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Philo
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48 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2016 :  12:05:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Do you feel closer to skepticism or to humanism?
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13382 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2016 :  16:56:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Philo

Do you feel closer to skepticism or to humanism?
Skepticism. I think I explained earlier in the thread that I'm more interested in skepticism than I am in being active in the freethinking movement, which includes secular humanism. That is not to say it doesn't come up, or that I don't care about humanism because I do. But I am a founder of SFN which grew out of an atheist/agnostic site. That should be an indication of where I put my energy as far as my closeness to one or the other is concerned.

I am a strong secularist, however. But that's more political than anything else, even though it's informed by my skepticism and my humanism.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 03/18/2016 :  19:08:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I've been involved in the organized secular humanist movement my entire adult life, including being a leader in a campus freethought group that integrated humanism, leaders in local chapters of the American Humanist Association in Columbus Ohio and greater Philadelphia, camp counselor at a secular humanist summer camp for kids, and briefly worked as an independent contractor for the American Humanist Association.

Secular Humanism is a worldview, not a belief system. Nobody has to be involved with organized humanism at all to qualify as a secular humanist. In the broadest form, a *secular* humanist is merely a small "h" humanist who also happens to be a non-theist. In it's most narrow form it gets into the organized communities or at least group affiliations, the manifestos, the writings of secular humanist philosophers such as the late Paul Kurtz, and such.

Secular humanism isn't in any way at odds with skepticism. Skepticism is widely regarded by secular humanists to be an essential part of secular humanist philosophy. The Center for Inquiry, for example, connects the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) and the Council for Secular Humanism, the former being a skeptical engine for investigating claims of the paranormal and the latter being an organization that explores and promotes ethics and values based on a secular worldview.

I personally cannot separate my humanism from my skepticism because the value of skepticism is part of my humanistic worldview. I also can't say that I hold the value of skepticism more or less than the value of regarding all humans as having inherent worth. Reason and Love are equally essential to the whole of my worldview.

*The use of the word "inherent" is not to suggest that human worth comes from some outside source - it comes from us humans collectively, and what it means specifically - such as how we define human rights - is an ongoing discussion.)

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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Philo
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48 Posts

Posted - 03/23/2016 :  11:09:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks for your replies. I'm sympathetic to (secular) humanism. I think it is a great complement to skepticism because it includes the religion aspect, and especially because it contains ethical values, which skepticism lacks. A skeptic organization would have very little to say about racism or about the Syrian Civil War, but a humanist organization would have quite a bit to say.

So I can see why many skeptics are humanists (and vice versa). Humanists had a large part in founding the modern skeptic movement. If we consider Martin Gardner, Paul Kurtz, Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov as the founders of the skeptic movement, Kurtz and Asimov were explicitly humanists. Gardner was not. I'm unsure about Sagan. He won the Humanist of the Year Award, but to my knowledge he was not out there explicitly promoting humanism, nor does any of his books (as far as I'm aware) touch on the subject (but maybe further books would, had he not died prematurely).

But in practice, humanist organizations seem to do little more than trying to represent atheists and other non-religious people. They even market themselves that way. Which to me makes little sense. Just look at the websites of the AHA and the BHA. The Council for Secular Humanism describes itself as North America's leading organization for non-religious people. And to me, non-religion in and of itself isn't really worth organizing around.
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Philo
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48 Posts

Posted - 03/23/2016 :  12:42:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
To further illustrate, the AHA [url=http://americanhumanist.org/news/details/2010-01-humanists-applaud-president-obama-for-including-nonth]writes[/url]: "Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God."
Edited by - Philo on 03/23/2016 12:43:15
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Philo
New Member

48 Posts

Posted - 04/03/2016 :  11:22:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Have a look at this FAQ about humanism: http://arthurchappell.me.uk/humanism.faq.htm

HOW MANY HUMANISTS ARE THERE? Opinion polls show that up to a third of the U.K. population don't believe in any kind of religious entity, so there are millions of Humanists about.


The number of humanists is apparently equated with the number of non-believers. But further down, it states that all humanists are skeptics:

IS HUMANISM THE SAME AS SKEPTICISM? No. All Humanists are skeptics in being dismissive of beliefs in superstition and paranormal activity, but not all skeptics are Humanists.


