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A Bill of Rights and Beliefs for Non-believers
Posted: 12 October 2007 05:27 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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A Proposed initial “Bill of Rights and Beliefs” for Secularists, Humanists, Rationalists, and Atheists

Preamble

I recognize that any proposed listing of “rights” or “beliefs” that are assumed to be applicable to and subscribed by people who deny an “unseen god” is presumptive and potentially rejected as arrogant.  Nevertheless, it strikes me as necessary to begin to offer a tentative list of what people who deny some unseen god do believe, rather than what they reject or oppose.  The distinct danger is that any such list has the potential of becoming a “dogma,” which is one of the targets of most who do not believe in some unseen god.  But I suggest that it is worthwhile to begin to try and articulate some defining characteristics of “non-believers,” since otherwise they’ll be assumed by those who consider themselves to be faithful adherents to some belief in an unseen god, and all of the conflicting and unquestionable prescriptions of that god.

Further, I freely admit to being guilty to the accusation of arrogance or even narcissism in even proposing such an initial list, and only hope that more articulate and reasoning people will posit additional rights and beliefs, and modify these few initial offerings.  I hope people more apt than I will compile and publish a much more representative list.

Basic rights

1.  All people have the right of questioning and skepticism,  and to submit their opinions to the judgment of others without fear of condemnation or censure for having done so.  There is no assurance of acceptance or absence of criticism.
2.  Each person has the right and obligation to accept full responsibility for the articulation of any opinion, without ascribing that to any other entity or authority.
3.    No one shall be impugned nor condemned for the expression of any opinion as a person, but any and all opinions may be criticized as any may deem appropriate.

Basic beliefs

1.  Rationalistic concepts,  not emotional reactions, are preferred in deciding the validity of propositions.
2.  Propositions are subject to empirical testing and consequences in order to establish their applicability in human decisions.
3.  No unseen god is accepted as an authority in establishing the validity of any proposition
4.  The scientific method is accepted as the preferable method of problem solving


Dennis Campbell
10/12/07

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 12 October 2007 06:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Dennis Campbell - 12 October 2007 09:27 PM

3.  No unseen god is accepted as an authority in establishing the validity of any proposition

I would amend that to include other “supernatural” entities, including but not limited to spirits, poltergeists, angels, demons, gremlins, fairies, and so forth.

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Posted: 12 October 2007 07:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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I think that basic beliefs should be eliminated entirely.
I’ve found that it’s possible to function without belief.
Any number of words can be substituted…I find the most useful one is “think”.
I think a lot of things but it’s hard to know that I believe anything. Along those lines, I never really claimed the thing that many call a “mind”. shock
I think that jettisoning the word belief is an “atheists salvation”.
It works for me.  cool smile

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Posted: 13 October 2007 07:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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That works for me.  Let’s see if we get some more ideas and I’ll revise the thing.  But be a burst idea or maybe we can end up with an interesting document in time.

Dennis

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 13 October 2007 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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OK, changed the title line a bit, dropped “beliefs” and substituted “responsibilities.”  Tried “Free thinkers” as opposed to “non-believers.”

DEC


A Proposed initial “Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” for Free Thinkers

Preamble

Free thinkers include those who consider themselves rationalists, secularists, humanists, agnostics, atheists, antitheists, or any person who does not depend on any external organization or authority in order to express critical thinking and questioning. 

I recognize that any proposed listing of “rights” or “responsibilities” that are assumed to be applicable to and subscribed by people who usually deny an “unseen god” is presumptive and potentially objectionable as arrogant.  Nevertheless, it strikes me as useful to begin to offer a tentative list of what people who often deny some unseen god do believe, rather than what they reject or oppose.  The distinct danger is that any such list has the potential of becoming a “dogma,” which is one of the targets of most who do not believe in some unseen god.  But I suggest that it is worthwhile to begin to try and articulate some defining characteristics of independent or free thinkers since otherwise they’ll be assumed by those who consider themselves to be faithful adherents to some belief in an unseen god, and all of the conflicting and unquestionable prescriptions of that god.

