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Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

For discussions related to education and educational institutions.
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Joined: June 2nd, 2009, 4:53 pm

Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#1 Post by coffee » October 8th, 2017, 7:21 pm

I have just tidied these lists up

Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

(Scroll down to see the list) ... mpathy.pdf ... mpathy.pdf

(Scroll down to see the list) ... t-threads/


Humanist/Atheist Values/Doctrine lists continue

(Scroll down to see the list)

(Scroll down to see the list) ... _Strengths

(Scroll down to see the list)

(Scroll down to see the list)


Humanist/Atheist values/Doctrine lists continue ... Values.pdf ... esList.pdf


SECULAR GRACES pinched from the internet

From Reginald Le Sueur
To the Farmers and Growers,
To the Butchers and Bakers,
To the Cooks and the Caterers ;
--we give thanks for this meal.
(Myron Morris)
“For this food we about to receive,
We thank those who produced it,
And those who transported it.
We thank those who prepared it,
And those who serve it,
And those who clean it after us.
Let us now sit down and enjoy it”.
We are thankful for the food on this table
We are thankful for this time together
Our thoughts go out to family and friends
We hope that they are safe and well
Let's eat/dive in.
Earth we thank you for our food,
For work and play and all that's good,
For wind and rain and sun above,
But most of all for those we love.
posted by McIntaggart at 3:39 AM on August 24, 2005 [2 favorites]
And a short meal gatha:
"We receive this food in gratitude to all beings
Who have helped to bring it to our table,
And vow to respond in turn to those in need
With wisdom and compassion."
My son learned this one in his Montessori school (natch), and we use it quite a bit in our agnostic home:
I am thankful for green grass under me (I am thankful/grateful )
I am thankful for blue sky over me (I am thankful/grateful )
I am thankful for good friends beside me
I am thankful for good food in front of me
and peace all over the world.
posted by Scoo at 7:09 AM on August 24, 2005
good food, good meat, good vegetable, thank all those whose made it possible, let's eat/dive in.
Also addressed to Nobody In Particular, I've said:
For the meal we are about to eat,
for those that made it possible,
and for those with whom we are about to share it,
we are thankful.
posted by ThePants at 9:42 AM on August 25, 2005 [3 favorites]
For bacon, eggs, and buttered toast
Who eats the fastest gets the most!
Earth who gives to us this food
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dear Earth, dear Sun, by you we live
Our loving thanks to you we give.
For our friends,
for our families,
for our meal,
we are thankful.
We are so grateful for this food,
it restores our strength,
it heals our bodies,
it fuels our brains.
Thanks to the earth for the soil.
Thanks to the sky for the rains.
Thanks to the farmers for the harvest.
Thanks to our friends for the love.
May this meal we're about to share help our spirits shine brighter.
May this brightness send darkness away and
warm the hearts of strangers.
audrey 10:40 am on Nov 18th
Love this post and I think your graces are awesome. My little family (the 3 of us) do follow a spiritual practice but the blessing we use before meals is so simple and non-denominational-ish my non-religious family has adopted it. It is in the call and response style, and translated is this:
We sit and eat together (we sit and eat together)
We sit and eat together (we sit and eat together)
We sit and eat in peace (we sit and eat in peace)
Emily 11:38 am on Nov 18th
I love these! I'm the chaplain of our local Grange, and I'm always looking for ways to express thanks before a meal that don't feel exclusionary to any of our diverse members. Currently, we use this one:

For the bounty here before us,
The hands that brought it to our table,
And the company in which we share it,
We give thanks.
(All: We give thanks.)
mbirn 6:27 pm on Nov 18th
For the Food Before Us
For the Friends Around Us
For the Love Between Us
We give thanks.

It embarrasses the snot out of my teenage daughter when she friends eating with us. But I like the ritual, better than just diving into the grub.
tashamonster 9:22 pm on Nov 19th
i work for a preschool and we say a very long winded prayer but i like the end the best and could work (i'm replacing the word God with earth)
Thank you for the world so sweet
Thank you for the food we eat
Thank you for the birds that sing
Thank you, Earth, for everything
Another favorite was also this classic:
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Whoever eats the fastest, gets the most.

