Do you consider yourself a secular humanist?
Yes, I'm a secular humanist
47.4% (46)
47.4% (46)
I agree with what it stands for, but I don't think of myself as a secular humanist
27.8% (27)
27.8% (27)
No, I disagree with what secular humanism stands for, though I am an atheist or agnostic
9.3% (9)
9.3% (9)
No, I disagree with what secular humanism stands for, and I'm a theist
4.1% (4)
4.1% (4)
I don't know
5.2% (5)
5.2% (5)
Other
6.2% (6)
6.2% (6)
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Poll: Atheists: Do you consider yourself a secular humanist?

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A lot of atheists do, but a lot of atheists don't, from what I understand. Where do you stand?

My objection to the term would be that it is a bit vague, essentially being synonymous with atheism plus some vague ethical and pro-science sentiments. I've seen all kinds of people, from Objectivists to Marxists, self-describe as humanists.

Why don't you take a moment to define the term secular humanist so that the fuzziness of the term becomes a little more concrete?

Nope. Maybe it fits with what I think, maybe it doesn't. I don't really see the importance of labeling myself in that way. Not to say I have a problem with a label, I just haven't looked to see if it accurately applies in this case so I wouldn't affirm that it does.

"Belief that humans can operate ethically without religion"

Is that even a question? The only reason to disagree is out of bravado for your particular religion. It sounds like one of those terms used by Fox news with the intent of brooding hatred for a people undeserving of it.

Flutterguy:
It sounds like one of those terms used by Fox news with the intent of brooding hatred for a people undeserving of it.

Actually, my best friend in college was an atheists, and he openly describes himself as a secular humanist, because he thinks it has a "positive ring" to it.

DuctTapeJedi:

Flutterguy:
It sounds like one of those terms used by Fox news with the intent of brooding hatred for a people undeserving of it.

Actually, my best friend in college was an atheists, and he openly describes himself as a secular humanist, because he thinks it has a "positive ring" to it.

I don't doubt it at all. It could very easily sound positive if you are aware of its definition and implications. To the uninformed however it could easily be made to sound intimidating. Secular sounds like a sort of division, placing people in sects. As for 'humanist' anything with 'ist' on the end seems to be painted as the anti-christ; communist, marxist, feminist, warmist.

It sounds to me as if it's for people who want a 'positive' label instead of a 'negative' one like atheism (to say 'I stand for this', rather than 'I don't believe in that'). Shouldn't be necessary: nothing wrong with a negative statement.

Sure I am, at least in terms of views, even if I don't join any Secular Humanist clubs or anything. Atheist itself says nothing about my views, really. I mean, fuck, Ayn Rand was an Atheist and there are few people I disagree with more on ethical, economic and political issues and so on. Atheist is kind of a vacant term because all it says is what I don't believe in (gods), it says nothing about the reasons why I don't, it says nothing about my approach to ethics, it says nothing about anything pretty much. Only when you view gods as central somehow is Atheist really an important description, other than that it's pretty empty.

I've already voted 'I don't know' because I'm not sure what a Secular Humanist is, and am too lazy to do a Google search. Can someone explain it to me please?

Flutterguy:
"Belief that humans can operate ethically without religion"

Is that even a question? The only reason to disagree is out of bravado for your particular religion. It sounds like one of those terms used by Fox news with the intent of brooding hatred for a people undeserving of it.

I'd imagine there's got to be more to it than that, it's not a very useful term at all if that's all it means o_O

I could call myself a secular humanist, but I much prefer the term militant atheist.

San Martin:
I've already voted 'I don't know' because I'm not sure what a Secular Humanist is, and am too lazy to do a Google search. Can someone explain it to me please?

You remind me of myself at...this age.

San Martin:
I've already voted 'I don't know' because I'm not sure what a Secular Humanist is, and am too lazy to do a Google search. Can someone explain it to me please?

It's used to describe someone who bases their beliefs around the natural world, focusing on definite facts and logic, while also valuing the improvement and progress of all human life. It's much of the same philosophy the United Nations were founded on.

secretkeeper12:

San Martin:
I've already voted 'I don't know' because I'm not sure what a Secular Humanist is, and am too lazy to do a Google search. Can someone explain it to me please?

It's used to describe someone who bases their beliefs around the natural world, focusing on definite facts and logic, while also valuing the improvement and progress of all human life. It's much of the same philosophy the United Nations were founded on.

Thanks!

I suppose that means I am a Secular Humanist, and an unqualified and ignorant one at that. I'll just keep saying I'm an atheist though; out of my mouth it'll sound less pretentious. Also, since I've never met an atheist who doesn't believe in progress and the value of human life, it's all swings and roundabouts innit?

Captcha: 'Eu amo o Brasil'. Sim, é verdade, é um país maravilhoso. Se puidesse não ser de onde sou, eu seria brasileiro.

It sort of fits my viewpoint, however I don't agree that humanity in general can act on anything other than profit.
Ofcourse individuals can, but humanity as a whole can't.

Silvanus:
It sounds to me as if it's for people who want a 'positive' label instead of a 'negative' one like atheism (to say 'I stand for this', rather than 'I don't believe in that'). Shouldn't be necessary: nothing wrong with a negative statement.

