Humanism vs. Atheism

A couple of days ago, a 21 year-old student asked me: “Is it a contradiction of terms to be a Humanist but not an Atheist?” I replied approximately as follows:

It depends on how you define your terms. I believe that the essence of humanism is a sense that humanity as a whole is more important than any of its subgroups. Basic to humanism is an attitude that starts with a sense of togetherness, a sympathy and a sharing, accompanied by a sense that you as an individual share responsibility for our collective future with all the rest of humanity.

If you believe there is a God specifically dedicated to the protection or care of the group you happen to belong to, whether that group is defined by religion or race or whatever, and that your god supports your group as opposed to other groups, I don’t think you can properly be considered a true humanist.

If you believe that there is a God up there someplace that you can invoke to alter specific things that are going to happen, you are not a true humanist. You are in effect passing the buck to an entity whose existence is unverifiable. The humanist says, in effect, the buck stops here.

If you don’t submit to either of those two beliefs, however, you can be a humanist in practice even if you choose to believe in some higher power. Some atheists might dispute this, but I believe they are being unnecessarily exclusive, and underrate the need for all of us to work together to combat the pernicious forces of the conservative religious types. Issues like the separation of church and state are very important, and non-believers need to work together with sensible believers to make sure we suffer no return to theocratic tyranny.

To put it in technical terms, there is a great gap between theists and deists, where deists believe there is a power up there but basically we are on our own. That gap is far more important, in practical terms, than the gap in belief between deists and atheists. As long as you recognize that human destiny is made here on earth, by us humans, and that we are solely responsible for what happens, whether you believe in God (the deist approach) or don’t (atheism) is a matter of choice, and an individual seriously concerned with the future of humanity can go either way. A deist with strong humanist leanings is likely to be a person that makes a positive contribution to humanity as a whole. I am a humanist who prefers not to believe in any superior power, but I welcome humanism wherever I find it. We need each other.

CSC 7/16/00

This entry was posted in Progressive Humanism. Bookmark the permalink.

103 Responses to Humanism vs. Atheism

  1. Anthony Cook says:

    Hi Carl thanks for your info. My sister’s a humanist and I was just wanting to get a bit of background to her beliefs. You seem to be a very reasonable and pleasant bunch. I like your “the buck stops here” attitude. I considered myself an atheist for many years but it didn’t occur to me to pursue humanism. Too late now tho, I’m a theist – a christian. But I hope I’m the sort of theist who is humanist-friendly, certainly my sister and I get on very well together and I love her to bits. I don’t try to change her views either tho I have to admit I’d like it if she did; but I don’t see that happening soon, she’s pretty pragmatic. She recommended the movie “Paul” to me recently which was very funny. I could laugh because I don’t really fit the stereotype of the christians in it too well (tho I could relate to some extent, without the hysteria).
    Anyway, nice chatting with you. I live in Australia btw, in a small country township up in the hills where the weather is wintry at the moment – sunny but cold. I assume you’re in the USA, right?

    • Olivia says:

      I am a whole-hearted Christian who grew up in a small, local baptist church. However, I am friends with many humanist and two athiest. As it turns out, a girl, who now lives in my household and is legally considersed my sister, has claimed that she is an athiest. She a nice and kind person and I love her death as if she really were my sister, but I am having a hard time trying to understand her way of thinking. Thank you for these posts! They help explain a lot.
      Ps. I’m a Texan!

  2. Carl Coon says:

    One difference between atheists and humanists is that atheists tend toward confrontation with true believers while humanists are willing to discuss the god question in a more relaxed way. As for me, I work it out this way: we don’t know what we don’t know and as long as we don’t know everything we cannot logically assert that such-and-such does not exist. We can, however, assert with some confidence that on the basis of what we do know, the existence of such-and-such has not been proven. We can go further and assert that on the basis of what we know, it appears highly improbable that we shall ever find proof that such-and-such exists. If you can accept the validity of this line of reasoning, why fight over whether such-and-such is highly improbable or whether it is truly non-existent?
    I am of course willing to argue about whether the existence of God has actually been proven. It has not.

    • lola says:

      Some atheists are humanists, so your comment should read “one difference between atheists who are not humanists…”
      Even then, I suppose I defy the parameters you set.
      My atheism is not to replace humanism. My humanism is to fill in the void that atheism was never designed to fill. Life, philosophy, human interaction and perception.

      Unfortunately, those who also identify themselves as “atheists” and who enjoy honest and direct communication are often seen as aggressors by those who have baggage with the term “atheist”.
      That’s a shame, because when it all comes down to it, if one is without belief in god concepts, then one is an atheist, regardless of whether they dislike the term and choose another.

      If one believes that the concept of “god” cannot be known by the human animal, then one is more traditionally a Huxley agnostic.
      By all means, call yourself whatever you like, I support that sincerely, but do not put negative baggage upon those who embrace the term simply because we see things differently.

      I personally am without any belief in god concepts and await one shred of proof for the claims. There are no gods in my or this world…however, I am always open to change my mind should proof of one appear.
      I understand mythology gods, supernatural deities and demons. I understand anthropology and the material/natural world.
      There are no such creatures as “gods” outside of lore and human mythology and until it is proven that a creature worthy of being called “god” exists, I cannot pretend I hold a reserve that is not there. Further, if a creature of the Old Testament appeared, I’d hope my courage held to be smote to hell rather than bend a knee to such a thing. I’d hope….yes….

      I choose the term “atheist” to take a stand against the legislation and historic revisionism of this country, but aside from my political reasoning for the term, I am a secular humanist, a person who falls soundly under the Humanist umbrella.
      I choose the term to let others who question KNOW there are reasonable and kind people who are atheists.
      I choose the term because I am a woman and I can accept none of the patriarchal god concepts as rational.
      I choose the term because to pretend there is some form of as of yet undefined, unrevealed “god” is a bit nonsensical, it’s homage only to our “god” conditioning….it’s not good science to hold reserve for biblical/theistic comic book characters.
      Despite all of the above, if a god should appear, I’d consider it, and its dogma very carefully and should it be legit, I would recognize it, though I might not adhere to the dogma. Again, I’d hope my humanistic ethics would keep me strong enough to face any consequences. 😉

      Atheism itself is insufficient to encompass a worldview, but it does efficiently state my stance where god claims reside. I’m very comfortable with that.

      That said, I have no wish to kick any intellectual sand on any other form of nonbeliever, and prefer they keep their damning broader classifications on who and what (they believe) I am – because I embrace the term “atheist”, to themselves lest they look like they are too eager to stereotype and I lose a bit of respect for them.
      Sigh…I guess even I like to keep some illusions, Carl.

      In real life, I am non-imposing. I am often assumed to be a christian and only when pressed do I note I am an atheist. I do not declare or challenge.
      Online, in proper debate rooms, I debate.
      I find a lot of atheists are quite like me. Yes, there are some aggressive atheists, and given the numbers of aggressive theists and what they have done to women’s and human rights re: equality, I must say, bravo/brava to them. It’s not my cuppa, but I support them excepting the most obnoxious fringe, which in the scheme of numbers is really sort of unmentionably small, isn’t it?

