No to Negative Action

Good afternoon, dear Readers…

I received a letter from #AHA (the American Humanism Association) today regarding the humanist plan of action for 2016. First off – yes, I am a Humanist. I believe in good without “god.” What that means to me is that I believe the individual is able to strive for good without supernatural threat, to “be good” purely because striving for betterment is improvement of the self. I understand my limits – all I can control is myself. This creates a heavy internal morality that guides my decision/action process. I am a Humanist because I think humanity is able to create many wonderful and terrible things. I also am a Humanist because of the whole philosophy-bit – the reading, researching, and learning. I am a stronger Humanist due to scientific theory and empirical data. Humans are amazing life forms, but humans are also only a fraction of species.  The latest craze for evolution.

So…what’s my beef? Well….I do not care for negative action. I do not think that I will truly be better by discrediting, harming, or removing another. I do not think that negative action inside of Humanism is a good advertisement for “I believe in good without god.” What I mean is I do not think attacking the religious minded is fair play. Humanism will not be better by tearing down religious statues or decimating belief. I know – often matters are acted on in a defensive form, but still…becoming a monster will not rid the world of monsters. There must be another way of reducing the authority of religion than to declare war between secularism and theology.

No, tax payer dollars should not be spent on religious idols/statues/monuments – but that does not mean that already constructed works should be removed or destroyed. Tax payer dollars are a hot-topic for many issues. What it sounds like, behind all the gloss, is that Humanism has to be in direct opposition to religion. And that doesn’t sit well with me. Religion, like music and science, are expressions of humanity. Making another lesser will not make me better. Personally – NO, I do not “need/want” religion in my life…but that does not mean that other people cannot benefit from a religious message. Religion works at bonding society together, looking to one’s community for aide and support. I mean, I do not need/want to attend a sporting event but that does not mean that sports should cease to be. Seems rather limited. One of the reasons I look to secular education is to broaden my experience and understanding of the world. I do not do limits.

I will not limit another individual from living their lives – even if that means that they have to look to religion to answer their life questions. So…No, I will not donate funds to support the elimination of religion. I cannot support this because some people still need religion, or at least believe that they do. All I can control is myself. I have no interest in controlling other people, and I wish that message was echoed in Humanism. I feel that, at the heart of humanism, there is great good possible. We are looking for answers, see what all these human beings can do and create.

The Atheists, too, are hell-bent on decimating belief. I have called myself atheist for quite a while, yet I do not agree with the current Atheist-Hatred that is rumbling through society. Let us look at what an atheist constitutes:  question everything, look for reason, note personal experience, question again. As Atheists, it is our job to keep searching. We are seekers. Again…there is no need to become a monster. In that we question everything and continually search for rationality, I would like to note that the answer has not yet been found. Atheists need to keep looking. That means that we do not have time to argue, aggravate, or attack “the believers.” Reason suggests that they have not read as much, nor questioned. – Why then waste precious moments that could be spent positively researching and thinking? I am not saying they are lost causes that should be abandoned – I think all life matters, each subjective person is important. But there is no reason to debate – both sides are convinced. Change the subject, walk away, ignore the post. Get back to contemplation. The moment one is “certain” I daresay belief still reigns.

 

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Literature: Historical – Yes, History – No

Dangers found in Interpreting Literature as Historical Documents

{Peer} wrote: “Far too often we find people who believe there is a divide between science and religion and that you can’t believe in God and evolution.”

For certain people, I believe that could be true. However, it is not necessarily “God” that needs proving – it is one’s religious doctrine and belief of what God entails that is questioned. Christian dogma was questioned because the young-earth creationists insist upon a 7,000 year old earth,[1] a huge contradiction with the scientific understanding of the earth being over 400 billion years old. With a bold claim as demonstrated by the biblical timetable, a reasonable scientific consideration cannot be assessed. The claim in particular is one of humankind’s and not a challenge issued by the individual ingredients that make up the ability to believe, nor is the claim attributed to any outside forces. James Ussher, archbishop of Armagh, traced Adam’s heritage through the Hebrew patriarchs in the seventeenth-century; Bowler and Morus said, “By taking the seven days of creation literally, it was then only a matter of adding on those seven days to arrive at the date of the creation of the earth and the universe itself.”[2] The religious mind consulted the Bible and religious doctrine like they were reading historical documents, believing the stories to be true. An issue science has with religion is that humanity is not the center of the universe, nor are human beings yet perfectly evolved. Science sees evolution as a process of perfecting the individual so as to better the species, whereas religion, namely Christianity, sees the human being a priori as God’s perfect creation. I see the conflict more in interpretative issues. Each individual attaches to a belief that works for them in efforts for that person to understand themselves as well as their place and meaning in life. Religious individuals see harmony in their preferred genre of faith, whereas scientifically minded individuals look for empirical truth and proof. Philosophical minds grant truth for subjective reasoning, and issue Truth for scientific method – but philosophers are able to utilize their understanding to incorporate additional factors for accepting personal truth and universal Truth.

