Reason, Decency, Tolerance, Empathy and Hope

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A Printable Humanist Declaration Of Values

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This is a repost but given the change in the direction of the blog it seems appropriate. This is taken almost entirely from Paul Kurtz’ declaration he wrote for the Council For Secular Humanism many years ago. Seems prudent after so many years to re-examine it but for now here it is: the-affirmations-of-humanism and in Word format the-affirmations-of-humanism

 

This will be our ‘Values’ page as well.  

 

 

 

A Different Direction: The Alternative to Religion.

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When this blog was started 6 years ago we had a goal of ridding the world of religion, superstition, the pseudosciences and all the harms they cause. It has been our great pleasure to see atheism and humanism grow so much in popularity worldwide. The internet has been at the forefront of the battle against dogma and superstition. The internet has opened the floodgates of information to the world and the result has been a new enlightenment. Unbeliever’s such as myself no longer feel alone in their beliefs (or lack thereof). Atheist and humanist organizations, and chat rooms have popped up in droves, and even atheist churches exist now. These are things were virtually unheard of as little as ten years ago. A cultural shift is occurring and the diminishing of religion is certainly a part of that.

Some careful reflection of this cultural shift has lead to us to make a change in the content of this blog. We are still against the evils of religion and superstitions but we have to ask ourselves ‘Now that religion is being heavily criticized and that shows no signs of changing,  what now?’ Until human nature changes and we evolve past needing what religion offers for people then we must provide alternatives. Fortunately these alternatives exist and this blog will be primarily focusing on these alternatives going forward: Science, The Arts and Social Conscience.

Science:

The physical sciences help us fight disease and aging, protect our environment, and make our lives easier in immeasurable ways: from safer cars to the stain resistant clothing you may be wearing right now. The social sciences provide us with the means to improve our mental health, culture, economics and politics. The sciences are truly the key to our survival and our happiness.

The Arts:

Music, literature, film, painting, sculpture and other forms of artistic expression and entertainment move us in profound ways and are already providing hope and meaning to millions worldwide.

Social Conscience:

There is a great deal of happiness and satisfaction in the service of others. This can be something as simple as helping someone carry something to vast undertakings of selfless giving such philanthropy and social activism. There is a great deal of research to show that this in a natural part of our evolution.

We are still secular humanists and so will still be including the atheism and humanism pages and content will include these subjects. However, as part of our efforts to rid the world of dangerous, archaic beliefs we will be focusing on alternatives to religion. These alternatives are secular, deeply powerful and focus on what’s best for family, community and humanity as whole instead of how to please a God or Gods or those that proclaim to speak for them. We can live without religion and this blog hopes to show how that is possible.

The Shame of Body Shaming

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As a humanist I can not imagine making someone feel badly,  especially for something like weight or height or some other result of their genes, their health and their circumstances but this is an all to common occurrence. In fact ‘fat’ has become a dehumanizing insult, ‘Fat’ is the new ‘ugly’. People in western cultures have a new and terrible way to drag other humans down: ridiculing and bullying based on their body. This is particularly nasty when one considers how many reasons a person may be overweight.

Body Type:

  1. Ectomorph:  Ectomorphs are skinny with a small frame, light build, small joints and lean muscle. Usually they have long thin limbs with stringy muscles, narrow shoulders with a fast metabolism making this body type the most resistant to weight gain.
  2. Mesomorph:Mesomorphs have a medium sized bone structure, athletic body, and they typically have a considerable amount of lean mass.
  3. Endomorph: Endomorphs have a larger bone structure with higher amounts of total body mass and fat mass, and this extra fat seems to resist most efforts to get rid of it. The endomorph body type is solid and generally soft, and gains fat very easily. Source and More Info

There are numerous other causes for a person to be overweight:

  • Energy imbalances can cause overweight and obesity. An energy imbalance means that your energy IN does not equal your energy OUT. (.I.E. lack of exercise).
  • Medical conditions: Some genetic syndromes and endocrine disorders can cause overweight or obesity.
  • Several genetic syndromes are associated with overweight and obesity, including the following.
    • Prader-Willi syndrome
    • Bardet-Biedl syndrome
    • Alström syndrome
    • Cohen syndrome
  • Endocrine disorders: Because the endocrine system produces hormones that help maintain energy balances in the body, the following endocrine disorders or tumors affecting the endocrine system can cause overweight and obesity:
    • Hypothyroidism. People with this condition have low levels of thyroid hormones. These low levels are associated with decreased metabolism and weight gain, even when food intake is reduced. People with hypothyroidism also produce less body heat, have a lower body temperature, and do not efficiently use stored fat for energy.
    • Cushing’s syndrome: People with this condition have high levels of glucocorticoids, such as cortisol, in the blood. High cortisol levels make the body feel like it is under chronic stress. As a result, people have an increase in appetite and the body will store more fat. Cushing’s syndrome may develop after taking certain medicines or because the body naturally makes too much cortisol.
  • Tumors. Some tumors, such as craneopharingioma, can cause severe obesity because the tumors develop near parts of the brain that control hunger.
  • Medicines: such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, antiepileptics, and antihyperglycemics can cause weight gain and lead to overweight and obesity. (source)

All of these are out of a person’s control and don’t take into account lifestyle, cultural upbringing and other life situations a person may be in that has lead them to be overweight. For example some people use food to cope with the bullying they are receiving to begin with.