This doesn't add up, because we know that far from all non-religious people are skeptics. In fact, the non-religious aren't even less likely than the religious to believe in woo: http://www.skepticblog.org/2013/04/09/try-not-to-lump-us-atheists-in-with-the-skeptics/

Besides, if "humanist" is going to be just an euphemism for "non-religious" which is how many humanist organizations seem to use the word, I don't really see the point.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 04/04/2016 :  20:09:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Philo

The number of humanists is apparently equated with the number of non-believers.
Yeah, they shouldn't do that. Just like Dave Silverman of American Atheists shouldn't overstate the number of atheists in the U.S. by using the "no religion" figure from polling data (not least because some fundamentalist Christians consider themselves to be non-religious).
Besides, if "humanist" is going to be just an euphemism for "non-religious" which is how many humanist organizations seem to use the word, I don't really see the point.
They shouldn't be synonymous, but even if they were, there's plenty of reason to organize non-believers. If we don't speak up, for example, religion will remain legally privileged over non-religion. We can wait for a millionaire non-believer to go to court and spend their own money fighting a personal battle for it, or we can all chip in a little bit of cash every year and have an organization or two hire top-notch constitutional lawyers to do it for us all.

Of course, being a part of something is important to many humans, too. We tend to be social animals. Nothing wrong with joining a humanist group just to hang with other humanists, no more than there's anything wrong with being part of a neighborhood quilting club with no political aspects.

Besides, some people would simply rather focus on the positive, human bits of being non-religious, rather than defining themselves as being the negation of some other group (the "non" in "non-religious").

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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Why not question something for a change?
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Philo
New Member

48 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2016 :  14:42:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I absolutely agree that non-believers need to organize in order to defend our interests and a secular state. No argument there. But I'm not sure that humanism is the best banner to do so under.

In some European countries, humanist groups recieve state subsidies in the same way that religions do. I'm totally against this, I want subsidies for religious groups to be abolished. The humanist groups who recieve such subsidies tend not to be very critical of religion. Read this for more information about the situation in Europe: http://www.thinkingabouthumanism.org/secularism/secularism-in-europe/

And I agree that being part of a community is a basic human need. I feel at home with fellow skeptics. :)
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 04/05/2016 :  18:08:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One particular humanist group might not be the best organization to lead the defense of secularism, but another might.

There are a bunch of psoriasis-related organizations in the U.S. alone, all asking for donations from sufferers of the disease. I used to think that it was silly to "dilute" our donations when the "flagship" organization (the National Psoriasis Foundation) was clearly the right place for our money. It took me quite some time to realize that a diversity of approaches is the rational solution until such a time as evidence demonstrates a best advocacy for our concerns.

Likewise, until we know how to best defend our non-religious interests and a secular state, we should be open to multiple approaches, and thus a variety of banners.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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Philo
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48 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2016 :  16:26:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Fair enough, but shouldn't humanism be more than just an elaborate way to reject religion? Don't get me wrong, rejecting religion is a perfectly proper thing to do, but IMO terms like "atheist" or "non-religious" do that very well already. These terms also have the benefit of being widely known. Humanism is not as widely known.

I recall one self-identified skeptic and humanist in a European country at one occasion saying something like: "Skepticism gives me a way to knowledge. Humanism gives me positive values. Skepticism is also a part of humanism.". Is this viewpoint (to simplify it), that skepticism provides facts and humanism provides ethical values, widespread in the skeptical community? Do many skeptics also consider themselves to be humanists?
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2016 :  17:35:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Philo

Fair enough, but shouldn't humanism be more than just an elaborate way to reject religion?
If you read the manifestos, it clearly is more than that.
Is this viewpoint (to simplify it), that skepticism provides facts and humanism provides ethical values, widespread in the skeptical community?
I don't know about the skeptical community, but I imagine it's widespread among the humanists. It looks like the position Kurtz was championing, after all.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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Philo
New Member

48 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2016 :  15:20:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by Philo

Fair enough, but shouldn't humanism be more than just an elaborate way to reject religion?
If you read the manifestos, it clearly is more than that.


True. But in many cases this doesn't show in practice. Humanist groups seem to always talk about that they are non-religious. Humanism seems in many cases to be an anti-religion movement rather than something of its own.

I notice that the AHA Facebook page "likes" BIll Maher, despite his pseudoscience. Clearly opposition to religions trumps everything else for them.

Originally posted by Dave W.
Is this viewpoint (to simplify it), that skepticism provides facts and humanism provides ethical values, widespread in the skeptical community?
I don't know about the skeptical community, but I imagine it's widespread among the humanists. It looks like the position Kurtz was championing, after all.


What about those among skeptics (a majority?) who also identify as humanists?
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sailingsoul
SFN Addict

2830 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2016 :  20:39:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send sailingsoul a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't get the direction of this thread at all. Where is it written Atheism Theism or Humanism have any relationship? Being an Atheist describes one position on one topic. That being lack of belief in one or more gods, period. Theists believe in one or more gods. Monotheists specifically are Atheists when it comes to believing in all other god claims except one. Atheists go one or more god further than Theists. That is as far as it goes, there is no common link. Where is it defined Humanist do or don't believe in god? Atheists or Theists can be Humanist or not as far as I understand the definitions.

