Any 'Humanists' here?

by AK - Jeff 45 Replies latest jw friends

  • AK - Jeff
    AK - Jeff
    humanism does not fit in at all with science and evolution and survival of the fittest.

    Huh? Have you actually ever looked at the humanist movement? BTW - this year's humanist of the year was Bill Nye - you know, the one known for his outstanding teaching of science and scientific method?


  • cognizant dissident
    cognizant dissident

    I'm not sure if there is an official Humanist Organization and what their list of values is. I guess I would have to read that before I would agree to label myself as one. I was exposed to some humanist philosophies in nursing, and for the most part, I didn't find any too objectionable. I didn't agree with the poster who said that the freedom and movement of humans was the most important thing, though. If that is a humanist value, then I guess I can't call myself that anymore. I agreed with Randy, that's a very egocentric (and somewhat dangerous) viewpoint if you think of all the harm that could be justified using that philosophy.

    The problem with labels and definitions is that so many people's definitions differ for the same label. I found some wisdom in some of Solomon's proverbs, so does that make me a Solomnist? Christ said some things in his sermon on the mount that I try to live by, so am I a Christian? I know I'm an atheist but not dogmatic about it so probably an agnostic as well, and I'm really "into" the Buddhist philosophy right now, although I don't believe in all of it, (reincarnation). If hard pressed, I bet I could even find a few verses in the Koran to agree with. So, I guess I'm all the "ists" rolled into one person.

    There are a few things in each of those philosophies that I don't agree with too, though, so can I be all of those labels and none of them at the same time? Who am I, really? I'm so confused? Can someone help me find my true identity? Come up with an "ist" that describes me perfectly? If I didn't have something external to myself to define and label myself with, but just sat quietly and tried to determine it from within, without prior conditioning, who would I be? It seems "I" only exists as a figment of mind, mine or someone elses. It seems I am everything and nothing at the same time. This duality is the horrible conundrum of human existence. This endless struggle to define ourselves. Some define themselves right into the psych ward....

    After reading all the wisdom in the previous posts, I think Belbab described the true nature of man, most eloquently and most accurately.

  • Dogpatch

    "Science" as we know it today is not an objective study of man and the universe. It is man's study of the universe and how it applies to man, and how man can take advantage of it to dominate the universe.

    How many billions of other "sciences" exist out in the universe? As many as there are sentient cultures I could imagine. I am sure "if" there is life like ours on other planets, there are lots of "Bill Nye the Science Guy" persons out there.

    Man can barely see beyond his own flesh and blood prison; and when he does, it's almost always to study how he is affected by the rest of the universe - not an objective study of the universe itself.


  • flipper

    OTWO- I may subscribe to many of secular humanists views- however I ain't going to any more damned meetings of ANY organization ! LOL ! I should clarify that this particular dolphin is a fairly stout independent individualist and non-conformist as well as leaning into secular humanism. But I'll NEVER join any organization again. Peace out, Mr. Flipper

  • Dogpatch

    Humans are so exceptionally good at fooling themselves. We live in a self-centered world, and interpret the universe through a "bugs eye."

    One writer said:

    "I like to think of myself as fair-minded and reasonable. In fact, I pride myself on 'following the evidence where it leads, whether I like the conclusion or not.' Integrity and truth seeking are near the top of my wanted-virtues list.

    "The problem is—research on human cognition suggests that I am neither fair-minded nor reasonable. None of us are. And it's not just a matter of sloppy thinking. Our brains have built-in biases that stack the odds against objectivity, so much so that the success of the scientific endeavor can be attributed to one factor: it pits itself against our natural leanings, erects barriers across the openings to rabbit trails, and systematically exposes faulty thinking to public critique. In fact, the scientific method has been called 'what we know about how not to fool ourselves.'

