Humanists of Greater Portland Meetup Message Board › What are Humanist books that teach a system of morals?

What are Humanist books that teach a system of morals?

Gavin
Atheistic-ExJW
Beaverton, OR
Post #: 2,170
Marsha said:

I actually came on here today to share something about the "New Covenant" - the New Testament - the "new promise" God supposedly made with his "new chosen people," the Christians (this is how I was taught to view it). 1 Peter 2:18-25 (New International Version) "Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh."

Since owning other humans is considered by most societies as a bad deed, how could God condone it? One of the worst things that you can do to another person is violate that person's bodily integrity - why didn't GOD think that was a bad deed? Thus (to me), the New Testament, as well as the Old, loses all validity as a moral guide.

Thanks for the well wishes - may you, too, enjoy life and the search for answers! Maybe we'll meet sometime at a meetup. :-)


Hi Marsha, thanks for your comments. I am glad you can relate to what I am going through. Regarding those words of yours which I quoted above and regarding other statements of yours about disturbing passages in the Bible, I agree those are indeed examples of disturbing biblical teachings. But I don't use the Bible in an uncritical fashion. I use my power of discernment (which is partially shaped by liberal modern western cultural values) to discern which statements in the Bible are morally good and which are morally bad. I recognize the Bible as consisting entirely of the thoughts of fallible humans, instead of a god or gods. As such the Bible is capable of containing both good and bad teachings. When I look for insight from the Bible, I focus on those biblical teachings/ideas which appear good, wise, and helpful to me. I see the Bible as containing some morally good and wise statements which I first learned from the Bible instead of from other sources. I evaluate each biblical teaching on its own individual merits and demerits. I think it is silly to let recognition of the bad teachings of a book cause one to ignore and reject the good teachings of that same book.

In a similar way, when I read Charles Darwin's 1859 book called "On The Origin of Species" I don't feel I must agree with everything in it, nor do I feel I must disagree with everything in it. I recognize that some of what it says is correct and that some of what it says is incorrect. I use my power of discernment when I read it. In so doing I derive much value from that very old book. From that book (and two other ones written also by Darwin, namely "The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex" and "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals"), despite it being fallible (as well as the other two) I have discovered much evidence and argumentation which strongly supports the teaching that biological evolution (including macroevolution), instead of creationism, has taken place.

Some good biblical teachings which I first learned from the Bible are the Golden Rule, the parable of the good Samaritan (which is about being a humanitarian and a good neighbor), the parable of the prodigal son (which is about forgiveness of someone who lead a debauched life but later came back to his senses), Paul's words about the value of love (in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, but as an atheist I ignore the supernatural claims of that chapter), much of what Paul said in Galatians 5: 13-23, much of what Jesus says in Matthew chapters 5 through 7 but with modifications from an atheistic perspective, the 5th through the 10th commandments of the 10 commandments (but with realizations of their limitations from a Humanistic perspective), etc. In a way what I am doing is what the Unitarian Universalist church/fellowship has done, except I explicitly believe and teach atheistic Naturalism rather than believing in a god and rather than teaching the existence of a god.

It appears that my experiences as a former Christian (both as one of Jehovah's Witnesses and later as an independent Christian) were much more positive than your experiences as a former Christian who had belonged to a hyper strict fundamentalist-conservative denomination. That probably greatly contributes to the much more positive view I have toward parts of the Bible than you do. It is also why I am working on luring liberal Christians to adopt an atheistic Humanistic version of Christianity (and I am trying to create such a so-called "Christianity" for that very purpose). It is Christian only in two senses: 1) of adopting those teachings of Christianity which are morally/ethical good and wise, but from an atheistic philosophical Naturalist Humanist point of view; 2) of adopting those Christian cultural elements (such as educational instruction in a congregational setting with emotionally stirring music and singing) which are good and harmless while also being compatible with Humanism. As part of that project of an atheistic Humanistic version of Christianity, I am writing a book which is a Humanistic derivative work of the Bible (in other words I am rewriting the Bible as a Humanist guidebook but without calling or representing that book as a Bible). See my Yahoo Group called "Educators of Naturalism" at http://groups.yahoo.c...­ for more information. Likewise for the purpose of luring liberal Christians to become atheistic Humanists I am writing an atheistic Humanistic "Christian" commentary on the Bible. It shows how Humanistic ideas can be gleaned from the Bible while also pointing out how atheistic Humanists disagree with a number of other biblical ideas.
Gavin
Atheistic-ExJW
Beaverton, OR
Post #: 2,171
Hey Marsha, and others in this forum, will you be at the Evolution, Neuroscience, Philosophy and the Meaning of life lecture this coming Tuesday (and the Dariwn's birthday party earlier)? I plan to be there.

