Sounds Like Humanism: Chris Kluwe

More from the American Humanist Association‘s Sounds Like Humanism campaign here and here.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • C Peterson

    Still sounds absolutely nothing like humanism to me. Strange campaign they’re running, with folks talking about everything except humanism!

    • roz77

      Why isn’t this humanism?

      • Michael

        I only see an argument that keeping politics and religion separate is a good thing. That’s secularism.

        • roz77

          You’re probably right, that quote doesn’t actually saying anything in support of gay rights.

          • JD929

            Explicitly, no, but “deny benefits due to religious reasoning” might be an implied reference to gay rights.

            • Michael

              But the quote itself does not sound like something that a Christian couldn’t say.

      • Armored Scrum Object

        If you totally strip it of context, it’s just secularism. A pedant might argue that, for example, Christian humanists don’t support secularism (ignoring the fact that the vast majority of self-identified humanist organizations implicitly or explicitly support secularism).

    • C Peterson

      Like most of the comments in the campaign, it’s a statement of legal secularism. While I don’t doubt that many humanists- especially secular humanists- share that sentiment, it is hardly a requirement for humanists in general. Humanism is about placing value on human beings, about solving human problems with rational thought, about fairness and equality. Secularism is, at most, only the most peripheral of humanist ideals.

      • 3lemenope

        Isn’t it easily argued that secularism is practically a prerequisite for “solving human problems with rational thought” since religious solutions, whatever their other qualities, are not founded on a substructure of rational thought but rather upon a provided revelation external to human sources? “Because God said so” is, at its base, neither a position that acknowledges the primacy of human thought and human value, nor is it one that stems from rigorous thought, and is at best orthogonal to such thought…and it’s very rarely at its best in practice) . 

        Not to mention that most religions do not recognize a fundamental formal equality of humans–most, in fact, explicitly deny it in favor of elevating a in-group, and denigrate out-groups and disfavored individuals in the putative in-group, like women or GLBT folks–nor do they particularly concern themselves with fairness except occasionally concerning interpersonal relations within the defined in-group.

        • C Peterson

          Well, I don’t think that’s an easy argument to make at all. I don’t see nonsecular societies as intrinsically inimical to humanism. However, even if we accept your premise, it doesn’t change the fact that the statement is secular one, not a humanist one. Perhaps most humanists are also secularists, but the opposite is certainly not the case, so a purely secular argument isn’t really a very good representation of humanism, and certainly doesn’t “sound like humanism”.

          I think that there are plenty of well known people out there actually making humanist comments, and this campaign would make more sense using those.

          • 3lemenope

            I don’t see nonsecular societies as intrinsically inimical to humanism. 

            They just happen to accidentally be hostile to humanism? Come on. It may be *theoretically possible*, but the closest one comes in the real world are extremely secular societies in practice that happen to have a vestigial church that hasn’t been disestablished, as is common in Scandinavia.

            A consistent element of even religious humanism is a commitment to secular/sectarian separation, and you’d be hard-pressed to find an example of a humanism that did not include a commitment to that principle.  So, yes, secularism is an ineluctable and intrinsic part of humanism. 

            You are correct that the Venn circle for secularism is larger than that for humanism (i.e. there are secularists who are not humanist), but I contend that the second is situated entirely within the first, so it ends up being a moot point. While there are secularists that are not humanist, there are no humanists who are not secularists.

            • C Peterson

              The world is full of at least somewhat nonsecular societies that are fairly humanistic, and to the extent they are not humanistic, that doesn’t seem attributable to their lack of pure secularism. Certainly, there are humanists who are not secularists.

              In any case, that wasn’t really my point. If the AHA in running this campaign happened to feature one or two people voicing secularist sentiments, that would be fine. The problem as I see it is that almost all the comments are about secularism and not humanism, to the extent that the campaign is effectively misrepresenting what humanism actually is… something that probably isn’t good if public education is the goal.

