Humanist Celebrations

A celebration without God.

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Secular holidays

Some Humanists celebrate official religion-based public holidays, such as Christmas or Easter, but as secular holidays rather than religious ones.

Many Humanists also celebrate the winter and summer solstice, the former of which (in the northern hemisphere) is the root of the celebration of Christmas, and the equinoxes, of which the vernal equinox is associated with Christianity’s Easter and indeed with all other springtime festivals of renewal, and the autumnal equinox which is related to such celebrations such as Halloween and All Souls’ Day.

 

The Society for Humanistic Judaism celebrates most Jewish holidays in a secular manner.

The IHEU endorses World Humanist Day (21 June), Darwin Day (12 February), Human Rights Day (10 December) and HumanLight (23 December) as official days of Humanist celebration, though none are yet a public holiday.

In many countries, Humanist officiants (or celebrants) perform celebrancy services for weddings, funerals, child namings, coming of age ceremonies, and other rituals.

Means of Natural Selection

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Coleyartastro – Sun over Religion.

 

Darwin’s Re:Evolution is natural…

 

It presented a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching pattern of evolution. Darwin included evidence that he had gathered on the Beagle expedition in the 1830s and his subsequent findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation.

 

Evolved?

 

Darwin’s book introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the  course of generations through a process of natural selection.

 

Continue reading “Means of Natural Selection”

Secular humanism

The philosophy or life stance of secular humanism (alternatively known by some adherents as Humanism, specifically with a capital H to distinguish it from other forms of humanism) embraces human reason, ethics, social justice and philosophical naturalism, while specifically rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience or superstition as the basis of morality and decision making.

Happy Humanist SymbolWithout God

It posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or a god. It does not, however, assume that humans are either inherently evil or innately good, nor does it present humans as being superior to nature. Rather, the humanist life stance emphasizes the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions.

Fundamental to the concept of secular humanism is the strongly held viewpoint that ideology—be it religious or political—must be thoroughly examined by each individual and not simply accepted or rejected on faith. Along with this, an essential part of secular humanism is a continually adapting search for truth, primarily through science and philosophy.

Philosophy of Utilitarianism

Many Humanists derive their moral codes from a philosophy of utilitarianism, ethical naturalism or evolutionary ethics, and some advocate a science of morality.
The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world union of more than one hundred Humanist, rationalist, irreligious, atheistic, Bright, secular,Ethical Culture, and freethought organizations in more than 40 countries.

The “Happy Human” is the official symbol of the IHEU as well as being regarded as a universally recognised symbol for those who call themselves Humanists. Secular humanist organizations are found in all parts of the world. Those who call themselves humanists are estimated to number between four and five million people worldwide.

Dogma

Dogma is a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true. It serves as part of the primary basis of an ideology or belief system, and it cannot be changed or discarded without affecting the very system’s paradigm, or the ideology itself.

They can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, religion, or issued decisions of political authorities.
The term derives from Greek δόγμα “that which seems to one, opinion or belief” and that from δοκέω (dokeo), “to think, to suppose, to imagine”.

Dogma came to signify laws or ordinances adjudged and imposed upon others by the First Century. The plural is either dogmas or dogmata, from Greek δόγματα.

The term “dogmatics” is used as a synonym for systematic theology, as in Karl Barth’s defining textbook of neo-orthodoxy, the 14-volume Church Dogmatics.
Dogmata are found in religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam, where they are considered core principles that must be upheld by all believers of that religion.

As a fundamental element of religion, the term “dogma” is assigned to those theological tenets which are considered to be well demonstrated, such that their proposed disputation or revision effectively means that a person no longer accepts the given religion as his or her own, or has entered into a period of personal doubt.

Dogma is distinguished from theological opinion regarding those things considered less well-known. Dogmata may be clarified and elaborated but not contradicted in novel teachings .Rejection of dogma may lead to expulsion from a religious group.
In Christianity, religious beliefs are defined by the Church. It is usually on scripture or communicated by church authority. It is believed that these dogmas will lead human beings towards redemption and thus the “paths which lead to God”.
For Catholicism and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity, the dogmata are contained in the Nicene Creed and the canon laws of two, three, seven, or twenty ecumenical councils(depending on whether one is Nestorian, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, or Roman Catholic). These tenets are summarized by St. John of Damascus in his Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, which is the third book of his main work, titled The Fount of Knowledge.

