Learn From Everyone. Follow no one.

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A perfect expression of how humanists tend to be. Learning from whatever we can (including religion) and taking what we need to formulate our beliefs and values. The independent nature of humanists summarized by an acquaintance, ‘Herding the religious is easy, they are like  sheep. But herding humanists is a bit like herding cats’, a very accurate analogy. As such a fitting meme for secular humanism.

Note: This is a bit ironic because humanists tend to go their own way so much that this generalization may be just very well be wrong in some cases.

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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.

Catholic Church: Women Are To Blame For Pedophile Priests

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Cardinal Raymond Burke

I wish the title of this post was a joke. A high ranking Catholic Cardinal abandoned all reason and embraced some extreme misogyny by somehow linking feminism in the Catholic church to declining morals in priests. (source)

Cardinal Raymond Burke, the rampant crisis of pedophile priests was brought on by women who “feminized” the church and discouraged “manly” men from participating in clerical life.

Cardinal Burke somehow manages to verbalize more anti-women hate then I have seen in a single speech in a some time. Including:

“Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural,”

“The radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized,”

And then there’s the the logic that somehow links feminism to pedophilia:

“There was a period of time when men who were ‘feminized’ and confused about their own sexual identity had entered the priesthood; sadly some of these disordered men sexually abused minors; a terrible tragedy for which the Church mourns.”

I look forward to some frantic backtracking for this sexist, ignorant rant but I’m not optimistic. Shame on you Cardinal Burke. Simply incredible.

Muslim leader calls for a boycott of coffee giant Starbucks over its support for gay marriage

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The prominent leader of a 30 million-strong Muslim group has called for a boycott of global coffee brand Starbucks because of its support for gay marriage.

Anwar Abbas of Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Islamic group in Indonesia, says the brand’s pro-gay stance is ruining southeast Asia’s “religious and cultured” core.
“If Starbucks only does business, then fine. But don’t bring ideology here,” (Courtesy of news.com.au)

Indonesia is a very traditional Muslim country and so homophobia is a big problem and so this is not surprising.  However considering how much Muslims push for political change in the western world that last line was so hypocritical I just had to share.

Cardinal George Pell Charged With Sex Offenses

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Victoria Police has confirmed Cardinal Pell has been charged on summons over multiple allegations and is due to face Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18 for a filing hearing. Continued…

This is one of the highest ranking Catholics in the world. I don’t know how anyone can remain loyal to the Catholic Church anymore.

The Vacancy of The Morality of Fear

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Everyday we try to be nice, we don’t steal or lie or hurt or make people feel bad, these moralities are common sense. We do this primarily because of our experiences (upbringing, education…etc.) and our conscience. Morality in a religious context is an issue complicated by fear and reward. Religions that use fear and reward to enforce morality lack integrity and the good feeling of moral behaviour based on compassion, love and intellect. Doing good is it’s own reward and science shows this:

    1. Lalin Anik, Lara B. Aknin. Michael I. Norton. Elizabeth W. Dun (45 sources)

      Conclusion: The evidence we reviewed is quite supportive: Happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).

    2. Stephen G. Post (28 Sources)

      Conclusion: The principle has been scientifically established. The welfare of oneself (self-fulfillment) and of others (self-sacrifice) are
      inseparable and interrelated components of the healthy human personality in a healthy environment.

The evidence supports that doing good feels good what about motivation? Why is fear of God, hell..etc. an unhealthy motivation? Common sense tells us that fear creates undue anxiety and all its problems. Also using fear as a motivation is the way of bullies and dictators, it also creates resentment in the people being manipulated. Ultimately using fear as a tool enforce moral behavior is unhealthy and can lead to resentment, defiance and loss of control.

Research also shows that we shouldn’t need fear to enforce moral behaviour anyway. Moral Psychology has been separating ethical behaviour from emotion for decades. Empathy has also been shown to be a natural result of our evolution. While it is difficult and sometimes even impossible to separate emotion from decision making fear is most certainly the worst way to make a moral decision.

A question religious apologists often ask of unbelievers is “What is stopping you from murdering and raping and pillaging as much as you want?’ to which we ask ‘Are you saying that without God you would be doing those things?’  Humanists, atheists and other unbelievers believe that the primary motivator for moral behavior should be love itself when balanced with reason doing good deeds is its own reward (see above) and that can be achieved right here and now. It also takes courage to take responsibility for own actions (integrity).

When I’m raising my children, my job is to get my children to act in ways that are moral when there is no fear and no reward, but to do it for the sake of doing it. When you add everlasting life as the reward, and everlasting torment as the punishment, there can be no morality. We need to treat each other well because we love each other, and not for reward or punishment. – Penn Jillette

When one considers religions so often also use guilt as well as fear and that moral behaviour existed long before and despite religion then we see that religion’s grip on morality has been lost. Instead we suggest that we let our love and our rational faculties be the motivator. We can reap the rewards of being good right now knowing that we did it for the right reasons.