              • 3lemenope

                In any case, that wasn’t really my point. If the AHA in running this campaign happened to feature one or two people voicing secularist sentiments, that would be fine. The problem as I see it is that almost all the comments are about secularism and not humanism, to the extent that the campaign is effectively misrepresenting what humanism actually is… something that probably isn’t good if public education is the goal.

                Ah. Well, that complaint I can certainly understand. We may disagree on how essential secularism is to humanism, but we definitely agree that humanism is, in all its forms, far more than simply secularism. It would be nice if they solicited quotes addressing other areas of humanist concern, so I’m with you there.

    • Foster

      Because Humanism is not a coherent philosophy.  It *is* a vain attempt to retain the moral trappings of Christian Western Civilization without the Christianity.  Hedonism is the philosophy that makes the most sense from an atheistic point of view.  Sacrifice for others without expectation of material reward has no logical place in atheism, although that is what civilization requires. 

      • C Peterson

        Humanism is what Christianity seeks to achieve, but can only fail at, being fundamentally morally corrupt.

        Hedonism and humanism share many similarities, but while hedonism seeks to maximize individual pleasure, humanism seeks to maximize the pleasure of all individuals in a society. Humanism is a natural instinct in many people; most atheists are humanists, as are many theists- those that haven’t had this basic goodness removed by religion, particularly by Christianity.

        • https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnlb3OqPbdHi0gnrtToGtj-nXLWvs9zL-o S Sin

          Christ-ian-ity doe not seek to achieve humanism. They seek the supremacy of God: God’s impartial offering to everything that there is (all metaphysical and everything else) as recorded and observed in Yeshua who seeks to maxmize God, not human.

          • C Peterson

            I disagree. Christianity does claim a goal that is equivalent to humanism in actual fact, if not in name.

            • 3lemenope

              Perhaps an intermediate goal. 

              The “social gospel” that most Christians prefer to ignore does nod towards some humanistic values, but the overarching primary goal of Christianity is hard to understand as anything other than getting on the right team before God purges the world in a Hollywood-spectacular cataclysm. Apocalyticism is really, really hard to square with any sort of humanism, because it removes the possibility of hope for the future, since if they are right there will be no future.

              Of course, singing the same song that the world will end tomorrow for two thousand years straight (and being wrong every. single. time.) has led to Christianity mutating in all sorts of amusing ways, and some of those mutations have come to attempt to ignore the apocalyptic focus of the original text and founder in favor of emphasizing some of those second-tier humanistic impulses.

              • C Peterson

                Surely apocalypticism doesn’t remove the possibility of a future, but replaces it with one which is eternal for everyone (or at  least, the chosen ones)?

                Anyway, it’s funny that Foster considers humanism to be incoherent, when that word clearly applies so well to Christianity. You and I could argue all day about Christian dogma, and neither of us would be right (or wrong), since it’s essentially impossible to define what that dogma even means (generously assuming it has any meaning at all!)

        • Foster

          Thank you for admitting that “humanism” has nothing at all to do with atheism.  In that humanism is merely the philosophy of seeking to benefit the human race even at individual expense, it is the message of the cross of Jesus Christ, and atheists have no claim to it, nor is it consistent with materialism.  You see, real humanism would compel me not only to consider the human beings I can see but also the long-term consequences of my actions.  Failing to have children, a common atheist failing, 

          http://www.scilogs.eu/en/blog/biology-of-religion/2011-01-06/atheists-a-dying-breed-as-nature-favours-faithful-sunday-times-jan-02-2011-jonathan-leake-full-draft-version

          has practical results.  If atheists were such great humanists, one would think they would provide for their own society’s future.  No, it turns out, practically speaking, atheists seem to be hedonists after all, sacrificing the society of tomorrow, for the easy childless living of today.  Humanism sounds nice, but how many atheists are actually willing to live it out?This guyhttp://www.atheistnexus.org/profiles/blogs/why-do-people-have-childrenmakes perfect sense to me from the assumptions of his own worldview.Why should we care about a future of thousands of old people rotting without proper medical care because there aren’t enough doctors to treat them, where governments are forced to default on their obligations to the elderly because there are simply too many of them?  Suddenly, Catholic Christianity’s injunction to have children if you get married isn’t so crazy after all. 

