Do you really want to know my opinion on
the world's religions? Really? OK. Well,
You probably got a pretty good hint by reading my previous page on 'My
Philosophy.' Let's proceed in stages. First of
all, Time Magazine recently did an article on What Americans Believe.
Here is the section that covered religion:
I am squarely in the 24% category.
I don't believe in hell. I don't believe "everything happens for a
reason." And, I don't believe people have conversations with
It turns out that I'm in good company. What do
the following people have in common: Albert Einstein, John Kenneth
Galbraith, Mohandas Gandhi, Carl Sagan, John Lennon, Linus
Pauling, Bertrand Russell, Gene Roddenberry, Albert Schweitzer, and me?
Well, we all consider ourselves Humanists.
What's a Humanist? Well, the Humanists in the
world held a convention in Amsterdam in 2002. One of their goals
was to adopt a unified platform on the fundamentals of Humanism.
It is called the 2002
Amsterdam Declaration. Here is their platform:
Humanism is ethical.
Humanism is rational.
Humanism supports democracy and human rights.
Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social
Humanism is a response to the widespread demand for an alternative to
Humanism values artistic creativity and imagination and recognizes the
transforming power of art.
Humanism is a lifestance aiming at the maximum possible fulfillment
through the cultivation of ethical and creative living.
This is an OK definition. I like this one better:
|From the Institute for Humanist Studies|
|Humanists make sense of the world using reason, experience and
shared human values. |
|Humanists see no convincing evidence for gods, the supernatural,
or life after death. |
|Humanists believe that moral values are properly founded on
human empathy and scientific understanding. |
|Humanists believe we must live this life on the basis that it is
the only life we'll have -- that, therefore, we must make the most
of it for ourselves, each other, and our world.|
"According to humanism, it is up to humans to find
the truth, as opposed to seeking it through
tradition, or anything else that is incompatible with the
application of logic to the evidence. In demanding that humans avoid
blindly accepting unsupported beliefs, it supports
scientific skepticism and the
scientific method, rejecting
extreme skepticism, and rendering
an unacceptable basis for action. Likewise, humanism asserts that
knowledge of right and wrong is based on one's best understanding of
one's individual and joint interests, rather than stemming from a
transcendental truth or an arbitrarily local source"
|From the IHEU (see link below) comes this
is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human
beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to
their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society
through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit
of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not
theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality."
|Is Humanism for you? Maybe. Check out
some of the links below, and learn more. It s a good fit for me.
Here is how one Humanist (Robert G. Ingersol) described
his "conversion" from his theist roots: "|
|When I became convinced that the universe
is natural, that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered
into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood the sense,
the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and
fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars
and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a
slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in
infinite space. I was free—free to think, to express my
thoughts—free to live my own ideal, free to live for myself and
those I loved, free to use all my faculties, all my senses, free to
spread imagination's wings, free to investigate, to guess and dream
and hope, free to judge and determine for myself . . . I was free! I
stood erect and fearlessly, joyously faced all worlds.
When looking at why I believe what
I believe, and why others believe what they believe, the key is
always to understand the underlying motivation.
When I consider those with whom I disagree, it seems
obvious to me they are often motivated by fear, and their
philosophies are a direct result of their underlying fear.
But this begs the question: What is my underlying
motivation? I think it is
hatred for hypocrisy. Man has
demonstrated a tremendous capacity for hypocrisy, and we should
collectively be ashamed of this, and more importantly, take
active steps to expose it and eradicate it.
The evolution of man clearly shows him
weaning himself off his primitive dependence on a belief in
supernatural entities and religions. This process is historically
marked with great tension and conflict, as some groups of mankind are
less prepared for this leap then others.
|It turns out that throughout the history of mankind, there is a
rich history of disbelievers. The BBC recently did a documentary
on this, called "Athiesm: A Rough History of Disbelief."
Very fascinating to hear about how the theist societies have treated
the non-theists over the years. |
|An interesting quote from Donald Morgan:
thorough reading and understanding of the Bible is the surest path to
This was recently re-established through a
recent survey, that summarized: "Atheists and agnostics, Jews and
Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups on a new survey of
religious knowledge, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline
Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings,
history and leading figures of major world religions."|