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Las Vegas Atheists Message Board › Humanism and Atheism.

Humanism and Atheism.

John "Jay" E.
user 14326975
Las Vegas, NV
Post #: 4
At the roundtable discussion on Saturday the 10th, we talked a little about what atheism might be for and what atheist may have in common. Some atheists want to combine atheist conviction with humanism.

I commented that I do not join any group until I understand what it actually stands for.
I was handed a card from the American Humanist Association which opened into two halves. On the inside was a sort of manifesto entitled "Humanism and Its Aspirations".

I have now had a chance to read it, and it is actually not a surprise to me.

The first paragraph states: "Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity."

If the word "progressive" and the final words, "that aspire to the greater good of humanity" are omitted, I think that paragraph is a good statement of humanism.

How did "progressive" get included? What does progressive mean? What is it progressing toward? I can tell you what I think. It is a progression to increased statism and collectivism which is not my cup of tea.

Let me make one thing clear. There is nothing wrong if a group of people want to join hands to pursue any philosophy they choose. Members can move into and out of a voluntary association; but, when that group strives to use the power of government to make everyone join, then I part ways with it.

Since when does humanism as a philosophy of life adopt just one specific political philosophy as part of its definition? The word "progressive" should be deleted.

Government should exist only to protect the rights of its citizens. Rights is a political concept that applies universally to all, and it implies an obligation on the part of all persons not to interfere with the rights of others. That is all that we have to do. Do not violate the rights of others.

Some people claim that there is a right to all kinds of things from living quarters to health care. I would say that this is a progressive claim. Who then has the corresponding obligation to provide those things? All of us.

No one would seriously claim that, when they ran out of funds to provide things to others in accordance with their own beliefs, they could then go out and take it from others. After all, it is for a good cause which we all support, correct? Why is then ok for the government to do so?

My comments do not deny the existence or the value of human compassion voluntarily extended. It is only the mandatory obligation that I condemn and which I assert the "progressives" aspire to.

There are two other sentences in the statement which are merely restatements of the progressive philosophy. "Life's fulfillment emerges from the individual participation in the service of humane ideals." and, "Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness."

In some cases that is probably true. However, if you find that some people are always on the receiving end of benefits while you work longer and harder for little additional benefit, I wonder if everyone will be happy with that. Undoubtedly, there are people who would obtain a great personal satisfaction and happiness from being the universal provider, but I think that they are few.

So, this Humanist statement does not include me because, while it does not say explicitly that the progressive philosophy is the only rational humanist ideal or that it will vote that philosophy into law given the chance, it does not explicitly state that it pertains only to private voluntary choices either.

I applaud that part of the definition which would read, "Humanism is a philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment." If everyone did that, the world would be a better place. Jay Eckl
Dave
skepticman
Las Vegas, NV
Post #: 32
Hi Jay. Welcome to the discussion area! You've made some valid points. I can't argue with your position. However, finding a 'group' or 'community' that crosses every 't' and dots every 'i' of your particular version of non-religious idealism would probably be like some religious trying to find the perfect community that encompasses his or her dogma. By the time all the 't's' and 'i's' are taken care of, you might find yourself a community of one.

The principles on the card are the national/international Humanism positions. If you don't like all the positions, take it up with them. You might effect a change. I, personally, don't try to get too micro-analytical about it. For me, Humanism is the best fit for my general goals. Should we all start gravitating to communism because of a Humanistic platform, while then I might rethink my position. Right now, though, I think there are plenty of checks and balances to to keep the status quo for the foreseeable future.
Naomi
nbettencourt
Las Vegas, NV
Post #: 1
Hi Jay! It was good to meet you.

I agree about many points you made, and would enjoy a conversation about what should be the purposes and limitations of government, but for now, I will limit my discussion to the word "progressive."

I associate the word with change for the better, improvement. The dictionary pretty much backs me up (although it does say "especially in politics"). I was shocked to read you correlated the word with statism & collectivism. May I ask how/why you interpret the word "progressive" this way? (And I would love to hear from others if they feel the same as Jay.)

Naomi (this is my first post, I don't know yet how to de-anonymize myself. And yes, I made that word up just now.)
Dennis W.
dennisleeward
Las Vegas, NV
Post #: 1
That's one problem with Humanism; it's a specific agenda that not every atheist is going to agree with. I'm not going to argue about semanntics as to what "progressive" means. It doesn't matter what "progressive" means; Humansim is a statist and collectivist philosophy (and let's not forget socialist.). If you want a more thorough view of Humanism see the article "What's Wrong with Humanism?" at http://usabig.com/iin...­

Dave
skepticman
Las Vegas, NV
Post #: 34
Hi Dennis - Welcome to the discussion group. While I consider myself a humanist, I agree with you that the bylaws of the organization need some work. I read your article link and it does suggest valid issues. Obviously a more positive attitude would go a long way.

