 pm

jason dare wrote:If our deep knowing & understanding of the truth (What is right etc) doesen't come from God where does it come from?

The short answer is that it evolved as part of us. I think Hundovir's question is a fair one. What exactly do you mean by 'knowing & understanding of the truth (What is right etc)'? People's ideas of right and wrong can differ very dramatically on some issues. Homosexuality, for example.

Also if there is no reward or punishment after death what is the point of caring about other people, or what we do to the world

Caring about other people isn't necessarily something we choose; we either do or we don't. I would say that the ones that do are humanist by nature - unless they don't really care and are just being nice to score points in Heaven.

I have two grown children so it should be hardly surprising that I care what might happen to them even after my death, I care about the kind of world I brought them into and what kind of world it will be in future for any grandchildren, etc. However, even if I didn't have children, I have enough human empathy to be concerned the rest of humankind.
& should not-believing in a God make us less, not more caring because we believe we have nothing or no-one to answer to afterwards?

If you only care because of the promise of a reward, that's not really caring.

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Alan H
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#6 Postby Alan H » December 31st, 2009, 2:50 pm

Maria wrote:If you only care because of the promise of a reward, that's not really caring.
I agree with that and add that caring in this world because of fear of punishment in the next has more to do with selfishness than caring for your fellow man.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Maria Mac
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#7 Postby Maria Mac » December 31st, 2009, 2:55 pm

Jason

You've started two threads asking pretty much the same question which can be summed up thus:

If there isn't a God, why do we care about anyone or anything?

So I've merged the two threads and I think my previous answer will do for now, unless you have something else to say.

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Lifelinking
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#8 Postby Lifelinking » December 31st, 2009, 4:18 pm

Hi Jason, welcome to TH. Come on in and tell us all about yourself. :welcome:

if we all come from evolution and it has no feelings in the God sense. by logic should it not always work on survival of the fittest, and if that is true why are we here on this website, and Humanists in the first place, i assume we are here because we wish to fix/heal the world, but is there any room for caring and for wishing to help the weakest in society within the that frameworkif we all come from evolution and it has no feelings in the God sense. by logic should it not always work on survival of the fittest, and if that is true why are we here on this website, and Humanists in the first place, i assume we are here because we wish to fix/heal the world, but is there any room for caring and for wishing to help the weakest in society within the that framework


This question reminded me of research that showed Bonobos displaying empathic behaviour, and not just to other Bonobos. For social animals there are a whole range of complex behaviours that may be advantageous in different situations, and these of course may include empathy, caring, altruism and so on.

In an animal that has also developed complex cultural, political, social and economic environments (us :D ), there are of course a lot of other factors that will influence human behaviour and moral decision making, that are not necessarily contingent on nor satisfactorily explained by evolutionary or socio-biological ideas.

I have to ask though, what has any of this to do with 'Spirituality in Humanism'?

And for the record, I don't want to 'Fix / Heal' the world, which sounds like the sort of tripe you would hear a TV evangelist spouting. :D
"Who thinks the law has anything to do with justice? It's what we have because we can't have justice."
William McIlvanney

Hundovir
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#9 Postby Hundovir » December 31st, 2009, 4:41 pm

Lifelinking wrote:And for the record, I don't want to 'Fix / Heal' the world, which sounds like the sort of tripe you would hear a TV evangelist spouting. :D


For the record, it sounds like a Michael Jackson record to me :laughter:

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Ken H
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#10 Postby Ken H » December 31st, 2009, 5:13 pm

I think the Golden Rule illustrates what Humanism is all about. Any intelligent person would realize that it has to be reciprocal to be effective. We all want to live as long as possible. That's the survival instinct. And we want to live with the least amount of pain and suffering. Suffering and seeing others suffer sucks. Life should be as comfortable and interesting as possible for all, and that should be our goal. The best and most satisfying things in life are our relationships with other human beings and with nature.

We are already survivors. We don't need to be the physically fittest to survive against predators any more. The challenges now are to protect and control our environment and make sure there are enough resources for humanity and the planet to survive and prosper.
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...' - Isaac Asimov

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grammar king
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#11 Postby grammar king » December 31st, 2009, 5:51 pm

Well, if you ask me (apparently this kind of group selection isn't all that widely accepted but it seems fairly straightforward to me), altruism started as a product of evolution. It's the selfish gene theory, we don't mistreat people who share our genes because that helps to ensure the survival of our genes. So that explains why we look after our relations. The reason we look after other humans is because originally the people around us were all our relatives, we lived in clans like chimps do, so looking after other humans was the trait that was selected for. It's essentially a by-product of evolution, and there are other examples too. We have the instinct to care for babies, but to a certain extent we'll have the same instinct for other mammals with big eyes and a big head compared to its body.

