[lit-ideas] Re: Shadows, Fog, and Money

  • From: Eternitytime1@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 12 Jun 2005 12:52:53 EDT

In a message dated 6/11/2005 12:34:23 PM Central Daylight Time,  pas@xxxxxxxx 

I  don't understand why atheists (I mean REAL true, down and dirty,  
I-KNOW-GOD-DOESN'T-exist Atheists) bother with life and why they aren't  
complete anarchists and nihilists. The cold fact is that no matter WHAT  you 
do on this Earth, you are going to die. If you truly believe that  there's 
nothing after, then what's the point? And why on Earth (pun  intended) would 
you care about history or future history. You're here for  max 110 years, 
all else is pointless, without interest and if you are  actually concerned 
with it, then you aren't  sure.

Greetings to all,
Some of the aspects of Humanism might assist exploring the wonderment  of why 
people bother to continue to live even if they are atheistically  inclined 
(or, at least, do not believe in a Supreme Being or G-d).  
You might take a look at what it means to be a Humanist.
Some of the ones who I know personally have varying beliefs on The Universe  
and people's inter-connectivity with each other.  There does seem to be a  
more relaxed allowance towards entertaining differing ideas without  judgement 
towards one or the other.
It's been intriguing, in a sense, because there does seem to be a  difference 
between a "humanist" and an "atheist".  Maybe more the sense  that a Humanist 
believes in People and in the concept of how if we don't care  enough to take 
care of Our World, no one else will swoop down and do it for  us...and so 
they basically muster their wits, gird up their loins <g>,  roll up their 
and dig deep into whatever passion or gift there is within  to share with the 
Those espousing this point of view are, even, groupie enough to have what  is 
kind of a  'denomination'.  Their "Celebrants" are certified  (at least in 
the American Humanist Society) to perform weddings, etc.  The  list of who 
considers themselves a Humanist and what they have been trying to  say/do is 
me) kind of an interesting way to life a life.
It's been intriguing to me, for a number of reasons.  One aspect of  the Boy 
Scouts in the USA has been discussion by those who are Humanists to be a  part 
of BSA.  (in the USA--some of the overseas branches are different and  follow 
more of Baden Powell's philosophy so as to allow someone who is a  Humanist 
to be a part of Scouting.)  The discussions on pros and cons of  allowing for 
that point of view within the BSA are kind of fascinating...and so  I have been 
doing some research on Humanism.  
That was just to say that the questions being asked are, to me, absolutely  
<g> relevant and have great implications in the world at large--perhaps  even 
beyond Our List and quest for going deep within the concept of "Ideas" and  
their like...
Here is a definition: 

