ATHEISM & HUMANISM
In the beginning of 20th century Humanism was established in to its formal shape:
- 1920 - Religious Humanistic movement was founded after Dr. Curtis W. Reese, a Unitarian pastor, gave sermons in Des Moines (1917) and Harvard Divinity School (1920).
- 1933 - Humanist Manifesto I written by three Unitarian ministers, two university teachers, and a philosopher. It is a Manifesto of Religious Humanism.
- 1941 - American Humanist Association founded in the United States.
- 1952 - International Humanist and Ethical Union founded in Amsterdam.
- 1961 - The Unitarians and Universalists merged forming the Unitarian Universalists Association.
- 1973 - Humanist Manifesto II issued. There are many Humanist associations and organizations established all over the world.
Sidney Hook is a contemporary American Philosopher; it is not clearly known whether or not he would count himself as a Humanist. He has written extensively about freedom, reason and tyranny of all sorts. His entry in Who's Who in America echoes Socrates' admonishment about the unexamined life: " It is better to be a live jackal than a dead lion - for jackals not men. Men who have the moral courage to fight intelligently for freedom have the best prospects for avoiding the fates both of live jackals and dead lions. Survival is not the be-all and end-all of a life worthy of a man. Sometimes the worst thing we can know about a man is that he has survived. Those who say life is worth living at any cost have already written for themselves an epitaph of infamy, for there is no cause and no person they will not betray to stay alive."
The people who refuse to submit their personal concerns to the criterion of absolute (revealed) moral standards and think that their own judgment as to what constitutes right and wrong is the only valid one, will create a society governed by the doctrine; ‘might is right’. All moral concepts - that is, all discrimination between good and evil, or right and wrong - are indissolubly linked with the concept of man's responsibility to a Supreme Power: in other words, without such a feeling of responsibility - whether conscious or subconscious - the concept of "morality" as such loses all its meaning.
Religious Humanistic Movement:
The Religious Humanistic movement was founded after Dr. Curtis W. Reese, a Unitarian pastor, gave sermons in Des Moines (1917) and Harvard Divinity School (1920). In 1925 the Reverend John H. Dietrieh pointed out that Unitarianism was the natural environment for the development of Religious Humanism. "Unitarianism offered opportunity for the enunciation of Humanism by virtue of its underlying spirit of spiritual freedom, by its insistence upon intellectual integrity rather than intellectual uniformity, by its offer of religious fellowship to every one of moral purpose without regard to his theological beliefs. But this is not the important thing. The real reason Unitarianism was the natural soil for the growth of Humanism is the fact that Unitarianism was a revolt against traditional Christianity in the interest of the worth and dignity of human nature and the interest of human life."
Religious Humanism and, especially, the other forms of Humanism, deny the existence of a God active in natural or human affairs, hence no scripture. There are two Humanist Manifestos that set out in general terms the basic philosophical orientation of Humanism. Of course, not all Humanists would necessarily agree with either Manifesto. But they do tend to reflect the underlying attitude of Humanism. In 1933 the Humanist Manifesto I was written by three Unitarian ministers, two university teachers, and a philosopher. It is a Manifesto of Religious Humanism. Forty years later, in 1973, Humanist Manfesto II was issued. These events can be considered to be seminal in the founding of Humanism. The Religious Humanistic movement was founded after Dr. Curtis W. Reese, a Unitarian pastor, gave sermons in Des Moines (1917) and Harvard Divinity School (1920). In 1925 the Reverend John H. Dietrieh pointed out that Unitarianism was the natural environment for the development of Religious Humanism.
Humanists believe that all forms of the supernatural are myth. Nature is the totality of all being, existing independently of any mind, mentality or consciousness. Physical nature is all there is. Universe is self created, composed of matter and energy and it exists in an ever changing state of flux governed by the laws of science. They do not believe in existence of God. Despite atheist belief, Humanists appears to have borrowed many ideas especially relating to just equitable society, human values and knowledge form the pragmatic strictly monotheist faith [Tawheed] -Islam.