          • Foster

            The second link got screwed up when the comment posted:

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          • Foster
          • C Peterson

            I don’t know anybody who suggests that humanism and atheism aren’t completely different things. The only connection is that humanism happens to be a philosophy that many atheists find attractive (and many theists, as well… humanism certainly need not be secular). Humanism is a philosophy, a coherent set of beliefs. Atheism isn’t a philosophy at all- it has no beliefs, demands no actions.

            From your comments here and elsewhere it appears to me that you have only the vaguest notion of what humanism actually is.

            • Foster

              Okay, CP, who’s right?  You, or the American Humanist Association.

              You: The only connection [between humanism and atheism] is that humanism happens to be a philosophy that many atheists find attractive (and many theists, as well… humanism certainly need not be secular).

              AHA:
              “Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”So, are you contradicting the AHA’s definition of humanism, or would you like to reconcile your view with theirs?  Because it certainly sounds like humanism need be secular according to them.  Care to clarify?

              • C Peterson

                The AHA is wrong. They are describing a subset of humanism in such a way that it appears to apply to all of humanism. They should properly refer to “secular humanism” if that’s the description they want to use.

                Anybody who has ever studied philosophy knows that there are both secular and nonsecular forms of humanism. For instance, there are Christian humanists.

                That said, even if you choose to accept the definition as provided, there’s still no direct association between humanism and atheism. The fact remains that atheism (unlike humanism) is not a philosophical view, and even if you assume all humanists are atheists, the opposite certainly is not true.

                • Foster

                  Okay, CP, but don’t imply that I am ignorant, i.e. “it appears to me that you have only the vaguest notion of what humanism actually is,” when I am using the terms as defined by the subject organization of this post.  Rather, you confirm my own belief, which is that atheists in general have contradictory notions of what “humanism” is.

                • C Peterson

                  It is your decision to use the terms as defined in this discussion that makes me believe you are largely ignorant about what humanism is!

                • Foster

                  LOL, along with the American Humanist Association and 3lemenope, and God knows how many other atheists who disagree with your use of the terms.

          • Deven Kale

             Did you somehow miss every single conversation anyone ever had with EvertonianCalvinist? Go back and read some of those, if you somehow did. They’re all over the place in last weeks posts.

            • Foster

              Why, Deven, here and I thought you had forsworn responding to my posts.  Unlike EC, you will notice that I am citing studies that tend to show my conclusions with data.  Now if you’d like to analyze them rather than looking ignorant by making a false comparison between my evidence-based argument and the non-evidence-based presupp. arguments of EC, you are welcome to continue breaking your promise to yourself not to respond to me.  

              • Deven Kale

                 I never made a promise to anybody not to respond to you. I distinctly remember saying that I would try not to respond to you. But it seems that I can’t control myself when it comes to correcting people, even those who don’t listen such as yourself.

                Now in reference to my original comment, I wasn’t talking about any of your evidence based arguments at all, and I apologize for not being clear on that. I was specifically speaking to this:

                humanism is merely the philosophy of seeking to benefit the human race
                even at individual expense, it is the message of the cross of Jesus
                Christ, and atheists have no claim to it, nor is it consistent with
                materialism.

                This is what I was referencing the conversations with EC for, where this claim that naturalism (what you call materialism, which is yet another poorly defined term) was refuted numerous times by numerous people, including myself.

