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Are you a humanist or what?

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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Alan H
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Re: Re:

#41 Post by Alan H » March 4th, 2008, 12:11 am

Latest post of the previous page:

MHB wrote:I'm an "Iamist".
They make dog food, don't they? :shrug:
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?

Thomas
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#42 Post by Thomas » March 4th, 2008, 10:35 am

Atheist and rationalist have been my preferred titles for much of my life but now I prefer secular humanist.

MHB
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Re: Re:

#43 Post by MHB » March 4th, 2008, 12:41 pm

They make dog food, don't they? :shrug:
And cat food. But they can also be lawyers. Maybe I should make it "I-Amist".
It appeals to me because "God" in the Bible gives his name as "I am" and also
the famous quote, 'I think therefore I am." Oh well, perhaps no label is better,
helps to reduce the us versus them approach to life that causes so much trouble.
We are all a rose by any name.

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LeperMessiah
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#44 Post by LeperMessiah » March 5th, 2008, 8:47 pm

I'm a godless materialist. Of all the identifiers I have come across, I think that one says it best.
Any sort of inhumanity, given practice, becomes human.--Kawabata Yasunari

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#45 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » March 6th, 2008, 11:47 am

Bryn wrote:This is the obligatory thread asking people what particular label they prefer to stick on themselves.
I don't have any problem with labels at all, providing they have the kind of adhesive that makes them easily removable.

I'm certainly an atheist, and find it a perfectly useful description. I'd even go so far as to say that I'm a 'strong atheist' -- that is, I don't merely lack a belief in God or gods; I believe that there are no gods, and in particular I'm convinced that there is no God in the sense of a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the Universe. I suppose, if pushed, I might also admit to being an agnostic, in that I don't believe that we can be completely certain that no entity exists that might reasonably be called a god. But then I'm not sure that we can be completely certain of anything, so it seems a bit redundant.

Yes, I'm also a humanist, secularist and freethinker, though I rarely use the third of those. I avoid naturalist for a couple of reasons. First, it is ambiguous. No, not because it sounds anything like 'naturist', but because it makes people think of Richard Attenborough, and others who are interested in and knowledgeable about natural history. To avoid ambiguity, one would have to call oneself something like a philosophical naturalist, and that's a bit clumsy. Second, I'm not sure that I am a philosophical naturalist anyway, if naturalism is a system of thought holding that all phenomena can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws, and that the scientific method is the only way of investigating reality. It's not that I believe in anything supernatural. It's just that I think that human nature and society and culture are much more than the sum of their parts, and understanding them requires different methods of investigation, different kinds of explanation, and that's what social science tries to do. But maybe I'm confusing naturalism with physicalism or materialism, or even reductionism.

I cannot bring myself to call myself a bright, though I know there are many lovely people who can. And none of the others labels on the list apply to me.
Bryn wrote:Any others?
Another label I use a lot is sceptic, and I'm even prepared to spell it skeptic for the sake of trans-Atlantic harmony. Another one that was not on the list, which I have used in the past, is rationalist, but I'm not so keen on that now, having decided that I have some sympathy (excuse the pun) with the emotionalist school. After scouting around for a term that recognises the importance of both reason and emotion in human decisions and values, I came to the conclusion that humanism would do nicely.

Emma

Maria Mac
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#46 Post by Maria Mac » March 7th, 2008, 7:40 am

Gosh, Emma, I find myself in agreement with your entire post.

'Skeptic' is the one word where I wish we would just stick to the original Greek spelling and be done with it. I tried spelling it this way on the main website but then found it jarred when I looked at it so changed it back to the British spelling.

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xman
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#47 Post by xman » March 24th, 2008, 5:27 am

I'm an atheist first. Technically I'm an agnostic because I won't absolutely confirm that no gods can exist, but that's not functionally true. I call myself a humanist when fundies say I stand for nothing. I call myself a secularist when I'm being polite and a rationalist when I'm being aggressive. I've always been a free thinker.

X
Always remember, it's your right to have a SUPER day.
If you're wrong, call me ... I'll have one for you!

Critical Thinking - http://www.skepdic.com/refuge/ctlessons.html

Maria Mac
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#48 Post by Maria Mac » March 24th, 2008, 6:05 pm

A few posts have been split off to a new thread about HSS nonsense.