Further, I freely admit to being guilty to the accusation of arrogance or even narcissism in even proposing such an initial list, and only hope that more articulate and reasoning people will posit additional rights and beliefs, and modify these few initial offerings.  I hope people more apt than I will compile and publish a much more representative list.

Basic rights

1.  Skepticism. All people have the right of questioning and skepticism,  and to submit their opinions to the judgment of others without fear of condemnation or censure for having done so.  There is no assurance of acceptance or absence of criticism.

2.  Personal responsibility. Each person has the right and obligation to accept full responsibility for the articulation of any opinion, without ascribing that to any other entity or authority.

3.  Freedom from condemnation. No one shall be impugned nor condemned for the expression of any opinion as a person, but any and all opinions may be criticized as any may deem appropriate.

4.  Freedom of endorsement. To freely endorse or not endorse any coherent system of beliefs each person might consider worth such an endorsement; but this right not including any right to attempt to force others to endorse any belief.

5.  Freedom from compelling force. All people have a right to be free of use of force against them intended to assure compliance with any system of beliefs or values, except insofar as they do not use force themselves to impose their own beliefs or values on others. Force includes physical, social, political, or financial measures.

Basic responsibilities

1.  Rationality. Insofar as possible, rationalistic concepts,  not emotional reactions, are employed in deciding the validity of propositions.

2.  Empirical verification. Propositions are subject to empirical testing and consequences in order to establish their applicability in human decisions. 

3.  Authorship. No unseen god, entity, nor political ideology is accepted as a sufficient or necessary authority in establishing the validity of any proposition.  Propositions are analyzed and judged on the basis of their supporting, verifiable empirical evidence, and not on the basis of claimed authorship of such propositions. 

4.  Scientific method. The scientific method is used as the preferable method of problem solving, that method including skepticism, objective definitions; the reliance on empirical verifications of propositions, and an explicit understanding that truth is represented by probability statements, not absolute assurance.

5.  Not to denigrate. To not attack, injure, harm or denigrate any person on the basis of ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, or any attribute which is not a result of an individual’s intended effort and choice. 

6.  Subjects of questioning. To hold that all religious, philosophical or political ideologies are potentially subject to challenge, questioning, criticism or repudiation on the basis of their logic, evidence or effect on the welfare of human beings.  No religion, philosophy, or political ideology is exempt from such critical consideration.

7.  Accuracy and ascription. To accurately represent with ascriptions when known all relevant text authored by others without distortion.

8.  Freedom of inquiry. To oppose any organization, religion, philosophy or political ideology that promotes the stifling of non-violent dissent or freedom of inquiry and rational challenge.


Dennis Campbell
Revised
10/14/07

[ Edited: 14 October 2007 08:01 AM by Dennis Campbell]
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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 13 October 2007 06:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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I like your substitution of responsibility for belief. Knowledge of any kind implies responsibility.

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Posted: 14 October 2007 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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eucaryote,

I’ll be interested if the idea of developing such a “platform” is of interest to any others as well.  Either we define ourselves, if we can agree enough to do so, or we leave that by default to other folks who have a knee-jerk oppositional response to such a word as “atheist.”  One the one hand, I’ve no interest in seeing yet another frothy political group being formed, but I’ve even less interest in being identified as endorsing a group defined by others’ prejudices and inaccurate perceptions. 

Dennis

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 14 October 2007 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Dennis, not to disparage all of your efforts, but it seems to me that The Declaration of Human Rights should suffice, except for perhaps amending it to include the right to be free FROM religion as well.

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“Proving the efficacy of a methodology without defining the word ‘efficacy’ can come back to bite you in the assertion.”—Salt Creek

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Posted: 14 October 2007 07:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Close but not in my mind a complete fit for “free thinkers,” or whatever title if any applies.  Still, my small effort may be reinventing the wheel.