                • Foster

                  Actually, Kale, what you said was ” I forgot I’m trying to ignore you for my own sanity. I hope somebody else is willing to take on whatever response you make here too, because I can’t.”  Now your use of “can’t” I suppose is debatable, but you can perhaps understand my concern for the fragile state of your sanity as you describe it.  But if you *really* feel you’re up to the tax on your delicate psyche…  You will notice that after the statement you quoted above, I provide supporting evidence for my view, unlike EC, who is habitually loath to do so because “God
                  ‘s not on trial here…etc.”  Of course God’s on trial! That seems to be the primary point of this site, nor is defending Christianity with evidence contrary to Rom. 1, but I digress.  If you’d like to rationally interact with me (now), rather than creating a straw man, critique my evidence, stating why you feel it does not support my conclusion, and state your case to me, either a new one or whatever one you referred to in no detail at all above, since I am not a mind reader, I don’t want to misrepresent you, nor do I read every single FA post as I find many of them tedious and irrelevant to my concerns as a Catholic Christian. Preferably in a separate thread as this one is getting narrow.

                • Deven Kale

                  The only evidence you provided is that which says atheists aren’t having kids. That doesn’t have anything to do with naturalism being compatible with humanism. Not believing in any gods doesn’t discount one from following any ethical frameworks any more than not believing in the Easter Bunny, that’s all that I’m saying.

      • David Starner

         Logic does not and cannot tell us what is greatest in life.  Psychology can  tell us how to maximize happiness, if we decide that’s the goal to follow, and it turns out that simple material reward is not particularly effective at producing happiness.

        • Foster

          Funny, because it seems that living for pleasure, not giving a damn for the future of society or the next generation is exactly what supposedly atheist Europe (what I would term more wishy-washy Europe) has decided to do is create a demographic collapse of their society.  Sounds like hedonism to me.  How do you interpret Europe’s demographic collapse?

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8239707/HSBC-sees-China-and-America-leading-global-mega-boom.html

          “The low fertility of Korea (1.1), Singapore (1.2) Germany (1.3), Poland (1.3), Italy (1.4), Spain (1.4) and Russia (1.4), more or less dooms these countries to aging crises and population decline unless they open the floodgates to immigration.”

          • C Peterson

            I’d say that living for personal pleasure at the expense of future generations is precisely what defines American society- a largely Christian society.

            Europe (which isn’t collapsing at all) seems much more inclined to make political decisions that take the future into account.

            • Foster

              That’s not what the experts say, as you would see if you bothered to follow the evidence I provided above.  Either demonstrate why the evidence I have provided does not support my conclusion, i.e. that America, not Europe, will lead the world of the future along with China, with America continuing to have much higher living standards than the average Chinese person; dispute the source of my evidence, the study I cited above; or spare me your repeating what I have already discredited above.  Europe is in demographic decline and by 2050, it will probably be a mostly Muslim continent.  It is not a good example for America to follow, even if we neglect economics.  

              • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, Blonde

                the racist paranoia shows in comments like this. is it really that horrible to contemplate that the major religion on the euro continent changes from xtianity to islam? which is to say, as religious belief declines as a whole, those who cling to it will be muslim instead of catholic? europe is hardly in decline, if you’d been there recently you’d know just how much better many euro nations have it than here in good ole USA#1 phuck yeah!!! 

                • Foster

                  While your reference to Team America World Police is entertaining, I think your views are somewhat cloudy.  If I think Xianity is superior to Islam, that’s not racism.  Perhaps you demonstrate an inherent racist streak yourself in assuming that all Muslims must belong to a certain race, but that is not my problem.  Regarding economics, you may be right, but the disastrous debt in Greece, Spain and elsewhere, as I understand it, is being shouldered by Germany, and surely such an uneven situation cannot persist.  Your solution is for the countries to default?  “Just because they’re told to do so” I presume is synonymous to “just because they signed obligations promising to pay back money they were lent.”  If so, I wonder if you realize the negative consequences of default and loss of national credit.  And given Islamic history and the Islamic world today, yes, it is a horrible thought to imagine Europe under sharia law.  I doubt you’d like it much, my blonde friend.

              • C Peterson

                I base my comments on observation: family living in Europe and spending a lot of time there myself. I’m skeptical of any “experts” on the subject, given how easy it is to find “expert” views expressing a wide range of opinion.