I think there's a lot more to it than that, which is why I've always found "Secular Humanism" to be a far more positive and useful descriptor, even though I'm not an atheist myself.

'Atheist', that word isn't a philosophy. It's just a description. There are any number of reasons a person might not consider themself a believer in a religion, and 'atheist' is far too ambiguous to be useful in nailing it down. Is this person not a believer because they actively disbelieve? Because they are a skeptic? Because they don't care? Because they personally have a bitter grudge against a couple of religious organizations and don't have the worldliness to be aware that there is more to the concept of religion than a handful of groups? All too often I see atheists, especially atheists on the Internet get lost in the vague cloud that is 'atheist', claiming one position while acting out another. Sometimes, I think a lot of atheists don't even know what they think- they just know they aren't Christian. It's not healthy to define yourself by what you're not; people are more confident when they know what they are.

That's why I have so much respect for secular humanists. I may not agree with them entirely, but they've at least taken a stab at naming what they think and aspire to. Hell, I'm not even able to do that. Most people I know who are secular humanists aren't anti-religion. They are pro-science, pro-freedom from religious domination of society. And that means so long as religious people don't try to use their beliefs in order to dominate others, most secular humanists I know don't worry about what religious people do with their time. You can build a society around that philosophy. You can make something that is good.

You can't build a society around 'atheist'. All 'atheist' will ever do is tell you what you're not. You can't build a society around not being a different society.

Just a thought, why is the only option for theists, "No, I disagree with what secular humanism stands for, and I'm a theist?" What about theists who don't really mind what you guys do?

DuctTapeJedi:
Just a thought, why is the only option for theists, "No, I disagree with what secular humanism stands for, and I'm a theist?" What about theists who don't really mind what you guys do?

To a set of statements one may either agree or disagree. While someone may not consider themselves a secular humanist, if they agree with everything that is secular humanism (or enough of it) they are a secular humanist. It's not a community or congregation (though communities and even congregations can form around it), it is a set of ideas. Philosophical naturalism is a component of secular humanism. Philosophical naturalism is incompatible with theism. If you are a theist, you disagree with philosophical naturalism and thus also secular humanism-- it doesn't matter if you are indifferent to the actions of others or are not terribly committed to your view. Lack of hostility is not incompatible with disagreement.

Seanchaidh:

DuctTapeJedi:
Just a thought, why is the only option for theists, "No, I disagree with what secular humanism stands for, and I'm a theist?" What about theists who don't really mind what you guys do?

To a set of statements one may either agree or disagree. While someone may not consider themselves a secular humanist, if they agree with everything that is secular humanism (or enough of it) they are a secular humanist. It's not a community or congregation (though communities and even congregations can form around it), it is a set of ideas. Philosophical naturalism is a component of secular humanism. Philosophical naturalism is incompatible with theism. If you are a theist, you disagree with philosophical naturalism and thus also secular humanism-- it doesn't matter if you are indifferent to the actions of others or are not terribly committed to your view. Lack of hostility is not incompatible with disagreement.

Meh. Just thought the original statement set somewhat of an adversarial tone.

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'Atheist', that word isn't a philosophy. It's just a description. There are any number of reasons a person might not consider themself a believer in a religion, and 'atheist' is far too ambiguous to be useful in nailing it down. Is this person not a believer because they actively disbelieve? Because they are a skeptic? Because they don't care? Because they personally have a bitter grudge against a couple of religious organizations and don't have the worldliness to be aware that there is more to the concept of religion than a handful of groups?

I don't reeeeaaaaally see any reason that the reasons for disbelief need to be implicate in any labels- particularly since many atheists see it as the 'default' position.

Even so, the term 'secular humanist' doesn't include any specific reasons for disbelief, either. 'Atheist' doesn't need to be a positive philosophy. It's a statement of position on one issue, and needn't be combined with any ethical terms like 'humanist' to convey its single message.

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All too often I see atheists, especially atheists on the Internet get lost in the vague cloud that is 'atheist', claiming one position while acting out another. Sometimes, I think a lot of atheists don't even know what they think- they just know they aren't Christian. It's not healthy to define yourself by what you're not; people are more confident when they know what they are.

Here's my primary disagreement, though. Atheists know what they are. They have positive identities created from other elements of their lives. It just so happens to be nothing to do with any deities.

No, I do not, but the differences between my viewpoint and what I think of as secular humanist are, at least for the time being, extremely academic. Applying that label to myself makes about as much sense as any other.

As others have asked: What is your definition of "Secular Humanist"? I mean, the term "Humanist" is like the term "Freedom Fighter", it can mean a whole lot of things depending on context.

Quote me with a proper definition, please.

Silvanus:

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'Atheist', that word isn't a philosophy. It's just a description. There are any number of reasons a person might not consider themself a believer in a religion, and 'atheist' is far too ambiguous to be useful in nailing it down. Is this person not a believer because they actively disbelieve? Because they are a skeptic? Because they don't care? Because they personally have a bitter grudge against a couple of religious organizations and don't have the worldliness to be aware that there is more to the concept of religion than a handful of groups?