      These are reasonable distinctions that I find all too often become blurred by someone who may have some aversion to either the term “atheist” or some limited interaction with atheists they reacted strongly to…..and I wonder why it’s so comfortable for otherwise very logical folk to make such a broad statement.

      Atheists deserve the right to be comfortable in their own skin as long as they do no harm to others. Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way and this creates anger —> activism, which creates reactive responses from folks who have not experienced some of the same life tribulations of being atheist in a strongly theistic environment.
      I know…I know….it’s hard not to judge when you think people should be this or that based on one’s feelings to certain personality traits.

      • Aviator says:


        Do you mean to say that without Humanism you wouldn’t be able to enjoy “Life, philosophy, human interaction, and perception”? Is there some kind of rule that says Atheists don’t enjoy or participate in these activities?


      • Justin says:


        After a couple years of trying to define exactly how I felt about religion as a whole, you hit the proverbial nail on the head. What you said is 100% what I thought. Even though this was posted a year ago, I felt compelled to reply to it.

      • Jason says:


        I love your response by the way, summed up my own thoughts better then I could.

        Cheers from 3 years later,


      • D says:

        Hi Lola,

        I assume you didn’t mean to, but you do kick sand when you refer to the word of God as a comic book or the sarcastic under current when you wrote your view on Christianity. I respect your view, but in explaining your point you invariably did exactly what you said humanist shouldn’t do.

        Also, I would ask you or anyone else in this forum why God has to be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt with what evidence? What would convince you? Actually I think that’s the very wall that prevents understanding the full perspective of having a relationship with God. Belief, faith, hope followed by love in action is the Christ following equation. If you say you can choose to have faith in a higher power that makes logical sense but to have to prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt with some particular objective evidence (that may be subjective to someone else) then that logically doesn’t fall in line with believing in a Devine being. If every mystery of God could be discovered and understood then he wouldn’t be that majestic of a God. In other words a God that doesn’t fit in a human box or mind is something that should be revered or at the very least pondered. We try as humans to be good and as we can see with the election and many other examples we can talk about that occurred just in 2016. Our standards are all over the place and subjectivity in what’s good or bad is not just a believer vs non-believer it’s a human condition. We collectively by ourselves can’t agree on the simple tenants of society or we have varying degrees of the same thing. It seems great to have a stew of standards, but at the extreme ends of those human standards that’s where you see selfish destructive behavior on one end and then selfless loving behavior on the other. The good and bad are inevitable because we are fallible, but what objective universal standard becomes the pillar of human existence. Subjectivity hasn’t worked within Christianity, humanism or atheism. When we collectively agree on objective standards is when we get along harmoniously. When my good is different then your good and my bad is different then your bad is when divisiveness occurs.

        Unconditional Love requires belief, faith, Hope and selfless action. Where we differ is where we believe that love originates and what we put our faith in. We have a belief or farthing something even if it’s ourselves or one another. The question is who would you rather put your faith in. There is information out there about humans, evil, and God. Proof is not the determining factor, your faith is.

        • Ed says:

          It’s an epistemological problem. Knowledge starts at zero and is built up from experience and evidence. There is no reason to believe in something that has no reliable evidence to support it. I can’t just believe in something because I want to or it feels good. “Faith” is required for the very reason there is no proof. If I decided to believe in pink elephants and told you they were real, would you believe me? What if I got a thousand people to tell you there were pink elephants? You’d probably still doubt it just on our word. You’d want at least a photograph. The scriptures make some fantastical and illogical claims that were were written by people with barely any knowledge of nature and at a time when the world was abound with all manner of Gods. Is the Bible more reliable than Homer’s Odyssey, if so, why? There are many other reasons to doubt its veracity as well, including non-witness accounts, translation errors, and assemblage. There are a great many believers in other religions who are as adamant in their faith as Christians, and each group is sure the others have it wrong. It leads me to conclude they’re all wrong, at least until proven otherwise. If you want to believe, then may your God go with you.
          As far as religion being necessary for a good, decent, and just life, or to provide moral standards, I emphatically disagree. You won’t like it, but morality isn’t fixed; everything changes, including that. Views on slavery or homosexuality have changed. Fixed is: Thou Shalt Not Kill, yet many Christians support capital punishment. They still practice traditions in the Middle East that we find repulsive. What is moral depends on the particular circumstances at that particular time. We humans are pretty smart; we can figure it out as we go.
          Take care.
          PS: the “comic book” reference was a bit snide.

      • George Collins says:

        Lola, it’s been many decades since I was let loose teaching philosophy’s history in a parochial college that a left with more fondness for Sartre than institutional persuasions. Enjoyed reading your posting and am reminded that most orthodoxies are not friendly, at least not in their nomenclature, to women.

    • atheist says:

      good shit man gooood shit!!!!! hahaha

    • atheist says:

      carl coon is right!

    • Adjel says:

      I’m sorry, but I have to call you out on the “atheists tend toward confrontation with true believers.” As there are always a few zealots in any group of people who feel a certain way, I find this a gross generalization. Yes, as an atheist, I am confrontational if the situation merits. I call bulls**t when I hear it. Otherwise, I, as well as countless other atheists, are perfectly willing to “discuss the god question in a more relaxed way,” provided the other party is willing to “discuss” and not just proselytize, otherwise there is no discussion. Also, I see humanism as being completely compatible with atheism, but is not compatible with “true” Christianity. Christianity, like pretty much all religions, is a religion of exclusion. It was constructed by men, meant to exclude women and control them, as well as to exclude groups who “aren’t like them,” like homosexuals, or people of other beliefs, or people of color, or perhaps just people of certain regions. Humanism, in my understanding, is a “live and let live” doctrine, that relishes and embraces the differences in humans.

    • Teresa Roper says:

      I am an atheist, who is never confrontational unless I get a religious type that decides to get in my face when I say I am an atheist ( I am also a humanist). Just yesterday someone asked me what church I go to, I said I didn’t go, She told me I would be welcome to come with her to her church (United) next Sunday. I replied, ” No thanks, I am an Atheist.” ( exact words) She said “NO!”
      I said “yes” she said “No you cant be, your a good person!” I answered ” well, I am an atheist, and a good person then” she said ” You? I cannot believe it! That’s horrible! Atheists are evil and are doomed to hell!!” Well then I got confronational -sort of and said Atheists do not kill people and have never had an atheist crusade, I think Christains have done more to harm people that Atheists have… She gave me a dirty look and said I was an ignorant person andshe would pray for me.. I thought but didn’t say “FUCK YOU”

    • Since the dawn of time, we’ve fought the bifurcated extremes of religion vs. logic/atheism. Now, for people with open minds and hearts, there’s an emerging third cosmos… Come take a look…

  3. mary says:

    The proof is in the pudding as “they” say…I suppose both you and I will find out when our spirits leave our bodies. Unfortunately for you, if I, a believer turn out to be right, you are in for a rather unhappy surprise.

    • Robert S says:

      Well actually it should be “The proof is in the eating…” “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” – is the actual phrase, so a shorthand should be “the proof is in the eating”

    • atheist says:

      but we have no spirits? We are buried in the ground forever…black….forever…there is no satan , there is no hell, no heaven and no “GOD”……HAIL SCIENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…..where would this “heaven” be?…not in space……..where there is proof of science everywhere up there……..and where might this hell be??……not under us!! ill tell you that much!! the earth’s layers and core……and those places and “GODS”……are most likely to be imagination just something for the god freaks to believe in……………….ERROR 404…GOD NOT FOUND!