                I don’t think any country will lead the world in the future, because I don’t see global politics and economies working that way anymore. I think it is likely that America’s political and economic influence will continue to decline, although that isn’t inevitable. I think that China’s will continue to increase, but that is also not inevitable. China is probably the most capitalistic country in the world; I think it likely that it will become more politically free over time, and find the will to regulate its capitalism. I think Europe will continue largely as it is, not really seeking political influence, but remaining an economic power. I don’t see Muslims representing more than a tiny fraction of the European population. In fact, I see the influence of Islam declining significantly in the world as the Islamic theocracies fail- much as the influence of Christianity failed with the fall of Christian theocracies (which led to the rise of the West).

                • Foster

                  “I’m skeptical of any ‘experts’ on the subject, given how easy it is to find ‘expert’ views expressing a wide range of opinion.”  The birth rate is a pretty concrete statistic.  Perhaps you’d like to show me a “range of views” on the obvious fact that Europe’s native population is failing to replace itself?”I don’t think any country will lead the world in the future, because I don’t see global politics and economies working that way anymore.” Based on what evidence, my supposedly anti-faith friend? I have cited a study.  You doubt them and cite solely yourself and your limited personal experience, despite the fact that their study is dependent on the experience of thousands of people.  Not very rational. Christian theocracies did not rule the West.  Christian Kings did.  Huge difference when you consider the differences in development  between the West and the Islamic world, unless you’d like to suggest Great Britain is a theocracy?  Parliaments were a natural evolution of representative government that occurred within Christian Europe.  Not very historically accurate either.  I hope you are right about Islam’s influence failing, but history tells a very different story.  Historically speaking, time and again, they have almost taken over the West and been repulsed by an unlikely Christian victory at the last moment.  But now they may do so simply by outnumbering the aging natives.

                • C Peterson

                  A birth rate less than replacement is a positive and necessary thing. I don’t dispute those numbers… but see them as  another example of Europe’s success. The U.S. will need to achieve this goal as well if it has any hope of survival as an economically strong nation.

                  It was largely Christian kings who kept the West in the dark ages. I don’t think it is any coincidence that world dominance of the West coincides closely with the rise of secularism in those states.

          • Baal

             Foster,  your views strike me as poorly thought out.

            A host of global problems would be reduced if there were fewer humans on the planet.  Short term econ problems from having a large percent of your population as elderly are just that, short term (once they die the situation is fixed).

            I also disagree that hedonism is a bad thing.  You seem to think it’s a simplistic “woooo, drugs and party 24/7″ idea.  It is not.  I consider myself a rational hedonist.  You should read up on what actually makes people happy -hint, it’s not 24/7 partying.  If you’re offering Christianity as a higher good than personal or societal happyness, then you’re both deluded and a monster – diverting resources to the supernatural is not a good thing and the Xtian religion in the US is politically infavor of less contraception and works tirelessly against LGBT.  I can’t see taking those positions if you put happiness first.

            Lastly, chicago dyke, blonde,  is right.  Goldman-Sachs and other banksters set up the econ problems in Europe and bet against them much in the same way they were responsible for building the problems into the US housing market.  Oddly enough, when you loot the place, the place has trouble running.

            • Foster

              I do not need to liken you to a Caligula or Xi Din to tell you your Epicurean hedonism is bad for society.  

              Oh, we just need them all to die, do we?  And how would you suggest we do that in a humane manner?  Should we let them die without medical attention or just inject them with lethal drugs?  Aside from the food supply,

              http://www.1flesh.org/argument_page/overpopulation/

              which is not a problem in the foreseeable future (feel free to dispute with facts, showing how the analysis linked above is flawed, but not with whining about how those 1fleshers are too mean to be rational, or whatever)–aside from the oft-touted food issue, what problem over the next century will we be facing if the population continues to gradually increase?

