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Secular Humanists Despise Each Other and Humanity

A friend of mine referred me to this article at superscholar.org about the recent 30th anniversary conference that The Center For Inquiry held in Los Angeles this past October. There seems to be a lot of disagreement among the influential in the movement advocating secular humanism.

Despite calls for unity at the conference, a significant amount of disagreement about where secular humanism needs to go was evident. During the last session, a sharp exchange occurred between the founder of The Center for Inquiry and The Counsel for Secular Humanism, Paul Kurtz, and Ron Lindsay, the current CEO and President of these organizations.

Kurtz, using the microphone set up for the audience, cited at length a recent LA Times article exposing a “rift within the Center for Inquiry.” “That rift” Kurtz said, quoting the article, “cracked open recently when Paul Kurtz, a founder of the secular humanist movement in America, was ousted as chairman of the Center for Inquiry, an organization of the Counsel for Secular Humanism.  One factor leading to this ouster, was the perception that Kurtz was on the — and this is quoting Thomas Flynn — was on the mellowing side of the movement.” Unlike some secular humanists who envision the destruction of religion, Kurtz advocates for accommodation with religion.

Kurtz stated that he had been censored for the first time in his life, and that this was through the CFI, an organization he founded, in that they refused to publish his letter of resignation as well as his neo-humanist statement of secular principles and values. He said that his ouster resulted in the “worst two years of my life.” Toni Van Pelt, who had opened the Office of Public Policy for the CFI, defended Kurtz and lamented his censorship and forced resignation by Lindsay. This was followed with simultaneous booing and applause from the audience. Several panelists, including Jennifer Michael Hecht and Sean Faircloth, left the stage during this exchange.

There are videos following that have audio of the exchange between Paul Kurtz and Ron Lindsay’s argument. Kurtz appears to be an accomodationist, and Lindsay advocates conflict with regard to engaging religious people. It seems that those secular humanists advocating the conflict model can’t help but be in conflict with each other. Kurtz was censored and forced out, of an organization that he created, by Ron Lindsay. Censored because the Center For Inquiry wouldn’t publish his neo-humanist statement of secular principles and values, and forced to resign because he wasn’t militant like Lindsay, as the LA Times article explains. These folks eat their own. This reminds me of Antony Flew, who was accused of suffering from dementia when he denounced his atheism by the same folks that used him for their own purposes of promoting atheism. If you can’t defeat someone in argument, then just marginalize them and undermine them and then their argument won’t matter. Kurtz hasn’t converted, yet he isn’t militant enough to suit the militant secular humanists like Lindsay. Listen to the exchange on the videos, Lindsay is obviously disdainful and disrespectful to Paul Kurtz, the man who is responsible for starting the organizations to even allow Lindsay a job in the first place. And this infighting is interesting, because secular humanists are supposed to be advocates for humanity and human values, you know, things like mutual dignity and respect, that humans are the measure of all things, but in reality, secular humanists have an aversion against humans who do not think like they do. The militant ones have an aversion against those who have respect for their fellow religious humans, and of course against the religious. Secular Humanism is really secular anti-humanity. It’s really tribalism. They cannot agree on even how to disagree, and they form their little tribal alliances. They have more divisions between themselves than the religious because they have no guiding principles or positive doctrine to follow. Positive doctrine is a limiting thing, and a program based on a negative, such as not believing in religion or not believing the supernatural or not believing in objective morality, doesn’t say what you should believe in, and therefore it is not really uniting because it’s not limiting. If you want to draw a giraffe, you must draw it with a long neck, that is a positive limiting doctrine. If you’re tying to conceive and invent a new animal to draw, anything goes, and ask ten people and you’ll get ten different opinions on how it should look. The only thing they may agree on is that it should be draw, and then the infighting starts.