But it goes beyond that. Now that we have a problem-solving consciousness (I think Dennett calls it a fourth-tier consciousness), we can think ahead and don't have to rely on instincts. I don't think there's anything irrational about morality. Firstly if I help someone else, then I'm more likely to be helped in the future. I don't want to live in a society where its acceptable to hurt other people, so it's in my interests not to hurt other people. A system of morality will help bring about a world with less suffering, which is more desirable.

Hundovir
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#12 Postby Hundovir » December 31st, 2009, 7:02 pm

Maria wrote:People's ideas of right and wrong can differ very dramatically on some issues. Homosexuality, for example.


Yes, homosexuals can often be very dramatic. Or is the word "theatrical"?

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Mike
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#13 Postby Mike » December 31st, 2009, 8:26 pm

If our deep knowing & understanding of the truth (What is right etc) doesen't come from God where does it come from?

As others have alluded to we are (have evolved from being) a pack/tribe animal. Therefore our understanding is based upon that tribal instinct to survive and thrive - no God required!

Also if there is no reward or punishment after death what is the point of caring about other people,

Again we are pack animals. What is good for the pack is good for me. It is therefore in my interest to care for others and for them to care for me. On a wider note it is also in my interest to care for other animals and indeed the environment.

what we do to the world & should not-believing in a God make us less, not more caring because we believe we have nothing or no-one to answer to afterwards?

You have your concience to answer to. You have your fellow beings to answer to - again, no God is required to make us good. We can be good just for the hell of it if we so choose. Nature will not care how you behave and there is no heaven or hell to reward or punish you. However, we as individuals are only here for a visit. We wont get another shot at life, this is our one chance, so why not try to make it as good as you can for yourself and for everyone else? No God required!

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Mike
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#14 Postby Mike » December 31st, 2009, 8:26 pm

Sorry double post.

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Fia
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#15 Postby Fia » December 31st, 2009, 9:31 pm

i assume we are here because we wish to fix/heal the world,
Like LL I'm certainly not here to do that. If I could fix or heal the world I'd be busily doing it, and getting you good guys to help :) ...I'm old and ugly enough to know where I can effect change and where I can't.

It might be helpful to remember that religion has been bent and twisted - from probably good intentions e.g. creation myths to explain the then unexplainable - by men and money. Religion justifies social inequality as us poor peasants get our reward in heaven, by being good poor peasants.
All things bright and beautiful: The rich man at his castle, the poor man at his gate, god made them hih and lowly and ordered their estate
Having the minutiae of lives controlled with the promises of jam tomorrow. You can only reach salvation by this path...

The only salvation i need is from folk telling me I need to be good for god, to be chosen for everlasting life. I don't think so :smile: As Mike said:
No God required!
How liberating it is to live life thinking that's all there is. As in the Epicurean epitaph: "“I was not. I have been. I am not. I do not mind.” And how is it that I don't mind? Because every day I try to make a small difference, for it's own sake, and the sake of the group, be it family, community or the wider world. I can't change the world, but I can help make other people's lives that little bit better, for no other reason that it feels good to do so.

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Ikiru
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#16 Postby Ikiru » December 31st, 2009, 10:07 pm

jason dare wrote:if we all come from evolution and it has no feelings in the God sense. by logic should it not always work on survival of the fittest, and if that is true why are we here on this website, and Humanists in the first place, i assume we are here because we wish to fix/heal the world, but is there any room for caring and for wishing to help the weakest in society within the that framework
jason dare wrote:
If our deep knowing & understanding of the truth (What is right etc) doesen't come from God where does it come from? Also if there is no reward or punishment after death what is the point of caring about other people, or what we do to the world & should not-believing in a God make us less, not more caring because we believe we have nothing or no-one to answer to afterwards?


Jason, speaking personally: In my own way, when I see someone needing help, I'll do what I can to help. But I don't do those things because I'm after a reward or trying to avoid any punishment-- whether in "this" life or in a so-called "afterlife." I do it because I empathise with others. Some days I am better at empathising than others. This is so deeply ingrained in me-- a good deal of it comes natural to me, and on some not-so-good days, I have to remind myself. But it is not out of a sense of obeying some sort of authority, metaphysical or otherwise. And when I fail, I feel bad-- not because I am worried about demerit points from a god, but because I failed as a fellow human being.