              ” If you’re offering Christianity as a higher good than personal or societal happiness [sic], then you’re both deluded and a monster…”  I do not suggest diverting government resources anywhere.  I am satisfied with our American separation of Church and State.  It seems to have worked for us pretty well.  I *do* suggest that Catholic Christianity is true and its worldview has historically benefited the West, nor is humanism or enlightened hedonism or whatever you want to call it an adequate atheistic substitute.  In Britain, for example, atheists are four times as likely as Christians to be imprisoned for a crime.  Abandoning their chains of religion doesn’t seem to have worked out too well for them.

              http://books.google.com/books?id=sF8wv_Y54j8C&pg=PA20&lpg=PA20&dq=atheists+were+four+times+more+likely+to+go+to+jail+for+crimes+than+Christians.&source=bl&ots=VBThMDTIe0&sig=OLiwNls7FUHetzckaMbbUcJRJ_Q&hl=en&sa=X&ei=eBOPUMDXFYis8ATkmoDoAg&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=atheists%20were%20four%20times%20more%20likely%20to%20go%20to%20jail%20for%20crimes%20than%20Christians.&f=false

               But if they’d only been properly educated! you cry.  Well, the education system is what it is, and as things are, lack of religion is strongly correlated to people in Britain being four times as likely to go to prison as their Christian counterparts.  There is no consistent materialist reason I should care what the world is like when I’m not here, no reason I shouldn’t lie, cheat and steal when I can reliably get away with it and when the stakes are high enough to outweigh whatever unhappiness I might feel over my momentary lapse in courage on the battlefield or ethics in the boardroom might occasion.  Why shouldn’t Mr. Kluwe or Mr. Armstrong cheat as much as they can if they can get away with it?  It’s just a game after all.  My responsibilities to a future I will never see and for consequences I will never suffer in this life, are purely based on theistic commitments, and while you may not act that way based on some inner goodness independent of objective standards of right and wrong, my Epicurean friend, most people are not so willing to forgo material gain based purely on squeamishness when the gain is high enough.  Read some Nietzsche.  At least he was honest.

            • Foster

              How exactly does the fact that banksters have been unusually greedy and improvident lately speak against Xiantity?  Presumably the most logical assumption to make is that the average bankster is just as secular and non-religious as his average New York City or London counterpart.  So unless you wish to show me some statistic of banksters’ unusual religiosity, please do be logical and don’t drop that at the door of Xianity.  They are what their urban secular society has made them: amoral and vicious.  Unless, of course, you have an argument to the contrary?

      • 3lemenope

        So…how do predominantly atheistic societies manage to putter onward, do you suppose? Is it really your contention that people in those societies (most of Europe, much of Asia) are just hoodwinked by humanism to act illogically in defense of their family, friends, and communities? 

        The meteoric rise in world prosperity, longer lifespans, greater freedom from disease and war than at any point in human history (including the period where large swaths of humanity were dominated by institutional Christianity directly) and a stupendously greater understanding of the world we live in is not a vain attempt to retain Christian moral trappings, but a mostly successful attempt to replace them with something that has obviously worked better.

        Unless one dislikes peace, knowing more about the universe, and is uncomfortable with people not like oneself. In that case, I imagine this humanist project would seem rather a step backwards.

        • Foster

          Let’s analyze what you’ve just said, because “putter” onward is about right and you were foolish to choose the examples you did.  

          I’m going to deny what you’ve said on two fronts.  First of all, according to a 2005 poll of EU citizens, only 18% of them hold a materialist worldview, devoid of life spirits, gods, spirits and all that theistic stuff.  As of 2005, 79% still hold to non-atheist world views.  So we can’t really call Europe a shining example of atheism.  The numbers as of 2005 do not bear this out  (unless you have more up-to-date stats).  But let’s assume for a moment that my 7-year-old numbers are out of date and atheism is on the rise.

