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Does Secular Humanism Care?
Posted: 12 June 2005 03:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
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[quote author=“roger_pearse”]Life is something we all have to live. So every day we make decisions, and our decisions shape us. We have brains—isn’t it interesting that at no point in our education are we ever given a set of tools to work out how to make those decisions about what is right or wrong?

I think we are. Not in a direct way, really - I don’t think there is an institution anywhere in the world, any time in our history who would be able to cover the gamut of possible decisions in even ONE human life.

But education isn’t just classes and degrees. LIFE is education. All of us are brought up in one way or another, having to confront the expectations of our parents and other elders. We go to school, interact with our peers and learn something of the delicate weave of social interaction (some of us are more adept at that than others).

Eventually we grow old enough to stand on our own two feet. We make mistakes, often as much as we make good judgements. We learn what we want for ourselves, and hopefully we are able to achieve it while making room for those we live with to reach the goals they have set for themselves.

As trite as it sounds, I think life is the ultimate teacher. We learn more through our experiences than any textbook or sermon would ever be able to provide. Hopefully we are able to learn from those mistakes we make, and thereby make less of them.

That said, I don’t think that the best way to learn not to murder people is to find out the hard way. That’s what laws are for - to outline the consequences of behaviour that is detrimental to society on a broad level.

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Posted: 13 June 2005 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
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I see two main flaws in your argument, J.S., first, that secularism is hostile to religion, and second, that religion is the source of morality.

Since the earliest stirrings of secular government (Magna Carta?) religion hasn’t been ‘replaced’.  In fact, in secular states, like America, religion has flourished far more than in the old ‘religious’ states in Europe and the UK.  And in rigidly religious states, like Saudi Arabia or third century C.E. Rome, the majority of the population (women) are effectively slaves.  Where is the morality in that?

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The road of excess leads to the palace of Wisedom
-William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Life, what is it but a dream?
- Lewis Carroll, “A boat Beneath a Sunny Sky

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Posted: 13 June 2005 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]  
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“I see two main flaws in your argument, J.S., first, that secularism is hostile to religion, and second, that religion is the source of morality.” From Rabbit.

I’m sorry but you must have misread my post if you thought that I said religion is the only source for morality in society.  Anyone who has read Plato or Aristotle knows that isn’t true. The reason I posted my original message was to bring to light that Sam Harris sees religion as the sources of many civil hardships in America today. That is not a inaccurate assessment, but Sam Harris goes further by advocating Secular Humanism as a superior system that is somehow beyond corruption.

Also, I think that any person with reasonable intelligence can tell from Sam Harris’ is hostile to religion. That not to say all secular humanists believe what Sam Harris thinks, but since this is his forum I don’t think I’m out of line posting arguments about his book.

Their have been many institution over broad categories such as politics, sciences, philosophies, etc… that were set up to maintain civil order, whether they were secular or religious. Corruption of an institution will always be a reality. Even if Sam Harris succeeded to convert the whole world to secular humanism and stamped out all religious sentiment and inappropriate faith, you will still have genocides, atrocities, wars, and social corruption. By painting religion with such a broad brush and demonizing those who find inspiration in that religion, secularists are doing the same thing that they blame fundamentalist of doing when they criticize and demonize secular methods and ideology. 

I’m sorry, but for a person to put all their trust and “faith” in a secular approach to life, and believe that many problems in life and society can be avoided, requires more faith than most Christians have in their church. I know that secular humanist have contributed their part to the evil that exists in the world just like the Christians, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, atheists, democrats, republicans, conservatives, liberals, and the rest of mankind. I think your complaint is with human nature, blaming a intuition - whether justified or not – avoids the main source of the problem and prevents any real solution.

As long as you have human beings in power and as long as you have individuals willing to abuses power for their own ends you will always have problems and corruption

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Posted: 13 June 2005 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]  
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To be fair to Harris, he doesn’t advance “secular humanism” as the replacement for religion, merely “rational mysticism”. He acknowledges the need for the spiritual in human existance, he simply questions the current sources of that spirituality, and how frought with ideology they are. Now, maybe all human ideas and endeavors have the potential to lead to ideology, but with awareness we can avoid it. Awareness is often a choice we make, however.

Resist the temptation to proclaim inevitabilities. War and other atrocities are human choices, not external forces working their will upon us. They can be avoided.

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Posted: 15 June 2005 09:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]  
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The reason I posted my original message was to bring to light that Sam Harris sees religion as the sources of many civil hardships in America today. That is not a inaccurate assessment, but Sam Harris goes further by advocating Secular Humanism as a superior system that is somehow beyond corruption.

Also, I think that any person with reasonable intelligence can tell from Sam Harris’ is hostile to religion.

I, like Alan, disagree with that assessment.  Mr. Harris is clearly hostile to dogmatic scriptural religions, but nowhere in The End of Faith did I find him hostile to spirituality.

I also think it’s too simplistic to try to define the ‘debate’ as being between christians and secular humanists.

I assume that this ‘debate’ is political, therefore, I will again claim that the secular state is not hostile to any religion, but the religious state is hostile to any form of democracy.

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The road of excess leads to the palace of Wisedom
-William Blake, “Proverbs of Hell”

Life, what is it but a dream?
- Lewis Carroll, “A boat Beneath a Sunny Sky

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