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  1. #1
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    Dyoll 73--A Question..On Being a Humanist

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Broadly speaking, I'm a humanist. I believe in reason and compassion. Why? I was - and remain - convinced that it is the only rational course open to me. </div></div>

    I have had thougths on this and wanted to ask: What is the main difference between an athiest and a humanist? Cause some would say, 'I am an athiest', Not, 'I am a humanist'. So then, most(if not all) Humanists are athiests, but not all athiests are humanist, is that correct? [img]/forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70402-thinking.gif[/img]

    Once again, I can google, but personal touch is always nice... [img]/forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif[/img]
    I am thinking...do you smell smoke?

    FKA-DC

  2. #2
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    Re: Dyoll 73--A Question..On Being a Humanist

    I wanted to answer this question alongside Dyoll and I hope that s/he won't mind me ďbutting inĒ on this thread. Since I consider myself a Humanist too Iíll explain what it means to me. The following is the American Humanist Association definition:

    "Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility"
    American Humanist Association

    There are Humanists who are secular and Humanists who are religious although the latter tend to fall into the category of Unitarian Universalists. Not all atheists are Humanist and not all Humanists are atheists, Humanism and Atheism are not equivalent and one does not logically assume the other. Humanism is an ethic that is committed to reason and making rational choices based on empirical evidence. As a Humanist my beliefs are hypothetical and are open to change in light of new evidence.

    I believe in the enjoyment of life as is! This is the only life I will have so every moment is precious; life is full of opportunity and I find within life itself itís own rewards. Iím not living life (anymore) in dread of displeasing some divine creator who may or may not deem me worthy to spend eternity with him/her. Instead I am the artist of my own canvass of life within the constraints of social mores and impacted by environment, emotional and physical influences. And before anyone thinks itís all about me, my beliefs encompass an empathetic concern and responsibility for others not just locally but globally Ė I want to be part of taking care of this planet and itís people.

    One of the good things I like about Humanism is that I am free to conform or not, to express, to dare and to explore all that mankind is and does. I can appreciate religious reflection and not feel bound by its standards or dogma. I can explore my passion for human expression in art, music and literature as there is nothing banned or off limits. I can meet and interact with people on the common ground that we are human rather than we share a similar set of beliefs or values. I feel no need to convert them to my particular life stance or share theirs.

    When I was a Christian I used to think and in fact was taught that love, forgiveness, compassion and understanding were inherently Christian values, now I know they are not indigenous to Christianity but to humanity as a whole!

    Dyoll looking forward to your input!

  3. #3
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    Re: Dyoll 73--A Question..On Being a Humanist

    Actually, I am glad you gave your input. [img]/forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif[/img] I forgot you had also mentioned you were a humanist. Anyone can respond or ask questions. I mentioned Dyoll because I am basing this thread on what he had stated in another thread.

    Oh BTW, Dyoll is a gentleman .

    I will definietely be back for some comments and/or follow ups...Thanks ShellyB
    I am thinking...do you smell smoke?

    FKA-DC

  4. #4
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    Re: Dyoll 73--A Question..On Being a Humanist

    Silent River, thanks for the question. I apologise for the delay in responding. I thought ShellyB gave a rather eloquent - and elegant - explanation of humanism which I don't believe I can surpass.

    Believe it or not (and unless I misquoted the apostle Paul), my journey from christianity to humanism was inspired by that famous dictum: "Prove (test) all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess. 5:21). I had questions in my mind, and being one not afraid to question the status quo, I thought I would embark on the process of subjecting my most cherished beliefs to critical evaluation. I saw Paul's admonition as stated above as being similar to that other famous dictum by Socrates: "The unexamined life is not worth living." The result was my moving away from my denominational affiliation towards a more rational path. Things like the Genesis account of creation, the virgin birth, miracles and resurrection of Jesus, for example, had to go. Likewise, a omniscient, all-powerful, just and benevolent deity seemed nothing more than a human creation. And this was before I actually considered myself a humanist.

    Humanism seeks a rational explanation for things and events. It values the scientific method, empirical evidence, truth and rejects the supernatural. It is in this regard that some humanists actually are atheists. I would say that most humanists who do not consider themselves atheists are not automatically theists. Interesting, is it? They do leave open the possibility that there may exist a god. I suppose I fall into this category. It is worth pointing out that humanism as a philosophy is <u>not</u> concerned with the belief or lack of belief in the existence of a god; rather this is the domain of theism and atheism.