      • hazar says:

        how you know there is no heaven or no hell or no god relying on science which is proven by a week human not a super one. whatever facts have been proven still week to believe them either because the human mind is not perfect and if it is perfect, it is still complicated. so whoever you are(atheist, humanitarian, muslim, christian, …), you still ignorant and you know nothing and you are unable to know even if you are the cleverest in this world. whatever the human being is trying to prove is still unproven in a way so how you could rely on a such proof from a weak mind in a weak being. everything seems doubtful and hard to assume its existence or its truth. if you believe in something in particular, it is just to be in a kind of peace within yourself, even while you are not sure of what thing you believe in or accept to be your guidance. everyone of us is trying to rely on something to prove something else which is not proven itself. it looks complicated but it is acceptable if it is not even true.

        • Born again Atheist says:

          Excuse me, my claim is I am a Super Hero I can fly, turn invisible, have wicked super strength and read minds…. No I don’t have to prove that I can, YOU have to prove I can’t. That is the exact logic theists throw our way so I figure time for you to accept your own theory and prove I’m wrong, until you do, well I’m a freaking super hero

      • Himynameisgod says:

        “ERROR 404…GOD NOT FOUND!”

        Brilliant – atheist

    • Teresa Roper says:

      So you believe so that you can have an afterlife, regardless of how horrible people are in this life right. Jeffrey Dalmer believed he would go to heaven because he asked Jesus for forgiveness. So by your theory you will be up there with Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dalmer and Adolf Hitler, Veron Wayne Howell ( changed his name to David Koresh -Waco – light them on fire), Matthew Hale ( KKK), Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jr. ( California, suicide because of Hale Bopp), Jim Jones (909 people including 174 children poisoned by Kool-Aid with Cyanide), John C. Salvi (planned parenthood bomber), Timothy McVeigh ( Oklahoma bombing).. etc..etc. I’d rather be with the humanists and Atheists thank you.

    • Ecidekoo says:

      And if we’re right, you’ll just not exist anymore, not being hurt or hurting anybody. Which of us has the most violent beliefs? Nice. Not to mention the bullshit you’d have gone through your entire life for. Nothing.

  4. Dawn says:

    and unfortunately for you Mary, if you turn out to be wrong, you’re in for a hell of a shock. 🙂

  5. Big D says:

    If you believe that being a human is all there is then God(cannot be defined so let’s not go there) will not be available to you. The reason no man can prove the existence of God is because man exists apart from God. A divine eternal being seperated from his own essence through the insertion of a false ego concept and thus a false will. Once seen for what it is a man can remove himself from the false perception of seperateness and return to the unified wholeness of his own nature. That’s why it’s said(in so many words) that man must surrender unto God. (his own true nature) So the humanist is correct in regards to being a human being but not neccessarily correct in his understanding of the fundamental nature of his being. He’ll never be able to prove anything. It does require dissolution of the entire concept of ego. Can any man achieve that through his own effort? Perhaps you’ll answer why would he want to. Well, there you go.

  6. Justin says:

    You would serve the Humanist movement more effectively if you would not refer to religious types as “conservative”. There are plenty of liberal/progressive religious types that do not agree with the Humanist or Atheist way of thinking.

    • lola says:

      Having been on atheist lists for 15 years, having attended conventions, I can only wonder, outside of the def. “without belief in god” (concepts), what this “atheist way of thinking” is, for we are surely so diverse that we agree on very little most of the time.
      Goodness, I’d hoped to find more open minded discourse here.
      Oh well, status quo is an accepted behavior.
      Bully for the species.

  7. Alan S says:

    That’s a good interpretation of humanism. I looked it up to see what is the difference between humanism and atheism (hell of a word to spell – can’t we come up with something else?). I know what I believe, disbelieve and am open minded about. However people always want to label you and can’t wait half an hour while you explain all of this to them. I could happily call myself an atheist, agnostic or humanist for all the value there is in a term whose definition is not carved in stone or that means the same to all people. for example the word Christian can mean someone who treats their fellow man as they’d like to be treated. It also applies to someone who wages war on another simply because their definitions of God are different. This is why atheists are becoming more vocal – because we’re fed up with hypocrisy.

    • Roni says:

      I am a Christian, and hypocrisy, especially that of my parents, annoys the shit out of me. I am a fan of the religion, but not of the fanclub. What I do not understand is why atheists use “hypocrisy” to validate (?) their own claim. It is quite irrelevent and a pointless argument. All people are guilty of hypocrisy, not just Christians. Humans are naturally hypocrites, in any religious group or belief (including atheism). The statement is true, but all it does is point out the shortcomings/misrepresentation of that religion, and has nothing to do with whether or not the religion itself is true.

      • trecrusune says:

        Atheists make no claim as a body to be a group of good, kind, understanding and morally superior folk. Christians do. And Christian behavior, as a body, is pretty grotesque, particularly your leaders.

        This aside, God himself is a hypocrite, so I find it hard to understand why anyone would follow someone who tells his followers to be morally superior to himself – do not covet, I am a jealous god, etc. You could follow any leader as massively flawed as this, human or god, or you could listen to yourself.

        I used to spend a lot of time rebutting people who were incredibly angry that I dared to think differently, but these days I’m more at peace with the idea that you can’t think for anyone but yourself and that each person must choose their own way, and ask themselves difficult questions before they can reach any kind of understanding.

        • Bruce Leiter says:

          Where do you hear Christians claiming that they are morally-superior folks? I’m a Christian and know no one like that. We’re all flawed people in need of Jesus to clean up our act. That will only happen completely when he returns.

          I’m interested in your claim that God’s a hypocrite. Give me book, chapter, and verse in the Bible for your evidence, and we can talk. For example, how are “do not covet” and “I am a jealous God” inconsistent?

          I’m just interested in your line of reasoning, not angry. After all, you’re right that everyone must find their own way. I happen to find mine as a Christian believer in a church.

          • Phil says:

            “Where do you hear Christians claiming that they are morally-superior folks? ”

            Christian apologists like to claim that the existence of Objective Morality is good evidence for the existence of Yahweh. While there is no good evidence that Objective Morality exists, the presumption that morality is god given, implies that Christians are knowing participants in that moral code, which carries a certain necessary superiority.

            It also implies that atheists are merely passive, unwitting, even reluctant parties to Yahweh’s morality – an inherently inferior morality to a Christian’s.

            Many Christians also argue that atheists deny Yahweh so that they can sin without guilt or consequence, implying that atheists are actively immoral (i.e. extreme moral inferiority).

            The awkward implication for Christians is that they are only moral because they are being monitored 27/7 by a watchful parent. Atheists, in contrast, are apparently moral because it’s the right thing to do.

            And then there’s the horrendous moral standards Yahweh actually manifests in the bible… but that’s another matter.

      • Ecidekoo says:

        Why is atheism always spoken about (by believers) as if it’s a religion aswell? What sets us apart is that atheists are just not religious. People forget.

        • Bruce Leiter says:

          It depends on what you mean by “religion.” If you mean an organized group for worship and service, you’re right. However, if you mean groups of people subscribing to the rules of human reason and experience rather than nonhuman, divine beings, they would be religious. I happen to believe in God but don’t judge or condemn other people. You can believe or not as you wish.

