Why I Am Not A Humanist
The talk at Skeptics in the Pub last night was Objections to Humanism. Here are some of mine:
Andrew Copson of the BHA spoke at length about evolution, science, morality without religion and the value of optimism. While there was nothing much to disagree with, nor was there anything specific or unique to humanism. I asked in the Q&A what is added by claiming as humanist the acceptance of evolution, the value of scientific enquiry and so on. The reply (eventually) was that 'It's just a word thing' and that humanism is a useful label. But labels are useful only if they make it clear what something is.
There are plenty of people who accept evolution and subscribe to a non-religious moral code but who do not call themselves humanist. It is however a useful bit of soft soap if you're a politician who can't bring themselves to admit publicly that you're an atheist.
To identify as humanist is to identify as either atheist or agnostic along with some or all of a rather vague set of ethical and pro-science statements. But for me, it's such an inchoate, nebulous concept that I can't engage with it at all.
This is a blogpost based in the UK made by an atheist and skeptic. From waht I understand, Andrew Copson, the head of the British Humanist Association, held a talk about humanism at a Skeptics in the Pub in the UK (which he seems to do from time to time). The author then criticizes humanism based on how Copson presented it.
Do you think it made a good case against humanism, or not?
"But for me, it's such an inchoate, nebulous concept that I can't engage with it at all."
Yeah, I pretty much agree with that, it sums up pretty well why I don't bother with self-labeling as a humanist.
The rest of the critique was pretty unmoving. I mean, it's a social movement label, not an academic classification. I don't see why the onus should really be their's to carve out a unique space to justify their position, or to clearly articulate the boundaries they have with neighboring ideological communities.
Let that stuff sort itself out.
Of course critiques like his is part of that process, so it's not like I think he's out of bounds for making that critique either.
I dunno.. if your ideas roughly align with people who call themselves humanist, and that's who you want to roll with; then presto! You're a humanist.
It's not like you're sworn to uphold a doctrine; you can contribute to and help define the values of the movement as you will-- or at least that's how it should be, which is why I tend to be quite wary of credos and manifestos.
(4 edits in, I'm moderately confident I've stamped out all the stupid grammatical errors)