That's not necessarily Atheist, however.
posted by stovenator at 12:23 AM on August 24, 2005
vasiliki Jan 16, 2014 11:35 AM
Our family is atheist, but my husband, I, and 8-year-old son always say "grace." We either have a minute of silence where we listen to the sounds around us and think about what we are thankful for (my son loves this because he begins and ends the minute with a pretty "clink" of his knife to his water glass), or we say my son's Montessori blessing:
We are thankful for the food before us
We are thankful for the friends beside us
We are thankful for the love among us
We are thankful
Let us enjoy good food and good drink,
And let us thank all whose efforts have set them before us;
Let us enjoy good companionship,
And let us each one be good company to the others;
Let us enjoy ourselves, without guilt,
But let us not forget that many are less fortunate.
We give thanks for the plants and animals who have given themselves so that we can enjoy this meal together.
We also give thanks for our friends and family who have traveled here today.
May this meal bring us strength and health.
I hope this food taste nice
Because it had been to the floor twice!
Nov 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm
That wasn’t meant to be an “offering”… just an observation.
Here’s a Thanksgiving secular grace I cooked up for tonight’s dinner:

We are grateful for the presence of those we love, for all the events and circumstances
which have made it possible for us to be here.

We are thankful for this food, for those who planted, grew, provided and prepared it.
We stand in awe-struck gratitude for the countless millions of stars which, by exploding,
provided the elements which make up everything we are and all we know.
We hope that, in the fullness of time, all peoples everywhere will have the bounty we are
grateful for today.

We thanks all animals and plants whose have died to give us food.
Let us eat consciously, resolving by our work to pay the debt of our existence.


Twelve Principles Of Humanism

1 Humanism aims at the full development of every human being.

2 Humanists uphold the broadest application of democratic principles in all human relationships.

3 Humanists advocate the use of the scientific method, both as a guide to distinguish fact from fiction and to help develop beneficial and creative uses of science and technology.

4 Humanists affirm the dignity of every person and the right of the individual to maximum possible freedom compatible with the rights of others.

5 Humanists acknowledge human interdependence, the need for mutual respect and the kinship of all humanity.

6 Humanists call for the continued improvement of society so that no one may be deprived of the basic necessities of life, and for institutions and conditions to provide every person with opportunities for developing their full potential.

7 Humanists support the development and extension of fundamental human freedoms, as expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and supplemented by UN International Covenants comprising the United Nations Bill of Human Rights.

8 Humanists advocate peaceful resolution of conflicts between individuals, groups, and nations.

9 The humanist ethic encourages development of the positive potentialities in human nature, and approves conduct based on a sense of responsibility to oneself and to all other persons.

10 Humanists reject beliefs held in absence of verifiable evidence, such as beliefs based solely on dogma, revelation, mysticism or appeals to the supernatural.

11 Humanists affirm that individual and social problems can only be resolved by means of human reason, intelligent effort, critical thinking joined with compassion and a spirit of empathy for all living beings.

12 Humanists affirm that human beings are completely a part of nature, and that our survival is dependent upon a healthy planet that provides us and all other forms of life with a life-supporting environment.


For more research or details, check out this link below ... &start=280

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#2 Post by coffee » October 10th, 2017, 10:24 am

This is just lists of extra information for atheists/humanists might find useful

It is not 100% perfect so use it with atheist/humanist context or commonsense ok. ... t-threads/

Twelve Principles Of Humanism ... _Strengths ... SYeKQTE%3D ... 8-15.2.pdf ... 8-15.2.pdf ... 8-15.1.pdf ... MvLF52LKAv ... /Needs.pdf ... Values.pdf ... esList.pdf

RSA ANIMATE: The Empathic Civilisation

So if you don't believe in God, what happens when you die?

Can you remember all that time before you were born? Neither can we! Well, it's probably the same after you die.

Like everything else in the natural world, we’re made from chemicals and minerals. Nothing ever disappears completely. When we die, our bodies break down into these chemicals and minerals again, whether we’re cremated or buried, and they eventually become part of the earth, or of plants, or even of other living things. However, we don’t believe in a “soul”, a supernatural part of a human being. ... nksgiving/ ... 8-15.2.pdf ... 8-15.1.pdf

Humanists Aims ... mmandments ... nist_Heart ... nist_Heart ... 32&lang=en

Tea and Consent ... t-threads/ ... of-values/ ... lues.shtml



For more research or details, check out this link below ... &start=280

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#3 Post by coffee » October 15th, 2017, 6:19 pm

I just stick this link here so that I can find it next time. ... sal-values

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#5 Post by coffee » January 26th, 2018, 8:33 pm

I have just updated this Atheist/Humanist Values lists

It is not 100% perfect so use it with atheist/humanist context or commonsense ok. ... mpathy.pdf ... mpathy.pdf

--------------- ... _Strengths

-------------- ... Values.pdf ... esList.pdf


Humanist Meaning of life (Scroll down to see the list)

Scroll down to see the list


Table discussion

What is a Humanist Group for?

• An alternative church? • A secularist pressure group? • A talking shop?
• A pillar of the community? • A community hub? • Humanist/atheist evangelism?