          My point is that we all depend on someone or something for security and satisfaction in life. For me, that is “religion” in the general sense.

  8. Robert S says:

    In how many dimensions do we exist? I think that question may be more meaningful to us today than asking “is there a Heaven”, or “is there an afterlife”.

    One could also as: “Is there life before death?”

    Yep, one could ask that alrighty.

  9. Lisa says:

    I decided to look into humanism after seeing an ad on the bus this weekend. As a Christian, I didn’t understand the difference between humanism and atheism and it seemed odd to advocate a disbelief in something, namely God. This article was helpful in helping me to understand that Humanism, at least, is a positive belief and is not just based on a disbelief in something else. For the record, I believe that Christianity is simply the belief, based on faith, that God (Jesus) exists and died for my sins because of His grace. It’s funny that my pursuit of philosophy brought me back to Christianity.

    • atheist says:

      honestly lisa… not trying to bag on your belief but… mom is a christan and all she does is read the bible and watch church on tv and she goes to church every freakin sunday… and all me and her do is debate aboutif there is a god…..she tells me there is ……but that is just to unrealistic …there could never be a superior being in the regular life ….. if there was a “god”…there would have been proof by now seriously!!..think about it….where could he even be????………..exactly..nowhere.

      • Roni says:

        Demonic possessions are proof that a spiritual realm that is separate from human existence, yet collides with it, thus pointing to at least the possibility of a superior being that has a divine spiritual entity.

  10. Jan Birch says:

    Jesus Christ is the greatest humanist that ever lived. Please for those of you who don’t know what this incredible human did for his fellow humans and huwomans for that matter ( he had to work with the culture of his time) please I implore you to take a few minutes to read about it and then think, as a humanist, do you serve yourselves or every human/woman on this beautiful planet.
    Thank you.

    • Chase says:

      There is less proof of the existence of Jesus Christ than there is of a god. Of the 33 historians living in the Roman Empire(that encompassed Jerusalem), not one historian bothered to mention the man. At least not until the first Council of Nicaea. Then three, inherently Christian historians finally did. To be honest, having read on most world religions and mythologies, The New Testament is an overtly obvious attempt at converting the same old sun cult that made it’s rounds in the ancient world. It is essentially a re-telling with different names of numerous other god-kings, namely Horus, or varyingly Osiris.

      The name Jesus Christ is actually not a name at all, but a title, meaning, “Annointed One”. The same title used a hundred times over, only this time in Hebraic, by archetypal messianic figures.

      • Lisa F says:

        I don’t believe in god or that jesus was a son of god born of a virgin, but there was a Jesus… and he was a carpenter and he also had siblings and his own family… the person is true… the rest was a really good novel…. like twilight…

      • Roni says:

        I am currently a Christian, and I was raised in a Christian home. However, I do not want this to be the sole reason for my faith. I want to know why I believe what I believe. What is the point of my faith if I can not defend it? There are so many religions out there, each of them claiming to be true. Although some of them have similarities and share historical background, they cannot all be true. There is only one truth. (I consider atheism a religion: the belief to not believe. If that makes sense.) I am interested learning in all views of religion, to either confirm or discredit my faith, and also to understand that of others. I find it fascinating, the differences and similarities among religuous beliefs. Religion is only human nature after all.Given, each belief (including atheism), has its own flaws/inclarities, yet only one can be at least the most true. That is my current quest. What you said caught my attention. You seem to know what you are talking about. Tell me more!

    • JLong says:

      Jesus is the greatest humanist that ever lived … ? Are you sure about that? How many people did he help when he was alive? More than Mandela, more than MLK, more than Chavez, more than Ghandi? I am just throwing out some of the more well known names in the ‘good works’ department. I have a bone to pick with the ‘Give all the credit to Jesus’ crowd. Why are all humans born with original sin but Jesus gets all the credit for any good that we do? Are we spiritual slaves? Indoctrinated as children that we are incapable of good or moral acts without God and that good and moral acts when they occur are akin to spiritual currency which God then gets to invest while we go on earning it for him. God a humanist … ? Anyone saying that needs to do some remedial Bible study.

      • non atheist says:

        The spelling of Gandhi’s name is wrong. As an Indian I find that very irritating. And as an Indian I also know that Gandhi didn’t help as many people as you all think he did. Plus, he was a theist. He not only believed in a god, he believed in gods, including Christ. Please do some research. If by MLK you mean Martin Luther King jr., then you should know that he believed in God too, actually in Jesus, the person you all seem happy to bash in here. Chavez? Not Hugo Chavez I hope, but Cesar Chavez. He was a Christian, wasn’t he? And Nelson Mandela openly professed Christian faith. I really didn’t understand humanism and actually kind of stumbled upon it. I never knew that being a humanist means that you have to be an atheist. I thought (how silly of me!) that humanists are people who are concerned with the welfare of all people, regardless of religious affiliations. I don’t know if all you people writing here are white but it looks to me that your humanism is pretty exclusive too. If I understand correctly, (I don’t have much philosophy background) the humanist tradition started with the Renaissance umanisti, right? Who were really exclusivist, excluding women and excluding other races and excluding “common people”. Then humanism was appropriated by the guy who propagated the ideology of a super race, Hitler himself. So when born again atheist said he’s a super hero I find it chilling. You see, I’m not white. And that kind of discourse reminds me of the mad tyrant whose view about my people were not too endearing. So although someone here said Christianity is exclusive, what I see is that humanism is exclusive too. Perhaps even more so. I suspect it is like religion too, albeit a god-less religion.
        Anyway, what I want to say is, first of all, Jesus lived like an ordinary person. He was a carpenter, son of a carpenter. Why would anyone record the life of an ordinary person? Besides, biblical records state that he was crucified like a criminal. I guess there were too many criminals then as there are now. Secondly, in spite of some of you saying there was no proof of his having lived apart from biblical records and some christian scholars records, I think you better do more research because there is proof. It’s surprising that there is proof at all because he was pretty much a nobody. Thirdly, he helped a lot of people, was not exclusivist (even assuming there was no such person, biblical records state that the person called Jesus didn’t exclude women, nor judged “sinners”, “ignorant”, “poor” people but was against hypocrisy of all kinds), and, if humanism implies humanitarianism, he (or what you might call the myth of the person called Jesus) was a humanitarian and related to people on a very personal level.
        I would also respectfully like to state here that even though Carl Coon in a comment below used the term free will in conjunction with only humanism, theism, especially Christian theism, explicitly and on numerous instances in the Bible, advocates free will (in the free will and determinism argument). I suggest you do more research before making such statements.
        Finally, I would like to state here because of our free wills we are able to choose what we believe. Some choose atheism-humanism system of belief, some choose theism-humanitarian system fo belief while others choose pantheism, deism, and as we see in India, a belief in a million gods. The fact is, the comments I read here are mostly bent on Christian bashing and are exclusivist and judgemental (note Lisa F’s comment below calling “people of faith” “ignorant and close minded. pretty humanistic right?). If you do not choose to believe, so be it. But if other choose to believe, are they ignorant? Or “let off the hook”? Pardon me but that sounds like determinism to me.

