On humanism and Christmas

Humanism – What is humanism ? Go to the British Humanist Association website and have a read, there are some nice things in there. I have listed some of the definitions of Humanism from their website:

* Humanism is a naturalistic view, encompassing atheism and agnosticism as responses to theistic claims, but is an active and ethical philosophy greater than these reactions to religion.
* Humanists believe in individual rights and freedoms, but believe that individual responsibility, social cooperation and mutual respect are just as important.
* Humanists believe that people can and will continue to find solutions to the world’s problems, so that quality of life can be improved for everyone.
* Humanists are positive, gaining inspiration from our lives, art and culture, and a rich natural world.

These are fantastic – I agree with alot of it myself – improving quality of life and especially with respect to ‘individual rights and freedoms’ and ‘mutual respect.’ this is great. But is religion not included in an individual’s right and freedom? You can choose to believe in God or the Easter Bunny or Fairies if you wish to. Isn’t that part of an individual’s right?

If the humanists really want to be a counter to religion and believe in improving life on earth for themselves and for others why do they go out and purposely attack religions? This doesn’t seem like mutual respect to me.

I find this truly disappointing.

Today on the Richard Dawkins website I found this article about promoting atheism in the US and how it has caused ‘protest and ire’. This usually happens when you go out and purposely attack people for what they believe in.

Well they probably cause IRE because the billboards (really guys Billboards? Like Visit Rock City See 7-States for humanists) which say things like:
“The Bible: ‘A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach authority over a man; she must be silent,” “Humanism: ‘The rights of men and women should be equal and sacred .’

atheist billboards

If these guys had done their homework they would have remembered that few modern Christians take a literal meaning of the Bible and that Christianity got somewhat up dated, in their opinion, after the Old Testament.

Admittedly many of the adverts don’t directly attack religion such as

But in either case these adverts are either intentionally set up to attack religion or convince religious people that atheists are moral too. Its like some kind of weird mud-smearing/convincing the world that atheists ‘don’t eat dead babies’ campaign. In the former case this is not at all dissimilar to what ill educated Americans say about Muslims, for instance and in the later, do you really care what religious people think about you if you are an atheist? Perhaps you might but if you do, do you really think an advert on the side of a bus will convince anyone?

It seems like humanism might ‘combat the religious overtones of Christmas and Hannukah’ by just offering another way, a way which didn’t intentionally attack something people have a cultural, visceral attachment to. A way which says, I hate going to church on Christmas Eve too and am not sure I believe but lets all have dinner at my house instead and talk about something else – but that something else doesn’t have to be religious people are stupid and control the world – it could be – how can we make a difference, and how can we celebrate the year to come and improve the world for humanity? This I think would send a better message and actually be non-religious as humanism is, in principle, meant to be.

About Sylvia McLain

Girl, Interrupting aka Dr. Sylvia McLain used to be an academic, but now is trying to figure out what's next. She is also a proto-science writer, armchair philosopher, amateur plumber and wanna-be film-critic. You can follow her on Twitter @DrSylviaMcLain and Instagram @sylviaellenmclain
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2 Responses to On humanism and Christmas

  1. sylviamclain says:

    As an aside – See Rock City is a reference to old outdoor advertisements from the Southern US. These were some of the first ‘billboards’ erected. Rock City (in Chattanooga Tennessee) paid farmers to put this on the side of their barns as advertising, which was a precursor to modern billboards.

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