Former AHA Head Embarrassed by Negative ‘Humanism’

Dec 10th, 2011 | By | Category: Humanism News

(NY Times Dec 10)

To the Editor:

As a former elected head of the American Humanist Association for 14 years, I am embarrassed by the A.H.A.’s “good without God” campaign of signs on transit vehicles. Humanists are philosophical naturalists, but more important than advertising, one item of the humanist worldview is emphasizing the many positive positions we hold in common with a wide range of religious believers.

I refer to such matters as peace, civil liberties, religious freedom, the environment, social justice, democracy, women’s rights and so on.

Our planetary society does not have the luxury of engaging in angry debates about philosophy. We, all of us, are faced with immediate problems like global warming, endless wars, environmental degradation, denial of civil liberties, widespread economic turndown, misogynistic patriarchalism, the triumph of greed and selfishness over empathy, unemployment and the need for health care reform.

Progressive and mainstream humanists, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and others of good will need to concentrate on what unites us, not on what divides us. Divisive ad campaigns invite blowback and stimulate both ends of the religious spectrum to engage in fruitless bouts of name-calling and invective.

Edd Doerr
Silver Spring, Md.

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6 Comments to “Former AHA Head Embarrassed by Negative ‘Humanism’”

  1. admin says:

    John said:
    “The Humanist, Jan-Feb 1983, which stated that the new faith of Humanism must eradicate every vestige Christianity, at every level. One would assume that would include the Jesuits and all else theistic. I would seem to me that Dawkins is attempting to do just that. While as a theist I totally disagree with the New Atheism, both on philosophical and scientific grounds, their hard nosed assertiveness is at least consistent . They well understand that Humanism is the other side of the very same coin, and they take no prisoners.”

    Of course, but my new book The Humanist has a renegade Jesuit, Tom Leahy, who wants to rescue both Jesuitism and Humanism as one morphed philosophy and movement. Each must get naked before the other, then profit from each other’s best characteristics. I do believe in respecting and rescuing human traditions.

    I’d like to belong to a Humanist movement overseen by such as the Jesuits (their methodology) who take no prisoners (as the atheists don’t now) and are put into place by inclusive Humanists to manage our personal genomes and destiny.

    By Jesus, when I went to church Sunday morning I’d know I had some chips in the pot and two great hole cards… so much better than drinking a bottle of whiskey, reading the bible and cleaning my guns..

  2. I was rather intrigued by your comments on Dawkins’ atheism, and by your sympathy for the Jesuits, particularly in light of the Humanist objectives clearly stated in The Humanist, Jan-Feb 1983, which stated that the new faith of Humanism must eradicate every vestige Christianity, at every level. One would assume that would include the Jesuits and all else theistic. I would seem to me that Dawkins is attempting to do just that. While as a theist I totally disagree with the New Atheism, both on philosophical and scientific grounds, their hard nosed assertiveness is at least consistent . They well understand that Humanism is the other side of the very same coin, and they take no prisoners.

  3. admin says:

    I do appreciate your kind comments, Chris and Jacob and would like to adress Steve’s solidarity statement re: atheism as a Humanist identifier.

    I’m sure that every Humanist believes every word of what you are saying, Steve. The main point of inclusive Humanism is – why stop there? Should we be working for world federalism too, to unify our governance under one responsible umbrella, outside the curse of corruption? The World Federalists are really small and I know I’m going to join and work with them on what I think is THE central issue for Homo sapiens.

    Second, our over-association with atheism is undoubtedly costing us members. One example is the Peace movement, almost all of whose members would, I expect, be Humanists. Some atheists would say that they would first like to exclude the Christian, Jewish, Islamic etc. peace workers because to be a Humanist, you must be a-theistic.

    What do you think – is it possible that we are gaining 5,000 juvenile atheists and losing 50,000 peace activists, in that one area alone?

    If you can register on the Forum and start a thread on this, it would help get us up and going on it, and make others’ comments directly available to you, and yours to them.

    Dwight

  4. Steve LOWE says:

    I support the “Good without god” campaign. It is a positive statement of our philosophy. There is no name calling. It is a positive statement of liberation. Liberation from the intolerance of most religions, …Liberation from the bigotry of most religious persons, ….Liberation from being dependant on and controlled by an imaginary sky parent / savior. It says that we, and we alone must “work together to better the condition of the human race “. I say it is time that the religious accept us a being able to be good without god. Then we can work together. What I find divisive is:
    Claims of only one path to heaven – though Jesus Christ
    Claims of only one true god
    Claims of only one holy book
    Opression of women, gays, and non-belivers
    Incursions of religion into secular government
    The stigma attached to being an atheist

    Until the religious accept non-belivers as viable , respectable , and valued parners in our society our attempts to work together will always be defeated by the very nature of theistic philosophies.

  5. Jacob Barnett says:

    I agree with the “good without God” campaign. There is nothing that says we cannot be proud of who we are AND work with religious organizations toward a common goal. Isn’t that what we were doing? Weren’t we allowing them to openly and loudly voice their philosophy and propaganda all the while working along side them for common ideals? It is not, and will never be, wrong to let people know we exist and we are proud of it!

  6. Chris Briggs, sr. says:

    I am so grateful to read your comments. I’m a devoted Christian. My daughter is and atheist. I support the same causes and social goals as the atheists I know. I despise intolerance, bigotry, the meaningless struggle for control practiced by many who call themselves “christians” , and any attempts to control or manipulate the thoughts of humanity.
    I’m truly convinced we have MUCH more in common than we have in conflict. I agree with you most emphatically that we can work together to better the condition of the human race and enjoy each other’s company doing it.
    I have a mental image of the hordes of humanity all limping, crawling, hobbling, inching together through a dark landscape toward a light glimmering over a distant horizon. We MUST “link arms” and help each other get there, wherever it may be, however far off . I certainly won’t turn you down if you offer to help me, and I hope you’ll accept help from me, too.
    Thank you for your tolerance, and your words of hope.

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