          Secondly, Europe is in all sorts of collapse right now.  Financially, they are in even greater turmoil than the United States.  The EU and the euro are doomed to destruction.  As for “caring for their families and society,” The average European has decided not to have them and in so doing, they have doomed their society to destruction.  Their demise is already in the workings, demographically speaking.  And guess who’s going to replace them?  Muslim immigrants, because their worldview was actually strong enough to compel them to sacrifice enough to *create* the next generation.  As for Asia, I would not choose them either if I were you, because the average person in Asia cannot afford a car.  They are poverty stricken because they are ruled by despots, nor do they have the cultural framework to imagine anything else.  Communist China leads them and in China, no one has any intellectual freedom and those who openly express their beliefs are executed.  Are you really holding them out as your shining example of atheist paradise?  Places like Singapore and South Korea will also learn the meaning of demographic collapse, since they too have birth-rates below 1.5 per capita.  The pattern is all too clear:  atheism is, has always been and probably always will be, a minority view.  It cannot create.  It only destroys.   
          Evidence of European demographic collapse:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8239707/HSBC-sees-China-and-America-leading-global-mega-boom.htmlEvidence of Europe’s spirituality and non-atheist majority:http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_225_report_en.pdf   (Skip to page nine for relevant data to this discussion although the rest is interesting too).The future belongs to those who show up, and atheists have opted not to.

          • C Peterson

            Europe is not in collapse. The actual situation is quite distorted in the eyes of most Americans. For the most part, European social systems and economies are in far better condition than America’s. All countries MUST shift to a pattern of birth rates that result in reduced population. Failure to do so will be fatal. Of course, the nature of our economies, which operate rather like pyramid schemes, make those conversions difficult. But fortunately, not impossible.

          • 3lemenope

            I’m going to deny what you’ve said on two fronts.  First of all, according to a 2005 poll of EU citizens, only 18% of them hold a materialist worldview, devoid of life spirits, gods, spirits and all that theistic stuff. 

            Talk about moving goalposts. Your first claim was in regard to “[...]a vain attempt to retain the moral trappings of Christian Western Civilization without the Christianity.” The words “Christian” and “Christianity” being a bit prominent, there. It’s a bit bizarre to resort to “life spirits” et al. when trying to talk about Christian theistic dominance. If we use an actual hard statistic like, say, church attendance, things do not look particularly good for the notion that Christianity is being *practiced* in Europe very much at all.  There may be many people who have one brand or another of woo, but they aren’t exactly participants in this phantasmagorical Christian Western Civilization you’re talking about.

            Europe is still in the midst of the longest period in its entire history without war engulfing most of the continent (nearly seventy years!), and a pretty stark contrast to the basically perpetual war for the latter half of the period of Christian domination (since Christians, apparently, just get off on killing other Christians they disagree with on doctrine, taking breaks only to take potshots at and abuse diasporatic Jews, local Muslims, and polytheists…but I digress). It turned out that the key to getting Europeans to stop killing each other was not one God or another but rather was making them so economically independent they had to act in each others’ interests. To counter this, you bring up a global financial crisis which would, somewhat amusingly from the counterfactual perspective, would probably have led directly to a European conflagration similar to the reaction to the Great Depression if it  weren’t for financial union holding them all in the same boat.

            My personal favorite part of your argument is where you argue that falling birth rates are associated with decline and doom, when everywhere on Earth declining birth rates are correlated extremely strongly not only with individual prosperity but also relative national power. You see the high birthrates of Muslim nations as a demographic bomb where hordes will simply overwhelm the world, whereas here in the real world, all high birthrates achieve is just miring people in poverty. 

            • Foster

              Okay, that was a long response, so let me sum up what I think you said, and you can correct me if I’m wrong:
              1. Europe isn’t Christian, contrary to what you, Foster, said and equating “life spirits” with Christianity is intellectually dishonest or bad reasoning.
              2. Seventy years without war shows that atheist Europe is doing better than Christian Europe ever did. (I, Foster, assume you meant to say “economically interdependent” rather than “economically independent” above)
              3.Declining birthrates are a good thing, as everyone knows, so I don’t have to prove that assertion.
              4.Asian people may not be so well off, but they’re better off ruled by secular governments than when they were ruled by theists, therefore they are better off *because* they are ruled by secular governments.