“The next time you see a fat person, you don’t know whether that person has a medical condition that caused them to gain weight,” Thore added. “You don’t know their mother just died. You don’t know if they’re depressed or suicidal or if they just lost 100 pounds. You don’t know.” (source)

This short list should show why shaming someone for being overweight is so ignorant. The same rules apply to being underweight, tall, short or the multitude of other physical reasons people bully and torment other people for. The lack of empathy and understanding in body shaming is staggering. It can have disastrous consequences such as depression, social anxiety, low self worth,  Anthropophobia (fear of people) and other social phobias, eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia and suicide.

The problem is compounded by electronic communication and cyber-bullying which provides a bully with a virtual anonymity.

Also cultural glorification of unrealistic standards of beauty such as being skinny or big breasted for women or being muscular and have a a full head of hair for men. Beauty standards  very from culture to culture  as well.

In short regardless of what shape or condition a person’s body is in shaming a person for their body is uninformed and cruel. If anyone ever calls you fat in a disrespectful way you are well within your right to retort with an F-Word of your own.

 

 

 

Canada’s transgender rights bill could become law before the Summer

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The government of Canada is moving to protect transgendered people by giving them human rights protections. This would seem to be a no-brainer but some naysayers have complained the bill is oppressive, forcing people to speak in a certain way and to use transgender neutral terms. Their thinly veiled discrimination is fooling no one. It’s like they haven’t read the bill:

the legislation does not apply to those who mistakenly use an incorrect gender, but noted that the human rights law would only kick in when someone intentionally and consistently uses an incorrect gender

So, in other words you have to be blatantly and repeatedly discriminatory. Opponents are saying it will compel them to speak a certain way but:

Senator Marc Gold, a constitutional law scholar, noted that the legislation does not apply to those who mistakenly use an incorrect gender, but noted that the human rights law would only kick in when someone intentionally and consistently uses an incorrect gender, regardless of the harm it may cause.

So again the only thing this law is force is basic human decency and respect. It is a shame we need laws to make this happen and opponents ought to be ashamed for making their bigotry apparent.  Thankfully common sense and human rights are still prevailing in Canada and so Kudos to Canada for setting the example yet again

 

U.S. Appeals Courts Allows Same Sex Couples To Seek Damages From Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis

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Kentucky clerk Kim Davis who made a big controversy last year when, despite a recent supreme court ruling, refused to issue same sex couples marriage licenses saying it violates her religious beliefs can now be sued. She eventually lost her efforts not to issue licenses and was even sent to jail but not before being praised by right wing fundamentalists as a hero (more information).

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the same sex couples suing for damages can now proceed.

“The district court’s characterization of this case as simply contesting the ‘no marriage licenses’ policy is inaccurate because Ermold and

Rowan County clerk Kim Davis is shown in this booking photo provided by the Carter County Detention Center in Grayson, Kentucky September 3, 2015. REUTERS/Carter County Detention Center/Handout via Reuters

Moore did not seek an injunction-they sought only damages,” Circuit Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote. “The record does not support an argument that (their) damages claims are insubstantial or otherwise foreclosed.”

Ermold’s and Moore’s case was sent back to U.S. District Judge David Bunning in Covington, Kentucky.

“The ruling keeps the case alive for a little while but it is not a victory for the plaintiffs,” Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a Christian advocacy group representing Davis, said in a statement. “We are confident we will prevail.”

Michael Gartland, a lawyer for Ermold and Moore, called the decision a “no-brainer,” saying damages claims based on past harm often survive mootness challenges. His clients are seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

“Do I think it’s a million dollar case? Probably not,” Gartland said in an interview. “The next step will be to go to discovery and go to trial, where I am confident we will obtain a judgment against Davis.” Courtesy of Reuters

Glorious and refreshing to one’s faith in humanity to see good sense prevailing. Ms. Davis and her fundamentalist cronies will probably never see the error of their ways but hopefully another loss in the courts will help future haters think twice before using religion as an excuse not only not do their job but to make other perfectly good people feel like lesser human beings.

 

What Would Jesus Not Do?

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Ran across this great comic today:

This comes from a great comic called Life of Bria Comics. There is also this one I found a few a few years back:

They both make the same great point: Some modern Christians act in a way that is not consistent with what a loving prophet would do or want his/her followers to do. While there is a lot of reason to doubt that Jesus even existed but assuming he did would Jesus want people to hate one another? Of course not. There are passages in the bible in which Jesus explicitly forbids hate:

‘Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.’ Jon 2:9-17

The Golden Rule: ‘Do onto other as you would have done to to you’ Mark 6:31

‘Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you’ Matthew 5:43-44

‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ John 13:34

There are dozens of examples even within the bibles of how acting with contempt, hate, greed and so on is not consistent with what Jesus would want from his followers. Believers who willfully hurt and discriminate and purposely make the life of other human beings more difficult are, in the blog’s opinion, hypocrites. People like this have no place in civil society and if you read the bible closely no place in heaven either.