Marsha
mwhitabel
Beaverton, OR
Post #: 10
We plan to attend Tuesday (if another event ends in time).

Gavin, my church was against women - Jehovah's Witnesses are against blood transfusions, which makes me glad they don't own hospitals (unfortunately, anti-birth control CATHOLICS own hospitals, but that's a topic for another time and place).

wink
Gavin
Atheistic-ExJW
Beaverton, OR
Post #: 2,173
Dave D. said:
Gavin, you've left out Humanism (and maybe Buddhism?) in your description of the spectrum, from morals being arbitrary or abstractly contrived (nihilism) to being absolute and unchanging (as in many traditional religions).

Hi Dave, actually I included Humanism as having arbitrary morals for I said " If nihlism is correct in either of those two claims, then that is very disturbing to me. It would also mean that the moral system of Humanisim is merely an arbitrary belief system and that would also be very disturbing to me." Regarding your comment of "You make this sound like a big problem, but the problem seems to be your unwillingness to accept the lack of absolute answers to some questions based on our current information, experience, and context." I admitted it is a big problem for me and that is because I want absolute answers in the subject of morality, though I may have to accept the lack of absolute answers on that topic and on other topics.

Dave also said:

This is why I personally think that religious forms of Humanism will be doomed to fail. Teaching answers (based on our current understanding) instead of teaching methods or questions, or abstracting the process into just rituals and holidays, cannot keep pace with changing knowledge and circumstances, and offers too great a chance for "message drift".

I am not trying to create a religious form or Humanism, but rather a quasi-religious form, but anyway, the first Humanism Manifesto defined Humanism as a religion (though one entirely lacking belief in the supernatural). Also, what I have in mind does NOT involve teaching answers (based on our current understanding) instead of teaching methods or questions, but rather in addition to teaching methods of questions. That is because the answers provided are only to serve as a general guide and the guide will explicitly state that its answers are not permanent (to make them permanent would be out of harmony with Humanism) but are subject to change. Elsewhere on the internet I have mentioned that what I have in mind also involves teaching people critical thinking, scientific method, and science. Also what I have in mind does NOT involve "abstracting the process into just rituals and holidays". I don't don't even have rituals and holidays in mind, other than perhaps a ceremony for officially joining a congregation and other than singing in the congregations (also the congregations are free to to have ceremonies for weddings, funerals, and the like). However if various congregations want to include rituals and holidays in their congregations (such as like what congregations of Secular Humanistic Judaism do) that is fine.
Dave D.
dcdinucci
Portland, OR
Post #: 74
Dave D. said:
Gavin, you've left out Humanism (and maybe Buddhism?) in your description of the spectrum, from morals being arbitrary or abstractly contrived (nihilism) to being absolute and unchanging (as in many traditional religions).

Hi Dave, actually I included Humanism as having arbitrary morals for I said " If nihlism is correct in either of those two claims, then that is very disturbing to me. It would also mean that the moral system of Humanisim is merely an arbitrary belief system and that would also be very disturbing to me." Regarding your comment of "You make this sound like a big problem, but the problem seems to be your unwillingness to accept the lack of absolute answers to some questions based on our current information, experience, and context." I admitted it is a big problem for me and that is because I want absolute answers in the subject of morality, though I may have to accept the lack of absolute answers on that topic and on other topics.

Gavin,

You and I apparently have different definitions of the word "arbitrary". My dictionary defines it as "adj. 1. Based on random choice or personal whim rather than any reason or system. 2. Unrestrained and autocratic in the use of authority". These in no way describe Humanism's approach to moral questions (and the second might even better describe some religious approaches). You instead seem to be using the word "arbitrary" to mean anything that is not absolute and unchanging, or perhaps anything which humans have power over defining, using any "reason or system" at all. Or maybe you can clarify what your definition is, that you believe Humanism fits within it.

Thanks for clarifying your quasi-religious form. I actually wasn't even thinking of your proposal when I mentioned my objections to religious forms of Humanism, but it does seem to apply. It is indeed true that the first Humanist Manifesto defined Humanism as a religion, but the following ones have (in my mind) been wise to correct that.

Thanks,
-Dave
Gavin
Atheistic-ExJW
Beaverton, OR
Post #: 2,174
Dave D. said:

Thanks for clarifying your quasi-religious form. I actually wasn't even thinking of your proposal when I mentioned my objections to religious forms of Humanism, but it does seem to apply.