Lamont provides a list of the basic metaphysical categories for humanism. These are the categories that humanists Lamont, at least commit themselves to. They are the fundamental categories that apply to all existential entities:
- Substance - Manifestations of matter and energy.
- Activity - Substance is always in a state of flux. Substance is becoming.
- Form - Substance and Activity have form - structure and organization.
- Quality - Substance has qualities such as solidity, shape, texture, colour and sound.
- Quantity - Substance has quantity such as size, mass, velocity, intensity, location.
- Duration - Substance has duration, it exists for a definite period of time.
- Presentness - Substance exists only in the present, not the past nor in the future.
- Causality - Substance exists as both an effect of causes, and as a cause, when active, of other events.
- Necessity - Causality operates in "if, then" irregularities (Scientific Laws). If the "if" occurs, then necessarily the "then" occurs.
- Contingency - Causality as an un-patterned, irregular, unpredictable relationship. Perhaps explicable after the fact, but unpredictable before. This category allows for human freedom, free will.
- Individuality - Substance is discrete, individual, separate.
- Relation - Substance exists in relation to other substances, never in total isolation.
- Potentiality - Substance exists with inherent possibilities such as activity, interaction and change.
- Eventuation - Substance continually moves in a process toward eventual successive results. The acorn becomes an oak, dies, rots, returns to nature. Eventuation does not entail direction nor progress.
- Unity - Substance, every object or event, is one with itself.
- Plurality - Substance, every object or event, is compound, made up of parts or enters into a plurality of relationships.
- Nature: Nature is an incredibly beautiful, complex system of interactions of which we are part. We should appreciate and enjoy nature in this life time.
- Humanity: Humans are a product of an ongoing, natural, evolutionary process. Mind and brain are one, a unity and there is no survival after death.
- Freedom: Humanism rejects all theories of fatalism, predestination and hard determinism.
- Fatalism: Some events, major events, will occur because their occurrence has been set up in advance [by whom?]. For example, whether or not a person gets married, how many children they have, or when they will die.
- Predestination: All events that occur have been set up in advance [by whom?].
- Determinism: Choices, events are constrained by past circumstances. Hard determinism asserts that all events are completely constrained. Soft determinism asserts that constraining factors sometimes can be overcome.
- Free Will: Humanism recognizes that choice is conditioned, or constrained, by past circumstances. But humans have freedom of choice and control their own destiny, at least to some extent [Limited free moral Will as in Islam!].
- Society: Humanism aims for the establishment throughout the world of democracy. The purpose of life is attainment of the good life in a harmonious society, within which each individual seeks to contribute to the welfare of the community.
- Human Values: Human values are grounded in experiences in this worldly existence. Human freedom, progress, happiness and experiences are the highest values to be sought as goals for all humans, independent of race, sex, nationality or religion. Humans should seek to develop themselves to the fullest extent possible, scientifically, philosophically, socially and artistically.
- Truth and Knowledge: Humanism stands utterly opposed to religious control of knowledge, belief and truth. Humanism in its scientific outlook aims for an unending, open-ended questioning of all basic assumptions, beliefs and convictions, even its own.
In brief the Humanists, including religious humanists, regard the universe as self-created. Humanism rejects the notion of supernatural forces. The material, physical universe is all there is, and it operates entirely on the basis of physical, scientific laws. The basic social goal of humanism is to develop a just society in the present and to have it continue into the future. Lamont recognizes that egoism must be balanced with altruism.
They think that while acting in one’s own self- interest, one should consider the self-interest of others. While acting as a group for our self-interests, Humanists need to consider the self-interest of other groups, of human groups, at least. Within the balance between egoism and altruism, Humanism strives for a democratic, cooperative society based on equality, freedom and individual rights. In a Humanistic society there would be no discrimination based on sex, race or nationality. Women specifically would receive fair and equitable treatment.
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