What are its functions and what can we learn from our competitors?
• A community for the non-religious? • Forum for public debate? • Library?
• Chaplaincy and counselling/pastoral services? • Ceremonies?
• Courses on human flourishing (a ‘school of life’?) • Youth group?
• Charity fundraising? • Food bank? • To counter evangelism?
• “Celebration of life”? • Choirs, singing and readings? • Socialising?
• Facilitating the teaching of Humanism in schools (eg via RE)?
• Inclusion in Remembrance services?

What ‘infrastructure’ does a Humanist group need?
• Mission statement • Aims • Constitution and membership structure
• Affiliation/partnership with BHA • Somewhere to meet • A committee
• A programme of events • Promotional leaflets • Regular newsletter or bulletin
• Website, facebook etc • A Humanist course • Trained leaders? • A building?
• A gazebo/tent? • GRAM • International links/twinning
• Links with ‘kindred spirits’ (Unitarians, liberal Jews, Quakers, atheist groups, skeptics, Fabians, science groups, green groups, student humanist groups)

• Dialogue (aka ‘interfaith’)

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#6 Post by coffee » April 23rd, 2018, 11:15 am

The above Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists, had been updated with 99% accuracy, so use it with commonsense ok.

If you like it, then tell your friends and family about it, spread the word. Thank you.

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#7 Post by coffee » July 2nd, 2018, 10:49 am

Atheist/Humanist Values lists
99% accuracy, so use it with commonsense ok.

Scroll down for the lists

Scroll down for the lists ... t-threads/

Scroll down for the lists

Scroll down for the lists ... lues.shtml

Scroll down for the lists

khan academy is a great website for learning

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#8 Post by coffee » August 16th, 2018, 10:40 am

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#9 Post by coffee » December 24th, 2018, 9:10 am

I just stick these links here so that I can find them next time ... s-List.pdf

Basic Human Emotional Needs

Sex, Ethics, and Paganism (good for atheists too) ... -paganism/

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#10 Post by coffee » March 23rd, 2019, 6:30 pm

Community Without Religion ... -religion/


Secular Gratitude


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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#11 Post by coffee » May 6th, 2019, 6:45 pm

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#12 Post by coffee » June 24th, 2019, 4:48 pm

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#13 Post by coffee » July 17th, 2019, 12:08 am

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#14 Post by coffee » August 11th, 2019, 2:47 pm

Atheist Volunteer Resources

Biggest List of Secular Reasons to Volunteer ... volunteer/

Atheist Volunteer Resources

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#15 Post by coffee » August 15th, 2019, 4:30 pm

Why Secular Humanism can do what Atheism can't.

Atheism doesn't offer much beyond non-belief, can Secular Humanism fill the gaps? ... belltitem6

14 August, 2019

.Atheism is increasingly popular, but the lack of an organized community around it can be problematic.

.The decline in social capital once offered by religion can cause severe problems.

.Secular Humanism can offer both community and meaning, but it has also attracted controversy.

People aren't as religious as they used to be.

The decline of these traditional belief systems is a tragedy for some and a cause for celebration for others. There is an element of it that causes a problem for everybody, though. As the old religious ties that bind decline, the communities associated with them start to go too. This isn't to say that a neighborhood without a church will immediately start to decay into poverty, violence, and misery but that the social element of these organizations was essential to people and without it, we've got problems.

Twenty years ago, Robert Putnam argued that Americans were starting to suffer from too much alone time and too little community connection in his book Bowling Alone. He wouldn't be shocked by what we see today.

Twenty-two percent of millennials say they have no friends, and the elderly are cripplingly lonely too. People aren't as involved in community organizations as they used to be. These things are terrible for both our health and communities. While the reasons for this aren't well known, the decline in social capital Putnam described probably has something to do with it.

While the decline of religious belief and attendance at mainstream churches in general isn't the only reason for this decline, the traditional place of religion in American life means that lower church attendance can be a destabilizing factor. Say what you will about churches, they were great generators of social capital.

But nothing in that theory of social capital demands that we go back to the previous model of generating said capital. New systems that create community can do the trick too. As old ideas and ways of connecting with others fall apart, new ones rise to replace them; among them is the famous and infamous philosophy of Secular Humanism.

What is Secular Humanism?

The people over at the Center for Inquiry define Secular Humanism as "A comprehensive, nonreligious lifestance." They further explain this by saying:

"Secular humanism is a lifestance, or what Council for Secular Humanism founder Paul Kurtz has termed a eupraxsophy: a body of principles suitable for orienting a complete human life. As a secular lifestance, secular humanism incorporates the Enlightenment principle of individualism, which celebrates emancipating the individual from traditional controls by family, church, and state, increasingly empowering each of us to set the terms of his or her own life."

