Florida Atheists, Critical Thinkers & Skeptics. Message Board › Can we clearly associate Humanism philosophy with Atheism?

Can we clearly associate Humanism philosophy with Atheism?

A former member
Post #: 18
To Vince,
i agree, the word "agnostic" has various meanings,
and IS a generally misundertood word.

but, your claim "all" people---when pressed----would admit it has not been proven----is false. Most every theist i know
claims they "know" there is a god---without a shred of doubt, it is "known" a "fact" to a theist (as well as to some atheists, too, in reverse direction though)

and most every theist or deist that i know, claims the existence of gods has been "proven". (their idea of what constitutes "proof" varies from what most atheists will agree to, though..)

HERE is Dawkins quiz that i referred to earlier:
A former member
Post #: 19
I am an atheist, but I reject the often haughty tone of too many atheists towards religion and our religion-soaked history. Religion is the sea in which our race swam for 99% of its existence.

Many are still floundering in it, and some of those 'theists' are better people than me in almost every way.

Religion's exesses and flaws are all too often ours, but its glories and poetry constitute many of our greatest moments as a species.

I also think that we need to be careful with statements like "Almost by definition an atheist will be a humanist", because history tells us that Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Mussolini, and Stalin all rejected religious training to become atheists. Oh Yes they Did. Many of the best people who ever lived shook off religion and became rationalists...but alas a few of the worst did as well. That suggests that our atheism is a good jumping off place as far as crafing superior ideas and institutions for our children...rather than a destination.


To Cookie,
With all due respect,
i do disagree with several of your remarks.

I might be one of those atheists you might accuse of having "haughty" attitude, as i do feel free to criticize and question the role of religion in our socieities, as well as in individuals. I strongly feel that religion is one of THE most harmful of all forces on earth. I truly do. I am polite, always, i never ever attack an individual, only their idea. "Hate the belief, love the believer" is my motto.tongue
I never go ad hominem, never, so i am not sure i'd qualify or not, to fit under your remark about "too many" haughty atheists.
I am definitely anti-theology, and have no qualms whatsoever owning that.smile I do not equate that to "haughtiness" though, nope.
but, maybe you might. (?)

I am all "for" rational thinking, and do not feel religion is even slightly rational, not even slightly. at all.
It is a most harmful, dangerous corruption of using critical thinking skills, religion is divisive, elitist, bloody force of illogical thoughts.

I say, our darkest moments ever, ever ever,
have been due to religion.
NOt our brightest, not at all, i strongly disagree. I could crash this website listing bazillions of dark and horrific, appalling moments of our history, all borne from religion. It's hard to find any war, that did not have religion at it's base.

This is not to say a theist can not be a kind person, or be very lovable.
I was raised by 2 most lovely theists, and have a family tree full of wonderful theists,love struck and have loved many a theist. Whether or not an individual theist is a nice person or not,
or "better than you" in any way,
bears no relation to the fact that religion is an oppressive, horrible danger to logical thinking, imo.

that is all entirely anecdotal.

Our species has roamed the earth in our PRESENT form, for over 200,000 years,
and organized theologies are fairly recent invention, so far as we know. If our time on earth was a 24 hour day, religion has probably only been involved in our culture for about a minute.
and correlation ("religion was present on earth, when various advances in society were made") does not equate to causation. But, this is open to debate, as, many of our archaeological finds have unclear meanings or significance, and might represent gods.

much of our earliest attempts to advance scientifically
were much oppressed by religion. LONG LIST of horrible moves done to our species in names of gods.

I do agree, that we can not assume all atheists are humanists, or vice versa. I so agree.

Hitler was a devout Catholic, for his entire life, clear up to the last days of his life. His religious fervor is well documented.

The others did not perform crimes in the name of atheism, but, in the name of greed, fascism, or the urge for power.

read more here:
^there are wonderfully written articles in that old "but, but, pol pot was an atheist, so atheism is BAD" stuff, i just grabbed first one i saw, if asked, i can track down some of the better ones.

I can also list bazillions of horrible religious leaders------------no doubt, i could list 1000s and 1000s of horrible religious people.
and tons of awesome and amazing atheists.
Most of scientists are atheists. We are vastly over-represented among scientists. I do feel science is one of the most wonderful (usually) things our species has come up with. FAR better than ANYTHING religion has ever done.

Whichever group has contributed more to society (difficult to measure, since "out" atheists were usually burned alive in town square) does not contribute to the
of choosing NOT to participate in evidence-free, religious delusions, imo.

I do feel atheism is simply a word that means "i do not think there are gods."
it IS a destination.
That is as far as we can take that line of thought,
as gods can not be proven or disproven. (or, at least, not yet).

