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Are you a humanist or what?

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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Are you a humanist or what?

#1 Post by Bryn » July 4th, 2007, 3:32 pm

This is the obligatory thread asking people what particular label they prefer to stick on themselves. I decided against making it a poll but I'll suggest some possiblities below and people can pick more than one.

The first label I choose for myself is atheist because, unlike humanist, people know what it means. I am a humanist, I think, and I am certainly a secularist and, I hope, a freethinker. So here's a list of possibilities:


Any others?

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#2 Post by Noggin » July 4th, 2007, 4:20 pm

I'm certainly a humanist. Of the other terms, I quite like naturalist. I prefer it to atheist because it isn't about defining myself in relation to people who believe in God nor does it by definition allow for belief in the supernatural.

By the way, I'm sorry I didn't get around to contributing to the very interesting thread someone started on naturalism and hope that whoever started it has joined this forum and will start it up again.

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#3 Post by Lifelinking » July 4th, 2007, 4:46 pm

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#4 Post by Nick » July 4th, 2007, 5:14 pm

John Catt, on the BHA forum, came up with a very good response to just this sort of question, which I twisted to suit my own world view:

I’m agnostic because we cannot prove whether there is a god or not (our understanding of the universe incomplete).

I’m an atheist because I conclude, on the basis of such evidence as is available to me, that there is no god

I’m a secularist because I believe that government should be completely separate from any religion.

I’m a humanist because I believe my life and the universe I live in, transient though they may be, are positive, otherwise nihilism would be the deprtessing outcome.

I’m a naturalist because I believe that because we have evolved from an immensely complex natural system, we can better understand ourselves as humans by looking for answers in nature, not scripture.

I’m a freethinker because I don’t think anything should restrict my freedom to think for myself.

I'm a Bright when you want a catchy new ajective to starta discussion

If I pick just one, I would plump for humanist.

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#5 Post by Titanium Wheels » July 4th, 2007, 5:21 pm

Atheist, definitely and secularist. i suppose Humanist too though I'm not sure I like the label after recent events. (Oh and I acquired an MTheol in 1996)
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#6 Post by kbell » July 4th, 2007, 5:27 pm

Nice one, Lifelinking. Hadn't seen that one before, although I think the term is likely to get the same reception as 'Bright' did.

My standard answer would be atheist. It's a robust term that people understand and respond to (positively or negatively). It sometimes brings the opportunity to talk about why I don't believe in God. At a time when religions seem to becoming more powerful, I think it's important to disassociate oneself in no uncertain terms.

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#7 Post by Maria Mac » July 4th, 2007, 6:28 pm

wheels5894 wrote:Atheist, definitely and secularist. i suppose Humanist too though I'm not sure I like the label after recent events. (Oh and I ingacquired an MTheol in 1996)
I'm having trouble with the whole humanism thing at the moment too. I used to answer this question by saying that I liked to call myself a 'humanist' because people often don't understand the term and that gave me the excuse to explain. But now I'm having some doubts about it all.

I used to hate the Brights thing - and I'm still uncomfortable about the name - but we've been going to the Glasgow Brights meetings and they're a great bunch.

I had stopped calling myself an atheist partly because I don't like to define myself in relation to what I don't believe in and also because I don't like how a lot of atheists come across.

To be honest, I'm not that bothered about labels.

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#8 Post by Alan C. » July 4th, 2007, 6:47 pm

I consider myself a Secular Humanist and Atheist, but recently I've started to reply (when asked) that I'm an Antitheist, as I hate bloody religion and the consequences it has on the world.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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#9 Post by Lifelinking » July 4th, 2007, 7:24 pm

Hadn't seen that one before, although I think the term is likely to get the same reception as 'Bright' did.
hee hee, I only threw that in for mischief as it was not in Bryn's original list. :grin:

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#10 Post by Zoe » July 4th, 2007, 7:59 pm

Agnostic is the term I'm most comfortable with. It's also the one my extended and slightly religious family find most palatable because they see it as meaning a Christian who has some confusion.

Which isn't what I mean by it all but there ya go.


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#11 Post by lewist » July 5th, 2007, 9:03 am

I need a term that is positive. Atheist is about what you don't believe in. Agnostic is probably best understood by the religious and I can understand why you have adopted it, Zoe, but I find 'Humanist' fits me nicely.

Saying we were Humanist dealt very nicely with a JW at the door recently, btw. It was at Easter, that wonderful pagan fertility festival, and she wanted to invite me to celebrate the birthday of the greatest man who ever lived. That was a bit confusing as I wasn't sure who she could mean. She was the wrong age for it to be Eric Clapton.

'Well actually,' sez I, 'we are Humanists'.

'Oh... you don't believe in God, then...'

'That's right. We believe in living our one life well.'

And she had little to say after that. I gave her back her leaflet and she went on her way.