The American Humanist Association has a similar definition, calling the life stance:

"A progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity."

How is this different from atheism?
Atheism means one thing and one thing only, the non-belief in any deity. It doesn't mean anything further than that. This is how you can get people as different as Joseph Stalin, Ayn Rand, and Carl Sagan to all fit into the Atheist category.

While people of all persuasions try to argue that this non-belief necessarily leads a non-believer to support other positions, these arguments fall short. If atheism did inevitably lead to other specific believes and values, the diversity of ideologies seen in the above three examples should be impossible.

There isn't even just one kind of atheism; there are several based on precisely what a person doesn't believe in and how they came to that stance.

Secular humanism, on the other hand, makes several claims. It advances a consequentialist ethics system; it affirms the values of self-realization, cosmopolitanism, individualism, and critical thinking; it places a value on social justice; and it praises a dedication to the use of reason and the search for truth.

These stances are ones that many atheists will support, but not ones that they must support. Many will reject them outright. In this way, while secular humanists are typically atheistic, non-theistic, or agnostic, not all atheists, agnostics, or non-theists are going to be secular humanists.

So, is Secular Humanism a religion or what?

No, but this is a matter of some controversy in the United States.

The Center for Inquiry's editor Tom Flynn explains why secular humanism isn't a religion in an essay defining the life stance. He first defines religion as a "life stance that includes at minimum a belief in the existence and fundamental importance of a realm transcending that of ordinary experience."

He then points out that, "because it lacks any reliance on (or acceptance of) the transcendent, secular humanism is not — and cannot be — a religion."

While this might not be the end-all definition of "religion" for some people, it is a convincing one. If applied properly, it would rule secular humanism out on any list of religions. This hasn't stopped people from saying it is a religion though. Many people and organizations have argued and still argue that it is a religion out to convert all the youth in America and destroy western civilization as we know it.

Several court cases have considered the question of whether it counts as a "religion" for legal purposes. One judge in Alabama even ruled that secular humanism was a religion and subject to the same restrictions as other religions before ordering that schoolbooks promoting "secular humanist values" were to be removed from classrooms.

A higher court quickly reversed this decision. They didn't address the issue of whether secular humanism was a religion or not, but did point out how that was irrelevant to the case anyway. Other cases before that one had generally agreed that while some humanist organizations do things which are analogous to religious groups, like Sunday meetings, and might be entitled to similar treatment, secular humanism itself is not a "religion."

Does anybody famous like this idea?

Lots of them do, but there is a sticking point regarding the words used.

While some people like Isaac Asimov were self-declared secular humanists who were involved with organizations dedicated to the concept, others, like Bertrand Russell, really didn't want to be called "humanists" and either remained unaffiliated or were heavily involved in humanist organizations without claiming the title.

Kurt Vonnegut took up the role of Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, formerly held by fellow sci-fi legend Isaac Asimov. Charles Shultz, the creator of the Peanuts comic, declared himself to be a Secular Humanist towards the end of his life. Philosopher Peter Singer is both an atheist and a humanist and would fit the definitions we listed above, though he seems not to use the term "secular humanist" himself.

The American Humanist Association lists several others on their website, including Gloria Steinem, Jonas Salk, and Katharine Hepburn.

How do Secular Humanists, well, do things? Is there a community?

As it turns out, even people who don't think a god is telling them there is one way to do things like marriage, burial rites, coming of age parties, how to spend their Sunday mornings, or the like still think there is merit to doing something for these occasions. Organizations designed to do that are easier to start when you move beyond simple atheism and get people to agree on a few more stances.

Secular Humanist organizations allow similarly minded people to have community, to celebrate life events, to discuss ethics and morality, and to enjoy many of the things that the religious do without having to compromise their beliefs.

You might also recall that I interviewed a humanist celebrant some time back. She explained a lot about what she does and why. There are tons of humanist centers similar to the one she works at around the country. This tool lets you see which one is closest to you. A quick check of their websites will show you what is going on in your area.

In a time when traditional belief systems and communities continue to degrade, and people search for new answers and places to belong, secular humanism offers itself as a modern philosophy that combines a comprehensive worldview with secularism and community. While its merits will be debated for some time to come, it will continue to offer the benefits once provided by the religious community to non-believers, secularists, and humanists for the foreseeable future.

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#16 Post by coffee » November 8th, 2019, 2:24 pm

Are Religious People Happier? Secular Humanists Say No, And Yet….

Mark Skousen
November 7, 2019 @ 1:25 pm ... o-and-yet/

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.
SHARE ON:FacebookTwitter Google +

Social scientists have been studying and doing surveys on happiness ever since Thomas Jefferson declared that we have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Lately there’s been a major debate: Are religious people happier than non-religious people, the “nones”?