    Another cardinal feature of humanism is compassion for the entire human family. Humanists oppose prejudice in all its forms (including racism and xenophobia), wars of aggression, poverty and inequality, the death penalty, and actively promote the inherent dignity of all human beings, free thought, liberty of conscience, environmentalism, and generally harmony within the human family. And in one's personal behavior, the principle of compassion governs one's conduct, and also one's relationships with others - how you treat people in general, and also your family and loved ones, friends, etc. The environmental component is important because it demonstrates, through ones own actions and lifestyle, how one can minimize or eliminate the negative impacts on the environment. We all share the same planet and it sustains us. My own view is that this compassion must also extend to all sentient beings. I'm no militant animal rights activist by any stretch, but I'm opposed to the use of animals for entertainment purposes or for food. As such I chose to be a vegetarian (vegan). I would neccesarily qualify my position to include circumstances where a person may have to eat animal flesh if his survival depended upon it. But for me, this would be the exception rather than the rule. I'm not in any way suggesting that all humanists are, or should be, vegetarians. This is merely a personal matter.

    As Shelly so clearly articulated above, humanists share a love of the arts and literature - the humanities - those qualities which 'humanize' us. Note the relationship between humanities and humanism. Without subscribing to any particular theological viewpoint, humanists can appreciate even those works of art (paintings, sculpture, music) which have been inspired by religious themes for their aesthetic value. During this time of year, I look forward to listening to a live performance of Handel's Messiah, arguably the greatest oratorio ever composed. Not even the CDs (and I have various arrangements) with a pretty decent surround-sound system can reproduce that awe-inspiring feeling as in a live concert. Art is about freedom of the mind, and equally, the freedom to act responsibly.

    I find humanism, therefore, to be a truly ethical philosophy and that rational path for me.
    &quot;Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.&quot; Carl Sagan

  5. #5
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    Re: Dyoll 73--A Question..On Being a Humanist

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I would say that most humanists who do not consider themselves atheists are not automatically theists. </div></div>

    It's interesting that most Christians I know insist that you must believe in something - even atheism is seen as a belief system of sorts! For me the jury is still out on the existence of a god. I would much rather spend time focusing on what I know "is" than what might be given that as yet there are no cogent arguments or evidence for god.

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> The environmental component is important because it demonstrates, through ones own actions and lifestyle, how one can minimize or eliminate the negative impacts on the environment. We all share the same planet and it sustains us. </div></div>

    Again one of the things that greatly disturbed me when I was a Christian was the lack of concern for the environment among many believers. Since supposedly (to some) this world is not home and it will one day "pass away" then people felt justified in ignoring measures that would protect out planet.
    To others this extended to all other creatures since they have no souls and therefore could not be saved. Needless to say I never agreed with that stream of thinking and now more than ever feel the need to do my part to ensure the health and survival of this earth for humans and all sentient beings.

    Dyoll, I've enjoyed reading your post here. It's lent further substance to what I believe. It's been a recent choice for me to declare myself as a Humanist, although in some respects I have always been one at heart. As I learn more, there is an interweaving and consolidation of thought and action that fits me better than anything I've encountered - like putting really comfortable shoes after after a long walk.

  6. #6
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    Re: Dyoll 73--A Question..On Being a Humanist

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">As I learn more, there is an interweaving and consolidation of thought and action that fits me better than anything I've encountered - like putting really comfortable shoes after after a long walk.</div></div>

    Or a refreshing drink of water having just crossed the desert and mightily thirsty? [img]/forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif[/img]

    I keep re-reading your posts; I find them thoughtful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing.
    &quot;Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.&quot; Carl Sagan

  7. #7
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    Re: Dyoll 73--A Question..On Being a Humanist

    Very Very interesting both of you....And yes, thank you both sharing. I had just skimmed through most of it, but will have to catch up a little later on...let me relax from my day..
    I am thinking...do you smell smoke?

    FKA-DC

  8. #8
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    Re: Dyoll 73--A Question..On Being a Humanist

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: ShellyBelle</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I wanted to answer this question alongside Dyoll and I hope that s/he won't mind me ďbutting inĒ on this thread. Since I consider myself a Humanist too Iíll explain what it means to me. The following is the American Humanist Association definition:

    "Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility"
    American Humanist Association

    There are Humanists who are secular and Humanists who are religious although the latter tend to fall into the category of Unitarian Universalists. Not all atheists are Humanist and not all Humanists are atheists, Humanism and Atheism are not equivalent and one does not logically assume the other. Humanism is an ethic that is committed to reason and making rational choices based on empirical evidence. As a Humanist my beliefs are hypothetical and are open to change in light of new evidence.