{Peer} wrote: “All I am saying is that one should keep an open mind and to believe that you have all the answers, regardless of your beliefs, is to be a truly foolish.”

I really think it all boils down to what method works for the individual – if organized religion is not your bag, there are other spiritual methods absent of convention. Science is always available to address concrete fact, but, for the human condition, the messages relayed with feeling might resonate a “truer” personal meaning. With belief as wind in one sails, subjective truth can appear to conquer the authorities of the objective. I agree with Socrates in that a questioning mind realizes that they know nothing. The moment absolute “certainty” without evidence steps in it is almost like blinders are dropped over one’s vision. Personally, I am not certain of anything – other than that I have a lot to learn and consider.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bowler, Peter J. and Iwan Rhys Morus. Making Modern Science: A Historical Survey. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 2005.

Picture c/o:  http://www.ucg.org/files/image/collection/is-the-bible-true_0.png

[1] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 106.

[2] Bowler and Morus, Making Modern Science, p. 106.

Historical Consideration for Science and Religion

Science and religion offer different methods for the human being to interpret one’s place in the universe. Prior to the Enlightenment, religion was the ultimate authority of information as to where humans came from and what their purpose in life entailed. Science utilized empirical evidence to assert truth while religion required the belief of those who practiced their faith. Both offices ask for society to believe in the policy and procedure ascribed by the officials, however, science offers observable proof to back up their claims. Religion is not empty handed, and the believers incorporate compassionate consideration for the existence of a higher power – displayed not in empirical terms but relying on sentiment, feeling, and a natural connection to their deity. Science and religion are not equal contenders. I see a place for both offices in modern society, I do not see them sitting at the same tables – they are different, and at times, opposing methods used to address the human position.

Science and religion have different theories regarding the origins of existence as well as the place and purpose of homo sapiens. William Paley offered a theory to unite science and religion. His book Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature (1802), was required reading at Christ’s College of Cambridge University.[1] The text included the famous metaphor of the watch and the watchmaker, presenting a case for God as the watchmaker to create and tend his watch (life). BMW noted Darwin as developing his theory of natural selection from inspiration presented by Paley; he said, “…Darwin took from his reading of Paley a belief in adaptation – that organisms are somehow fit for the environments in which they live, that their structure reflects the functions they perform throughout their lives.”[2] Religion, when forced to answer difficult questions, had to accept that bad things happened even though God was granted the ability to “fix” any error in the organic world. BMW said, “Paley struggled to reconcile the apparent cruelty and indifference of nature with his belief in a good God, and finally concluded that the joys of life simply outweighed its sorrows.”[3] After all, philosophically, if one does not experience pain and sadness then one will not recognize joy and happiness.

In “Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America’s Soul,” Edward Humes spoke for the Dole Institute on the conflicts of evolutionism and creationist theory. The video showed me that people are completely able to believe different realities based on their subjective perspective regarding how they want to interpret their own existence. In Dover, PA, the teacher and administrators did not want evolution taught in science class. Humes said, “During the presentation on intelligent design, the administers of the district instructed the students not to ask questions.”[4] The fundamental purpose of education is to acquire information by answering questions. Robbing the students of simply questioning authority could result in those students not trusting authority. However, I suppose the belief must fill in all the cracks – the concept is to trust in one’s religion, therefore, those with authority should be in league with the ultimate power. I agree with Humes that teaching evolution is conflictive with religious belief. I think that the offices of religion and science do not belong together, and should not compete with one another anymore than I think home-economics and history should have a duel. They do not coincide or work with each other – one is objective empirical theory and the other is sentimental expression/connection with an outside force. Both, however, are human expressions. If religion wants a school of thought to support it, I think it would be more beneficial to turn to literature and the arts and wisely leave science alone.

The real issue I see is found in education – the information that is presented to the youth. Science offers evolution, and biology rather relies on it to justify medicine, surgery, and technological advances – withholding this information from young minds seems criminal to me, and also when they find out later in life, they may look back spitefully at both science and religion, or really, authority in general. Not providing any answer is still going to present a negative outcome because it makes it look like authority itself does not know what is really going on, therefore, why would anyone believe what authority said sometimes if it was not always aware. Before the Enlightenment, religion was not questioned but accepted as true. Look what happened when the scientific method stormed the stage – society still feels the shudder.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BMW. “William Paley (1743-1805).” ucmp.berkeley.edu. 21 Aug 1996. Web. 12 Jan 2016.

Humes, Edward. “Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and theBattle for America’s Soul.” YouTube, 11 May 2012. Web. 11 Jan2016.

Picture c/o:  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Religion_in_SF.png

[1] BMW, “William Paley.”

[2] BMW, “William Paley.”

[3] BMW, “William Paley.”

[4] Humes, “Monkey Girl,” 20:35-20:40.