Posts tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality’

Is Humanism a Religion?

Recently a judge ruled in a federal court case (http://www.scribd.com/doc/245271872/American-Humansits-v-US {sic}) in favor of a prisoner that Humanism is a religion for Establishment Clause purposes. The inmate had been denied approval to form a humanist study group. The prisoner, Holden, was at FCI Sheridan since 2010. (Note that atheism was already recognized for the purpose of designating prisoners’ religious preferences as were many religions and sects.)

The Center for Inquiry, in its newsletter, said “While we were glad that humanism was declared to be on equal footing with religious beliefs in this case, we are also concerned that this decision will now have unforeseen negative consequences for secular humanism more generally.”
Humanists especially the self-espoused secular variety have wanted the First Amendment protection that is afforded to religion(s), but as a body, secular humanists might aspire to being separate from and even rising above religion, often critical of religion’s many faults. Some might say humanists can’t have it both ways.

I think Humanism is a religion-alternative and necessarily must have the same protections or it will be at the unfair mercy of some religions and some religious people. That’s not to say it is a religion. And that’s not to say it functions like one (though it might for some).

There is a rebuttal by the humanists most opposed to the general implications of accepting Humanism as a religion. read it right now at Tom Flynn’s blog at Free Thinking.

The overlooked obvious in every instance of these debates is the question of terms—the definition and meaning of the words we use. Meanings vary. Consider all the definitions the dictionary gives for the terms we use: religion, spirituality, etc. We all act as if there is only one meaning for a word when there are a number.

The definition of religion itself is elusive. Some have many gods, others have none. Spirituality is essential to the practitioners of some religions but reduced to ritual-by-rote for others. The line between some religions and the so-called graceful life philosophies is blurred.
If we don’t mean the same thing with our words, we are not communicating, we are miscommunicating. Talk under those circumstances is talk at cross purposes.

In the various meanings of religion, Humanism might meet the spiritual needs of some of its followers. Does that make it a religion? And if a believer religion fails to be spiritually fulfilling, does it stop being a religion? No that’s just modern religion.

November 16, 2014 at 10:10 pm Leave a comment

Writing yourself to the spiritual place you want to be in.

I recently picked up a book, the Accidental Masterpiece in which the author speaks of the impact of art on our lives.  And says, also, that we can choose to pull that impact into our lives, to create our own art or just a life informed by art, or perhaps, we can even choose a life transformed by art.  And art may be ours for the defining.

arguably, are love, death, and sex in no particular ranking.  There are aspects or items in life, such as beauty, architecture, or nature which seem to boost us toward those vehicles of transcendence.

Eric Maisel tells us we can create a special place, real or imaginary, which will be a safe, but inspiring place to write. I think what we are doing in setting up that place is creating a spiritual dwelling place for ourselves.  (I’m hesitant to use the example, but a church is such a place set up by its members for the spiritual sense it gives them—or failing that—a place for the default rituals—the next best thing.)

For us, receivers of the revealed wisdom that we are “spiritual beings in a secular universe,” we can choose what is spiritual and what is art and what nourishes the human spirit.  Those things, those places, those ideas that we can bring together, that we can curate, accumulate, create.  We may engage in our own practice of art so it will inspire us further.

This is no small item.  Inspiring ourselves.  Even when inspired by something or someone else we participate in our own inspiration.  Certainly, we must.  Art and other creative acts are never truly isolated.  We bring them forth as products of ourselves, our world, and our culture.

So it is with our writing, or it can be.  This is true, also, of those who don’t think of themselves as writers.  Writing is an art or craft like many other endeavors.  What you get out of it is in relation to what you put into it.

The short lesson on writing is this: write, revise, and keep going.  Perfection is an illusion.  Don’t get hung up on it.  It doesn’t matter what you write, but write what you want.  As an endeavor of the human spirit, write randomly.  Leave the topic open.  Just keep writing.

After a few pages, some things will draw your attention.  Different categories of things.  Some things will seem to be negatives—make a note to eliminate or overcome them and move on to write in other directions.   Some goal, wish, or desire may pop out of the writing.  Acknowledge it and keep writing.

When you’re at this for a while two spiritual things (our secular human spirit) will materialize: What it takes to nurture your spirit and What it is that you do that nurtures your spirit.  For me, just this kind of writing does it.

Other things may suggest themselves through your writing that you can do—nature walks, camping trips, art or other museums, or whatever you may find.  If you try it all and run out of things come back and write at it some more.