        • (Atheist) --------|-------- (Humanist) ----------------- (Christian) says:

          non atheist, JLong never once said those people listed were not Christian, so your first rant is mute. He merely said they were people who have done subjectively “good” deeds and therefore more humanist than “Jesus.”

          If you’ve done your research, then you’d learn that, to be humanist, it means you essentially believe in humans and respect peoples’ differences (which, unfortunately, varies widely from today’s most prevalent idea of Christianity – not bashing on Christianity, just being honest). For example, to best of knowledge, being a humanist versus a fundamentalist means that, instead of praying and then thanking a God for good things that happen to us, we take credit and own up to our own accomplishments. Having good morals because it’s the “good” thing to do and not for fear that we’ll go to hell or be smited. If you read the first post on this article you’d understand that people like Adolf Hitler would be disqualified immediately from being a humanist (that wouldn’t necessarily stop him from calling himself one). Another example of someone who couldn’t be a humanist based on his current beliefs or point of view? You.

        • juniper says:

          Do you have a blog I can follow?

      • daisy says:

        Have you read the book of Mark?

  11. Lisa F says:

    Uggg…. I guess I am a secular humanist… but when some people of faith choose to be so ignorant and close minded and just unwilling to hear, it makes it hard… look, I am a person who does not believe in any gods or spirits or myths… I will admit, that for comfort, I do talk to family or friends that have passed away… but it is merely a comforting feeling.. I do NOT believe they are “looking down and listening”. I truely believe in just doing the right thing, all the time… help out people in need… and any other people… I believe in my own self conciense… if something makes me feel bad… I know it is wrong and I try to make up for that… I don’t need the guilt of a church or god. it’s common sense and we are all born with that… with the exception of a few true sociopaths… ok, off subject… what got me to write was, I think her name was Mary, saying that to non-believers, that when we die we will be unhappy… ok.. well going with your religion… if I do die and there is a good and loving god, as you say, I think he looks at peoples merits in life… how they lived their life, not what they called themselves… so IF there is a magic god… I think I’ll be ok… but I’m not worried, because I will be dead and not have the capacity to worry anymore, lol…..

    • aniccia says:

      Hi Lisa
      ‘ if something makes me feel bad…’ nobody ever makes you feel bad – you are CHOOSING to feel bad!!!

    • daisy says:

      ” Blessed are those that did not see yet believed.”
      Referring to beleiving in the Holy Trinity.

  12. Craig says:

    Is it then a contradiction that Richard Dawkins is a Vice President of the British Humanist Association. He has quite strong views about religion. We he sit along well with a Deist or a well meaning and liberal christian?

  13. Jimmy says:

    Secular humanism sounds all nice and worthy, but its essentially an offshoot of atheism and therefore inherently contradictory by attempting to define moral principles and ways of acting to which we should adhere. If atheism is true, all thought, rationality and moral decisions are the consequence of physical processes beyond out control. Why even bother trying to be a good person when you know any thoughts you have are a result of physical factors outside your control. The whole thing seems absurd. And how can you criticise conservative theists when they can’t control their acts and beliefs. The best one can say is that you have no choice but to think you’re free. Hitches said something similar and frankly it’s laughable, feel free to disagree but be kind as I have no power over what I type, those damn particles and neural juices compel me to do it, I wish they would rattle the chain of causation a different way then I could be a progressive atheist.

    • Nope says:

      You’re confusing atheism with free-will. Again, like others, you’re assuming that atheists are all the same. You can be an atheist and believe in free will. We don’t understand consciousness yet so free will is debatable.

    • Phil says:

      “Why even bother trying to be a good person when you know any thoughts you have are a result of physical factors outside your control.”

      Morality is a set of evolved behaviors in social animals. They are behaviors that encourage social cohesion. There is nothing magical or mystical about them. Morality only needs to confer a net reproductive advantage to a species. We see than as transcendent qualities but that’s just our human egos doing a bit of inflation.

      Fact is, all social animals have morals, including social insects.

  14. Carl Coon says:

    Jimmy, you seem to think atheism must involve determinism, and it doesn’t. In the free will versus determinism argument, we non-believers are on the side of free will. We believe a person can live a good and moral life without believing in god. We try at least as hard to live up to that conviction as god-fearing types do. Harder, usually, as we don’t have any system of confession and penance that lets you off the hook.

    • JLong says:

      Well said Carl Coon. The theist struggle to understand what the word atheist means is very strange from the perspective of an atheist. As though there is some disconnect, some spiritual circuit breaker overload and ‘pop’: all further comprehension stops. It is the simplest of words that only exists in reference to a time when everyone was required to ‘believe’ in God else there were dire consequences. It just means you don’t believe in God, any of them. The assumption that somehow there must be something within atheism that replaces God and religion is wrong. Humanism is not a replacement of religion or God but it is more than a non-belief like atheism. Humanism is something whole and real and full of the belief that people are the source and the focus of love. The important distinction for me is that humanism is independent of atheism and vice versa. One can exist without the other. One does not imply or justify or create the other. There are some obvious voluntary connections between them but these connections are not compulsory for either to exist on it’s own.

  15. Quite simply, if you in any way at all put the needs of your god(s) before the needs of human beings then you are not a Humanist. Since no religion does this it’d be very hard to claim to be both a theist and a Humanist simultaneously.

    • Nope says:

      One of the most disgusting things I find about the religion I was raised in is that you’re supposed to put god above anyone else, including your family! How nuts is that? Talk about driving wedges between families when they don’t agree on this stuff.

  16. Denise Wilson says:

    I would be interested in the views of humanists here regarding their attitude towards non human animals as property.
    Apart from the many wars throughout history that have had their origins at least in part or at least backed by a belief that their gods are on their side it seems that humans of all cultures and religions hold an implicit belief that our fellow species must be dominated or exterminated. Religious rituals invariably throughout the ages take the form of animal torture, sacrifice, domination . As a global species humans have moved very little from this position. Bull fighting, rodeos, are just two well known examples in the west and there are still unspeakably cruel religious ritual mass slaughter of animals in a number of countries involving horses, dogs, sheep and other species. Phillip Wollen said famously of the 10 000 terrified animals slaughtered globally every minute ..” If slaughter houses had glass walls we would all be vegetarians” . But I wonder if there would be many converts whilst people blandly accept the inferiority of other species and the “god given” right to use animals as property. …..Genesis 9.2 “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth…”
    Neuroscience and other scientific studies shows that non human animals feel pain as we humans do, feel grief and fear and mother love, have social bonds and protective instincts, have a similar imperative to be free and contented. Humans are supposedly the only animals that have developed a moral code. As a past humanist I have come to dislike my species as greedy, arrogant, lacking in emotional intelligence and moral integrity.
    I would be interested in responses from people on this site.

    • Tyler Roler says:

      Very interesting discussion and you raise a very important question i hadnt considered ,As far as I know a core principal of buddhism is to ease the suffering of any life if possible within reason.However, many buddhists dont consider buddhism to be a religion but more of a way of life or a worldview.

