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CFI Portland Meetup Group Message Board Resources / Self Education › Great talk by Alain de Botton online

Great talk by Alain de Botton online

Oliver
user 11381024
Portland, OR
Post #: 8
Talk on Vimeo
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A former member
Post #: 1,924
Hi Oliver, I also think that talk of Alain de Botton is an excellent one. An internet article called "Atheism 2.0" says that Mr. Botton has a a new book called "Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion" and that it will be available in early March. The internet article quotes a portion of Mr. Botton's talk which says 'I’m interested in the kind of constituency that thinks something along these lines: that thinks, “I can’t believe in any of this stuff. I can’t believe in the doctrines. I don’t think these doctrines are right. But, “a very important but, “I love Christmas carols. I really like the art of Mantegna. I really like looking at old churches. I really like turning the pages of the Old Testament.” Whatever it may be, you know the kind of thing I’m talking about — people who are attracted to the ritualistic side, the moralistic, communal side of religion, but can’t bear the doctrine.' Much of that proclaim the same things I proclaim about my creation of Humanistic Biblicalism (a.k.a Humanistic Christianity). For more information about Humanistic Biblicalism see my CFI posts at http://www.meetup.com...­ .

I recently borrowed from the Beaverton city library the May/June 2010 issue of Skeptical Inquirer. A number of its articles are fascinating to me, especially the feature articles of "Brain Science, God Science: Why Religion Endures" and "How Religion Resists the Challenge of Science". The first feature article says that human brains have evolved in such a way that belief in at least one god is almost inevitable. Page 38 of the magazine also says that religion provides very practical benefits, including stress-reducing effects. The article also says "A quick summary: socialization associated with participation in religious activities contributes to normalizing brain chemicals and offsetting stress. Rather firmly, it leads to positive feelings about oneself and the members of one's group." The article says that if even "If it could be shown that that there is no god, no afterlife, no heaven, no hell, no grand design of the universe, no intelligent design, no Adam and Eve, no anything but nothing after death" that believers still would not jettison their religions. The article says the reason is because "The alloy of ancient brain tissues and the trials each new generation endures" will cause people to seek with ways of coping with the stresses of life and with the fears that they imagine. It says that regarding the relief that they seek, "they are unlikely to find it more efficiently packaged than it is in religion." If the article is right, then it will likely be ineffective to try to get human society to give up religion completely. That thus confirms my approach of creating a non-theistic substitute which retains elements of Judeo-Christian religion, since many (though probably not all) of the emotional needs of religious people can still be met by it.

The second feature article says (on page 41 of the magazine) that "Conformist bias, prestige bias, and punishing behaviors may help us understand why explicit commitment to theological doctrines, alongside intuitive religious beliefs (Boyer 2001, 2004), survives even when the doctrines have become rather empty of content." Regarding various factors, the last paragraph of the article says in part "These factors help explain why explicit commitment to theological doctrines tends to survive despite scientific and philosophical attacks on religion and theology that force theologians to endlessly redefine religion and belief. ... The issue simply is not only philosophical or one of rational debate. Our evolved psychology provides constraints that guide people to try to save religion even at the cost of religion losing its practical relevance."

Other articles I found highly interesting and of high caliber in the magazine were "Keep Libel Out of Science", "Abductions or Hoaxes? The Man Who Attracts Aliens", and "How to test a Miracle".
A former member
Post #: 1,925
Here is a related article which interviews Mr. Botton, the article is called " Why atheists still need churches and consolation".
Dave D.
dcdinucci
Portland, OR
Post #: 65
If you look up "religious humanism" on wikipedia, there is apparently a fair amount of history behind adding varying amounts of ritual to atheistic worldviews. Many people assume that "religious humanism" means some belief in the supernatural, but it usually doesn't. I met one religious humanist from eastern Europe who came from a congregation where they even referred to "god", but apparently didn't mean it in a supernatural way!

I used to be sort of a fan of this sort of use of religious constructs to help "our side", but nowadays, the more I think about it, the more I think its too hard to keep the abstractions and simplifications of such rituals from obstructing or confusing the realities behind them, at least for many people who would just glom onto the ritual and forget about the basis. In fact, some statements made in this video, such as getting a special "feeling" from paging through the old testament which has nothing to do with theism, strike me as nonsense. Without thinking there's something supernatural there, that old testament is just a book. (Or maybe one gets the same feeling when leafing through Moby Dick?)