You may just find that words, thoughts, and concepts may do it for you.  That is, they may elevate your spirit, your mood, your outlook.  You may be moved to write about that experience for others.  Even in that process you may find nurturance for your very human spirit, that soul-like thing.  If each of us gets the spiritual nurturance we need, we are less likely to point angrily at each other and say, You spoiled my happiness.

February 2, 2014 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

“Why can’t we all just get along?”?

 

Perhaps, this is just the season of our discontent.  Is the atheism movement big enough for all of us?  If Christianity is big enough for all of them, I would think so.  But more to the point, do we, can we, leave the “old atheists” behind?  And the New Atheists, too?  And seek a better destination, in the land of neo-atheists or Atheists+plus where we will reveal only the better angels of our nature?

Feminism feels unwelcome if not rebuffed.  LGBT, under-served. Other issues and constituencies might feel that way, too.  Humanism could take the position that New Atheism is too hard on Christianity.

In the branch of atheism that I’ve suggested as neo-atheists, I suggest that we will make the most progress by interacting with believers, showing them we are people of goodwill, having common-ground discussions with them, perhaps doing joint humanitarian projects.   Nothing new here, but it takes each of us a while to “process” our thoughts and feelings to be ready for such a step.

Many of us were largely cast as the lot we found ourselves to be in by Christians.  Our “godless” natures and other self-applied apellations/epithets can be traced back to our outcast origins. For us, we bought into Christian culture’s role ascribed for us as “bad boys” and the like.

There was, or is, in the zeitgeist the sense that atheists are the demonseed, blasphemers, heretics.  Bastards of our type, the holy books said, should be stoned to death.  It was easier to stay in the closet than face all that.  As we come out, the liberation is heady.  It can make us giddy, even a little immature.

Those that came from a different background–say a nonbelieving family–free from such baggage, are more functional than those of us who were liberated later in life.  Are these the Eloy who would move on?

Humanity is a story of assent, perhaps, even a spiritual story.  To the extent that each of us can incorporate that assent, emulate it, in our lives, we strive for an upward climb.  Can we grow as people?  Yes.  Do we grow?

November 13, 2013 at 10:47 pm Leave a comment

Let’s swap links

Here are a few links that might be of interest to you.  If you have others to share, send them to us in your comments.  Tell us something about them.

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/ 

 Without a doubt the best discussion forum(s) I’ve seen.  Can be large numbers of participants and commenters.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/     

 AUDIO PODCASTS ***** (five stars)  Has been a great listen; many intelligent and in-depth interviews archived many author-scientists (makes this a great  source for new books and an insight into their content.  The website says they are on a short hiatus, but will return to the “air.”   Prior format included a new post every Monday.  

http://rationalist.org.uk/  

 Home of The New Humanist magazine with content online.  Also streaming news under the title Today.   http://rationalist.org.uk/today  from the UK.

http://lists.uua.org/mailman/listinfo/humanists  

 “Humanists—a forum for religious humanism”   You receive their posts as an email message, but it is open for you to post as an equal.

http://podcast.thehumanist.org/       

 Audio Podcasts.    Another audio podcast; haven’t listened lately.

 

 http://freethoughtblogs.com/          

 A number of bloggers who choose to come together under the rubric of freethought.  Wide ranging social commentary.

Do you have any online sources that you would recommend?

September 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm Leave a comment


Hello

I write for agnostics, freethinkers, atheists and humanists. In my nonfiction, the purpose is the celebration of our noble human spirit. The general pursuit may be Evolutionary Theology, though believers seem to populate that field (so maybe it's evolutionary Humanism). By looking at who we are and where we came from, we can derive much meaning, and perhaps more importantly, understanding, as well as some sense of where we could go.

Religion is God’s Way of Showing Us it’s Earlier in Human Evolution than We Thought

This title is an upcoming book at the publisher's now. I'd like feedback on this title. It's meant to make people think and feel something. And to hint at things for both believers and non- on multiple levels. The book is of a wider scope, though, one which is ultimately a way to grasp more meaning for ourselves. Believers are always telling us our lives don't have meaning without a god. We often counter that it's more meaningful to be looking for our own meaning than to be arbitrarily ascribed it by an imaginary supernatural being. Ultimately, and this is what I think is unique about this book, you'll see how we can be just as spiritual in our own way. Since we've inhertited a capacity for religion (some more than others) as an evolutionary adaptation, believers and non- are both potentially spritual in the same way--but it is an earthly, secular spirituality in which we all can share.