    • Ecidekoo says:

      I think I can agree with alot of what you believe too, my view I suppose is naturalistic. I consider myself a humanist too but I’m starting to dislike many fellow humans. What it really boils down to for me is truth and honesty, nevermind the rest 🙂

    • Robert Bailey says:

      We are all Social insects with
      varying beliefs which boils down to
      respecting Life and acknowledging our Differences as believers or non believers to co-exist in this so called planet Earth.

  17. Carl Coon says:

    This is a very interesting issue. My recently completed “A Short History of Evolution” gives me a couple of benchmarks that will help me find answers that to beyond simple opinions that leave me feeling good. I’ll post another essay when I have pulled these answers together. Thanks for weighing in.

  18. fred says:

    just a question from everyone in this forum, what will the proof of the existence of God will do for you as a person, will it make you a better person or worse, will it make you obey or disobey, for that matter when was the last time in this material world that a painting described its Painter ?

    • Nope says:

      We can’t even begin to answer that question. If a god does exist, we have not a clue of its nature – we don’t know if it would want us to obey or not. A god that wants us to obey sounds a lot like Kim Jong Un, and I don’t think he’s all that great a dude, but his people sure do put on a good show of how much they love him. It reminds me of that Twilight Zone where everyone was sucking up to this little kid because he had powers to destroy anything he wanted, so everyone pretended he was so great so they wouldn’t be killed. Deep down, they hated and resented him, though but were too terrified (well a few people weren’t) to do anything about it.

  19. Carl Coon says:

    As for proof of God, I’ll cross that bridge in the very unlikely possibility I ever come to it. As for my behavior, it is governed by principles that work either way.
    As for this painter parable, show me a painting that can imagine.

  20. Chris says:

    I was raised with religion because it was what people did; not for any perceived value. I have always questioned a human created system based on patriarchy, power over other humans, living creatures and the planet. Human men created their gods to explain the the unknown and elevate themselves in a constructed hierarchy. Man created god in his image, not the other way around. Isn’t it interesting that god is personified as an old white male with dominion over all? Look at the world now and how “religion and god” has “elevated” the human condition…NOT.

    Humans have amazing imaginative capacity. Look at what we can create from a thought, activating into action to create material objects and philosophy, our way of rationalizing good and bad behavior.

    I raised my daughter without the dogma, criticism and polarity of “religion,” encouraging her to explore the many facets of human life without the stigma of a misaligned status quo thinking model. She is one of the most compassionate, empathetic and loving person I know; as most people who know her feel. She was raised with a moral compass, discipline and real world view. When she came home crying from school at the age of 5, I asked her why she was so upset….a christian child asked her what church she attended…she said she didn’t go to church…the child then told her she would burn in hell. Needless to say, I had a conference with the teacher and parents of the child after telling my daughter that she didn’t need to be upset by other people’s fantasies of an unreality. When parents abdicate their parental responsibilities to mythology with brutal undertones, I see it as child abuse.

    I understand how frightening it must be to have to rely on “something in the sky” to provide comfort and meaning; but that’s we, as human beings, as here for…to learn, to thrive and comfort each other. More children raised without the fear, guilt, submission and exploitation of religion would make for a more peaceful and productive planet.

    Why would I want to submit to the control of a man made system designed as a vindictive construct to marginalize any sector of the human family. “Heaven and hell” are structures to keep the masses “in line,” while “divinely” explaining poverty, abuse, exploitation and human greed and corruption…the veil that justifies and condones truly bad behavior.

    Just sayin’

  21. Chris says:

    I was raised with religion because it was what people did; not for any perceived value. I have always questioned a human created system based on patriarchy, power over other humans, living creatures and the planet. Human men created their gods to explain the the unknown and elevate themselves in a constructed hierarchy. Man created god in his image, not the other way around. Isn’t it interesting that god is personified as an old white male with dominion over all? Look at the world now and how “religion and god” has “elevated” the human condition…NOT.

    Humans have amazing imaginative capacity. Look at what we can create from a thought, activating into action to create material objects and philosophy, our way of rationalizing good and bad behavior.

    I raised my daughter without the dogma, criticism and polarity of “religion,” encouraging her to explore the many facets of human life without the stigma of a misaligned status quo thinking model. She is one of the most compassionate, empathetic and loving person I know; as most people who know her feel. She was raised with a moral compass, discipline and real world view. When she came home crying from school at the age of 5, I asked her why she was so upset….a christian child asked her what church she attended…she said she didn’t go to church…the child then told her she would burn in hell. Needless to say, I had a conference with the teacher and parents of the child after telling my daughter that she didn’t need to be upset by other people’s fantasies of an unreality. When parents abdicate their parental responsibilities to mythology with brutal undertones, I see it as child abuse.

    I understand how frightening it must be to have to rely on “something in the sky” to provide comfort and meaning; but that’s what we, as human beings, as here for…to learn, to thrive and comfort each other. More children raised without the fear, guilt, submission and exploitation of religion would make for a more peaceful and productive planet.

    Why would I want to submit to the control of a man made system designed as a vindictive construct to marginalize any sector of the human family. “Heaven and hell” are structures to keep the masses “in line,” while “divinely” explaining poverty, abuse, exploitation and human greed and corruption…the veil that justifies and condones truly bad behavior.

    Just sayin’

  22. Dave says:

    I’m not going to challenge the term Humanism vs. Atheism. But one thing I would love to challenge all Secularists (i.e. Atheist, Agnostics, Deists and Humanists) are “values”. And what do I mean by “values”? Not necessarily good behaviour, tolerance and respecting others for who they are and what their beliefs are. I mean come on, aren’t we taught these from an early age?

    Plus, just because we are well-behaved, tolerant and respectful people to ourselves and each other “doesn’t mean” that we are all moral and virtuous. Why? Because one thing religion / theology has taught me is that morality and ethical virtuousness also stems from “the heart” (a BIG portion). To be more specific, I’m going to outline a number of social issues facing our World (particularly Western Culture) today:

    Low marriage rates
    Increase in divorce rates / separation of couples
    Single-parent households
    Teen pregnancy
    Infidelity – Sexual impurity
    Increased substance and alcohol abuse (especially in youths)

    I can list a few more, but those are waaaaayyyyy tooooo controversial, so I’m going to stick with these seven (7) topics. Plus, these are legitimate enough (although controversial) for reasoning and debating. Now DON’T GET ME WRONG, I’m NOT being judgemental towards people who opt for these kinds of solutions and philosophical approaches in life. Sometimes it’s in one’s best interest to separate or divorce when things are completely hopeless. Also, I’m not saying sex is bad and should be avoided at all cost. But when it is seeked irresponsibly, resulting in teen pregnancies, abortions, increasing the school drop-out rate, and causing hurtfulness of one’s feelings and emotions; then NO, I’m not for that kind of cultural norm.

    Furthermore, I’m not trying to say that devout believers / followers of Religion / God are better and more righteous than those who choose to live secular lifestyles. However, I have discussed and debated with both believers and secularists on all of these topics, in order to understand each side’s viewpoint. They even discuss these topics in Church Youth Groups, with references to the Gospel.

    However, one thing I can justify in my own personal comparison and contrast of Religious vs. Non-Religious people is that Religious people (I know of personally) are the types of people who stand by these strong convictions, and are more than willing to fight for their marriages, strive to maintain a healthy marital life, and not give into societal peer-pressure as opposed to the Non-Religious majority, who tend to give up easily, and have a value-free, materialist attitude and approach towards life. I can think of no better phrase to sum up my point than this: “If it doesn’t hurt you or the other person, and if nobody else knows about it, then it shouldn’t be a problem.”