PZ Myers is a good example. He is a Gnu atheist who cannot agree with Chris Mooney on how they ought to engage religious people. Myers advocates confrontation all the way, all the way even to confronting Chris Mooney, who supports accommodating the religious, but they share the same purpose of promoting secular humanism. The old mantra, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, is not true with folks like Myers. The enemy of my enemy is my enemy is his mantra. Everyone is an enemy who doesn’t stand in his echo chamber and yell what he wants them to yell. His hateful rhetoric is obviously directed at just about everyone:

Shouldn’t we move beyond just reacting to every assault by Idiot America on science education, and honestly look at the root causes of this chronic malignancy and do something about it? The sea our country is drowning in is a raging religiosity, wave after wave of ignorant arguments and ideological absurdities pushed by tired dogma and fervent and frustrated fanatics.

Idiot America? Religious folks are frustrated fanatics? These aren’t the religious American folks I know. This is advocating secular humanist values by advocating humanity? The sad irony is that secular humanism is anything but supportive of humanity. The majority of humans throughout recorded history have been religious. The naked disdain folks like Myers  and Lindsay have for religious people quite frankly makes them anti-humanist, because it makes them anti-human by disparaging a treasured aspect of the majority of human existence, and that is having faith in something higher than themselves. Indeed the majority of people would say that their religious belief is their most treasured aspect of their lives throughout history, and therefore the most important part of humanity. His philosophy of scientism is ignorant, Gnu atheism is ideologically absurd, and that science ought to be practiced when science cannot produce an ought is both an ignorant and ideologically absurd philosophy. Really Myers has a philosophy for how he sees the world, not a scientific proof, let’s be clear about that. And on that topic anyone can speak, a scientific training gives a man’s opinion on a worldview no added value.

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7 Responses to Secular Humanists Despise Each Other and Humanity

  1. anti-human by disparaging a treasured aspect of the majority of human existence

    Like any human institution, religion has to prove itself on its current merits, not its longevity. Slavery and disdain for the poor could also be considered “aspect[s] of the majority of human existence” – should we consider them ‘treasured’ as well?

    Presumably then you support child molestation in the RCC because it’s a practice with a long-standing tradition going back centuries.

    And on that topic anyone can speak, a scientific training gives a man’s opinion on a worldview no added value.

    I would agree, just as a Christian’s view on morals provides no added value either.

    So in general, you observe that ‘humanists’ disagree with each other. Since I see no sudden out-break of consensus among the world’s many religions either, isn’t it fair to say that disagreement is a human characteristic and is totally independent of religion or lack of religion? That’s certainly evident on this blog, which can alternate between complaining about atheist’s disdain for religion with repeated blanket criticisms of atheists having no moral compass.

  2. mikev6:

    It is true that disagreement is part of humanity, but the question is why wouldn’t atheists grasp this evident fact when they blame some disagreements/conflicts purely on religion without considering the fact that the cause for the conflict is primarily the way people use religion in a rather extremist way to settle their differences?

    I mean atheists constantly enjoy bashing religion on the way it creates conflicts and divisions, but when the same argument is used against atheist groups, they say: “Oh! it’s human nature”.

    In any case, religion offers the only source of transcendent objective morality that unites people rather than a mesh of conflicting subjective moral values that can only divide them. Even though some might use religion to create divisions, but at its heart, the golden rule for religion is to treat others like you wish to be treated rather than attack them.

    Just look at the greatest champions of unity: Martin Luther King was a Christian who used Christian values to unite people. Mahatma Ghandi was a Hindu. And Malcolm X was a Muslim who visited Mecca and was impressed with how hundreds of thousands of people from various countries & races were united during pilgrimage, and even reached the conclusion that Islam is the best cure for the cancer of racism.

    Even today, moderate Christians, Muslims & Jews constantly promote unity & dialog mainly inspired by their religious principles. But these are the “boring ones”, since atheists love to focus on Bin Laden and the like and unfairly conclude that such extremists are purely the product of religion.

    I mean regardless of what atheists say about religion, it is the one thing that has the greatest potential to unite people, PERIOD.