That said, I did sort of enjoy the lighting of the candles at the Humanlight ceremony this last December. Maybe there's either a degree or a quality of ritual that isn't counterproductive to the reality-based nature of humanism/atheism? After all, I guess any singing could be considered a form of ritual, and I'm all for singing/music.
A former member
Post #: 1,927
Hi Dave, I have read the Wikipedia article about "religious humanism". Regarding paging through the Bible, though I'm now an atheistic ex-Christian, I get some sentimental value in browsing through an old Bible. I enjoy looking through the ones which have elaborate gold gilded leather hardcovers covers and, lots of artwork inside the Bible, and lots of antique style study helps. These days I read through the Bible with an atheistic Humanistic perspective. Last night I read some of the Psalms and I noticed in those passages how the Psalmist wailed about Yahweh God not responding to his prayers, to his pleadings. I later thought that an atheistic Humanist could then use those passages verbatim from the Bible to show how prayers to God go unanswered and to show the futility of praying to a deity. Of course the Bible also says that God does answer some prayers, but focusing on examples where even the Bible writers at times thought that God was ignoring them, could be useful as a text which promotes atheistic Humanist teachings for people with an ex-Judeo-Christian background.
A former member
Post #: 1,928
Hi Dave, I have read the Wikipedia article about "religious humanism". Regarding paging through the Bible, though I'm now an atheistic ex-Christian, I get some sentimental value in browsing through an old Bible. I enjoy looking through the ones which have elaborate gold gilded leather hardcovers covers and, lots of artwork inside the Bible, and lots of antique style study helps. These days I read through the Bible with an atheistic Humanistic perspective. Last night I read some of the Psalms and I noticed in those passages how the Psalmist wailed about Yahweh God not responding to his prayers, to his pleadings. I later thought that an atheistic Humanist could then use those passages verbatim from the Bible to show how prayers to God go unanswered and to show the futility of praying to a deity. Of course the Bible also says that God does answer some prayers, but focusing on examples where even the Bible writers at times thought that God was ignoring them, could be useful as a text which promotes atheistic Humanist teachings for people with an ex-Judeo-Christian background.

I noticed there some verses in the first 21 Psalms (at least when read out of context) which agree with some viewpoints of atheism, metaphysical naturalism, and Humanism. I have begun a 5 day online discussion of the Psalms from such a viewpoint in my post in my Yahoo group at Humanistic Biblicalism: Bible discussion from a secular humanist perspective .... Feel free to join in the discussion. May you be blessed by a Humanist lifestyle.
Oliver
user 11381024
Portland, OR
Post #: 9
My sense is that de Botton rejects the idea of reconciliation and that he's advocating instead for co-opting and reconceiving certain rituals and ideas about human nature. I don't think he's mining these specifically from the Bible or texts either, but more from practices the culture of religious institutions. Humanistic Biblicalism sounds like something very different. Am I wrong?
A former member
Post #: 1,930
My sense is that de Botton rejects the idea of reconciliation and that he's advocating instead for co-opting and reconceiving certain rituals and ideas about human nature. I don't think he's mining these specifically from the Bible or texts either, but more from practices the culture of religious institutions. Humanistic Biblicalism sounds like something very different. Am I wrong?


Hi Oliver, your interpretation of what Mr. de Botton's has in mind, might be correct. My idea incorporates some of those ideas, such as the following: speeches which teach ethics/morality, use of singing which promotes the values and aspirations of the Humanistic group, use of a common texts for the group, and providing fellowship support through the organizational community. But in addition I don't think my idea involves reconciliation to Judaism and/or Christianity, since it specifically refutes the supernatural claims of those religions. While it makes use of the Bible, it does so to expose the Bible as a book which is not inspired by any god (for example by pointing out internal contradictions and failed prophecies) and to show how some parts of the Bible actually teach Humanistic ideas (such as no afterlife, no immortal soul, pagan gods are false gods who are powerless, but also to show that they are only imaginary). While Humanistic Biblicalism makes use of a rewrite of the Bible and a rewrite of Christian songs, the rewrites teach Humanistic ideas (including non-theism, metaphysical naturalism, reliance upon science, promotion of critical thinking, Humanistic ethics, etc.). Thus Humanistic Biblicalism co-opts the style of language/wordings of Judeo-Christian literature, while changing the wording to be fully in harmony with Humanism.

For an examples of some of my Humanistic rewrites of the Bible, see one of my meetup.com posts at Spreading the messages of atheism and secular humanism, page 1 and one of my posts at Spreading the messages of atheism and secular humanism, page 3. Does that clarify matters?
A former member
Post #: 1,931
For more of an idea of how I would use and rewrite parts of the Bible, see this post of mine in my Yahoo group.
SylviaB
SylviaB
Portland, OR
Post #: 148
I rarely agree 100% with Greta, but in this case:

What she said!

http://freethoughtblo...­
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