In this book he takes a dual approach in explaining each article of the faith: one, for Christians, where he uses quotes from the Bible and, occasionally, from works of other Fathers of the Church, and the second, directed both at non-Christians (but who, nevertheless, hold some sort of religious belief) and at atheists, for whom he employs Aristotelian logic and dialectics.
The decisions of fourteen later councils that Catholics hold as dogmatic and numerous decrees promulgated by Popes’ exercising papal infallibility (for examples, see Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary) are considered as being a part of the Church’s sacred body of doctrine.
Roman Catholic dogmata are a distinct form of doctrine taught by the Church.
Protestants to differing degrees affirm portions of these dogmata, and often rely on denomination-specific “Statements of Faith” which summarize their chosen dogmata (see, e.g., Eucharist).
In Islam, the dogmatic principles are contained in the aqidah. Within many Christian denominations, dogma is referred to as “doctrine”.

Philosophical Issues

Existence of God – Part 9 million to One

In Classical theism, God is characterized as the metaphysically ultimate being (the first, timeless, absolutely simple, and sovereign being, who is devoid of any anthropomorphic qualities), in distinction to other conceptions such as Theistic Personalism, Open Theism, and Process Theism.

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coleysaturn

Despite extensive writing on the nature of God, these classical theists did not believe that God could be defined.

They believed that it would contradict the transcendent nature of God for mere humans to define him. Robert Barron explains by analogy that it seems impossible for a two-dimensional object to conceive of three-dimensional humans.

 

By contrast, much of Eastern religious thought (chiefly pantheism) posits God as a force contained in every imaginable phenomenon. For example, Baruch Spinoza and his followers use the term God in a particular philosophical sense to mean the essential substance/principles of nature.

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Saturn Cast the First Stone

In modern Western societies, the concept of God typically entails a monotheistic, supreme, ultimate, and personal being, as found in the Islamic, Christian and Hebrew traditions. In monotheisms outside the Abrahamic traditions, the existence of God is discussed in similar terms.

In the Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, reality is ultimately seen as a single, qualityless, changeless nirguna Brahman. Advaitin philosophy introduces the concept of saguna Brahman or Ishvara as a way of talking about Brahman to people. Ishvara, in turn, is ascribed such qualities as omniscience, omnipotence, and benevolence.

 

 

Darwin’s Natural Selection

Natural selection is the gradual process by which biological traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of the effect of inherited traits on the differential reproductive success of organisms interacting with their environment. It is a key mechanism of evolution. The term “natural selection” was popularized by Charles Darwin who intended it to be compared with artificial selection, now more commonly referred to as selective breeding.

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The Bums Rush?

 

Variation exists within all populations of organisms. This occurs partly because random mutations occur in the genome of an individual organism, and these mutations can be passed to offspring. Throughout the individuals’ lives, their genomes interact with their environments to cause variations in traits. (The environment of a genome includes the molecular biology in the cell, other cells, other individuals, populations, species, as well as the abiotic environment.) Individuals with certain variants of the trait may survive and reproduce more than individuals with other, less successful, variants. Therefore the population evolves. Factors that affect reproductive success are also important, an issue that Charles Darwin developed in his ideas on sexual selection, for example.

Continue reading “Darwin’s Natural Selection”

David Hume

Scottish philosopher

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Hume – Statue

 

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist known especially for his philosophical empiricism and scepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment. Hume is often grouped with John LockeGeorge Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist.

 

Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature (1739), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic “science of man” that examined the psychological basis of human nature. In stark opposition to the rationalists who preceded him, most notably Descartes, he concluded that desire rather than reason governed human behaviour, saying: “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions”.A prominent figure in the sceptical philosophical tradition and a strong empiricist, he argued against the existence of innate ideas, concluding instead that humans have knowledge only of things they directly experience. Thus he divides perceptions between strong and lively “impressions” or direct sensations and fainter “ideas”, which are copied from impressions. He developed the position that mental behaviour is governed by “custom”, that is acquired ability; our use of induction, for example, is justified only by our idea of the “constant conjunction” of causes and effects. Without direct impressions of a metaphysical “self”, he concluded that humans have no actual conception of the self, only of a bundle of sensations associated with the self.

 

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Hume advocated a compatibilist theory of free will that proved extremely influential on subsequent moral philosophy. He was also a sentimentalist who held that ethics are based on feelings rather than abstract moral principles. Hume also examined the normative is–ought problem. He held notoriously ambiguous views of Christianity, but famously challenged the argument from design in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1777).

Kant credited Hume with waking him up from his “dogmatic slumbers” and Hume has proved extremely influential on subsequent philosophy, especially on utilitarianismlogical positivismWilliam Jamesphilosophy of science, early analytic philosophy, cognitive philosophy, and other movements and thinkers. The philosopher Jerry Fodor proclaimed Hume’s Treatise “the founding document of cognitive science“. Also famous as a prose stylist, Hume pioneered the essay as a literary genre and engaged with contemporary intellectual luminaries such as Jean-Jacques RousseauAdam Smith (who acknowledged Hume’s influence on his economics and political philosophy), James BoswellJoseph Butler, and Thomas Reid.