Yes, where were the humanists?

Charles Cowling

Atheist-Bus_1217553c

We’ve held this over awhile, but the question it asks remains topical. The article is about the aftermath of the Newtown shootings: 

The funerals and burials over the past two weeks have taken place in Catholic, Congregational, Mormon and United Methodist houses of worship, among others. They have been held in Protestant megachurches and in a Jewish cemetery. A black Christian youth group traveled from Alabama to perform “Amazing Grace” at several of the services.

This illustration of religious belief in action, of faith expressed in extremis, an example at once so heart-rending and so affirming, has left behind one prickly question: Where were the humanists?

Well worth reading the whole piece in the New York Times here

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Fascinating article. I agree with the good folks above. Even where there are local or national humanist groups, there isn’t the “community” feel that other organisations (particularly religious groups) have. Maybe there will be, in time (most of the religions have had a few more centuries to get organised), or maybe not. Perhaps part of the problem is the definition in terms of a negative? The article describes a lot of people (atheist, agnostic, etc) as humanist. Some may be, others might not be. From experience there are far more “non-religious” people than there are humanist. This may be a… Read more »

Jed
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Jed

Coincidentally I happened upon these articles at the weekend, the bbc one above and this one below. I was thinking about when parents lose their child they almost all choose a religious funeral, maybe the need to feel that there will be a reunion, or the need to provide some future, some ongoing life, care and hope for their child is overwhelming. ‘Reason’ is slaughtered in the face of this unfathomable torture. ‘Alain de Botton puts faith in temples for atheists’ ( but not really) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/authorinterviews/9045391/Alain-de-Botton-puts-faith-in-temples-for-atheists.html Trying to address the community, ‘gathering, sharing, supporting’ needs of the human heart/soul –… Read more »

Charles
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Atheists don’t have many reasons to congregate — as atheists, that is. Back in the day they tried it and failed (I’ve forgotten who and where, dammit). The idea has been recently revived – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-21319945.

Flocks need pastors, don’t they, and humanists are probably not up for herding (or flocking) or doctrinal alignment.

But doesn’t the writer make a very good point about reason not being the end-product?

Richard
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Richard

PS Is that Dawkins in the picture advising us how to ‘enjoy our life’?

Richard
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Richard

It’s about finding a balance between individuality and community. Whether a member of a faith group or a humanist, we all congregate sometimes in an individual faculty and sometimes as part of a collective. Faith groups, with their shared rituals and social infrastructure, are more advanced in the latter than humanists.

Jed
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Jed

Interesting conclusion to the article: – compassion is the key…

“A lot of humanist rhetoric of previous generations revolved around reason,” he said. “We’d say, ‘We’re people of reason rather than people of faith.’ But I’ve always been uncomfortable with that as the banner under which we march. We need to think of reason in the service of compassion — caring, being cared-about, a life of meaningful connection. Reason itself is the tool. When we see it as the end-product we miss the point.”