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Ephemerid
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#49 Post by Ephemerid » March 31st, 2008, 6:16 am

First, with some reservation (because I generally find labels are inaccurate), I would call myself very existentialist in my thinking: I have to take on my own responsibility for situations-- not merely to do what I am "supposed" to do, according to society-- I have to create my own meaning & purpose in life-- no one else can give that to me: no religion or philosophy (not even existentialism!) can deliver that to me-- I must carve my own path. The realisation of my own finitude is something I embrace rather than try to avoid. There is a beauty in NOT being the centre of the universe.

Again with reservations , for myself I'd place being a humanist second. I cannot evade the fact that we are all responsible for one another and that through cooperation, genuine dialogue and rationality (the best tool for achieving anything in this context) we can make the world a better place. A sense of empathy and the lucidity of others' very existence is vital. But I do also have a sense that this "better world" will never be achieved-- but that is irrelevant-- that is no excuse to not try. I would be generally called a pinko commie by folks around here where I currently live (which is why unfortunately I generally keep my mouth shut-- I need to keep my job!). Along with this comes environmental concerns, feminist concerns, human rights, etc. etc. that matter to me.

I'd place being an atheist third (though I like the terms "non-theist" and "non-religious" even better)-- whatever one believes or doesn't believe in terms of metaphysics takes a back seat to one's actions and interactions with their fellow human beings-- its only when religious belief directly contradicts human compassion and concern that I have some major qualms with religion (though I do have some major problems with theism & religion in general!). Secularism is a necessary precondition for such a cooperation to take place and democracy is the best method.

Naturalism is something I so take for granted I don't even really think of myself as one. Its just a given for me I suppose. But I also believe there is a "something beyond"-- not beyond the universe!-- but beyond the grasp of human language-- and that will always make living something mysterious & precious (its like the difference between experiencing a brilliant piece of music and reading a verbal description of that music-- something vital and irreplaceable is lost in translation). There are things that rationality and science will be able to accomplish, but it will never be able to map out our lives or this world we live in-- which brings me back to existentialism, coming back full circle I suppose! But then, that has never been the aim of science anyway. I really do not like the terms "mystical" or "spiritual"-- I tend to use terms like "ontological engagement" or some such high-falutin' lingo which sounds awfully clinical, but I mean it with much passion. Again, though, all this ties back into this existential realisation of one's own finitude (spatially and temporally).

TO ADD: And underlying all this is another thing I just take for granted: being a freethinker!
For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love. ~ Carl Sagan

Maria Mac
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#50 Post by Maria Mac » March 31st, 2008, 6:50 pm

Thanks for such a thoughtful post, Ephemerid. I pretty much agree with it - particularly the first para - but there is a difference in how I think of myself and how I label myself for the benefit of others. I have enough trouble explaining what I mean by 'humanist' to people unfamiliar with the term. I don't dare attempt 'existentialist'.

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Ephemerid
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#51 Post by Ephemerid » March 31st, 2008, 7:06 pm

Maria wrote:Thanks for such a thoughtful post, Ephemerid. I pretty much agree with it - particularly the first para - but there is a difference in how I think of myself and how I label myself for the benefit of others. I have enough trouble explaining what I mean by 'humanist' to people unfamiliar with the term. I don't dare attempt 'existentialist'.
Heck, I have trouble explaining it to myself sometimes! LOL
For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love. ~ Carl Sagan

Maria Mac
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#52 Post by Maria Mac » August 17th, 2008, 6:48 pm

I decided to find this thread and stick to the top for the benefit of all the new folk that are joining us.

lukanator
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#53 Post by lukanator » August 21st, 2008, 8:19 am

I don't apply the term "atheist" to myself because the way the word is used by the religious sort of makes a negative connotation; it's an epithet they hurl around. Same as "liberal." That term only has meaning to people who need labels like "liberal" and "conservative."

The best way to piss off people (a mean-spirited passive little game I enjoy) who embrace labels is to not even play the game. When you defy categorization - proactively - it really irritates people who want to see the world in black and white. I'm referring specifically to devout religious fanatics who try to engage me in contentious discussions about religion and deistic belief, etc. Sigh. I've learned through experience that I score an immediate win by not even engaging them.

For me, though, the term "atheist" doesn't have the negative connotation it used to. That's a result of growing up and becoming one.

