Friday, April 25, 2008

Humanism is not for me

From Dilys Bentley: Letter to NSS Newsline 25/4/08
These articles in the New York magazine explore what atheists, brought out of the closet by Dawkins, Harris, Dennett and Hitchens, are to do next. Atheism, they say, is not enough – we need a set of values, we need some kind of ethical structure.

And so they go on to rediscover humanism, which in turn is a reinvention of, and first cousin to, religion.

It does seem that Americans can't think outside the religious box. Even the ones who have decidedly rejected the concept of "God" and have walked away from regular churches are aching to put something else in their place. But why?
Why can't they just leave it alone and stop trying to organise themselves into a group with a "set of ethical values" (which usually just amount to common sense, anyway), and then start saying to each other things like "That isn't a very humanist thing to say" or "That's not a very humanist way to behave".

Surely, having dispensed with God, it doesn't mean to say that we have to lumber ourselves with another rule book that eventually becomes the way we must live.
I notice that we are beginning to see "humanist" chaplains in prisons. And humanist weddings and funerals. Why? Why not just secular chaplains and non-religious ceremonies? Having dumped real religion, I have no desire to embrace an ersatz one. Humanism is not for me

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