Survey after survey indicates that they are. One academic concluded, “The happiest people tend to be religious, married, with high self-esteem and job morale and modest aspirations. It seems your gender and level of intelligence don’t necessarily come into it.”

According to a 2014 Pew Research survey, “religiously active people are typically happier and more ‘civically engaged’ – meaning they are more likely to do things such as vote in elections or join community groups — than adults who either do not practice a religion or do not actively participate in one.”

But secular humanists will have none of it. The editor of the Humanist states: “This study shows the same methodological flaw seen time and time again: measuring religiosity in large part by how often people attend religious services. This creates a comparison that doesn’t measure the differences between the religious and the nonreligious, but instead measures the difference between those that have strong community connections and those that do not. ‘Community’ has positive outcomes, not religion.”

Yet hasn’t the religious life, especially the Christian faith, been exactly that — losing yourself in others? Christianity has been in the forefront of charitable and community work, and were the first to establish “Good Samaritan” hospitals, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and welfare for the poor and needy. They are the “first responders” to any natural or man-made disaster.

I once asked the biologist Richard Dawkins, author of “The God Delusion,” if his non-profit foundation helps out during disasters like Christian groups do, and he replied, “not yet.”

Dan Buettner, a National Geographic fellow and author of “The Blue Zones of Happiness: Lessons from the World’s Happiest People,” takes a secular humanist approach to happiness. If you take his “Blue Zones Happiness Test” (go to you will find that most people are happier living with a “loving partner,” have friends, get at least 30 minutes of physical exercise daily, own a dog and have a purpose in life.

(Note that this survey requires you to register with Blue Zones and reveals much personal information you may not want to share with others.)

His survey also asks if you have children, which can be a major source of happiness — or heartache! It appears that secular humanists like dogs better than children, because pets like you even if you behave badly.

His survey asks how many intimate friends you have and whether you volunteer for charity work, but there is no question about your religious faith and practice. None. In fact, his question on meditation (yoga or tai chi) requires it to be “non-religious” — so meditating through prayer or communion doesn’t count! Humanists are fond of making a difference between the “spiritual” and “religious” meaning in life.

Yet communion with God can be one of the highest sources of happiness. A godly life can offer “life more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#17 Post by coffee » November 13th, 2019, 5:21 pm

These Staunton residents struggled to find a secular community — so they made their own ... 155538002/

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Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#18 Post by coffee » November 22nd, 2019, 5:59 pm

Nature versus nurture: how modern science is rewriting it ... kAhzlDdpC4

The question of whether it is genes or environment that largely shapes human behaviour has been debated for centuries. During the second half of the 20th century, there were two camps of scientists – each believing that nature or nurture, respectively, was exclusively at play.

This view is becoming increasingly rare, as research is demonstrating that genes and environment are actually interconnected and can amplify one another. During an event at Berlin Science Week on November 7, organised by the Royal Society, we discussed how the debate is changing as a result of recent findings.

Take literacy. Making language visible is one of the most extraordinary achievements of human beings. Reading and writing is fundamental to our ability to thrive in the modern world, yet some individuals find it difficult to learn. This difficulty can arise for many reasons, including dyslexia, a neuro-developmental disorder. But it turns out neither genes nor environment are fully responsible for differences in reading ability.

Genetics and the neuroscience of reading
Reading is a cultural invention and not a skill or function that was ever subject to natural selection. Written alphabets originated around the Mediterranean about 3,000 years ago, but literacy only became widespread from the 20th century. Our use of the alphabet, however, is grounded in nature. Literacy hijacks evolved brain circuitry to link visible language to audible language – by letter-sound mapping.

Brain scans show that this “reading network” is apparent in pretty much the same place in the brain in everybody. It forms when we learn to read and strengthens connections between our brain’s language and speech regions, as well as a region that has become known as the “visual word form area”.

Reading literally changes the brain. MriMan
The design for building the underlying circuitry is somehow encoded in our genomes. That is, the human genome encodes a set of developmental rules that, when played out, will give rise to the network.

However, there is always variation in the genome and this leads to variation in the way these circuits develop and function. This means there are individual differences in ability. Indeed, variation in reading ability is substantially heritable across the general population, and developmental dyslexia is also largely genetic in origin.

This is not to say that there are “genes for reading”. Instead, there are genetic variations that affect how the brain develops in ways that influence how it functions. For unknown reasons, some such variants negatively affect the circuits required for speaking and reading.

Environment matters too
But genes are not the whole story. Let’s not forget that experience and active instruction are needed for the changes in brain connectivity that enable reading to occur in the first place – though we don’t yet know to what extent.

