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Humanism as a religion?

(32 Posts)
Bags Tue 02-Oct-12 06:16:14

Interesting (quite long) article about the somewhat religiosity that humanism can take on by Michael Ruse. He is critical of aspects of Dawkins' approach, which is fine by me as I think Dawkins is wrong about some things too (different things from what Ruse is talking about though).

baublesbanglesandb Tue 02-Oct-12 06:56:43

Bags I think it is interesting that you were able to become a Scout leader as you were a humanist. Did they see it as some sort of religion?

Greatnan Tue 02-Oct-12 07:03:59

I regard my Humanism as a philosophy, or a stance for living. I suppose you could define religion in the same way, but for me it involves a belief in some supernatural intelligence.

Bags Tue 02-Oct-12 07:40:50

I'm not sure, baubles. At the very least, they seem to see it as an acceptable label, even though I pointed out that having humanist values does not make me not an atheist!

But really, I think they're just desperately short of leaders. They'll have to adapt or the scouting movement will collapse in favour of less discriminatory groups such as the Baden-Powell Service Association. Scouts within the original Scout Association are speaking out more and more as well, via the organisation called Inclusive Scouting. There's even a badge. I've sewn one on my uniform. The discriminatory die-hards may object, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. The only reason for wearing the badge is so that people ask what it's for. It's a badge for awareness-raising.

nightowl Tue 02-Oct-12 11:13:58

Interesting article Bags, thank you for posting it. I need to do more studying around this subject in preparation for my son's return home from uni at Christmas. He thinks Dawkins is right about everything and I don't (but don't have sufficiently well researched or considered arguments to refute that). It could be fun to have something to say and avoid yet another lecture grin

Mishap Tue 02-Oct-12 14:34:19

Thanks for that link bags - I have bookmarked it and will read it thoroughly when I have stopped tatting about on gransnet and finished what I am meant to be doing!

feetlebaum Tue 02-Oct-12 19:43:25

Ruse really doesn't make a lot of sense... he waffles on at great length, expressing tired old, long-refuted ideas.

It's not a question of science versus religion, it's religion versus rational thought...

feetlebaum Wed 03-Oct-12 10:39:52

As a PS: PZ Myers puts it rather pithily:

"Ruse has long been in his maundering dotage, but at least he could be counted on to maintain a thought in his head for more than a few minutes…and sadly, he has now written an inconsistent and incoherent pile of drivel in which he clearly rides his favorite hobby-horses while failing to notice that he’s skewering his own windmills."

FlicketyB Wed 03-Oct-12 22:26:12

Humanists believe that there is no supernatural being. How does that difer from the opposite.

Seems to me the only alternative is agnosticism.

Greatnan Wed 03-Oct-12 22:30:04

The opposite what? I am not an agnostic, I am an atheist. I score 7 on Dawkin's scale.
I can't prove fairies don't exist but I don't believe in them.

annodomini Wed 03-Oct-12 22:57:53

How many times do we have to tread over old ground? Most of us have stated our positions several times already. For the last time (huh!), if you need to know how to define humanism, go to:

It is emphatically not a religion if you define a religion as being a belief in and observance of the worship of a supernatural (divine) being. moon

Ana Wed 03-Oct-12 23:05:10

Is that how a religion is defined? Belief in a supernatural being?

Greatnan Wed 03-Oct-12 23:18:45

It is as far as I am concerned. How would you define it?

annodomini Wed 03-Oct-12 23:30:42

You might say 'a belief in a supernatural (divine) being or beings' to include polytheistic religions.

Greatnan Thu 04-Oct-12 07:59:32

There are, of course, philosophies that do no include a belief in any supernatural being(s) but I would not call them religions. I am not sure why the definition is important - I know what I believe, and whatever anyone wants to call my 'stance for living' won't make any difference to that belief.

FlicketyB Thu 04-Oct-12 08:15:03

which is exactly what a religion is. I do not see why a religion has to include a belief in a supernatural being. Your last sentence Greatnan is exactly what the follower of any religion would say.

absentgrana Thu 04-Oct-12 08:20:58

I think, generally speaking religion is defined in terms of a "belief in, reverence for, and desire to to please a divine ruling power" (OED) and "recognition on the part of man of some higher unseen power as having control of his destiny and as being entitled to obedience, reverence, and worship" (ibid). That is why Buddhism is not usually classed as a religion and, presumably, rules out humanism.

Greatnan Thu 04-Oct-12 08:22:53

'Words mean what I want them to mean'. We can all stick to our own definition - it won't make any difference to anybody else. I don't regard Humanism as a religion, but if anybody else wants to think it is, why should it matter to me?

nightowl Thu 04-Oct-12 08:51:57

feetlebaum is the fact that P Z Myers is so rude in expressing his opinion evidence that he is right? I have no respect for anyone who personalises his views in such a way, whatever his argument. That's one if the things I don't like about Dawkins.

Bags Thu 04-Oct-12 08:58:13

Please give an example of Dawkins being rude to people in expressing his opinions.

Greatnan Thu 04-Oct-12 09:07:17

Whenever I am told I must respect all beliefs equally, I ask if I should respect a belief that says that a man is allowed to beat his wife (wives).
It is quite difficult to express a deeply-held, well-researched and totally sincere opinion about religion without somebody complaining that you are insulting them or trying to take away their freedom to worship. I think I will start to complain every time someone takes a swipe at atheism!

nightowl Thu 04-Oct-12 23:43:43

I do think that Dawkins comparing Michael Ruse with Neville Chamberlain is rude and a personalisation of the debate. I acknowledge that he is not generally as rude as some others, but I do find him arrogant.

I am not religious and I have no problem with anyone having a go at religious beliefs. I just don't think it's acceptable to go in for personal attacks. I think it works the other way as well - it is unacceptable to make personal attacks on atheists. It's a matter of basic courtesy.

I'm off to bed now, and away for the weekend, so if this discussion continues please don't think I'm avoiding it.

Bags Fri 05-Oct-12 06:06:17

I see. That seems hypersensitive to me. Likening someone to someone else for their approach to a subject doesn't seem excessively personal to me. I suppose I don't find Dawkins arrogant because I lived and worked in Oxford for so long.
On the academic arrogance scale he's very near the bottom. As I recall, it was usually students who were the worst rather than professors well-practised in rigorous academic debate. At least Dawkins isn't afraid to publish others' criticism of him on his own website.

annodomini Sat 15-Dec-12 10:31:09

In this article Polly Toynbee uses humanism/atheism as the antithesis of religion.

annodomini Sat 15-Dec-12 10:44:34

"Reason, decency, tolerance, empathy and hope are human traits that we should aspire to, not because we seek reward of eternal life or because we fear the punishment of a supernatural being, but because they define our humanity. Only in recent years have I come to appreciate that all those qualities I have tried to espouse are precisely what defines Humanism."

Professor Jim Al-Khalili