I do feel SKEPTICISM is great further destination beyond atheism. Not all atheists are actual skeptics. I've met atheists who follow astrology, or 'new age' crystals, other forms of 'woo', etc.
Or humanism, is great next step, too.

A former member
Post #: 20
Religion is an often tragic---but occasionally magic---mirror of the human experience.

The Old Testament God is so cruel because we were cruel back then. Confcuious and Buddha are so cool because in the Axial age many of us tried to grow up.

Our wonderful English language, which we use to mock God effectively :) would simply not exist without the Bible, which conditions Chaucer and through the King James version, gives the immortal Shakespeare his toolbox.

Our ways of arguing and doing science, which are Greek, were transmitted to the West through Christianity. Plato is an intellectual godfather of Christianity, and his ideas about the afterlife, ethics, and lotsa other topics which we think of as Christian are cribbed from him.

As one critic wrote, "...attacking Plato while affirming Christianity is the intellectual equivalent of operating on conjoined twins"

So, while I utterly reject magic, virgin births, and ressurection from the dead (unless they are repeatable in controlled lab experiments, of course)

At the risk of seeming unfriendly (for real, i am SUPER friendly in real life,smile and much more likely to disagree online, vs. face2face, ha ha)
i disagree with a few of your remarks.

I am not entirely sure our species is less cruel today, than a few 1000 years ago.
I do think, the more we move AWAY from theocracies--- (using religious law as civil law),---- the less cruelty is tolerated by our civil laws, though.
I do think, in most nations that do NOT use religious law as their civil law,--- our ability to enforce civil law in less horrific ways, has improved.

And cruelty is SO NOT limited to the OT, is plenty of it in the NT,shock too. The very basis of almost all religions is fear and cruelty ("Love Me or Burn")

I suggest the differences between most religions and buddism and Confucius, is,
neither of the last two, involve gods. One can follow Confucius, or Buddha, and be 100% atheist. Many scholars feel those two are not "religions" (since zero deities are involved)
and instead, are philosophies.

gods are almost INVARIABLY associated with atrocities and illogical "thinking" and cruelty---done IN the name of the gods.

I disagree that the mysticism of PLato, was the father of xtianity,
it'd be hard to say,
as xtianity had SO MANY MANY jesus-look-alikes (or rather, "act alikes") who preceded Jesus....like Mithra, Osiris, Dionysus, Attis, Adonis, Tammuz,etc, long long list of gods who all died and rose from dead, (it was expected back then, any god who did NOT rise from dead, usually on 3rd day, was not seen as 'real' god)

another long list of gods who were born of deity-fathers to human virgins,(most of which, were all named mary, oddly enough)

another long list of gods who did miracles,

another long list of gods born on the winter solstice (almost all gods are born on Dec 25th, which WAS the date of the winter solstice in the pre-gregorian calendar)

and most of these deities promised an afterlife, too,
if you want to feel jesus was somehow modelled upon Plato's mysticism, that is your right to think so. And it may have played some role.

I disagree the religion fostered science, when, in fact, with a few exceptions,
the reverse is true. Many a scientist has been burned at the stake, or imprisoned, for "heresy".

I also disagree with your assertion we would not have the spread of science without the bible. Correlation (" a society had xtianity, and some scientific discoveries were made.") does not equate to causation. Again,
the xtians often burned scientists alive at the stake, or imprisoned them.

Still, i love that you are thinking for your own self!! I love that you are willing to state your views, and to share them, and that you have thirsty mind full of curiosity. It is most obvious that you have thought a lot about this. I like that about you!! I hope my having a different point of view,
is, in no way at all, offensive to you.

I am all "for" polite and rational discussions!!
A former member
Post #: 66
Interesting thread, Jean Marie! I believe that this sort of discussion, if done with respect for the other party, can result in trremendous growth for both parties. It involves the questioning of fundamental principles.

You have raised a good number of points, let me try to address a few, almost at random.

Our species has roamed the earth in our PRESENT form, for over 200,000 years,
and organized theologies are fairly recent invention, so far as we know.

I am pretty sure that 'religion', as in a belief in an afterlife, is one of the defining charcteristics of humanity for most of its existence. To quote the always reliable Wikipedia :)

"Religious behaviour is thought to have emerged by the Upper Paleolithic, before 30,000 years ago at the latest,[1] but behavioral patterns such as burial rites that one might characterize as religious - or as ancestral to religious behaviour - reach back into the Middle Paleolithic, as early as 300,000 years ago, coinciding with the first appearance of Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens"

I read/skimmed a few books about (so-called) primitive man to prepare for a discussion of Early Civ in another group, and the consensus seemed to be that profound collective religious belief was a hallmark of early man, and such beliefs were probably critical to our knotting together into larger and larger groups, and hence civilizations. A really fine book by an (atheist) psychologist is "The Corruption of Reality" by John Schumaker.