Research has shown that most often problems with literacy are likely underpinned by a difficulty in phonology – the ability to segment and manipulate the sounds of speech. It turns out that people with dyslexia also tend to struggle with learning how to speak when infants. Experiments have shown that they are slower than other people to name objects. This also applies to written symbols and relating them to speech sounds.

And here nurture comes in again. Difficulties in learning to read and write are particularly visible in languages with complex grammar and spelling rules, such as English. But they are far less obvious in languages with more straightforward spelling systems, such as Italian. Tests of phonology and object naming, however, can detect dyslexia in Italian speakers too.

So the difference that is found in dyslexic brains is likely the same everywhere, but will nevertheless play out very differently in different writing systems.

Amplification and cycles
Nature and nurture are traditionally set in opposition to each other. But in truth, the effects of environment and experience often tend to amplify our innate predispositions. The reason is that those innate predispositions affect how we subjectively experience and respond to various events, and also how we choose our experiences and environments. For example, if you are naturally good at something you are more likely to want to practice it.

Misleading. Stuart Miles

This dynamic is especially evident for reading. Children with greater reading ability are more likely to want to read. This will of course further increase their reading skills, making the experience more rewarding. For children with lower natural reading ability, the opposite tends to happen – they will choose to read less, and will fall farther behind their peers over time.

These cycles also offer a window of intervention. As we have seen in the case of Italian readers, nurture can mitigate the effects of an adverse genetic predisposition. Similarly, a good teacher who knows how to make practice rewarding can help poor readers by allowing short cuts and mnemonics for spelling. In this way, dyslexic readers can become good readers – and enjoy it. Reward and practice enhance each other, leading to more motivation and more practice in a positive feedback loop.

So instead of thinking of nature and nurture as adversaries in a zero sum game, we should think of them as feedback loops where a positive influence of one factor increases the positive influence of the other – producing not a sum but an enhancement. Of course, the same applies to negative feedback, and so we have both virtuous and vicious circles.

Because inheritance (genetic as well as cultural) matters, this effect is also visible on a larger scale spanning several generations. In the past, parents who sent their children to school created an advantageous environment for them and their grandchildren. But in turn, the parents benefited from the existence of a culture that invested in schools. Of course, such investments are not always spread evenly and may flow more towards those already in an advantageous position. Such a circle is sometimes referred to as the “Matthew effect” – good things come to those who already have them.

The interactive loops between nature and nurture extend beyond the lives of individuals, playing out across communities and over generations. Recognising these dynamics gives us some power to break these feedback loops, both in our own lives and more widely in society and culture.

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Nature versus nurture: how modern science is rewriting it ... kAhzlDdpC4

November 21, 2019 2.50pm GMT
Kevin Mitchell
Associate Professor of Genetics and Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin

Uta Frith
Professor Emeritus of Cognitive Development, UCL

Disclosure statement
Kevin Mitchell has received funding from Science Foundation Ireland, The Wellcome Trust, and the Irish Health Research Board.

Uta Frith does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

University College London

Trinity College Dublin

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Posts: 1594
Joined: June 2nd, 2009, 4:53 pm

Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#19 Post by coffee » November 24th, 2019, 2:05 pm

Continue from the last post ... 887/innate

What makes you the way you are—and what makes each of us different from everyone else? In Innate, leading neuroscientist and popular science blogger Kevin Mitchell traces human diversity and individual differences to their deepest level: in the wiring of our brains. Deftly guiding us through important new research, including his own groundbreaking work, he explains how variations in the way our brains develop before birth strongly influence our psychology and behavior throughout our lives, shaping our personality, intelligence, sexuality, and even the way we perceive the world.

We all share a genetic program for making a human brain, and the program for making a brain like yours is specifically encoded in your DNA. But, as Mitchell explains, the way that program plays out is affected by random processes of development that manifest uniquely in each person, even identical twins. The key insight of Innate is that the combination of these developmental and genetic variations creates innate differences in how our brains are wired—differences that impact all aspects of our psychology—and this insight promises to transform the way we see the interplay of nature and nurture.

Innate also explores the genetic and neural underpinnings of disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and epilepsy, and how our understanding of these conditions is being revolutionized. In addition, the book examines the social and ethical implications of these ideas and of new technologies that may soon offer the means to predict or manipulate human traits.

Compelling and original, Innate will change the way you think about why and how we are who we are.

