Wednesday, January 02, 2013

I, Humanist

I was involved in a discussion with one of my brothers recently on Facebook. My Atheism was brought up, and he noted that my journey had been a progression "from Believer to Universalist to Agnostic to Atheist". So, was there another step to take?

An interesting question. Here was my response:

Well, I think the underlying change happened when I became a universalist. I would not have defined it this way at the time, but looking back, that is when I became a humanist. For the first time, people became more important to me than doctrine, and it was the first time I was willing to look at scripture and decide that, if it brought about a harmful result to people, then it was wrong. In this way I think Jesus, and MLK, and others are/were humanists - they were willing to defy the accepted dogma of their day in order to protect people. 

I think Atheism is a definition that describes how a person relates to any form of theism; but humanism is a moral and ethical statement which is used to describe how one views the world - that which promotes the advancement of the human condition is moral, that which detracts from it is immoral.

I think the humanist moral standard is a better standard. Having found it to be better, I found less and less use for the the theism... until it finally fell away. I think is possible to be religious and a humanist. Rob Bell would be a good example. In places where he finds popular dogma to cause harm to people, he either discards it or throws it up to such a flurry of questions as to render it inert. He puts people first. I think that whittles away at theism over time.... I think mine was hurried along though some of my interactions with Mormonism, but my leaving the faith was only a matter of time.


Yes, it is true that I am an Atheist. However, if I must be known by a label, I choose to take on one that speaks more to what makes me tick.

I am a Humanist.


“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”  - Marcus Aurelius


3 comments:

Ma said...

Whatsoever you do to the least of these, my brethren, you've done unto me comes to mind.

The Arkwelder said...

If you're talking about Steve, those must be some rad conversations. I never became an Atheist, but I allowed myself to disbelieve to the extent that I became an Agnostic. Then I naturally came back around to Christianity. I don't feel like I've simply fallen back into old habits. What I've rejected is dogmatism, and to reject dogmatism is to reject modern Christianity almost entirely. Dogma comes from a place of fear. Every Atheist I talk to suffers from their own kind of dogma; Christians and Atheists both are addicted to their own kind of dogma, which reflects their need for certainty. The reason I came back around is simply because I agree with most of what Jesus said and did. Humanism is more in the vein of Christ's teachings than Christianity anyway. In fact, the reason I still wear the label 'Christian' is because Christ's life and teachings represent the best humanist ideology out there.

Catwoolf said...

"In this way I think Jesus, and MLK, and others are/were humanists - they were willing to defy the accepted dogma of their day in order to protect people."

This makes sense to me. I think it's also possible that people like Jesus, MLK, and other important spiritual leaders are hardwired differently. Maybe there's a part of the brain in charge of compassion that's more evolved in some than in others....you know, like
how some people are wired for foreign language or for music and some aren't?

Christianity didn't come along until Jesus was long gone. I've wondered if Christianty came to be because mind-identified people tried to take a logical approach to making sense of Jesus's left brained, compassionate, gentle, "take care of one another" approach to being. If you're not that way "naturally" then you write a "how to" book.

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