Good is Secular Humanist

This is about a particular type of claim made against Secular Humanism (hereafter referred to as Humanism) and it takes on several forms.

One common claim launched against Secular Humanism (usually as a defense of religion) is that Humanism "is Christianity without God" or "adopted Christian values". This claim accuses Humanism of having values and morals only because it adopted them from Christianity and that it has no grounds for its moral framework.

Another claim attacks Humanism on similar grounds, asking rhetorically, in effect: "Why Humanists say that their way is the rational/moral/correct way?" to accuse Humanists of acting just like dogmatic/fundamentalist religious people.

Going along similar lines, if Humanism is another religion, it extends to the idea that Humanists are breaching the wall between church and state when the government acts in agreement with Humanist values.

Religion or not?
Let's deal with the latter two claims first. Is Humanism a religion?

Yes and No. It depends what you are talking about.

Legally, Humanism should recognized as a religion as a practical category that it fits into. Humanism is a philosophy that are not a religion but play a similar role in a person's life. With regards to the law and rights, there isn't much of a difference between a life philosophy that includes a god (a religion) and one that doesn't have gods. Non-believers should not be denied the same rights religious people have.

Generally speaking however, there's a huge difference between a philosophy, like Humanism, and a religion. Religions have a supernatural or dogmatic aspect -- this makes it fundamentally different from Humanism. In religions, god(s) are supernatural entities and in each religion there are certain beliefs that must be held (dogmatism). Humanism have neither -- in fact, Humanism rejects both on the grounds of skepticism.

So, legally, yes, Humanism is a religion. But aside from that, no, Humanism is not a religion unless you wish to destroy the distinction between philosophies and religion by rendering the word "religion" meaningless.

Getting it backwards
Humanism is not a religion without morals (and thus having to import "Christian values") -- it has morals without religion.

Humanism is a philosophy that stems from rational thought, empirical understanding and driven by human empathy. It values skepticism and the scientific method as tools for improving our understanding of the world. Morals is born of the marriage of reason and empathy.

For some religious people, it may be difficult to understand how morals can be of reason and empathy. Especially those who, unfortunately, believes that morals must be handed down by their god.

But think about it a little more deeply.

Do you do charity,
-- because your contributions can help alleviate another person's suffering,
-- because it feels good to help people,
-- because you need the extra cash/time less than less fortunate people, or
-- because god instructed/liked it?

Do you not commit murder,
-- because you are robbing someone of their right to life
-- because you simply do not have such a desire
-- because you are potentially harming the people who love that person
-- because god said so?

In both cases, only the last option is the truly religious -- the only one that can be regarded as having "Christian" (or whatever religion) value. The first 3 can easily be reached via reason and empathy. They are of human value.

No god required
People operate using reason and evidence to deal with everyday issues. When you get the change from the cashier, you count if you want to know if you were given the right change, you don't pray to find out whether it's really 35 cents. When your television is not working right, you check the manual or the internet to see what could be wrong, you don't go to your holy book for advice.

But somehow, some religious people think that: when they want to know how the world came to be, they read their creation myth instead of gathering evidence from the world to ascertain what they can know about the subject. When they want to know what are morals, they adhere to "wisdom" from an old book written by ignorant men who thought they knew god instead of evaluating the moral issue rationally.

Humanism did not adopt any religious value. On the contrary, religions co-opt human values.

Notice that I said human values as opposed to humanist values. Because it is simply an unfortunate situation that we have to identify ourselves as humanists. Humanists are what humans should be unless they are corrupted by religious dogma and fantastical thinking.

Some religious people like to characterize Humanism as their religion without their god like a beautiful flowering plant without its flower. But the truth is their religion is humanism corrupted by god(s) and other magical thinking -- akin to a beautiful garden which became overrun by the supernatural, dogmatic weeds.

Put another way: "Good religion" is "bad religion" stripped of obvious immoral nonsense. Secular Humanism is just "good religion" stripped of ALL nonsense.


Urizen said...

As a representative of the the egoistic-nihilist side I find that Humanism is definitely a religion, or maybe religion is a kind of ideology just like Humanism. In any case, the distinction is spurious. Science has no values, nor does nature, nor does 'humanity' have any intrinsic value or transindividual intrinsic demands. It's just a bunch of arbitrary cult memes scrambled together out of Christianity and Crypto-Protestant wankers from the Enlightenment.

Rights don't exist, nobody owes anything to anyone, the world has no purpose or destiny, extinction is inevitable (second law of thermodynamics) and all values exist only as the values of specific individuals. There are wrong propisitions, but no false values. Humanism is pure wank with pseudo-scientific lipstick.

This is especially patent when you notice that most Humanists know shit about philosophy or science and are just middle-brow wankers who think they're smarter than they really are. These morons know nothing about critical thinking, they just parrot whatever some black physicist on TV says. May as well be a Reverand for all the difference it makes.

One of the problems with humanism is its unwillingness to ignore ineradicable human inequality and dysgenics; the masses can not be 'uplifted'. They will only drag everyone else down if you treat them like they matter.