              So let’s take that in reverse order.
              I deny (4) as being valid because you commit the common correlation = causation fallacy.  I grant upon reflection that their not being able to afford a car in itself proves nothing in favor of theism or atheism, so I admit you are right in discounting it in light of how their state has improved relatively speaking.  However, I think it is more logical to attribute their recent historical success to their use of the scientific method, which was perfected and developed by Muslims and medieval Christians, and their utilization of universities (a Catholic invention) to educate their population in science.  Guess what Ockham’s job was?  It wasn’t cutting hair.
              3. Perhaps to a point you are correct that declining birth rates are good, as in going from 5 per couple down to 2.5 per couple, but surely not when they are so low (around 1.3 per couple) that the people are not replacing themselves?  That’s not conservation, that’s cultural suicide.  How do you expect a civilization like that to endure?  
              2.  As I demonstrated above, Europe is not atheist.  Most of her people are not materialists, although the majority are not presently Christian either.  Her relative “peace,” if you call the Cold War “peace,” is probably better attributed to the threat of nuclear war rather than to any philosophical commitments.  Again, technology cannot be presumed to be an atheist achievement since the majority of the scientists of Western Civilization whose studies led to our current state of technology were professed Christians.
              1.  I never claimed that Europe today was Christian.  I claim that Europe still bears cultural values that are a result of its once having been Christian and that cannot endure in a consistently atheist culture.  No, I say Europe is wishy washy, and doesn’t know what to believe any more.  As a result she is in decline compared with the United States, her religious offspring, and she will continue to lose ground unless something unexpected happens.  But Europe is not predominantly atheist, you are wrong about that, as I showed above with evidence. The facts do not bear that suggestion out.

    • Tom_Nightingale

      It doesn’t matter if the add is really about secularism, the AHA is more concerned with its perception as an organization that is secular-friendly.

      And as far as what humanism means, and if it is an inherently secular philosophy: if you give the creators of the term all the credit, it’s what philosophers like yourself have already stated many times.  To me, I’m not satisfied with any current definition of “human,” let alone “humanism.”  I believe this leaves the definition open for defining.

      I’d argue that since there are a number of principles/ requirements for something/somebody to be humanistic, then there is a spectrum of how humanistic something or someone is.  While you charge that it is possible for humanists to be religious, and indeed many religious people have called themselves humanists, I would say that the fully humanist side of the spectrum demands atheism.  I can see no room for a belief in a deity while giving complete dignity to human beings.  And I am not alone.  There are a great deal of atheist folks who see no need to profess their stance as “secular humanism” rather than just “humanism”.

      I’m well aware of the long tradition of humanist thought that has included contributions from the religious.  This does not mean that they were true humanists, and I don’t think they were.

      I will admit that this puts people like myself in the position of having to explain and define what humanism truly means, but I also think it prevents you from defining what it means even if established scholarship has been using the word “humanism” for ages in philosophy, psychology, etc.

      The AHA, Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy, and others are campaigning for awareness of humanism.  Awareness requires attention, and statements from famous people that espouse secular viewpoints get attention.  Saying it “Sounds Like Humanism” works since  most self-identifying humanists are secular.  And while it doesn’t sound like a religious person who says they’re humanist, the campaign is seeking to define the term as being inherently secular.  And why can’t it be?  Because Websters or the Oxford dictionary doesn’t say so?

      You more than most commenters on this site are particularly interested in semantics.  It’s an important concern, as thinking rationally really requires proper semantics.  I value your contributions in that sphere.  But this is a world in which many words’ meanings aren’t totally clear, and human/humanist are two of them.  Why can’ t the AHA campaign to convince others that their definition of “humanism” is the best one?  Why should the definition of humanism not include a lack of belief in a god?  Maybe the religious who feel themselves to be humanist should have the onus of calling themselves “religious humanists” and the secular humanists can just say they’re “humanist”?

  • Armored Scrum Object

    Someone should probably be in charge of making sure that John Rocker and Chris Kluwe maintain a safe distance so that they don’t annihilate.

  • weak562

    It seems to be humanism

  • Mandocommando23

    I love him! Proud to be a Vikings fan right now (which is not always easy. ;)


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