  3. “Like any human institution, religion has to prove itself on its current merits, not its longevity. Slavery and disdain for the poor could also be considered “aspect[s] of the majority of human existence” – should we consider them ‘treasured’ as well?”

    And religion has proven itself on its current merits: Catholics do outreach work with the homeless in my state of Florida; they operate schools and hospitals as well.

    Other religious groups donate to charities locally and globally.

    “I would agree, just as a Christian’s view on morals provides no added value either.”

    Really? A Christian who believes that rape is always wrong is valueless? A Christian who seeks to promote peace with other people (whether at work or school) is valueless?

    “So in general, you observe that ‘humanists’ disagree with each other. Since I see no sudden out-break of consensus among the world’s many religions either, isn’t it fair to say that disagreement is a human characteristic and is totally independent of religion or lack of religion? That’s certainly evident on this blog, which can alternate between complaining about atheist’s disdain for religion with repeated blanket criticisms of atheists having no moral compass.”

    It is true that religions disagree with each other. Then again, I haven’t seen atheists or secular humanists operating hospitals and schools in their communities, either. By the way, on what basis do atheists develop a moral compass? They have no absolute moral values with which to set a standard for right and wrong.

  4. “Kurtz hasn’t converted, yet he isn’t militant enough to suit the militant secular humanists like Lindsay. Listen to the exchange on the videos, Lindsay is obviously disdainful and disrespectful to Paul Kurtz, the man who is responsible for starting the organizations to even allow Lindsay a job in the first place.”

    If you only knew how true this is. The treatment of Kurtz from the hands of people who owe an enormous dept of gratitude to him for their very careers has been unbelievably heartless and appalling.

    See this New York Times piece:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10.....038;st=cse

  5. Shogun, unity on its own is not the point. The Nazis were united in their hatred of jews. All cults are united in their adoration of the leader of the cult. The question is whether it is useful to humanity to be united by religion, which in my view has at its heart a lack of truth, reality, and meaning. Better we are united in an honest appraisal of the world and the universe rather than a delusion.

    Barb, you miss the point. It is not that the Christian’s views on rape are valueless. It is the fact that their Christianity adds nothing to their views.

  6. South Park foresaw these events.

    They had the Allied Atheist Alliance vs. the United Atheist Alliance vs. the United Atheist League- they were warring about which is the best name to call the atheistic society that “evolved” when “Mrs” Garrison and Richard Dawkins fell in love…

  7. zeroseven,

    How can you even envision a world better united by humanists/atheists who cannot even agree with each other in their own groups. There are those “militant” atheists who naively think they can drive religion out of this world, while there are those wiser ones who think it is better to understand religion and work alongside religious people.

    I agree that divisions can exist in both religious and non-religious groups, but my point is that religion has the greatest potential to unite people of various races & cultures (and has done so successfully many times) despite the fact that there are those who use religion in their favor to deepen the divides. And that is something that the humanists have yet to achieve. But with their ranks divided as we see here, I cannot see a future that is humanists-friendly.

    The fact of the matter is that religion is on the rise (particularly the Abrahamic religions). Islam alone is the world’s fastest growing religion. So whether you like it or not, you better open your mind a little more to try and understand religion. As opposed to naively think that humanists can eliminate religion which is actually futile.

    I think the key problem here is that you somehow gotten the idea that your version of subjective morality (based on whatever humanist ideals you prefer) is a better alternative to unite people than the objective moral standards provided by religion. Even if you regard religion as subjective morality, the same question you ask applies to you: is your subjective moral standard more useful to humanity? Why should it be? Why not my standards or anyone else’s?

    Do you get the idea? Once you take God out of the picture (thinking that God is a delusion), you would actually be the deluded one if you think that a mesh of competing subjective moral standards have even a chance of uniting people.

    So your ideal world that is united by these humanists is rather nonsensical dream.

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