Which religious forms of Humanism did you have in mind? I am not aware of more than a few currently existing.
Gavin
Atheistic-ExJW
Beaverton, OR
Post #: 2,175
Marsha said:

I actually came on here today to share something about the "New Covenant" - the New Testament - the "new promise" God supposedly made with his "new chosen people," the Christians (this is how I was taught to view it). 1 Peter 2:18-25 (New International Version) "Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh."

Since owning other humans is considered by most societies as a bad deed, how could God condone it? One of the worst things that you can do to another person is violate that person's bodily integrity - why didn't GOD think that was a bad deed? Thus (to me), the New Testament, as well as the Old, loses all validity as a moral guide.

Thanks for the well wishes - may you, too, enjoy life and the search for answers! Maybe we'll meet sometime at a meetup. :-)


Gavin said in reply:

Hi Marsha, thanks for your comments. I am glad you can relate to what I am going through. Regarding those words of yours which I quoted above and regarding other statements of yours about disturbing passages in the Bible, I agree those are indeed examples of disturbing biblical teachings. But I don't use the Bible in an uncritical fashion. I use my power of discernment (which is partially shaped by liberal modern western cultural values) to discern which statements in the Bible are morally good and which are morally bad. I recognize the Bible as consisting entirely of the thoughts of fallible humans, instead of a god or gods. As such the Bible is capable of containing both good and bad teachings. When I look for insight from the Bible, I focus on those biblical teachings/ideas which appear good, wise, and helpful to me. I see the Bible as containing some morally good and wise statements which I first learned from the Bible instead of from other sources. I evaluate each biblical teaching on its own individual merits and demerits. I think it is silly to let recognition of the bad teachings of a book cause one to ignore and reject the good teachings of that same book.

In a similar way, when I read Charles Darwin's 1859 book called "On The Origin of Species" I don't feel I must agree with everything in it, nor do I feel I must disagree with everything in it. I recognize that some of what it says is correct and that some of what it says is incorrect. I use my power of discernment when I read it. In so doing I derive much value from that very old book. From that book (and two other ones written also by Darwin, namely "The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex" and "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals"), despite it being fallible (as well as the other two) I have discovered much evidence and argumentation which strongly supports the teaching that biological evolution (including macroevolution), instead of creationism, has taken place.

Some good biblical teachings which I first learned from the Bible are the Golden Rule, the parable of the good Samaritan (which is about being a humanitarian and a good neighbor), the parable of the prodigal son (which is about forgiveness of someone who lead a debauched life but later came back to his senses), Paul's words about the value of love (in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, but as an atheist I ignore the supernatural claims of that chapter), much of what Paul said in Galatians 5: 13-23, much of what Jesus says in Matthew chapters 5 through 7 but with modifications from an atheistic perspective, the 5th through the 10th commandments of the 10 commandments (but with realizations of their limitations from a Humanistic perspective), etc. In a way what I am doing is what the Unitarian Universalist church/fellowship has done, except I explicitly believe and teach atheistic Naturalism rather than believing in a god and rather than teaching the existence of a god.

It appears that my experiences as a former Christian (both as one of Jehovah's Witnesses and later as an independent Christian) were much more positive than your experiences as a former Christian who had belonged to a hyper strict fundamentalist-conservative denomination. That probably greatly contributes to the much more positive view I have toward parts of the Bible than you do. It is also why I am working on luring liberal Christians to adopt an atheistic Humanistic version of Christianity (and I am trying to create such a so-called "Christianity" for that very purpose). It is Christian only in two senses: 1) of adopting those teachings of Christianity which are morally/ethical good and wise, but from an atheistic philosophical Naturalist Humanist point of view; 2) of adopting those Christian cultural elements (such as educational instruction in a congregational setting with emotionally stirring music and singing) which are good and harmless while also being compatible with Humanism. As part of that project of an atheistic Humanistic version of Christianity, I am writing a book which is a Humanistic derivative work of the Bible (in other words I am rewriting the Bible as a Humanist guidebook but without calling or representing that book as a Bible). See my Yahoo Group called "Educators of Naturalism" at http://groups.yahoo.c...­ for more information. Likewise for the purpose of luring liberal Christians to become atheistic Humanists I am writing an atheistic Humanistic "Christian" commentary on the Bible. It shows how Humanistic ideas can be gleaned from the Bible while also pointing out how atheistic Humanists disagree with a number of other biblical ideas.

