Sunday, July 29, 2012

Social Humanism

It is self-evident that atheism rejects a dualist worldview. But that is only the starting point for the worldview of an atheist. Materialism and naturalism may be small and unimportant parts of that world view, but social humanism would generally be the foundation of the world view. Many individual nuances as there is no supernatural unifier. But I for one would be comfortable with a social humanist worldview description as a first layer cut.

Social humanism is based on the fact that humans are extremely intelligent, rational, social animals whose very existence is based on support from a large group of other humans for child socialization, food production, social support, and economic activity. The beginnings of social humanism were in tribes of closely related people that were nomadic hunter-gatherers, and herders. Compliance with the mores of the tribe was reinforced from childhood as children played games based on those mores. The mores were also reinforced at social gatherings where music and dancing provided the mate selection opportunities for the single members of the tribe. Once families were established shortly after puberty, living was essentially support for the family and tribe in that order.

As agriculture became more important to the tribe expanded to a village and the social humanism focused on a central gathering place where the culture of the village was maintained and supported. Specialization and leisure permitted the the lore masters to become respected and supported members of the village. Titles varied, but they generally were healers, councillors, and leaders of the group activities for mate selection and lore reinforcement again with music and dance.

(To be continued.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Conditional Radical Respect


Atheists are frequently accused of having no moral standards because moral standards are more diffuse and driven by intelligent evaluation of social imperatives of both religious and secular sources. The most important stumbling block is how to deal with social transgressions without bigotry. The Christian paradigm of hating the sin and loving the sinner just doesn’t work for me because the sinner is the problem. The UU radical respect can and frequently does degenerate into “Officer Krupke.” It is nobody’s fault, and nobody can be held responsible for their behavior.

I have never liked either of these responses. I refuse bigotry, as no group or class is all bad, but I do pay attention to behavior of people in certain groups and make certain assumptions about the group based on those observations. To use a non-religious example, big investment bankers may be all right as neighbors, but once they get to work I have zero trust that they are being socially responsible. I would have no issue with holding them collectively responsible for financial crimes against humanity. Or, since corporations are now people, throwing all board members and officers in jail once fraud by the corporation is proved. They collectively are lacking in Frith and oathbreakers with the society they pretend to serve.

I am generally careful to differentiate individuals from the group they represent until they refuse to disassociate themselves from the socially dysfunctional actions of the group. I will admit that it is sometimes hard for some “Christian” denominations, as it seems that being antisocial is part of being in the denomination. But even in the worst of them some individuals can be decent outside of their place of worship.

As for individuals aside from any group, radical respect is a given until through specific actions they forfeit that respect. Again the Asatru concept of oathbreaker is very useful here. Radical respect assumes that all are signed on to the social contract of Frith or the secular self evident truths, and those that violate that contract have a tough rehabilitation program ahead of them not only to prove that they regret the violation but that they have taken steps to repair the damage caused by that violation. Lacking that they deserve no respect or compassion from me or my ERSSG.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Why an Atheist

I was raised in a Unitarian family, and one of the features of UU RE is the study of other religions, ostensibly to broaden our spiritual resources. I became facinated by religion and studied it both to try to figure out why people I respected believed, and to see what I could learn from the traditions. I started singing religious music in the 4th grade and I have continued choral singing since. Therefore I have studied the Christian Liturgy, and prayers intensively and sympathetically to be able to perform them properly.

In all of that study, or perhaps because of it, I have never found a reason to believe in any of the traditions studied. I have learned much, and indeed broadened my spiritual resources but my definition of spiritual would be heresy in any of the religions I have studied as it has nothing to do with God or any supernatural influences.

Another critical reason I am an atheist is that I have studied many of the Sacred Texts, including the Bible in all of the major versions. The God(s) depicted in the Bible are generally immoral and most of the theology is dysfunctional for reasoning people. I know of no one who has really studied the Bible independently that is not an atheist.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Spiritual but Not Religious


however, I believe "spiritual but not religious" will replace organized religion.

Spiritual but not religious is the only rational human reaction to the reality of being alive, having to die, and realizing that the only legacy they can leave is the effect they have had on the important other people in their lives.

Spirituality is the dopamine mediated stimulation of the attention centers of the brain/mind that focuses the entire power of the mind on an important aspect of living including the reward centers of the mind that determine the truth of a concept for that mind. Without the distraction of religion, the mind can focus on that which makes life worth living, and trying to improve the environment in which the educated, intellgent individual lives.

This environment includes primarily the others in the ERSSG, but also the physical and social environment in which they all must live. A useful reference about this physical and social environment is Kwame Appiah's Cosmopolitanism. Note that religion is an important part of that environment even though religion is not important for the individual. It might also be noted that the only religions that will survive in that enviroment are rational and ecumenical. These religions will serve those who are unwilling or unable to take responsibility for their own spirituality.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Post enlightenment social values


post-"Enlightenment" (supposedly) Autnomous "Modern" Humans, who value The Individual SELF above almost anyone or anything else -- even including "God" ...
Post-enlightenment humans are generally well integrated into the interconnected and interdependent web of all humans and are well aware that the individual is a small but important part of the larger society. But for post enlightenment humans it is that society and their place in it that is important. Gods have no place in it.