This Week in Humanism 2018–09–10
“In the last couple of decades, religious affiliation has been on a steep decline in all modern societies1. Many worry that religion’s loss of influence will result in nihilistic societal values — a loss of the sense of purpose, meaning and morality. This fear rests on the assumption that religion is the source of these qualities, and that they were inherent at the origin of the universe, imbued by a benevolent creator.
Before the transformative scientific insights of the last few decades, it could quite reasonably have seemed self-evident that our world is purposefully designed and controlled by some sort of intentional higher power. It might even have seemed naive to suggest that the ingenious complexity that characterizes our world could have arisen spontaneously.”
“A local atheist never liked to call himself a Humanist. Although he revels in narcissism and hating on Two Broke Girls, deep down he is a Humanist as defined by the American Humanist Association:
Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.
Friends of his may be surprised by this fact. However, the devil is in the details. The definition only states our ability and responsibility not to be dirtbaags. It doesn’t boldly state human beings are angels.”
“President Donald Trump hosted a White House dinner for 100 evangelical leaders in late August. When the President entertained the church leaders aligned with his Republican base, I thought back to a summer visit to Plains, Ga., the hometown of President Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter. At the old Plains High School, now a museum featuring the Carter’s lives, I saw the book “Living Faith” that Carter wrote back in 1996.
I had read Living Faith 20 years ago and remembered Carter recalling a particular White House encounter: “A high official of the Southern Baptist Convention came into the Oval Office to visit me when I was president. As he and his wife were leaving, he said, ‘We are praying, Mr. President, that you will abandon secular humanism as your religion.’ This was a shock to me. I didn’t know what he meant. I am still not sure.” Carter goes on to mention in the book that in his 1976 run for the White House, “the evangelist Jerry Falwell condemned me because I ‘claimed’ to be a Christian.””
“A provincial organization promoting secular humanism questions why B.C. communities including Saanich continue to grant tax exemptions to properties that religious groups own.
“With the upcoming municipal elections, we think it’s a good time for residents to start talking about what they want to see in their community,” said Ian Bushfield, executive director of the B.C. Humanist Association. “Every municipality is facing tight budgets and councils have to make difficult decisions about how to best balance the needs of different sectors of the community.”
Places of worship receive a statutory tax exemption under the Community Charter with councils having no say in the matter. (The statutory exemption applies to the assessed value of the building and the value of the land under the building).”
“The modern university is commendable for fostering an atmosphere of learning, research and education. Texas State University supports this with the Albert B. Alkek Library, a collection of more than 1.5 million printed volumes, 99,700 electronic journals and 625 databases. Furthermore, it is an open space that favors the promotion of learning and research.
Evidently, the purpose of seeking a university education is to develop a career and to secure eventual employment. In a universe that seems to dedicate attention on the economic question, that is, the gross production of wealth, it appears that the human person is at the mercy of a system in which the competition for gainful employment is impersonal and unforgiving. In the end, it is a question of economics and the human element disappears behind numbers.
Humanism forms the tradition of the modern university and traces its origin to the Renaissance during the 14th century in Italy. Humanism is an intellectual movement that focuses on the re-discovery of humane letters from the classical Greeks and Romans, giving way for a rebirth of the classical patrimony of Europe after centuries of absence during the Middle Ages.”