Dennis

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 15 October 2007 09:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Okay Dionysius, I mean Dennis, I’m “on the bus” as Kesey would say. I have a suggestion to add to your re-invention: No “holy books”—all books are created equal in that books are merely peeks into fellow consciousnesses’ past and present. All books are merely ideas of the author/authors put to print and should be evaluated for the quality of thought, expression and meaning rather than its self-proclaimed sacredness or superiority. There is no such thing as “holy book”, all are equal and one’s claiming especial “spiritual” content are only to be perceived and evaluated as the opinions/ideas of the author(s).  (okay, may need tweaking, but you get the idea, I hope.)
p.s. I’ve always preferred the label free-thinker, stick with it…that Robert Ingersoll was pretty fookin’ on target.
LOVE AND PEACE

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Posted: 18 October 2007 12:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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Dennis Campbell - 13 October 2007 12:53 PM

OK, changed the title line a bit, dropped “beliefs” and substituted “responsibilities.”  Tried “Free thinkers” as opposed to “non-believers.”

DEC


A Proposed initial “Bill of Rights and Responsibilities” for Free Thinkers

Preamble

Free thinkers include those who consider themselves rationalists, secularists, humanists, agnostics, atheists, antitheists, or any person who does not depend on any external organization or authority in order to express critical thinking and questioning. 

I recognize that any proposed listing of “rights” or “responsibilities” that are assumed to be applicable to and subscribed by people who usually deny an “unseen god” is presumptive and potentially objectionable as arrogant.  Nevertheless, it strikes me as useful to begin to offer a tentative list of what people who often deny some unseen god do believe, rather than what they reject or oppose.  The distinct danger is that any such list has the potential of becoming a “dogma,” which is one of the targets of most who do not believe in some unseen god.  But I suggest that it is worthwhile to begin to try and articulate some defining characteristics of independent or free thinkers since otherwise they’ll be assumed by those who consider themselves to be faithful adherents to some belief in an unseen god, and all of the conflicting and unquestionable prescriptions of that god.

Further, I freely admit to being guilty to the accusation of arrogance or even narcissism in even proposing such an initial list, and only hope that more articulate and reasoning people will posit additional rights and beliefs, and modify these few initial offerings.  I hope people more apt than I will compile and publish a much more representative list.

Basic rights

1.  Skepticism. All people have the right of questioning and skepticism,  and to submit their opinions to the judgment of others without fear of condemnation or censure for having done so.  There is no assurance of acceptance or absence of criticism.

2.  Personal responsibility. Each person has the right and obligation to accept full responsibility for the articulation of any opinion, without ascribing that to any other entity or authority.

3.  Freedom from condemnation. No one shall be impugned nor condemned for the expression of any opinion as a person, but any and all opinions may be criticized as any may deem appropriate.

4.  Freedom of endorsement. To freely endorse or not endorse any coherent system of beliefs each person might consider worth such an endorsement; but this right not including any right to attempt to force others to endorse any belief.

5.  Freedom from compelling force. All people have a right to be free of use of force against them intended to assure compliance with any system of beliefs or values, except insofar as they do not use force themselves to impose their own beliefs or values on others. Force includes physical, social, political, or financial measures.

Basic responsibilities

1.  Rationality. Insofar as possible, rationalistic concepts,  not emotional reactions, are employed in deciding the validity of propositions.

2.  Empirical verification. Propositions are subject to empirical testing and consequences in order to establish their applicability in human decisions. 

3.  Authorship. No unseen god, entity, nor political ideology is accepted as a sufficient or necessary authority in establishing the validity of any proposition.  Propositions are analyzed and judged on the basis of their supporting, verifiable empirical evidence, and not on the basis of claimed authorship of such propositions. 

4.  Scientific method. The scientific method is used as the preferable method of problem solving, that method including skepticism, objective definitions; the reliance on empirical verifications of propositions, and an explicit understanding that truth is represented by probability statements, not absolute assurance.

5.  Not to denigrate. To not attack, injure, harm or denigrate any person on the basis of ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, or any attribute which is not a result of an individual’s intended effort and choice. 

6.  Subjects of questioning. To hold that all religious, philosophical or political ideologies are potentially subject to challenge, questioning, criticism or repudiation on the basis of their logic, evidence or effect on the welfare of human beings.  No religion, philosophy, or political ideology is exempt from such critical consideration.

7.  Accuracy and ascription. To accurately represent with ascriptions when known all relevant text authored by others without distortion.