Awards and Recognition
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2018
One of Forbes' Must-Read Brain Books of 2018


Abstract ... 011.554699

The Matthew effect is often used as a metaphor to describe a widening gap between good and poor readers over time. In this study we examined the development of individual differences in reading and cognitive functioning in children with reading difficulties and normal readers from Grades 1 to 3. Matthew effects were observed for individual differences in reading comprehension and vocabulary, but not on tests measuring word decoding, word recognition, or spelling, nor on non‐verbal ability. However, these Matthew effects disappeared when controlling for home literacy activities and parent reading behavior, indicating that print exposure is one environmental condition involved in mediating Matthew effects. These findings are in line with the idea of the Matthew effect by Stanovich and the core assumption that reading comprehension is involved in a reciprocal relationship with vocabulary knowledge.

Keywords: literacy and cognitive development, Matthew effects, reading comprehension, vocabulary

Posts: 1594
Joined: June 2nd, 2009, 4:53 pm

Re: Atheist/Humanist Values/Doctrine lists

#20 Post by coffee » December 9th, 2019, 9:29 am

Spiritual or atheist? More nonbelievers are saying ‘both.’ ... aying-both

In a letter up for auction, Albert Einstein talked about admiring “in humility the beautiful harmony of the structure of the world.” More nonbelievers say they are seeking that sense of awe. What does spirituality look like when separated from faith?

March 11, 2019

By Harry Bruinius Staff writer


In the summer of 1945, Albert Einstein typed a note to a young ensign stationed aboard a U.S. aircraft carrier out in the Pacific, responding to the passionate letter he’d received from him the month before.

A Jesuit priest had told the ensign he had convinced the famous physicist to believe in “a supreme intellect who governs the world.” The ensign was shocked, and he wrote to Einstein to offer a number of arguments against such an idea.

In his reply, a letter that is up for auction at Bonhams in New York, Einstein dismisses the tale, saying that from “the viewpoint of a Jesuit priest I am, of course, and have always been an atheist.” The “anthropomorphical concepts” in religion are “childish analogies,” he wrote.

As an artifact of America’s religious history, there is something familiar in the tone of these two atheists: the earnestness, the certainty, the near mocking tone toward “childish” religious beliefs.

But Einstein also closed his letter with a sentiment that is often overlooked in the complicated and, in fact, wildly diverse landscape of American nonbelief, including atheism and its less strident cousin, agnosticism. And many see his closing sentiment as really quite spiritual:

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“We have to admire in humility the beautiful harmony of the structure of the world – as far as we can grasp it. And that is all,” wrote the physicist who changed the course of human history.

Americans have long been uneasy with those who say they don’t believe in God. As a whole, Americans have consistently reported that they view atheists with more suspicion than any other group, whether ethnic, racial, or religious – including Muslims. Even as the country has become, overall, more tolerant and more accepting of other faith traditions, atheism has long remained the conspicuous exception.

A decade ago, the public face of atheism was dominated by a cadre of aggressive and media-savvy thinkers who were cheekily dubbed “the four horsemen” – the biologist Richard Dawkins, the philosopher Daniel Dennett, and the cultural critics Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens – who railed against the “God delusion” and ridiculed traditional faith and piety as “childish analogies.”

But as with many religious communities – or in this case, areligious communities – the voices that often dominate the digital pulses of modern media often belie the steady hum of people’s daily lives and lived beliefs, and the wide range of historic institutions and moral commitments in which American nonbelievers have been more likely to express humility, compassion, and lovingkindness.

“Those who are theists tend to conflate nontheism, atheism, humanism – they don’t see that there is a spectrum of differing perspectives,” says Anne Klaeysen, a leader in the New York Society for Ethical Culture and the humanist chaplain at New York University. “And on the other hand, we have what I call fundamentalist atheists, who look at all theists as the same.”

“I am not a big fan of the so-called new atheists,” she continues. “They lack an intellectual and a moral humility about the world and about people’s beliefs.”

Platform address on the ‘God letters’
On Sunday, the “platform address,” aka “sermon,” at the Society for Ethical Culture, a nontheistic community founded in 1876, was a meditation on another of Einstein’s “God letters,” Ms. Klaeysen says. In this letter (which Christie’s recently auctioned for $2.9 million), the physicist explains his rejection of a supernatural God, but explains how he is deeply religious.

Indeed, whether it’s the humility and awe that many feel before “the beautiful harmony” of the universe, or perhaps even the feelings of fear and trembling before its sheer cosmic vastness, many among the estimated 30 million Americans who say they don’t believe in God have been exploring what could be called nontheistic forms of spirituality.

Rather than emphasizing centuries-old objections to supernaturalism or the idea of a personal and perhaps patriarchal God, an array of American atheists, agnostics, and humanists have turned toward what they describe as a deeply felt impulse to participate in communities that mark the rhythms of life and death, and work to build moral character and a better world.