    So, my question to all Secularists (Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Humanists, etc), if you believe that Human beings themselves should be at the heir of all things in life, such as free-will and actions, with no moral reservations; then how do you justify these seven (7) core issues that are facing our social world today?

    P.S. I respect and thank everyone for their viewpoints. I may have some disagreements, but hey, disagreement is not the barrier towards further knowledge and understanding. 🙂

    • Teresa Roper says:

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but if you look at statistics about abortion from planned parenthood, 72% of abortions are obtained by Christian and other people who identify as religious” because they do not want their peers to find out the were pregnant.. sad.

    • Hooker (rugs) says:

      Wow No bias there! Try looking at the statistics which show that non believers have a much lower divorce rate than believers.

  23. Kala says:

    This website sells an original number of bras, panties, corsets, teddies, loungewear and hosiery
    which are created from top quality materials for example lace, chiffon, and satin. The site features the most excellent stuff from the best suppliers oflingerie online.

    Purchasing erotic lingerie is sadly something nearly all women do alone,
    however, as few women actually get their partners with these for this most sensual of
    retail journeys.

  24. Deist_Humanist says:

    Hello there.
    I am a deist humanist: I believe in God but not in religion, and to me God is not some old man with a long white beard in a kingdom. God is in fact, inperceivable to man; just as we cannot perceive all the colors of light without tools, we cannot perceive God, hence the lack of proof but believing in him is completely subjective. I think that the world’s religions are just simply different ways of interpretating a concept completely subjective and we all know that there is no right or wrong in subjection. I don’t think any religion is wrong or right. To counter the argument that says religion is man-made, so is science lol. We don’t see atoms or energy but we interpret and perceive them through the use of tools. These are then called proof because everyone can interpret them the same way, if they were under the same ‘doctrine’ as science – point is, if everyone were Christian, the Christian God would be ‘fact’. Because of the cultural ties and moral development of religious groups, I respect religion. I don’t agree with any religion, however, which states that their belief is true, God favors their group over others, and that God will punish all who don’t follow their doctrine. Instead I am more of a ‘live and let live’ – to love and appreciate and be loved and appreciated. I live my life in hopes to be of service to humanity, to share opinions with other travelers of life in highly intellectual debates, and have fun! God is life. The fact that life and everything in the universe has patterns and meaning is why I believe in a God, however taking full responsibility for everything that you can control while being accepting of the things outside of control is the best attitude towards life in my opinion. You are all welcomed to share your opinion of my stance, for I don’t claim that I am right. I claim that there is no such thing as right unless universally agreed upon, and we don’t know any aliens 🙂

    • Roni says:

      Well done 🙂

    • Roni says:

      Yet, I do believe that one religion/belief has to hold the most truth. There are so many religions, each of them claiming to be true, that they cannot all be true: there is only one truth. I seek out the truest religion because none can be proven 100% correct. I am open minded to all views, in order to understand those of others as well as to confirm or discredit my own faith. If I do not know why I believe what I do, then what is the point of my faith? Thus, this is my current quest until I find the most valid religion by listing the truths of all. When I do succeed in this, I will still be as open minded, if not more understanding. Religion is fascinating and only human nature after all; I like to think of it as a form of art. Understanding that the underlying yearning/motive is the same for almost everyone is so important! Appreciation is key. This is the only way we will ever be capable of freely loving our fellow human beings. Until then…

    • Hooker (rugs) says:

      What is the difference between inperceivable and nonexistent?

  25. Lisa Jackson says:

    If you have a belief so tiny that it is like one mustard seed grain so that one would have to look into a microscope to see it, that you have a spirit body inside of your physical body, that is faith that there is more than this earth life.

    If you plant that seed in soil and give it sunlight and water, you will feel your spirit body swell within you. This is your faith in God beginning to grow.

    These are the beautiful teachings of Alma in the Book of Mormon.

    I know that all of you have a spirit body inside of your physical body. You are each a child of a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother.

    If you even so much as have a tiny good feeling in your heart when You read my words and the words of Alma from ancient America, please investigate further. I promise you feelings even stonger and greater if you investigate further.

    • KarinS says:

      You claim we should investigate, but I was born into Mormonism, and I stayed a Mormon into my 30s, before I finally left the religion and had my name removed from the church rolls so they woul stop trying to “find” me.

      For 30 years I heard others tell me to investigate, that I would find the truth. To my detriment, I believed them, and in the progress, I ignored what was right before me. I ignored the divinity I felt in nature, it was all around me. I could feel it in my veins, it pulsed through me. Moromism never provided the answer, because my answers were not to be found in Mormonism.

      I don’t know that I would label myself humanist, but I feel that if there is a higher power, one I pretty much view as ambiguious if it exists, that is a part of my world, it is a part of me. I don’t have to go looking to find answers, because I never lost the answers. The truth has always been in me, when I look at a wildflower, when I touch a tree, I am at peace.

      Humans are separate individuals. Some humans have allergies, they can’t eat what everyone else can at the risk of death. Some simply dislike the tastes if food. Some people have diabetes and need insulin. Others never develop diabetes ever. Some humans love wheat products, for others, eating wheat feels like their worst nightmare. Some people love romance, others hate it. Some people love horror movies, others like myself hate them.

      My point is, we all are unique individuals, we all have different needs and wants. Why would we be any different when it comes to our choice of religion? We aren’t.

      For you to claim that you have the answes and the only truth is not only arrogant and disrespectful, but refusing to acknowledge, that as a human being, I am not you. I am not like you.

      Your truth is not my truth, and if you cannot love me without trying yo change me to suit you, then you do not truly love me. You love the ideal dream you have of me, but you do not love not me as I truly am.

      In fact, you are so busy trying to prove your truth is right, that I question whether you truly see me at all.

      Always insisting in being right comes at a cost, not just to me, but to yourself. You think you know the truth, and I respect you enough to tealize this is YOUR truth. Please respect me enough to recognize that my truth is equally as valid as yours.

      For the record, I am not anti-Mormon, that would be still allowing Mormonisn to control my life. I am, however, a definite Ex-Mormon and I’ve never bern happier than I have been since I left. Because I found I didn’t need to go looking for these answers you claim I need to find. The answers were always inside me. I just had to remember to listen to me.

    • Charles- UK says:

      “I promise you feelings even stronger and greater……” There’in lies a dichotomy. Religion plays on ‘feeling’. There is little doubt that having a faith can make you feel better. Does it make it true?

  26. Poch Suzara says:

    Atheism is both the father and mother of humanism. Indeed, it is foolish to be a humanist if one were only afraid to admit openly or publicly to being an atheist also.
    We can never be a true humanist unless we are first a true atheist.
    – Poch Suzara, Father of Atheism of the Philippines

  27. Sue says:

    Why do people need labels that mean they don’t believe in something that they don’t believe in. If I don’t believe in fairies I don’t need a label that means non fairy believer, likewise I don’t need a label thar means non god believer.