8.  Freedom of inquiry. To oppose any organization, religion, philosophy or political ideology that promotes the stifling of non-violent dissent or freedom of inquiry and rational challenge.


Dennis Campbell
Revised
10/14/07

It’s not all clear that all of this is necessary.  You’re really just unpacking the idea of liberty of conscience.

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Posted: 18 October 2007 01:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Publius - 18 October 2007 04:54 PM

It’s not all clear that all of this is necessary.  You’re really just unpacking the idea of liberty of conscience.

Oh, dear. Can those who would teach the false promises of organized religion to innocent children really be said to be in possession of a conscience?

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Posted: 18 October 2007 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Salt Creek,

Yes, they do.

Dennis

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 18 October 2007 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Salt Creek - 18 October 2007 05:21 PM
Publius - 18 October 2007 04:54 PM

It’s not all clear that all of this is necessary.  You’re really just unpacking the idea of liberty of conscience.

Oh, dear. Can those who would teach the false promises of organized religion to innocent children really be said to be in possession of a conscience?

I feel that way about people who raise their children as democrats and socialists.  There’s very good pragmatic reasons, which I would think would be obvious to such a rational person as yourself, to reciprocally agree to respect liberty of conscience, particularly in the raising of children.  If you don’t think so, it merely confirms my belief that you’re just a totalitarian at heart ...

But as usual, you miss the boat ... because while you’re an atheist and have all your nice arguments marshalled against God, you really have no clue about religions, their varying doctrines, and what it is that religious people teach their children.  You’ve gone the fallacious route and assumed that every religious person is on par with Jerry Falwell.  But that’s neither intellectually honest nor rational.

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Posted: 18 October 2007 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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I’m less interested denigrating that huge mass of people called “theists,” then I am in, for myself at least, articulating what “free thinkers” (still have no satisfying other single label) do think and value.  Unlike Hitchens’ call, I’m not at all interested in a Jhad against theists, any more than I’m about to endorse theism as any premise for proposing social or moral prescriptions.

Dennis

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Truth, especially “moral truth,” is that elusive human creation whose exclusive apprehension is claimed by many, who then sanctimoniously condemn anyone else who does not agree with their particular apprehension, while denying that any question can be posed about their own apprehension.  I will try to avoid that tendency.  DEC

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Posted: 18 October 2007 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Publius - 18 October 2007 06:47 PM

If you don’t think so, it merely confirms my belief that you’re just a totalitarian at heart ...

Well, that’s where you miss the boat. I’m not totalitarian at all. I’m nihilist. I thought I made that clear. So I don’t really care whether you realize that or not. What a rise I got out of you, regardless.

angry

Dennis Campbell - 18 October 2007 07:20 PM

I’m less interested denigrating that huge mass of people called “theists,” then I am in, for myself at least, articulating what “free thinkers” (still have no satisfying other single label) do think and value.  Unlike Hitchens’ call, I’m not at all interested in a Jhad against theists, any more than I’m about to endorse theism as any premise for proposing social or moral prescriptions.

Oh, Dennis. You’re so high-minded, so tolerant, so nuanced. If I were less of a nihilist, I might wish to be more like you.

I’m not talking Jihad. I’m merely speaking out against parents bullying their children into believing in ancient fantasies supported by moldy old texts before they’re old enough to know sh!t from shinola. I’m not the only one who talks up this program.

By the way, Dennis, nice job in splitting up the prepositional phrase, and in misusing, once again, “then” for “than”. “Then I am in, for myself”. Whoo-ee. Me, I’m out for myself. We gotta figure they were handing out Ph.D.‘s like foolscap in some departments, to people who couldn’t write to save their lives. Once grammar and syntax are dispensed with, we can go back to dumping on your (oxymoronically) steadfast refusal to commiit to anything that might ruffle feathers. Another comfortable retirement in the making, I suppose.

You’ve gone the fallacious route and assumed that every religious person is on par with Jerry Falwell.

Elitism hides in the strangest places. I’m guessing that Jerry was smack at the middle of the bell curve, and that it was money and power that ruined poor Jerry.

[ Edited: 18 October 2007 03:56 PM by Traces Elk]
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