As you’ve noticed, Patheos has rolled out a site-wide redesign, and the best changes have come to the new ‘Channel‘ pages (previously ‘Portals’) for the different religious groups on the site. The old portal was kind of a placeholder, and they were holding off on major updates til the redesign. One question that came up in consultations with bloggers before the rollout was whether our section should be under the heading “Atheist” or “Humanist.” It used to be “Humanist” and I’m quite glad we switched the names.
Humanist is a pretty vague word. To me, it just suggests to me an interest in human nature and human purpose and it doesn’t necessarily preclude a belief in the spiritual or supernatural. Note that a lot of people in the atheist community feel the need to insert the word ‘secular’ before humanist when they use it to refer to themselves.
Another personal frustration with ‘humanism’: it sounds like it’s got more of a creed attached to it than ‘atheism’ (which is just the absence of theism), but humanism tends to be very vaguely and variably defined. I’d rather take diffuse definitions like ‘humanist’ off the table, so people can’t avoid getting their feet held to the fire during debates. Atheists are often (and fairly) asked to talk about what they do believe, instead of just talking about what they reject. Humanists have a tendency to confuse their interlocutors, who can’t remember whether there’s any there there.
So, three questions for you all:
Have you ever heard an interesting/compelling definition of ‘humanism?’
If you are an atheist, what goes in your atheism and ______ slot?
Any feedback on the redesign that you want me to pass on to Patheos Central?