A Small Meditation on World Humanist Day


As of six ten this morning we have crossed into Summer!

And, for the humanist community a day of celebration for rationalism and naturalism. Looks like a very good match to me.

In the Unitarian Universalist world there is a tension between the theists and the humanists. In past decades when the humanists were in the ascendancy as a group they weren’t always kind to the theists. Sadly, as the tables appear to have turned and theists appear to be in the majority, certainly among the younger clergy, tit for tat appears to be the order of the day.

All this something I just don’t get.

I’ve long come to the conclusion the question of deity in some bottom line sense is an emotional one, not subject to rational analysis. And I think humanists have wasted a lot of energy on insisting everyone see how irrational the idea of a god is. Worse, in my circles they’ve burned off lots and lots of good will, without need.

With a caveat. I find it easy to reject the notion of an interventionist deity, as there is no good evidence of such, and the evidence that is produced is of such an arbitrary sort that any deity it “proves” would be a very unpleasant thing.

That said.

The pantheist expressions of the world as holy makes a ton of sense to me. and I join with those who find a material/spiritual divide no more sensible than total rejectionists of one sort or the other. Two words for something amazing, as I see it. And while I find nothing compelling in the panentheist argument of everything is holy and there’s something more, no skin off my nose. And, who knows?

Whatever.

The world is blessed for the humanist position of rationalism and naturalism. While the word itself implies an anthropocentrism, in fact, no one seems to take the lead about care for the world as wildly interdependent any more seriously than the humanist crowd.

And it is that broad humanism as rational and naturalist oriented that I celebrate.

Indeed.

I hope as we go forward into the Twenty-first century a new humanism will emerge, one that isn’t particularly concerned with disproving a deity, but that is wildly, gloriously, engaged, bringing those most wonderful tools of reason and the scientific method into the great project of life.

Too much to celebrate.

Too much work to do…

  • Weasel Tracks

    Though sometimes deadly, there’s great humor in hearing people argue about a metaphor, especially one frequently described as “ineffable” (further hilarity arising from the same describers effing all about it). Embracing and rejecting the metaphor in all seriousness are equally funny.

    Although it was vitally important to reject the metaphor when it was seriously absolutist and absurdly literal, many of the rejectors were poisoned by their opponents’ seriousness. It’s good news if more people in general take the metaphor as something to use, or not, as they see fit, and not get too excited over whether someone else uses it the same way they do, or not.

    A fine Midsummer’s Day in Vermont to look for the divinity in my human happenstance.

  • pennyroyal

    I disagree on your notion that Humanists have offended the UU theists. One has to wake people up to get them to consider religious beliefs they cling to without questioning, beliefs they (often) received as children, before they had adult reason and logic. When Humanists stop being attacked for being immoral, wrong-headed, and in some quarters, as evil, maybe we won’t have to differentiate and defend ourselves so much.

    As a UU, as well, I do think that the theist/humanist split is important and not silly or trivial. When UUs claim a sort of god in order to appeal to the mainstream, they lose a new generation of questioning young people bored with religion ‘lite’ and stodgy, self-congratulatory protestant liturgy.

    Also, Buddhism tends to over-emphasize changing the self through seeing reality all the while it also tends to not see social injustices that impact the individual. Somewhere there is a balance between the two. In an age of yoga, meditation, retreats, hundreds of Buddhist books, many of them self-help, the cultivation of the individual is highly valued. Humanists concern themselves with the real religious freedom, what the founder of the RI colony, Roger Williams called “soul liberty.”

    With the SCOTUS about to rule on the Hobby Lobby case, it behooves us to recognize how Humanist UU have striven so diligently for that true liberty and not snipe at us from your zafu.


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