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LilacHamster
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#54 Post by LilacHamster » August 21st, 2008, 5:07 pm

I actually like the term "Bright" but I don't think it's very well-known yet, I keep thinking I should use it more than I do, just to let people know it exists, but I am lazy and tend to use words I think will be understood, such as atheist, or agnostic if pushed as I cannot be 100% certain. I am trying to use humanist a bit more now too.

I'd never use the word sceptic to describe myself though, I am definitely not one from my understanding of the word and it's connotations.

I'm sure I am more emotionalist than rationalist too, but I don't really use those words.

gregory
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#55 Post by gregory » August 23rd, 2008, 11:06 am

Yes I think some emotion should be allowed too.

Yes I have to say we are used to the c spelling of sceptic now aren't we.

I think we do not like the K spelling because some of us have been taught that K is kicking k and c is curly c and who wants to kick anyone. But I realise it is the original spelling to use a k.
There'll be blue birds over
The white cliffs of Dover

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boredbeyondbelief
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#56 Post by boredbeyondbelief » August 24th, 2008, 11:19 pm

I like labels for the purpose of helping myself to understand my understandings about existence, but there are of course limitations to their usage.

These days I use the term humanist because I find that it offers a clear ethical life stance. I answer "yes" when asked if I'm an atheist, but I still find that to be too broad or unspecific as far as an ethical stance of life (although I'm learning that in fact, this is not always the case for everyone that uses that term).

I also am interested in religious naturalism. Not sure what I think of the use of the term "religion" although I think I understand why it's used. However, I like the approach since it includes, I don't know how to write this, an acceptance of the numinous (a lovely word that Christopher Hitchens used in the DVD "Four Horsemen") or the transcendent experience while rejecting the supernatural.
Joe G.
[url=htpp://boredbeyondbelief.wordpress.com]bored beyond belief[/url]

Dan
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#57 Post by Dan » August 26th, 2008, 9:43 pm

lukanator wrote: The best way to piss off people (a mean-spirited passive little game I enjoy) who embrace labels is to not even play the game. When you defy categorization - proactively - it really irritates people who want to see the world in black and white.
Ah yes, you're one of those anti-labellists.

Dan

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Zatarra
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#58 Post by Zatarra » August 26th, 2008, 10:22 pm

I prefer (in this order):

Humanist
naturalist
freethinker
godfree (adjective, not noun)
atheist
secularist

lukanator
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#59 Post by lukanator » August 27th, 2008, 12:49 pm

Dan wrote:
lukanator wrote: The best way to piss off people (a mean-spirited passive little game I enjoy) who embrace labels is to not even play the game. When you defy categorization - proactively - it really irritates people who want to see the world in black and white.
Ah yes, you're one of those anti-labellists.

Dan
Hi five, good one.

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erasmusinfinity
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#60 Post by erasmusinfinity » October 11th, 2008, 12:57 am

Proudly
1. Naturalist- In all three senses. (1) I am an appreciator of nature. (2) Humans are animals, animals are life forms, life is an organic chemical process evolved to it's present state, and all things are interconnected as part of what we call "nature." (3) I derive my ethical views from natural and not supernatural sources.
2. *Secularist- In the sense that I support the separation of church and state. Religion has no valid place in government!
3. Humanist- I identify with most humanist philosophy and have much in common with other people who identify with this millieu.

Reluctantly, but yes
4. Atheist- Simply by definition. I am not theistic. However, I don't like the cultural and anti-social connotations of this term.
5. *Secularist- In the sense that it just means atheist.

Not sure
6. Freethinker- I would like to think that I think "freely" but freedom is a more complex issue.
7. Bright- A nice idea, but I'm not sure if it really works.
8. Spiritual- What the hell does this word really mean?

Definitely not
9. Deist/Pantheist- Sometimes they almost get me, but aren't they really just atheists with intricate metaphors? I'm not one of these.
10. Religious- Certainly not in the conventional sense, although I do have interest in many of the questions addressed by religion.
11. Agnostic- Because I do know.
12. Theist- It's just flat wrong. There is no god or gods. For sure. Period.

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Paolo
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Re: Are you a humanist or what?

#61 Post by Paolo » October 11th, 2008, 1:16 am

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:I avoid naturalist for a couple of reasons. First, it is ambiguous. No, not because it sounds anything like 'naturist', but because it makes people think of Richard Attenborough, and others who are interested in and knowledgeable about natural history.
I personally think of David Attenborough, Richard's brother, who's less of a luvvie and spends more time making natural history documentaries. I'm a pedant, depending on my level of sobriety.

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