Author Topic: What are the values of secular humanism?  (Read 299 times)

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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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What are the values of secular humanism?
« on: April 20, 2017, 01:27:18 PM »
Canadian skeptic Daniel Loxton has on occasion written about the strong sense of connection he feels to secular humanism:

Quote from: Daniel Loxton
I identify as a secular humanist in my private life. When people ask me what I personally believe, what my values are, or even what my “religion” might be, “secular humanist” is the answer I give them—humanist, rather than “atheist” or “skeptic.”

http://www.skepticblog.org/2013/12/03/loxton-speech-at-cfi-summit-2013/

Quote from: Daniel Loxton
I work in skepticism and identify with humanism, but I merely am an atheist whether I like it or not.

http://www.skepticblog.org/2013/04/09/try-not-to-lump-us-atheists-in-with-the-skeptics/

Quote from: Daniel Loxton
I identify strongly as a secular humanist and with the values of secular humanism. I always feel among my own when I spend time with other humanists.

http://www.skepticblog.org/2013/04/09/try-not-to-lump-us-atheists-in-with-the-skeptics/#comment-84278

So I'm kinda curious, what exactly are the values of secular humanism? And what would make someone feel so strongly about them?

Perhaps it's my personal experience, but I find it rare to encounter people who strongly identify with secular humanism, even if very few (self-identified skeptics or atheists) will reject that label. I know of people (both that I personally know and don't personally know) who identify strongly as skeptics, and of course I know of people (but don't know personally any) who strongly identify as atheists, or for whom atheism is a major part of their lives.
"Large skepticism leads to large understanding. Small skepticism leads to small understanding. No skepticism leads to no understanding." - Xi Zhi

Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: What are the values of secular humanism?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2017, 01:39:09 PM »
I know quite a few secular humanists from my work with an anti-poverty NGO. Most of my acquaintances are former committed Christians who can no longer stomach the doctrine and rigid moralism, but still embrace the "social gospel" elements and conviction that all humans are "of worth."

Most even show up in church anywhere from occasionally to often, but  when pressed will admit their doubts.

Working with these orgs is like any other skill you learn. You learn to distinguish the good work from the bad, and try to do more of the former.
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Offline Nosmas

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Re: What are the values of secular humanism?
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2017, 05:20:56 PM »
I've always thought it strange to package it as secular humanism. It just seems like two different things. Atheism covers the secular portion and Humanism is basically "be a good person", a worthy thing on it's own. I always just had the feeling that calling it secular humanism would keep religious people away when if the goal is to get people together who are pro being good then the religion thing shouldn't matter except for when it gets in the way. I'm not really actively involved in any of those groups though so maybe I'm entirely wrong.
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Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: What are the values of secular humanism?
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2017, 07:32:15 PM »
I've always thought it strange to package it as secular humanism. It just seems like two different things. Atheism covers the secular portion and Humanism is basically "be a good person", a worthy thing on it's own. I always just had the feeling that calling it secular humanism would keep religious people away when if the goal is to get people together who are pro being good then the religion thing shouldn't matter except for when it gets in the way. I'm not really actively involved in any of those groups though so maybe I'm entirely wrong.
The differences between secular and religious humanism are mostly in language, and in my experience they get along pretty well.  The latter are more like to use "God language," but so did Albert Einstein with some frequency.

Einstein, in an interview, said he was referring to "Spinoza's God," which is pretty indistinguishable from a scientific worldview, but it is likely this language helped to get him heard in a broader number of audiences, and most religious people listening likely never got the nuance.

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Online Desert Fox

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Department of Defense recognizes Humanism
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2017, 02:47:41 PM »
This is pretty interesting

http://religionnews.com/2017/04/21/defense-department-expands-its-list-of-recognized-religions/

The Department of Defense announced a near doubling of its list of recognized religions. It will now formally recognize humanism and other minority faiths among members of the armed forces.

The move, which came at the end of March but was made public this week, means servicemen and women who are adherents of small faith groups are now guaranteed the same rights, privileges and protections granted to their peers who are members of larger faith groups.

The move was lauded by humanist organizations, which have been pushing for full recognition, including their own chaplains, for 10 years.

“Beyond Humanism, the new listing is a win for diversity in general,” Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, said in an announcement. “There have been prior declarations that the government or the military has recognized Humanism in one way or another. But this is different.

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Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: What are the values of secular humanism?
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2017, 03:13:31 PM »
This gets a little difficult, in that it seems to define "humanism" as a religion. But I see this is as more the peculiarities of the English language. In this case, there are certain privileges given to groupings of service members, such as making available personal counselors (in their language "chaplains") and allowing group gatherings, which it calls "religion," primarily because it hasn't thought of another, better word. So while secular humanism is not, per se, a "religion," I would say that it falls well into the practical intent.

Military chaplains are trained to offer certain services across different, often incompatible, religions, so already you have a stretching of the word. They are also trained to re-frame varying theologies into the language of other denominations or religions when talking to soldiers of different faiths. Some are better at this than others. I read recently that some Fundamentalist chaplains balk at taking this kid of training. Presbyterians, on the other hand, usually have no issue here.

As noted earlier, unless I misunderstand Spinoza, he would say that "Science says" and "God says" are basically just two variants of the same statement, which is why Einstein was comfortable talking about relativity and God in the same breath. Einstein was defining the basic laws of "God" as accurately as possible. A Fundamentalist would not be happy with that, but Einstein seemed fine with it.
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Re: What are the values of secular humanism?
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2017, 03:17:36 PM »
The actual memo uses the term "faith and belief systems" which Humanism definitely counts as a belief systems.
It is just treated in a similar manner to religion.
"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
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Offline Mr. Beagle

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Re: What are the values of secular humanism?
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2017, 03:25:03 PM »
The actual memo uses the term "faith and belief systems" which Humanism definitely counts as a belief systems.
It is just treated in a similar manner to religion.

That works for me. There is an analogy here, I think, to the marriage issue. This is often codified as a "religion" issue, but only because our culture bubble sees it through that language. At its root, marriage law is an issue of the property and personal rights of cohabiting individuals. Legal issues arise in cohabitation regardless of the culture or religion.

Likewise the cultural associations and rituals of soldiers. These exist regardless of culture or religion, but Americans tend to see this only through their own sectarian Christian bubble. Kids grow up in Utah thinking the whole world is Mormon. Alabama kids think the whole world is Baptist/Pentecostal.
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Re: What are the values of secular humanism?
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2017, 04:01:44 PM »
Sad thing is that on another forum, I got this:
Quote
I'm sorry, but WTF is a Humanist Chaplain going to do? Console a dying soldier that oblivion awaits them?

I did have a response though
Quote
https://www.premierchristianradio.com/News/UK/Atheist-hospital-chaplain-defends-her-role
Quote
"I'm there to witness their pain. I'm there to discuss their thoughts without any agenda of my own, and simply being there for somebody, giving them your undivided attention, is something we rarely experience in life.

"At a very important time when you're potentially facing your imminent death, feeling really seen and met by another person is very important and very comforting."

Maybe talk about your life, where you did what you wanted and where you failed. Maybe just hold your hand. Maybe Carl Sagan's stardust quote, etc.


"Give me the storm and tempest of thought and action, rather than the dead calm of ignorance and faith. Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge."
— Robert G. Ingersoll