As Kurt Vonnegut succinctly described: being a  Humanist means trying to 
behave decently without expectation of rewards or  punishment after you are 
Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without supernaturalism, affirms  
our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment  
that aspire to the greater good of humanity. (this is the official statement 
of  belief from the American  Humanist Society) 
Here are some other definitions of Humanism: 
Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science,  inspired by art, and 
motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each  human being, it 
supports the maximization of individual liberty and  opportunity consonant with 
social and planetary responsibility. It advocates  the extension of 
democracy and the expansion of the open  society, standing for human rights 
and social justice. Free of  supernaturalism, it recognizes human beings as a 
part of nature and holds that  valuesâ??be they religious, ethical, social, or 
politicalâ??have their source in  human experience and culture. Humanism thus 
derives the goals of life from  human need and interest rather than from 
theological or ideological  abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take 
responsibility for its own  destiny. â?¢ The Humanist Magazine  
Humanism is a democratic and ethical lifestance which affirms that  human 
beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to  their 
lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through  an ethics 
based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and  free 
inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not  accept 
supernatural views of reality. â?¢ The International Humanist and  Ethical 
Humanism is an approach to life based on reason and our common  humanity, 
recognizing that moral values are properly founded on human nature  and 
experience alone. â?¢ The Bristol Humanist Group 
Humanism is: A joyous alternative to religions that believe in a  
supernatural god and life in a hereafter. Humanists believe that this is the  
only life 
of which we have certain knowledge and that we owe it to ourselves  and others 
to make it the best life possible for ourselves and all with whom  we share 
this fragile planet. A belief that when people are free to think for  
themselves, using reason and knowledge as their tools, they are best able to  
solve this 
world's problems. An appreciation of the art, literature, music and  crafts 
that are our heritage from the past and of the creativity that, if  nourished, 
can continuously enrich our lives. Humanism is, in sum, a  philosophy of those 
in love with life. Humanists take responsibility for their  own lives and 
relish the adventure of being part of new discoveries, seeking  new knowledge, 
exploring new options. Instead of finding solace in  prefabricated answers to 
the great questions of life, humanists enjoy the  open-endedness of a quest and 
the freedom of discovery that this entails. â?¢  The Humanist Society of 
New York 
Humanism is the light of my life and the fire in my soul. It is the  deep 
felt conviction, in every fiber of my being that human love is a power  far 
transcending the relentless, onward rush of our largely deterministic  cosmos. 
human life must seek a reason for existence within the bounds of  an uncaring 
physical world, and it is love coupled with empathy, democracy,  and a 
commitment to selfless service which undergirds the faith of a humanist.  â?¢ 
Chambers, former president of the AHA 
Humanism is a philosophy, world view, or  lifestance based on naturalismâ??the 
conviction that the universe or nature is  all that exists or is real. 
Humanism serves, for many humanists, some of the  psychological and social 
of a religion, but without belief in  deities, transcendental entities, 
miracles, life after death, and the  supernatural. Humanists seek to understand 
universe by using science and  its methods of critical inquiryâ??logical 
reasoning, empirical evidence, and  skeptical evaluation of conjectures and 
conclusionsâ??to obtain reliable  knowledge. Humanists affirm that humans have 
freedom to give meaning,  value, and purpose to their lives by their own 
thought, free  inquiry, and responsible, creative activity. Humanists stand 
for the building  of a more humane, just, compassionate, and democratic society 
using a  pragmatic ethics based on human reason, experience, and reliable 
knowledgeâ??an  ethics that judges the consequences of human actions by the 
well-being of all  life on Earth. â?¢ Steven Schafersman 
Humanism is a philosophy of life that considers the welfare of  humankind - 
rather than the welfare of a supposed God or gods - to be of  paramount 
importance. Humanism maintains there is no evidence a supernatural  power ever 
or wanted anything from people, ever communicated to them,  or ever 
interfered with the laws of nature to assist or harm anyone. 
Humanism's focus, then, is on using human efforts to meet human needs and  
wants in this world. History shows that those efforts are most effective when  
they involve both compassion and the scientific method - which includes  
reliance on reason, evidence, and free inquiry. 
Humanism says people can find purpose in life and maximize their long-term  
happiness by developing their talents and using those talents for the service  
of humanity. Humanists believe that this approach to life is more productive  
and leads to a deeper and longer-lasting satisfaction than a hedonistic  
pursuit of material or sensual pleasures that soon fade. 
While service to others is a major focus of Humanism, recreation and  
relaxation are not ignored, for these too are necessary for long-term health  
happiness. The key is moderation in all things. 
Humanism considers the universe to be the result of an extremely long and  
complex evolution under immutable laws of nature. Humanists view this natural  
world as wondrous and precious, and as offering limitless opportunities for  
exploration, fascination, creativity, companionship, and joy. 
Because science cannot now and probably never will be able to explain the  
ultimate origin or destiny of the universe, I think Humanism can include more  
than atheists and agnostics. The lack of definite answers to these ultimate  
questions leaves room for reasonable people to hypothesize about the origin of  
the natural universe, and even to hope for some form of life beyond this  one. 
In fact, two of Humanism's greatest luminaries, Thomas Paine and Robert  
Ingersoll, maintained a hope for an afterlife. On the issue of whether God  
exists, Ingersoll was agnostic, and Paine believed in a deistic God who  
the laws of nature but then stepped away and never intervenes in  the world. 
Those beliefs did not interfere with their ability to lead  outstanding 
humanistic lives. 
Thus, in my opinion, people holding such views can be Humanists if they  
believe that humanity is on its own in this world, and the lack of any  
for an afterlife means this life should be lived as though it's the  only one 
we have. â?¢ Joseph C. Sommer
I liked these quotes, too, which dealt with Humanism: 
Humanists recognize that it is only when people feel free to think for  
themselves, using reason as their guide, that they are best capable of  
values that succeed in satisfying human needs and serving human  interests. â?¢ 
ISAAC ASIMOV - scientist, author, and past president of the  American Humanist 
It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept  
which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will or goal 
outside  the human sphere.... Science has been charged with undermining 
but the  charge is unjust. A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually 
on  sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is 
necessary.  Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by 
of  punishment and hope of reward after death. â?¢ ALBERT EINSTEIN - scientist, 
Nobel Prizewinner in physics, originator of the theory of relativity. 
Knowing many (with varying reasons) who find the value in living, 
Marlena in Missouri

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