This isn’t really anything new in the American religious landscape, notes Bart Campolo, the humanist chaplain at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio and a “community builder” for self-described religious humanists.

For him, “the awe and wonder that naturally arise from contemplating the universe” is just the starting point for humanist leaders like him. Today, he and others are seeking to “encourage such contemplation and then help people practically translate those noble emotions into lovingkindness,” says Mr. Campolo, a former Evangelical pastor.

“So the question is, hey, how do we translate that, or how do we manifest that in a group when the narrative at the center of it isn’t, we should pursue lovingkindness because God commands it, or because we’ll go to heaven if we do it, but rather, we should pursue lovingkindness because it’s the most sensible way of trying to flourish as a human being.”

Like Mr. Campolo, more Americans have begun to turn away from organized religion. The millennial generation, especially, has been at the center of one of the fastest-growing religious cohorts in the nation – the so-called nones, a culturally diverse group of Americans who no longer check a specific faith tradition as part of their identities. But even those who say there is no God have begun to reject easy labels, experts say.

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“So many labels try to define people by what they are not – spiritual-but-not-religious, non-believers, atheists, even religious ‘nones’,” says Douglas Hicks, dean and professor of religion at Oxford College of Emory University in Georgia, via email. “But everyone has a worldview and it is often incredibly profound. They often have layers of moral complexity that defy labels.”

‘I don’t want to be defined by what I’m not’
This has made the job of demographers and pollsters difficult. Today, the burgeoning number of “nones” has swelled to about 25 percent of the population, Pew Research Center reports. These include the growing number of Americans who call themselves “atheists,” about 3 percent of the population, and “agnostics,” or those who believe the existence of God cannot be known, and who make up about 4 percent of the population.

Surveys that try to gauge atheistic beliefs with more indirect questions estimate that the number of people who don’t believe in a supernatural God may be as high as 26 percent of the population.

“Do I make any decisions based on the possibility that God exists? I don’t,” says Mr. Campolo. “So technically, I guess, I’m agnostic. Practically, I’m an atheist, but I would never call myself either of those things, because those words in our society at this moment connote anti-religious or connote anti-anti-Christian perspectives, and I don’t want to be defined by what I’m not.”

Instead, he prefers to call himself a “humanist.” “But not because it’s a great name, but because it was kind of undefined. And so, like when I was the humanist chaplain at USC [in Los Angeles], the ‘humanists’ ended up being people who are committed to pursuing love as a way of life and who eat dinner with Bart on Sunday nights.”

As the number of “nones” and nonbelievers grow, there are signs that some of the antipathy Americans have had toward atheists have begun to thaw, recent surveys suggest.

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Last Monday, Portland, Oregon, became the second city in the U.S. to extend civil rights protections to atheists, agnostics, and other “non-religious” people, after Madison, Wisconsin, did the same in 2015. Nearly a third of the population in Oregon describe themselves as “nones” – the largest single cohort in the state, followed by evangelical Protestants, who make up 29 percent, and Catholics, who make up 12 percent, according to Pew.

As many critics note, the “new atheism” movement is overwhelmingly white and male, and even plagued by a “brazen sexism” and vehement intolerance that makes women and others prefer to distance themselves from the term. And of course, every group has its trolls – eager to cast derision and mockery on people who believe differently than they do.

That said, “I’ve seen plenty of evidence of folks in the nontheist movement moving away from the four-horsemen ‘new atheism,’ and moving away from antagonism toward religion,” says Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association.

Many nontheists have used terms such as “religious naturalism” or “religious humanism” or “humanistic spirituality” to describe the underlying beliefs that support their ethical and moral convictions without an appeal to divine revelation or a supernatural God.

“Do I believe in a personal God? No,” says Robert Strock, a therapist and counselor who heads The Global Bridge Foundation, a humanitarian group in Santa Monica, California. “Do I feel like humanistic spirituality is including people that do? Absolutely, yes. I feel like I’d be a bigot if I didn’t.”

Not all nontheists, especially those who embrace the identity “atheist,” are comfortable with terms like “religion” or “spirituality,” however. And many see their role as combating the dangers of supernatural beliefs and sectarian ideologies that they see as a major source of human discord and violence.

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“Spirituality is a term that I’m comfortable with, but not all of my colleagues are,” says Ms. Klaeysen, who has a doctorate in pastoral counseling and congregational development.

“How I look at it is, I think of transcendence not as an out-of-body or other worldly experience, but more of, how am I making a real connection, a connection not outside myself, but kind of a ‘super connection’ if you will, whether it is with another human, or a community, or with music, art, nature – a sense that I’m fully aware of myself in nature or as part of the universe.”

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