I find his theorizing about the role that religion played in the origins of the human mind fascinating.
A former member
Post #: 67
Now, the issue of Hitler. I am a WW2 buff, and let me tell you, there is no question that Hitler, like Napoleon, was an atheist. Both were canny atheists, whom realized the power of the church to compel conformity (or be an implacable enemy), and whom sought/achieved concordats which saved them much trouble,

but again, quoting the omnisicent Wikipedia (which is relying on scholar Alan Bullock...)

"The adult Adolf Hitler was a rationalist and a materialist, who saw Christianity as a religion fit for slaves, and a rebellion against the natural law of selection and survival of the fittest.[1] "

Historian Robert S. Wistrich Hitler concludes that while Adolf "thought that Christianity was finished, he did not want any direct confrontation for strategic reasons"

I will note that Hitler's marriage to Eva Braun was (in)famously a civil ceremony without any seeking of divine sanction. That is something not many Catholics about to leave the world would contemplate.

Hitler, Mao, Napoleon, Mussolini, Pol Pot...all embraced at one point atheist materialist perspectives. Just denying the belief of a Creator does not make one a good person, in fact atheists should tread carefully lest after the restrictions which custom and tradition build up over milennia are jettisoned, the void looms :)

A former member
Post #: 68
Now, on to science. While Greece probably invented science (or, as some scholars posit, borrowed from lost Egyptian sources), most scholars flatly state that science became a self-sustaining enterprise in the Christian West. Christianity at its core borrows heavily from Greek ideas of the cosmos as friendly and comprehensible (fused uneasily with Hebraic notions that it ain't). But this unwieldy mishmash of ideas, Christianity, seems to have provided a cultural matrix which, unlike Buddhism or Hindiusm, encourgaed an attitude of observation, experimentation, and domination of the natural world.
My statement is qualified, though. I suggest that some aspects of Christian theology were promoted the growth of early science. I would also add that capitalism is a profoundly Christian movement for much of its historical development, as can be seen in Weber's theorizing or by examining the life of a man like John Rockefeller.

Now, many Christian authorities were profoundly anti-thought and anti-progress. At many points in the sordid history of our culture intellectuals were persecuted and even executed. I know about the Inquisition and about poor Giordano Bruno (more of a mystic than a scientist, but still very sad). However, any honest history of science must conclude that the Christian nations and individuals from Christian contexts (whether or not they rejected the ideology) were responsible for much of its growth.

Nothing in this world is simple or pure!
A former member
Post #: 69
I am a HUGE fan of Greek thinkers, but their method was (understandably) based on speculation rather than experimentation. Some of their guesswork was brilliant, but the result was very poor science. Even Aristotle, perhaps the single greatest intellect ever, handicapped the West with incorrect scientific ideas.

I know that their were brilliant Muslim scholars and lots of inventions in certain caliphates. But overall, the brilliance did not lead to a steady stream of progress as it did over here.

Also...the rise of modern science basically began in the seventeenth century (ask Swami!!!) which is when Christian belief in Europe was at its zenith. Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo toiled in a firmly Christian worldview, with Christian educations. Heck, Copernicus was a church Canon!

Atheists must be fair, and give organized religion the credit which it is due.
Truth is truth, and ideology is ideology. Virtually everything most Churchmen say about the cosmos is false, but virtually all of the people who corrected that picture were at one point Christians.
A former member
Post #: 70
Rereading the thread, it dawns on me that u may be thinking that I was calling you "haughty" and engaging in ad hominem. I was not. Clearly you rock. I was just thinking of a few of the "dicks" whom you referenced earlier.
A former member
Post #: 71
Jean, the very language which we use to disagree is the legacy of Chaucer Shakespeare and the King James Bible. Our desire to conquer each other through the unforced force of logic is Greek...transferred from Socrates /Plato through Christian Theology to us. I am an atheist rationalist materialist but history is clear that Western Civ with its many flaws was unique in good ways as well as bad. Religion plays a key role in most imporant law codes historically from Hammurabi to Moses. These codes are often cruel but often represent progress in regulating anarchic behaviors...or at least providing a framework which can be improved upon. It is tempting to throw out yhe baby with the bathwater...but religion esp. Christianity is too central to what we currently are to do so. Finally...u mentioned mythic patterns of gods resembling Christ. That line of thinking has actually fallen out of favor among most scholars...but just for grins have u noticed any parallels between Jesus and Socrates?
A former member
Post #: 72
Followers of John Calvin emphasized the values of self transformation through discipline and hard work. This "Gospel of Success" weird az it can be is crigical to understanding Americas development. Also...the role of women in the world was elevated by Chfistian nations. Slowly and incompletely but today parts of the West are the best place for women all in all in world history. Compare to Buddhist nations et .
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