Over on FreeThoughtBlogs P Z Myers has written a piece titled Dogma comes in many flavours and talks about how many atheists are not worried about challenging dogmatic religious beliefs, but when it comes to other deep-rooted beliefs such as gender stereotypes, atheists are often quick to shy away from challenging this. ‘We wouldn’t hesitate to be iconoclastic if the issue is one of faith. Break it down, we’d say, shatter those chains and think for yourself,’ Myers writes. ‘Other topics, though, are suddenly taboo. Try to go to most atheist meetings and question, for instance, conventional notions of masculinity. A significant number of those radical superstition-breakers will be appalled and start whispering about you, and divisions will form and some will cast you out.’ Continue reading
Today is World Humanist Day, a celebration of humanist values that has been celebrated on June 21st since the 1980s. I’ve identified as a humanist since my late teens when I first discovered atheism and humanism and in more recent years I have become a member of the British Humanist Association (Update: In 2017 the organisation was renamed Humanists UK.) The thing that is so great about humanism, in my opinion, is that most people are humanists without even realising it because they take their moral code and their ethics from outside of religious texts. They do good for the sake of doing good and that’s really cool. Or, as Dick McMahan once said, “A humanist is someone who does the right thing even though she knows that no one is watching.” Continue reading
A short while ago I wrote how I am a Humanist ghost buster and this confused a few people who seemed to think that I was mistaking humanism with humanitarianism. While I understand that suggestion I can assure you that I am not mistaken when I talk about my discovery of humanism shaping the way in which I conduct my paranormal research. A Humanitarian approach is certainly a large part of being humanist but humanism is the reason for our humanitarian involvements. Being good for the sake of being good and not for post-death reward is what sets humanists apart from those who would undertake humanitarian work through other inspirations. Continue reading
I stopped believing in ghosts in 2007 and for the first few months I decided that the best use of my time was to explain to others how the things they thought were true were wrong. It bordered on me being almost offended that people could believe such silly things until I realised that I had believed in those things too and it had been really easy. Continue reading
In December the British Government blocked the legal recognition of humanist marriages because it was seen as a ‘fringe’ issue. Andrew Copson of the British Humanist Association called this decision an insult, pointing out that ‘under this government, Scientologists have been added to the list of religions that can perform legal marriages, joining Spiritualists, the Aetherius Society (which believes in aliens and that the Earth is a goddess), and dozens of other religions. To describe the legal recognition of humanist marriages as a “fringe” issue insults the many couples – much larger in number than these many small religious groups – whose planned marriages next year will not be able to go ahead if Number 10 blocks this change.’ Continue reading
I got my copy of New Humanist in the post today and in the editorial there is a section titled ‘The side of the angels?’ that opens with
Even if you’re not the kind of person who picks fights with religion, it can sometimes be hard to avoid confrontation. On so many issues arising in our secular society, religion seems to be on the wrong side. Though we didn’t plan it this way this issue highlights many debates in which religious voices seem to be standing in the way of rational arguments and human rights … in all these cases, rather than seeing religion as the root cause, it might make more sense to view it as part of the cluster of archaic beliefs and social mores that need to be revisited and, where appropriate, disposed of because they don’t measure up to our contemporary view of what constitutes reasonable moral behaviour.