    I believe in the enjoyment of life as is! This is the only life I will have so every moment is precious; life is full of opportunity and I find within life itself itís own rewards. Iím not living life (anymore) in dread of displeasing some divine creator who may or may not deem me worthy to spend eternity with him/her. Instead I am the artist of my own canvass of life within the constraints of social mores and impacted by environment, emotional and physical influences. And before anyone thinks itís all about me, my beliefs encompass an empathetic concern and responsibility for others not just locally but globally Ė I want to be part of taking care of this planet and itís people.

    One of the good things I like about Humanism is that I am free to conform or not, to express, to dare and to explore all that mankind is and does. I can appreciate religious reflection and not feel bound by its standards or dogma. I can explore my passion for human expression in art, music and literature as there is nothing banned or off limits. I can meet and interact with people on the common ground that we are human rather than we share a similar set of beliefs or values. I feel no need to convert them to my particular life stance or share theirs.

    When I was a Christian I used to think and in fact was taught that love, forgiveness, compassion and understanding were inherently Christian values, now I know they are not indigenous to Christianity but to humanity as a whole!

    Dyoll looking forward to your input!
    </div></div>

    Hey Shelly, I was trying to acess the link, but it does not seem to be working. [img]/forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif[/img]

    BTW, Thanks for clarifying for me...

    I do believe most (if not all) religion will hold true to the basic human elements of love, compassion forgiveness etc.

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I can meet and interact with people on the common ground that we are human rather than we share a similar set of beliefs or values.</div></div>
    This is true for Christianity as well. I think Christ illustrated this well when he met the Woman at the Well. He met her at the point of humanity. And that is something that we, his followers, and everyone as a whole, can continue to work on. In any case, I do agree that is-or should be- the common meeting place for each individual. World would be a better place..

    I had thoughts on the 'religious' humanist. I wondered how do they coincide the concept of faith and reason. Can faith and reason marry? What are your thoughts on this.

    And Would you consider yourself to be a secular or religious humanist? I read where you can enjoy art music and things of a religious nature and I wondered...
    I am thinking...do you smell smoke?

    FKA-DC

  9. #9
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    Re: Dyoll 73--A Question..On Being a Humanist

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Dyoll_73</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Silent River, thanks for the question. I apologise for the delay in responding. I thought ShellyB gave a rather eloquent - and elegant - explanation of humanism which I don't believe I can surpass.

    Believe it or not (and unless I misquoted the apostle Paul), my journey from christianity to humanism was inspired by that famous dictum: "Prove (test) all things; hold fast that which is good." (1 Thess. 5:21). I had questions in my mind, and being one not afraid to question the status quo, I thought I would embark on the process of subjecting my most cherished beliefs to critical evaluation. I saw Paul's admonition as stated above as being similar to that other famous dictum by Socrates: "The unexamined life is not worth living." The result was my moving away from my denominational affiliation towards a more rational path. Things like the Genesis account of creation, the virgin birth, miracles and resurrection of Jesus, for example, had to go. Likewise, a omniscient, all-powerful, just and benevolent deity seemed nothing more than a human creation. And this was before I actually considered myself a humanist.

    Humanism seeks a rational explanation for things and events. It values the scientific method, empirical evidence, truth and rejects the supernatural. It is in this regard that some humanists actually are atheists. I would say that most humanists who do not consider themselves atheists are not automatically theists. Interesting, is it? They do leave open the possibility that there may exist a god. I suppose I fall into this category. It is worth pointing out that humanism as a philosophy is <u>not</u> concerned with the belief or lack of belief in the existence of a god; rather this is the domain of theism and atheism.

    Another cardinal feature of humanism is compassion for the entire human family. Humanists oppose prejudice in all its forms (including racism and xenophobia), wars of aggression, poverty and inequality, the death penalty, and actively promote the inherent dignity of all human beings, free thought, liberty of conscience, environmentalism, and generally harmony within the human family. And in one's personal behavior, the principle of compassion governs one's conduct, and also one's relationships with others - how you treat people in general, and also your family and loved ones, friends, etc. The environmental component is important because it demonstrates, through ones own actions and lifestyle, how one can minimize or eliminate the negative impacts on the environment. We all share the same planet and it sustains us. My own view is that this compassion must also extend to all sentient beings. I'm no militant animal rights activist by any stretch, but I'm opposed to the use of animals for entertainment purposes or for food. As such I chose to be a vegetarian (vegan). I would neccesarily qualify my position to include circumstances where a person may have to eat animal flesh if his survival depended upon it. But for me, this would be the exception rather than the rule. I'm not in any way suggesting that all humanists are, or should be, vegetarians. This is merely a personal matter.

