Secular Humanists of Everett Message Board › Humanists of Marysville and Everett Discussion Forum › 2013-12-04 Secular Humanists Goals and Agenda
Granite Falls, WA
I received an email earlier today from Steven and asked to re-post his questions on this board.
As far as I know the group has neither discussed nor voted on the questions below: (I'm concerned about this as many Western Washington and Western Oregon Unitarian-Universalist churches and fellowships of the 1960s held similar principles to ours. However, those churches have degenerated into woo-woo fan clubs – pet blessing, cow whispers, etc.)
Some of the following might be placed on a meeting agenda.
Shall the group plan on becoming a church? Presumably we don't normally think of ourselves this way. We should probably study the church's role as a societal institution before deciding this.
Do we agree on some set of church-like foundations and values? Consider a god as some philosophers have defined the word:
First cause, prime mover, cause of all causes or context of all causes.
Higher or highest energy (or power).
Deistic in that such a god might have no thoughts, no agenda for living things, almost nothing we would recognize as parallel to human functioning.
Those definitions fit the big bang, whatever caused it or perhaps other things most members would accept as existing. But worship and expectations that prayer can change our circumstances have no point within this philosophy. Instead of praying, we fix problems ourselves.
Do we want to understand and teach our children the role of churches in society?
Do we want to understand and teach our children the role of ethics and morals in society?
Do we want to (loosely) endorse a set of books or other media describing humanity's place in space? In time? In relation to the other life we know of?
Do we want periodic singing and “sermon” meetings.
Do we want fellowship dinners?
For children and teens to meet like-minded friends.
Will we select appropriate holidays and create suggestions for celebrating them?
Provide regular children's education?
End church thing. Whew!
Shall we conduct meetings by Roberts Rules of Order by consensus building or by some other system? (If RRO, I endorse Robert's recent posting to the Secular Humanists of Everett MeetUp site.)
Short guide to Consensus
Do we attempt to build our viewpoints on an agreed foundation such as observation (including outside competent observers') and reason?
May members form special interest groups within the organization?
(If a conspiracy-theory sig, it would be most compatible with Secular Humanism if it adopted the recent Scientific American and general Skeptical Inquirer magazines' foundation information on conspiracy theories.)
Insights into the Personalities of Conspiracy Theorists
Shall the group host public presentations on various topics? Topics might include:
Invasive Species' Impact on Biodiversity?
Pilchuck Audubon Society
The Clergy Project: Ministers turned non-believers?
The Clergy Project
The Church's role as an Institution in Society? (We should try to understand why secular groups have faded away. Do people wish for some church function a secular group could provide? This should not start with our own opinion and ego contest, but with carefully collected information from the social sciences.)
Social or cultural anthropologist
The Sociological Approach to Religion
Introduction to Sociology/Religion
Ethic's and Moral's Roles in Society? (Same comments as Church' role.)
Interplay of cultural and social institutions (church, government, family, schools, etc.)
Shall the group host book discussions?
The Church as a Social Institution:The Church as a Social Institution: The Sociology of American Religion
Book Politics, Labor and Equality in the workplace: Democracy at Work-The Cure for Capitalism?
Shubin, Neil, Your Inner Fish,
After presenting the search for the Tiktaalik fossil, elucidates humans' anatomical relationship to other vertebrates.
Dawkins Richard, The Ancestor's Tale – A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, Mainer, Boston, 2004.
Ancestor's Tale traces our genetic and genealogical relationship with nearly all other Earthly life.
Edited by Robert on Dec 5, 2013 8:42 PM
I can only speak for myself, and as I won’t be at the upcoming meeting I decided to just post a few of my opinions on the questions posed in this post. I hope that’s all right, and for the group at large I hope you don’t feel obligated to read this. Robert, I had difficulty parsing the end of your post, so I am just offering some thoughts on the topics that jumped out to me in particular and left the ones that don’t particularly apply to me for later discussion (such as questions about children, et al).
Although I personally think it is a little strange to think of ourselves as a church, as you know I am all for learning from religious practices. I think it can be valuable to distill the valuable or noteworthy things that churches do and incorporate those into our own modus operandi, and leave other ideas behind. As far as studying “the church’s role as a societal institution” goes, I particularly liked this talk on the subject:
I think a charter or similar document, composed by the group as a whole, and with editing etc. could be valuable to defining ourselves in this context. I think that we should start by focusing on the things we all have in common, rather than hosting debates.
I’m all for Robert’s Rules of Order or Parliamentary Procedure as a means to facilitate orderliness and organization of ideas.
I think the biggest issue with sub-groups forming is that if we file for 501c anything that’s happening on an official level needs to be legal. I’m all for personal freedoms, and if people want to personally have certain discussions on tangential or even unrelated topics that’s great. There needs to be a way to distinguish what is viewed as sanctioned by the group however, and what is personal conjecture, as the boundaries up until this point have been muddled.
As far as books go, some authors which have personally affected my views on related topics are Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Joseph Campbell, Christopher Hitchens (if it made sense I’d list his name twice- that is how greatly his ideas have influenced my views), Marjane Satrapi, Neal Stephenson, and Azar Nafisi. I think book discussions would be great.
I think in general it could be useful to educate young(er) secular humanists on formal arguments (types of rhetorical fallacies, Russell’s teapot, Occam’s Razor, etc.) and even some common apologist arguments (Pascal’s wager, basically everything by C.S. Lewis, etc.) in order to equip them to move conversations forward that they may encounter in their lives. I also think that it’s important to provide support for members on an emotional level, as rejection of religion can be very isolating and/or stressful for an individual. Also, I personally would love to host a fellowship dinner (probably after the holiday season has ended), provided we can determine more parameters for what that entails.
A couple options that came to mind when I considered public presentations were something like TEDx, which is more of a grassroots movement for raising awareness on topics of a similar nature. Here’s more info: http://www.ted.com/tedx. And I’d also like to look into charity concerts-- concert organization was actually my area of expertise for a few years, so that’s why my mind is drawn there.
I hope the next meeting goes well! Thanks for reading.
|A former member||
We get our idea of "self" or who we are, from our interaction with other people. They tell us what they like or dislike about our behavior or beliefs. We all need personal associations (friends). Have you ever talked to a person who you assume must be lonely because they talk and talk. Some elderly people who live alone are an example of this.
I like to talk about scientific "natural laws." That is information about the world that is more than a theory. I just watched a TV program recently and the theory of why people become criminals is directly related to sever childhood abuse and the person's present blood level of some enzyme. Therefore, the theory suggest the childhood abuse damages something that makes too much of this brain chemical.
Now if we had a massive body of experimental results and comparison of observations, for example as is the case with human caused global climate change, we now have theory that approaches a "natural law." Evolution of humans due to natural selection is a "natural law."
Wise old men and women teach younger people by standing up for science. By saying, lookie here, witch-doctors are idiots even if they dress like American lawyers in suits. Or just because a crowd of people go to church every Sunday, etc. etc., does not mean their are not bat, shit stupid about religion.
The basic question now for human kind is are we doomed to mass extinction. We can talk and talk about god vs. no god, or issues that matter beyond just why we are atheists.
Global Warming and Mass Extinction
Human caused climate change