    "In some ways, science picks up where philosophy leaves off. Philosophers, from classical times to the present, have developed sophisticated, useful lines of reasoning about knowledge (epistemology), morality (ethics), and the nature of reality (metaphysics). They have identified and learned to avoid 'logical fallacies.' But their approach has limitations. Without the constraints of external real-world tests, philosophers go down their own kind of rabbit trails, into a world of ideals. Philosophy assumes that if an argument can be made logic-tight, then it will be persuasive. It assumes that people can be compelled by reason. It assumes that we make moral decisions by doing some calculus that prioritizes harm avoidance or the greater good. Psychology, on the other hand, looks at how ordinary people function in everyday life and says 'that ain't the way things work around here.'

    "It is easy for us to distort the evidence in our own favor, in part because we aren't so great with evidence in general. One of the strongest built-in mental distortions we have is called confirmation bias. Once we have a hunch about how things work, we seek information that fits what we already think. It's like our minds set up filters—with contradictory evidence stuck in gray tones on the outside and the confirmatory evidence flowing through in bright and shining color. This bias optimizes for efficiency over accuracy. It allows us to rapidly sift through the information coming at us and piece together a meaningful story line. But in situations where emotions run high or evidence is ambiguous, it also lets us go very wrong."

  • Dogpatch

    By the way Jeff, I lived through the hippie generation and still live near Hollywood, Westwood, and the "Yoga universe" where humanism ran amock not too many years ago. It is still very alive and well, much as is hedonism.

    Literally hundreds of humanists have sat in my living room over the last 30 years since I left Bethel. (Five of us live here and have tons of friends from all persuasions). Sometimes we have nothing better to do than to sit around and argue reality versus hopeful conjecture.

    It is no surprise that the Bible sees man as dust rather than a god. We tend to invent such fantastic cosmologies where we become the center of the universe. No one really wants to believe they are rather small and powerless.

    But we are.

  • cognizant dissident
    cognizant dissident

    We are Randy, and so are the Gods whom we fashion after ourselves.

  • betterdaze

    Good topic, AK - Jeff! Humanism seems a natural progression for many leaving behind organized religion, but isn't necessarily a "belief" system in and of itself. That being said…

    cognizant dissident: "I'm not sure if there is an official Humanist Organization and what their list of values is. I guess I would have to read that before I would agree to label myself as one."

    Here ya' go, from

    The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles

    • We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.

    • We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.

    • We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.

    • We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.

    • We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.

    • We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.

    • We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance.

    • We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.

    • We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.

    • We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.

    • We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.

    • We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.

    • We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.

    • We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.

    • We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.

    • We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.

    • We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.

    • We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.

    • We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others.

    • We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.

    • We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings.

    * * *

    I too, am not one for pigeon-holing people with labels. Yet far too many of these "humanist" principles resonate within me, not to call myself a "Secular Humanist," simply as a practical matter.

    Especially when I'm called out on my lack of faith/disbelief, or what I like to call the journey.


  • cognizant dissident
    cognizant dissident

    I think I can agree with all of those tenets of Humanism. Sign me up!

    I don't find anything particularly egocentric about those beliefs. They certainly did not say that the freedom of the individual human is the highest value. I think there was an acknowledgement of the interconnectedness of humans with other species and the planet and that are futures are intertwined.

    Randy: that was an interesting article on science. I agree, the bias of the researcher can never be fully removed from that which is researched, that is why scientific methods must have methods of measurement that are falsifiable and repeatable and why they are subject to peer review. While humans may never be able to achieve 100% detachment in their rational and reasoning, I don't think scientist claim that they do, or that they are without ego. However, the scientific method of analysis is an attempt to remove bias, and draw rational conclusions about our world through measurable evidence. Just because it cannot guarantee to accomplish this 100%, is no reason to abandon the method and go backwards, basing our decisions on anecdotal evidence and superstition.

    The scientific method is still superior to what preceded it and until a better method of drawing conclusions comes along, it makes sense to use it and try to improve upon it.

  • streets76

    I am a human, with a lower case h, and like Groucho Marx, don't want to join any other clubs that would have me.

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