    As Shelly so clearly articulated above, humanists share a love of the arts and literature - the humanities - those qualities which 'humanize' us. Note the relationship between humanities and humanism. Without subscribing to any particular theological viewpoint, humanists can appreciate even those works of art (paintings, sculpture, music) which have been inspired by religious themes for their aesthetic value. During this time of year, I look forward to listening to a live performance of Handel's Messiah, arguably the greatest oratorio ever composed. Not even the CDs (and I have various arrangements) with a pretty decent surround-sound system can reproduce that awe-inspiring feeling as in a live concert. Art is about freedom of the mind, and equally, the freedom to act responsibly.

    I find humanism, therefore, to be a truly ethical philosophy and that rational path for me. </div></div>


    Your post expanded on some of the things Shelly stated. And thanks for the personal touch..

    For a minute it would sound like the agnostic belief system, but then the agnostic says "I don't know".
    Its interesting that you said paul's statement inspired you on your journey. The letter that Mutty posted of that dying gentleman who was an athiest, stated that he started on his journey also because of the verse of Scripture..can't recall what it is right now. I am gathering from your post that you are of the secualar humanism. Its actually a very interesting view. especially knowing you haev the religious aspect, then the secualr aspect. Cause, as you said "most humanists who do not consider themselves atheists are not automatically theists" I guess I would like to hear your thoughts on the faith and reason concept..do you think they can be wedded partners?

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Art is about freedom of the mind, and equally, the freedom to act responsibly.</div></div>

    This I can appreciate.... [img]/forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/70409-waytogo.gif[/img]
    I am thinking...do you smell smoke?

    FKA-DC

  10. #10
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    Re: Dyoll 73--A Question..On Being a Humanist

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">For a minute it would sound like the agnostic belief system, but then the agnostic says "I don't know".
    Its interesting that you said paul's statement inspired you on your journey. The letter that Mutty posted of that dying gentleman who was an athiest, stated that he started on his journey also because of the verse of Scripture..can't recall what it is right now. I am gathering from your post that you are of the secualar humanism. Its actually a very interesting view. especially knowing you haev the religious aspect, then the secualr aspect. Cause, as you said "most humanists who do not consider themselves atheists are not automatically theists" I guess I would like to hear your thoughts on the faith and reason concept..do you think they can be wedded partners?</div></div>

    Silent River, depending on the subject matter, reason and faith can be at variance with each other, or there may be an attempt to combine the two - "a faith that is reasonable" - some would say. Reason implies a methodological process of enquiry whereby a claim is demonstrated. Faith is a willing stance that may or may not be demonstated by rational means. Demonstration is a neccesary quality where reason is concerned; this is not always the case with faith. 'Revealed' knowledge may be difficult to critique through a rational process.

    Throughout history, there has always been an attempt to 'merge' - so to speak - reason and faith. In classical Greece, Plato and Aristotle, for example, espoused a kind of 'natural' theology based on what was demonstrable/provable. The apostle Paul, himself a christian philosopher of sorts, in many ways, especially during his encounters with the philosophers whom he met, indicated a link between reason and faith. And so did others such as Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandra, St Augustine, St Anselm, Aquinas, and others. I see that attempt today by some liberal theologians who reject a literal interpretation of the Bible on various subjects (of course, I'm not suggesting that the above individuals were liberal by contemporary standards). BTW, are you familiar with the writings of John Shelby Spong (former Espiscopalean Bishop) and John Dominic Crossan?

    As I said before, it depends on the subject at hand. How does one apply a faith-reason nexus with respect to, say, the 'virgin birth' or the physical/bodily resurrection of Jesus, for example? In another thread, "An atheist's journey to christianity" (I think that was the title), the writer said that he had brought his considerable skills as a scholar to bear on the subject of the resurrection, and having done so, he found the evidence compelling. He did not say, however, what that evidence was, or even the nature of the evidence. I can see how a 'liberal' christian (for lack of a better term) can attempt to 'wed' reason and faith; such a person would want his beliefs to be informed by scholarship. However, I would think it rather impossible for a fundamentalist christian to do so.

    The humanist, when presented with empirical evidence, would accept the existence of god. But there is the problem: how do you prove the existence of God? How do you prove the non-existence of God? While the greater burden of proof rests with those claiming the affirmative, it is equally difficult to prove either claim. But, as I said in a previous post, this is not the concern of humanism, strictly speaking.

    &quot;Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.&quot; Carl Sagan

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