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#12 Post by Titanium Wheels » July 5th, 2007, 9:45 am

I like that response to JWs! My last one was to say that I did not believ in God and that I would like to know what reasons the person calling had for believing in God. You wuld hardly credit it, but she was off really quickly! Must have blown her brain up!
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#13 Post by Nick » July 5th, 2007, 10:00 am

I get very excited when the JW's call, but sadly they appear not to like water, as I haven't had a visit in the last 6 years! I invite them in, sit them down, give them a cup of tea, then grill them mercilessly!

Favourite topics: Ask the lady why she has short hair, ask the man if he's ever had to consider plucking his eyes out, asking whether pygmies who have never heard of god should be caste into eternal hell fire...

*sigh* Those were the days.......

It kept them off the streets too!

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#14 Post by scogirl » July 5th, 2007, 10:21 am

Personally, I don't like calling myself an 'Atheist' as I had always been brought up to believe that meant you were *anti* religion.

I wouldn't call myself an Agnostic either, as for me that's a bit of a cop out - I went through a phase in my teens of thinking maybe I was an Agnostic as I was terrified to admit I *didn't believe in God* as this was frowned upon & if I'm totally honest, I was scared I would go to hell if I died & didn't believe! (Oh the joys or religious education!)

I haven't really looked into what I think I am in too much depth, I think there are far too many labels today & I don't like the idea of being put in a box.

But if I had to plump for one, I would say Humanist - although sometimes in the current climate I feel like a *bad humanist* :redface:

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#15 Post by Dawn » July 7th, 2007, 3:10 am

I tend to like Naturalist, but some people actually get that confused with Naturist which around here means Nudist and I like to wear clothes so that can be confusing. :) I am struggling with the whole label thing. Atheist is accurate for me but it seems annoying to have to give religion enough credit to use it in defining myself.

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#16 Post by Phaedo » July 7th, 2007, 11:01 am

Athiest I am, but I would say it describes more what I'm not and says nothing about what my life values are.
Humanist is a wide church - if I may use that term, and describes generally where I stand.
Secularist defines the shade of Humanism I subscribe to so I suppose I would call myself a Secular Humanist.
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#17 Post by Nick » July 7th, 2007, 11:09 am

Perhaps we should all be called Godfrey....

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#18 Post by God » July 14th, 2007, 11:32 am

I've always had this problem with "labels". When I used to indulge in "herbal remedies" and "psychedelic substances" I routinely rebelled at being called a "hippy". Ultimately, I suppose I regard myself as a "geezer".

I've read arguments above about not wanting to define oneself in terms of religion, and I go along with that. Of course, what we are really talking about here are not "definitions" as such, but attributes; and attributes, moreover, that are concerned with our general outlook vis-a-vis the problem of existence.

In order to decide I first need to figure out what the terms mean. This is my rough self-guide. Feel free to correct me anyone.
1. Atheist - means I don't see any rational justification for god
2. Agnostic - means I do not feel capable of proving or disproving god
3. Humanist - means my outlook is geared towards humanity supplying the means of its own (for want of a better word) salvation
4. Secularist - means I support the concept of society being governed without the influence of religion
5. Freethinker - means I have an open mind
6. Naturalist - means I acknowledge my roots in nature
7. Bright - means I have joined a particular "club"
8. Theist - means I accept the possibility of an ultimate "divine consciousness"
9. Deist - means I accept the possibility of an ultimate creator (or creative force) who (which) nevertheless does not interfere with the creation
10. Pantheist - means god is everywhere (reality comprises the thoughts of god)
11. Religious - means one who likes to join in with the beliefs held by others
12. Spiritual - means a transcendent outlook

On this basis, I can accept most of the labels but have particular difficulty with 8 & 10 and reject 11 altogether.

7 of course is a matter of choice.

I used to have a problem with 1, until I read The God Delusion, which put me right. I didn't change, it was my understanding of the term which changed.

If I had to choose one it would be Humanist, not through any idealistic or "faith" type of motive, but because it seems to me to represent the most useful attitude towards our species.

BTW: Regarding my rejection of 11, I like to think that if ever again I get asked my religion I would put down "Mione Faith". This is pronounced "My-Own Faith" but is spelt as My "1" Faith thus being slightly ambiguous. It also sounds like some kind of cult.

I would propose "Mione Faith" as the name for a "cult" of anti-cultism and/or independent thinking.

Nick wrote:Perhaps we should all be called Godfrey....
Penny just dropped (clunking very loudly!). :hilarity:

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#19 Post by Gurdur » July 16th, 2007, 1:43 pm

The most accurate label for me would be:


But yes, I'm a humanist. I am also what is generally called a hardline atheist, but owing to what I've seen of the damage that extremist atheists do, I choose to emphasize my humanism more than my atheism.

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#20 Post by Gurdur » July 16th, 2007, 1:45 pm

Nick wrote:Perhaps we should all be called Godfrey....
Please, no. There is a poster on the net called godfrey n.glad, the pun is clear, but he's one of the most pathetic, bitter, whining wankers I've ever encountered.

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