It worries me that many religious people have this notion that "If there is no god, then everything is permitted" or something along the lines of "if this world is all there really is, then its all meaningless!" These ideas actually reveal the nihilism that underlies much of religion. Thankfully, some religious people are inconsistent with their beliefs and I think many care about others in spite of (not because of) their religious beliefs.

Empathy is a natural human instinct. But like all instincts, they can be cultivated and encouraged-- or they can be dismissed and discouraged. It all depends on what you value in life, for yourself and for the world you live in.

"A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."
~ Albert Einstein

"It is not acceptable to have a religion where the alternative to faith is punishment — that's how you train dogs, not develop people."

~ Deng Ming-Dao

Oh, and one nitpick: "survival of the fittest" is not a scientific notion, but rather a social one promoted by Herbert Spencer, for very different purposes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Spencer
Sketches from Life
“The materials for poetry are all about you in profusion.” ~ Masaoka Shiki

Lord Muck oGentry
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#17 Postby Lord Muck oGentry » December 31st, 2009, 10:43 pm

jason dare wrote:If our deep knowing & understanding of the truth (What is right etc) doesen't come from God where does it come from? Also if there is no reward or punishment after death what is the point of caring about other people, or what we do to the world & should not-believing in a God make us less, not more caring because we believe we have nothing or no-one to answer to afterwards?


Spinoza answered this question long ago, in words that deserve to be better known.
Virtue is its own reward, and needs no other. This doctrine, which appears, as it were, perfunctorily in so many systems of morals, is by Spinoza insisted on with almost passionate earnestness; few things seem to have moved him to more scornful denial than the popular creed, that supernatural rewards and punishments are necessary as incentives to virtue. “I see in what mud this man sticks,” he exclaims in answer to some such statement. “He is one of those who would follow after his own lusts, if he were not restrained by the fear of hell. He abstains from evil actions and fulfils God’s commands like a slave against his will, and for his bondage he expects to be rewarded by God with gifts far more to his taste than Divine love, and great in proportion to his original dislike of virtue.”1 Again, at the close of the Ethics, he draws an ironical picture of the pious coming before God at the Judgment, and looking to be endowed with incalculable blessings in recompense for the grievous burden of their piety. For him, who is truly wise, Blessedness is not the reward of virtue, but virtue itself.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

Marian
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#18 Postby Marian » January 1st, 2010, 2:42 pm

Ikiru wrote:Jason, speaking personally: In my own way, when I see someone needing help, I'll do what I can to help. But I don't do those things because I'm after a reward or trying to avoid any punishment-- whether in "this" life or in a so-called "afterlife." I do it because I empathise with others. Some days I am better at empathising than others. This is so deeply ingrained in me-- a good deal of it comes natural to me, and on some not-so-good days, I have to remind myself. But it is not out of a sense of obeying some sort of authority, metaphysical or otherwise. And when I fail, I feel bad-- not because I am worried about demerit points from a god, but because I failed as a fellow human being.

It worries me that many religious people have this notion that "If there is no god, then everything is permitted" or something along the lines of "if this world is all there really is, then its all meaningless!" These ideas actually reveal the nihilism that underlies much of religion. Thankfully, some religious people are inconsistent with their beliefs and I think many care about others in spite of (not because of) their religious beliefs.

Empathy is a natural human instinct. But like all instincts, they can be cultivated and encouraged-- or they can be dismissed and discouraged. It all depends on what you value in life, for yourself and for the world you live in.


That was beautifully written! Thanks.
Transformative fire...

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John G
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#19 Postby John G » February 4th, 2016, 2:47 am

Lifelinking wrote:This question reminded me of research that showed Bonobos displaying empathic behaviour, and not just to other Bonobos. For social animals there are a whole range of complex behaviours that may be advantageous in different situations, and these of course may include empathy, caring, altruism and so on.

In an animal that has also developed complex cultural, political, social and economic environments (us :D ), there are of course a lot of other factors that will influence human behaviour and moral decision making, that are not necessarily contingent on nor satisfactorily explained by evolutionary or socio-biological ideas.


New to the forum. Lifelinking can you clarify what these influences are? The ones not expIained by evolution or socio-biological ideas. I am drawing a blank. Which means I have to ask the question.

I see that Lifelinking has not been active for a while. So I am not expecting an answer. Perhaps someone else has some incite into my question.
A good learner is forever walking the narrow path between blindness and hallucination. ― Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm

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Dave B
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Re: Spirituality in Humanism

#20 Postby Dave B » February 4th, 2016, 8:46 am

Good question, echo.

Like to know the answer myself!
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015


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