Here is an article called "Christian without belief in God? No problem". The article mentions people who "... share a very modern trend in religion: they are Christians who don't believe in God." The article speaks of "... going back to basics and acknowledging that every idea of God is a human creation - and human creativity lives on. In the modern world it is therefore open to us to reconceive God as a powerful symbol - indeed the most powerful symbol we are capable of - in a way that reflects not only core elements of every major religion, but also a secular understanding of the world."
Gavin
Atheistic-ExJW
Beaverton, OR
Post #: 2,176
Dave D. said:

Thanks for clarifying your quasi-religious form. I actually wasn't even thinking of your proposal when I mentioned my objections to religious forms of Humanism, but it does seem to apply.

Which religious forms of Humanism did you have in mind? I am not aware of more than a few currently existing.

The email newsletter I recently received from the American Humanist Association has a link to an article about Humanistic Mormonism (something that I did know existed until I read the article). The article is here. The person interviewed in the article mentions Unitarian Universalism, Society for Humanistic Judaism, and Ethical Culture as as other forms of religious humanism. In part the person interviewed in the article also says "The Society for Humanistic Mormonism is particularly pleased that the American Humanist Association has come out with a new book, A Jefferson Bible for the Twenty-First Century, in which it includes the good and the bad bits of all the major religions from their scriptures, including for the very first time The Book of Mormon. Really, Humanistic Mormonism is all about taking a knife to the bad parts of Mormonism, like Thomas Jefferson did with the Bible and retaining the good bits. As Mormon rationalists and Mormon humanists, we are very much behind this project and will continue it in the Society."

The article says that the roots of Humanistic Mormonism go back to the year 2010.
Gavin
Atheistic-ExJW
Beaverton, OR
Post #: 2,177
Dave D. said:

Thanks for clarifying your quasi-religious form. I actually wasn't even thinking of your proposal when I mentioned my objections to religious forms of Humanism, but it does seem to apply.

Which religious forms of Humanism did you have in mind? I am not aware of more than a few currently existing.

The email newsletter I recently received from the American Humanist Association has a link to an article about Humanistic Mormonism (something that I did know existed until I read the article). The article is here. The person interviewed in the article mentions Unitarian Universalism, Society for Humanistic Judaism, and Ethical Culture as as other forms of religious humanism. In part the person interviewed in the article also says "The Society for Humanistic Mormonism is particularly pleased that the American Humanist Association has come out with a new book, A Jefferson Bible for the Twenty-First Century, in which it includes the good and the bad bits of all the major religions from their scriptures, including for the very first time The Book of Mormon. Really, Humanistic Mormonism is all about taking a knife to the bad parts of Mormonism, like Thomas Jefferson did with the Bible and retaining the good bits. As Mormon rationalists and Mormon humanists, we are very much behind this project and will continue it in the Society."

The article says that the roots of Humanistic Mormonism go back to the year 2010.

It looks like they made their humanistic version of Mormonism by closely patterning it the way Jews made a humanistic version of Judaism. At this web page notice how closely they follow the wording of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, but using the word "Mormon" instead of "Judaism".
Gavin
Atheistic-ExJW
Beaverton, OR
Post #: 2,178
Dave­ D. said:

Thanks for clarifying your quasi-religious form. I actually wasn't even thinking of your proposal when I mentioned my objections to religious forms of Humanism, but it does seem to apply.

Which religious forms of Humanism did you have in mind? I am not aware of more than a few currently existing.

The email newsletter I recently received from the American Humanist Association has a link to an article about Humanistic Mormonism (something that I did know existed until I read the article). The article is here. The person interviewed in the article mentions Unitarian Universalism, Society for Humanistic Judaism, and Ethical Culture as as other forms of religious humanism. In part the person interviewed in the article also says "The Society for Humanistic Mormonism is particularly pleased that the American Humanist Association has come out with a new book, A Jefferson Bible for the Twenty-First Century, in which it includes the good and the bad bits of all the major religions from their scriptures, including for the very first time The Book of Mormon. Really, Humanistic Mormonism is all about taking a knife to the bad parts of Mormonism, like Thomas Jefferson did with the Bible and retaining the good bits. As Mormon rationalists and Mormon humanists, we are very much behind this project and will continue it in the Society."

The article says that the roots of Humanistic Mormonism go back to the year 2010.

It looks like they made their humanistic version of Mormonism by closely patterning it the way Jews made a humanistic version of Judaism. At this web page notice how closely they follow the wording of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, but using the word "Mormon" instead of "Judaism".

Here is the link for part 2 of the AHA article about Humanistic Mormonism. That part describes in what way they are Mormon despite being Humanists.
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