What I don't see in your post is a link to an alternative organization that would be more favorable to a plural mindset. All I have seen are communities that are single minded in objectives and direction. A fractured skeptic/secular community is what the religious want. If humanism isn't your cup of tea, well, so be it. What do you recommend?

Government itself is just an experiment in the redistribution of funds. You have the minimalist government that just funds an armed force to protect the rich against the poor, and you have governments that are more all-inclusive that fund, education, health programs, and social programs for the elderly, poor and disabled.

For those of you who like a minimalist government, why we have the one with the greatest armed forces that the world has ever seen coupled with the largest imprisoned population presently in the world today. That should make any rich minimalist proud.

For those that that prefer a more all encompassing government, we have funded education, health, social services, and infrastructure. Why we must have the best of both worlds, no?

Oh yeh, the deficit. Well, you know, in the 90's the deficit was taken care of and then we had a terrorism attack that in hindsight might have been avoided and the rich military-industrial complex decided that they wanted to save the world and get richer and somehow we got involved in several major wars and regime changes, most all without any funding. The end result that we are not any safer and probably more in danger now than we were before. And now the rich want the poor to pay for it. I say tax the rich and get the budget under control. Sorry if you're rich.

Back to the point. The underlying problem is the religious monopoly on the government today. With the Supreme Court saying it's ok to pray at government meetings, we're headed downhill fast. Sometimes it's better to form a common community for the solving of the main issue and save the in-house bickering for later.

Any suggestions on another community?

Dennis W.
dennisleeward
Las Vegas, NV
Post #: 2
A community? We have humanists, skeptics, Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Atheists, Atheist Alliance International, The Brights, International League of non-religious and atheists, Rationalist International, American Ethical Union, American Secular Union, The Atheist Agenda, Center for Inquiry, Fellowship of Freethought, Fellowship of Humanity, The Secularity, Internet Infidels, Institute for Humanist Studies, Institute for Humanist Studies, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, Secular Student Alliance, UU Humanist Association, United Coalition of Reason, The Ayn Rand Institute, The Ayn Rand Society, The Atlas Society, The Objectivist Party, The Libertarian Party, etc. Atheists agree on only one thing - there are no gods. Other than that; political beliefs are completely different. Even the agendas of Skeptic Magazine and Reason Magazine are different. There is no one community. Try neo-tech.com for further reading.
Naomi
nbettencourt
Las Vegas, NV
Post #: 3
Dennis, I find your comment perplexing, as it implies you think a community is a group of people who have no differences. Of course we are different. And as you pointed out, we do have a very strong characteristic in common, that of non-belief, and this characteristic has brought us all into this meetup group. We are a community.

Which, by the way, automatically makes any actions we make as a group a collective action. That is not necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, I have always taken the meaning of collectivism to to mean the needs of the group outweigh the needs of the individual. With that meaning in mind, I do not think Humanists practice collectivism. The article your previously linked to, however, uses the word to mean acting as a group. It kept pointing out the words "we" and "our" in the Free Inquiry magazine. (Side note: I am not familiar with this magazine, so I am not entirely sure who created these affirmations.) And to that sense, I would say yes, the Humanist group does indeed act as a group. I don't have any issue with a group of people with common goals working together as a group to achieve those goals, but if you do not want to part of a group or a community, that is of course your prerogative.

Further, your comments thus far imply you do not want to be associated with any group whatsoever... which begs the question: Why are you here? Why are you in this meetup group? I do not ask in an argumentative way. I would truly like to know the answer, as I think most of us are looking for a community who share non-belief, a refuge from the winds of religion, but you do not seem to share this objective. So I ask earnestly, why are you here? Why did you join? What do you hope to accomplish for yourself or for others?
Dave
skepticman
Las Vegas, NV
Post #: 36
A community? We have humanists, skeptics, Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Atheists, Atheist Alliance International, The Brights, International League of non-religious and atheists, Rationalist International, American Ethical Union, American Secular Union, The Atheist Agenda, Center for Inquiry, Fellowship of Freethought, Fellowship of Humanity, The Secularity, Internet Infidels, Institute for Humanist Studies, Institute for Humanist Studies, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, Secular Student Alliance, UU Humanist Association, United Coalition of Reason, The Ayn Rand Institute, The Ayn Rand Society, The Atlas Society, The Objectivist Party, The Libertarian Party, etc. Atheists agree on only one thing - there are no gods. Other than that; political beliefs are completely different. Even the agendas of Skeptic Magazine and Reason Magazine are different. There is no one community. Try neo-tech.com for further reading.
My point exactly. The non-theist community looks like the leftovers of a protestant reformation. Fractured, divided, a snake without a head. We are still in the birthing process. The question is can we set our differences aside and unite for a common goal.
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