  28. Carl Coon says:

    Good question, Sue. There are two possible answers:

  29. Carl Coon says:

    Sorry, my last answer was incomplete. The short consolidated answer is that humanists and atheists do have principles we stand for and we need to make them well known, to the point the public reflexively associates us with them, not just with non-belief in God.

  30. William says:

    Thank you! For years I’ve been trying to describe and find my identity. A humanistic atheist perfectly describes me. This debate and article has been wonderful to read, and most intriguing.

  31. I have been a non-believer since age 9. Never discussed it much but I would go to
    Sunday School and hide in the bushes behind the church and when service was over I’d come out and join the people leaving. Never had a problem then and have none now.
    People have tried to “convert” me but I reject any of their “HELP.” Near the end of life
    now in years and have not changed my mind. My favorite Uncle was a fine Christian man — really a helpful and kind person and when he was dying I asked him if he still
    believed and he said he did. I could not conceive of all those dead people walking around the imaginary HEAVEN in the sky. Count me out of all relision

  32. Vic Losick says:

    (Just Posted by NYC Atheists)

    Are We a Christian Nation?

    Yes, and no.

    Ever since Native Americans were outnumbered by the white man, the United States has had a population whose citizens were, and continue to be, overwhelmingly Christian. Yet our country’s
    Founders, also mostly Christian, created a secular federal government; differentiating “We the People” from “a more perfect Union.

    As we have learned, Evangelical Christians played an important, if not critical role in the victory of Donald Trump as President of the United States of America. Secularists of all stripes are understandably concerned not only because his cabinet selections are almost all Christian, but because they are almost all fundamentalist Christian. It is this cohort whose basic misunderstanding and propagandizing of just who we are that needs to be addressed and corrected.

    Religion is divisive (i.e. “the chosen people,” “No one comes to the Father except through me.”) yet many conservative politicians continue to proclaim that we are indeed a Christian nation. “Just how
    did we get here?” you may ask.

    Once the Puritans landed on our shores the first battle of what was to become our culture wars was engaged. To be sure, we are one of the most religious countries in the developed world. And the
    legitimacy of the Christian culture that flourishes around us is not, and should not be questioned. But rather, any controversy resides in the nature of the relationship between our personal religion and our
    collective government.

    During the 1950’s when the “religious” West was fighting “godless” communism the United States made certain religious/political gestures stressing this difference between the two systems: “Under
    God” was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance; a National Day of Prayer was instituted; and “In God We Trust” replaced “E Pluribus Unum” as our national motto.

    However, in the 1960’s the Supreme Court handed down several decisions limiting religion in governmental affairs: organized prayer was banned from public schools (Schempp); only evolution was to
    be taught as science in public schools (Epperson); and tests that define church & state separation were established (Lemon). Resistance to this judicial secularism increasingly manifested itself in the Moral Majority movement, in which the organized Christian
    Right began a push back movement that continues to this day.

    Fundamentalist Christians assert that the divine character of our government is derived by the fact that: “God,” “Creator,” and “Providence” are mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.
    Separatists, however counter that after Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, it was not the Declaration of Independence that the Founders used as the basis from which to govern. Rather they reconvened and established a
    new government, crafting a different document as the source of our laws; at first it was the Articles of Confederation; and then it was, and still is, the Constitution.

    While those who extol religion as the sole formative factor cite the numerous letters the Founders wrote referencing the virtues of religion and morality, the secularist can respond, “Yes, the Founders praised religion & morality, but the government that they
    ultimately established was entirely and deliberately non-theistic, for the Constitution neither endorses, nor opposes any religion.”

    Fundamentalists, also maintain that the reference to religious symbols in some official buildings establish that our government was indeed founded on “Judeo-Christian principles,” a) the depiction of
    Moses in the frieze of the Supreme Court, b) “Praise God” engraved at the top of the Washington Monument, and c) an emblem of the 10 Commandments embedded in the floor of the National Archives, support their view. To which the irreligious retort, a) “Does the shape of the Supreme Court building based on the Parthenon in Athens make us pagans?” b) “Does the statue of the Roman god Mars in the Capitol rotunda suggest we are polytheists?” and c) “Do the ‘eye’ and ‘pyramid’ icons on the back of the dollar bill confirm us all as unwitting Freemasons?

    There are tens of millions of American Christians, to whom their religious beliefs are paramount to their identity. Their sincerity is unquestioned. But ironically, their sincerity has been misappropriated and hijacked by those who insist that any defense of a secular constitution is fundamentally un-American.

    Such shameful demagoguery and pandering can be seen, and heard from an increasing number of journalists, politicians, and clergy, all in the cause of higher ratings, more votes, or larger congregations.

    In their campaign to Christianize the essential non-definitive religious nature of our American government they purposely confuse, blur, and misuse concepts such as: religion, belief, and
    morality, with the effect of conflating a Christian population with a secular government.

    Only our public schools, that have a duty to educate and produce knowledgeable and well-informed citizens, can remedy this confusion. Sadly, courses in basic civics remain inadequate, if taught at all.
    While our Founders were masterful in their creation of a democratically elected republic, they were apprehensive of the “tyranny of the majority.” In a Christian majority society, we need to remember that secular values define our pluralistic and democratic government, and what makes us truly exceptional is our respect for all individual citizens, Christian or not.

    Vic Losick is a documentary filmmaker based in NYC
    © Vic Losick MMXVII All Rights Reserved

  33. C. Klafehn says:

    The United States, Inc. is primarily a capitalistic model of profit over people. Every aspect of life is monitized. The Religious Industrial Complex just as much as the Medical Industrial, BigPharm Industrial, Military Industrial and Financial Industrial Complexes feeds the greed of the few for dominance and power. We delude ourselves when we won’t recognize and own the failings of our history to be founded on white supremacy, misogyny and power at any cost to others and ourselves. It’s easier to deny reality to justify destruction over progressive thinking or actions. There’s more profit in manmade warfare than any positive venue on this planet. Religion appears to exacerbate the “Us vs. Them attitudes so pervasive in current government. Religion seems to exploit the most vulnerable for increased “membership” adding to the coffers of wealthy donors and predators. Science and logic are elemental in solving problems for all living entities on this planet. Religion is the manmade smokescreen to exalt a gender and race for it’s own ego and amusement at the expense of other’s minds and bodies. Without women’s minds and creativity, this world has been run into the ground using less than half a brain.

  34. Carl Coon says:

    Will Miftolo’s “tools” enable me to digest and process weeks of input from the news services and from other sources of info? Will that enable me to produce an even more informed product, a synthesis that hopefully is more analogous to milk than to the grass the cow ate to produce it?

  35. Carl Coon says:

    Climate change and the issue of how much of it is attributable to human causes is adding a new dimension to this debate. It’s simple, do we recognize that we have become the caretakers and conservers of the web of life on planet Earth out of which we were born, or do we continue to assume that the natural bounty that sustains us is our natural right? Accepting this sense of responsibility is the hallmark of the true humanist.

  36. Pete says:

    @Bruce Leiter”
    “We’re all flawed people in need of Jesus to clean up our act.”

    That’s where you’re wrong. We’re all in need of being better and gooder and nicer etc. They fact you believe Jesus is the only way for this, is irrelevant. You should be happy that it (better and gooder and nicer) can happens in atheists as well.

  37. Pete says:

    Why did God make me an atheist and a humanist?

Comments are closed.