yjoeyh wrote:The problem for the humanist position though is that Hitler was also a human(technically.) So if humanists are concerned for "all humans," then they have to be concerned about him too... If they [aren't], then like you say, they are no longer humanists by definition. The self-contradicting trap they fall into is that they cannot fault other groups for claiming moral superiority without claiming their own version of it.
*NOTE: one of the members of a Christian apologetics group I attend (yes, I'm the token atheist) is the author of several books on evolution and Hitler (as in the one leads to the other). Thus, I found Joey's response offensive as well as ridiculous. So long as there are Christians who actually believe such naive thoughts this conversation will go nowhere. Same goes for the other side (atheists saying Hitler was motivated by religion). [Note: Joey, if you are not familiar with Martin Luther's pamphlet 'On the Jews and their Lies' please look it up.]
No, Joey, it isn't "the problem for the humanist position," but it would certainly be simpler for you if it was. After listening to this episode I was hopeful that you would actually listen to the other side a bit. So you posed the idea that atheism, a mere statement of disbelief in god, was divided into denominations- that could be cleared up. I thought it interesting that you specialize in the moral argument because that is what got me to leave Christianity after 25 years to become an atheist. I was interested to hear what you'd have to say about morality (I was thinking it'd be more than 'atheists have no grounds for morals and borrow them from theism' or 'on atheism everything is permissible.' Maybe you'd even offer an explanation for god's immoral actions regarding children- stone 'em, burn 'em, sell 'em, enslave and rape 'em, maul 'em with wild animals [and no, I'm not bitter at god].)
However, after listening to your first three podcasts (thinkbetweenthelines), I'm not surprised to find this "humanism necessitates the be-nice-to-Hitler-club" business you've dished out. And you offer this tripe after all of your talk about atheists strawmanning you guys? Oh, the double irony!: 1) You have put forth a most ridiculous and shameful (yet you know not to feel shame) strawman of humanism here. 2) You spend so much time in your first podcasts explaining that there are so many views, interpretations, hermaneutical methods and so on in Christendom that it is clear that an atheist can say virtually anything and still accurately represent some Christian belief somewhere. And to all the befuddled diversity of Christian thought you clarify only by effectively saying, "whatever you believe, there's one interpretation or another out there to ease your doubt." it's difficult to strawman so nebulous a thing(s) as Christianity.
Nevertheless, I must say most of the serious atheists I know care enough about getting at truth that they take care to determine which kind of Christian they are talking to ("Let's see, are you the Ken Ham crazy literalist, the I-can't-tell-what-you-really-believe-philosophical-type-who-really-might-as-well-just-call-himself-a-deist, and so on). Honestly, after your podcast, I can't tell what you guys are about. One of you is an inerrantist, yet you claim to be rational/philosophical, non-literalist regarding genesis, yet still making the gross funny error of saying, "humanists MUST love Hitler." And yet as frustrated as I am (it's been a loooong time and I even attend monthly Reasonable Faith chapter meetings) I will most likely listen to the rest of your podcasts to better understand you lot. Incidentally, the Christians I interact with regularly would look at you guys as heretics.
How about hypocrisy? 1) In your podcast (thinking...) concerning which scriptures should be taken literally, you make the point that it takes some wrestling and methodology (some work). 2) Yet concerning humanist thinking (and I assume morality for an atheist), you simply state, "Humanists are bound to being nice to Hitler." GOOD GRIEF.
Look, simply stated, humanism in practice and the defining of morals without divine prescriptions takes work. For you guys to just say, "Humanism/atheist morals has to be..." shows an incredible lack of imagination and a hard-closed ear to the atheists you are rubbing shoulders with. My recommendation is that you stop reading Christian authors for awhile. Summer of 2010 I did just that. I read Strobel, Craig, Turek, etc. Then I read atheist and secularist counter-arguments. Then christian counter-counter-arguments. Back and forth, back and forth, like that (I'm a teacher with summers off, so I had a lot of time to devote to this). Gradually I saw how the Christian perspective was so narrow (necessarily to maintain cohesion) and misrepresentational of the other side (sure, misrepresentation happens on both sides, but I assure you [and I was a Moody Bible Institute theology student, so I know what I'm talking about] it's far more severe on the Christian side). I finally realized everything I believed and had been told about the nihilistic world of the atheist was not true. It's quite sunny and bright over here, though admittedly I have fewer friends since I don't know any atheists where I live and some Christians would no longer have me as a friend.
Did I want to lose my faith? No, I wanted answers to questions. I was interested in truth. Now there may be some god out there (agnostic toward deism), but I have no reason to believe in Bible-god and many reasons not to. Family, friends, and church-centered social construct is difficult to overcome, but if truth is more important try to look for honest perspectives of the other side. Otherwise, you're wasting everyone's time.
Joey, it takes a little work to sort it out. Please rise above the level of podcasters like evidence4faith (look 'em up on iTunes and listen for a good example of how NOT to do a Christian podcast- I gave up on them after i called in once, but I actually still have hope for you).
Keep The Reason wrote:I'm hoping you can see how the "concern for humans" isn't some kind of bind coat of paint to be rolled over ever circumstance equally (yet you theists do that often-- why is that?)
I don't want to build a strawman for these guys, but regarding the Christians I know, it's because it's easier. Very little thinking is required. If everything can be stated in absolute blanket terms it's very simple and safe. Romans 1 says that we atheists abandoned [pursuit of] the truth for immorality and many of my Christian friends believe it. Yet I spend more time in pursuit of truth daily than I ever have and, being bound by no dogmatic constraints, I can look for it wherever the path leads me. What a marvelous ride it's turned out to be.