There are only two types of religious people, the deceivers and the deceived. SS
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25909 Posts

Posted - 04/20/2016 :  20:44:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Philo

But in many cases this doesn't show in practice. Humanist groups seem to always talk about that they are non-religious. Humanism seems in many cases to be an anti-religion movement rather than something of its own.
I don't have enough data to confirm your use of "many," "seem to always" and "seems in many cases." Can you provide analyses of a decent sample size of humanist groups' pronouncements-vs-practice ratios?
I notice that the AHA Facebook page "likes" BIll Maher, despite his pseudoscience. Clearly opposition to religions trumps everything else for them.
The only thing obvious to me is that you may be reading too much into a Facebook like. Perhaps you know the date that the like was performed, and whether Maher's crankiness was widely known before that date? I don't know. Perhaps you know that the AHA has staff dedicated to policing their Facebook likes and holding meetings in which the question "do we still like this person" is debated? I don't know (but I doubt it).

I did a few Google searches trying to answer the first question for myself, and any real data appears to me to be lost among noise. And unless someone at the AHA is paranoid about the appearance their Facebook likes present (because the notion that a Facebook like implies endorsement is ridiculous, unless you think I enjoyed Kil's problems with his clients), the idea that the second question will be answerable by people outside of AHA leadership is ludicrous.

Of course, if a single Facebook like defines an organization's primary goal, then clearly the AHA liking George Takei means that opposition to LGBT discrimination trumps everything else for them, by your logic. Or the AHA liking the Satanic Temple means that clearly, opposition to the Christian God trumps everything else for them. Or the AHA liking the Onion means that clearly, satire trumps everything else for them. Or the AHA liking Darwin Day means that clearly, evolutionary theory trumps everything else for them.

Given the wide variety of people and groups the AHA has liked on Facebook, a single like cannot possibly determine which issue trumps other issues for them.

Although I'd bet a dollar that if one really took the time to explore and categorize the things that the AHA likes on Facebook, the majority would be expressly humanist and/or secular groups/people, and not anti-religious groups/people. That's just judging by a quick scroll through their likes list.
What about those among skeptics (a majority?) who also identify as humanists?
I don't know the demographic breakdowns. That's what you were asking about in the OP, was it not?

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Philo
New Member

48 Posts

Posted - 05/08/2016 :  07:35:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Philo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Sorry for taking so long time to reply!

Originally posted by Dave W.

I don't have enough data to confirm your use of "many," "seem to always" and "seems in many cases." Can you provide analyses of a decent sample size of humanist groups' pronouncements-vs-practice ratios?


Have you visited humanist websites, read humanist statements and interviews with people in leadership positions within humanism? It seems pretty clear to me what they are about.

Originally posted by Dave W.

The only thing obvious to me is that you may be reading too much into a Facebook like. Perhaps you know the date that the like was performed, and whether Maher's crankiness was widely known before that date? I don't know. Perhaps you know that the AHA has staff dedicated to policing their Facebook likes and holding meetings in which the question "do we still like this person" is debated? I don't know (but I doubt it).


Perhaps I read too much into a Facebook "like". Especially since the AHA "likes" a lot on Facebook, and thus might not be particularly selective.

Still, the obvious reason they "like" Bill Maher is due to his criticism of religion. And his pseudoscience was not an isolated. unknown event, but pretty public. And he has been called out for it (not by the AHA, though).

Originally posted by Dave W.

I did a few Google searches trying to answer the first question for myself, and any real data appears to me to be lost among noise. And unless someone at the AHA is paranoid about the appearance their Facebook likes present (because the notion that a Facebook like implies endorsement is ridiculous, unless you think I enjoyed Kil's problems with his clients), the idea that the second question will be answerable by people outside of AHA leadership is ludicrous.


How does a Facebook "like" not represent... liking?

Originally posted by Dave W.

Of course, if a single Facebook like defines an organization's primary goal, then clearly the AHA liking George Takei means that opposition to LGBT discrimination trumps everything else for them, by your logic. Or the AHA liking the Satanic Temple means that clearly, opposition to the Christian God trumps everything else for them. Or the AHA liking the Onion means that clearly, satire trumps everything else for them. Or the AHA liking Darwin Day means that clearly, evolutionary theory trumps everything else for them.

Given the wide variety of people and groups the AHA has liked on Facebook, a single like cannot possibly determine which issue trumps other issues for them.


Ok, let me put it this way: Bill Maher is known as an opponent of religion. He is also known as a promoter of pseudoscience. Clearyl AHA did not consider his pseudoscience problematic enough not to "like" him.

Originally posted by Dave W.

I don't know the demographic breakdowns. That's what you were asking about in the OP, was it not?


Yes.
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