I don't reeeeaaaaally see any reason that the reasons for disbelief need to be implicate in any labels- particularly since many atheists see it as the 'default' position.

If you mean 'default' to refer to that silly old argument that atheism is somehow a better belief because we are all born atheists and only become religious through learning, then that neatly demonstrates why the term is so useless, in my opinion. The argument is true, but only for a specific kind of atheism - a condition simply without belief in any religion, and only because at birth we are cognitively incapable of the abstract thought that any kind of belief would entail. We're also incapable of the kind of abstract thought that any disbelief or skepticism would entail, which is often the sort of atheism I see people making the "atheism by default" argument espousing. So, it's really just a rhetorical trick, where two very different states of mind are passed off as one and the same because we happen to use the same word for both.

Even so, the term 'secular humanist' doesn't include any specific reasons for disbelief, either.

It does. Secular humanists believe in the power of science to make the experience of being human better for all. That spells out a whole position regarding one's relationship to religions that is quite clear.

'Atheist' doesn't need to be a positive philosophy. It's a statement of position on one issue, and needn't be combined with any ethical terms like 'humanist' to convey its single message.

I agree, it doesn't need to be a philosophy (because it isn't a philosophy). However, I've seen a good deal of young people on the Internet trying to pass it off as one, identifying themselves as atheists as though that term told anyone anything about them.

Let's put it like this: Loads of Americans love American football. Personally, I don't however. In my opinion, I think American football is a load of rubbish, but I also believe is has a dangerous influence on our society and we'd be better off curtailing it. That said, if I went around calling myself an "a-football-ist" and making "a-football-ist" forums where I could discuss being an "a-football-ist" with other "a-football-ist"s or rampaged around having arguments about my "a-football-ism" with people I've declared "football-ist"s, you'd think I was a bit daft. Like most sensible people, I simply avoid football and enjoy the things I do like. I don't identify myself by what I'm not into, I identify myself by what I am.

Here's my primary disagreement, though. Atheists know what they are.

No, I'm sorry, that's not going to fly. No group of people under any belief paradigm is entirely filled with people who know what they are. I find many people, especially many young people, have very weak intrapersonal intelligences. Perhaps this is simply natural development: as children our lives revolve around our families, as teens our lives revolve around our friends, as young adults we're struggling to finish schooling and find jobs, so it's a rare person who can do all those things and still have time to truly know who they are.

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If you mean 'default' to refer to that silly old argument that atheism is somehow a better belief because we are all born atheists and only become religious through learning, then that neatly demonstrates why the term is so useless, in my opinion. The argument is true, but only for a specific kind of atheism - a condition simply without belief in any religion, and only because at birth we are cognitively incapable of the abstract thought that any kind of belief would entail. We're also incapable of the kind of abstract thought that any disbelief or skepticism would entail, which is often the sort of atheism I see people making the "atheism by default" argument espousing. So, it's really just a rhetorical trick, where two very different states of mind are passed off as one and the same because we happen to use the same word for both.

That wasn't the argument I was referring to. Even so, I wasn't discussing my beliefs.

You haven't told me why the reasons for disbelief should be included in the label, yet, though.

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I agree, it doesn't need to be a philosophy (because it isn't a philosophy). However, I've seen a good deal of young people on the Internet trying to pass it off as one, identifying themselves as atheists as though that term told anyone anything about them.

This isn't really relevant. I've seen a good number of people who don't do that.

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Let's put it like this: Loads of Americans love American football. Personally, I don't however. In my opinion, I think American football is a load of rubbish, but I also believe is has a dangerous influence on our society and we'd be better off curtailing it. That said, if I went around calling myself an "a-football-ist" and making "a-football-ist" forums where I could discuss being an "a-football-ist" with other "a-football-ist"s or rampaged around having arguments about my "a-football-ism" with people I've declared "football-ist"s, you'd think I was a bit daft.

I'd understand it a bit more if people came to your door and tried to convert you to footballism. I'd also understand it a bit more if there was a good portion of the media harping on about how we should all go back to good old-fashioned footballist values.

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No, I'm sorry, that's not going to fly. No group of people under any belief paradigm is entirely filled with people who know what they are. I find many people, especially many young people, have very weak intrapersonal intelligences. Perhaps this is simply natural development: as children our lives revolve around our families, as teens our lives revolve around our friends, as young adults we're struggling to finish schooling and find jobs, so it's a rare person who can do all those things and still have time to truly know who they are.

You know precisely what I meant, and it wasn't that every single atheist has a well-defined sense of self. I don't need a handheld tour of life to point out that isn't the case.

I said that atheists have positive identities defined by other areas of their lives, just as Christians do. Their interests, their families, etc. You expressed the same damn sentiment when you said,

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I don't identify myself by what I'm not into, I identify myself by what I am.

...That's my point. You said that "it's not healthy to define yourself by what you're not", as if that's the only string to any atheist's bow. It's not. Atheists are not lacking some fundamental aspect of their personality just because they don't believe in a deity, and it's not "unhealthy" to have a negative stance on an issue without trying to spin it into a positive one.

Secular humanism has good points to it. However there seem to be arguments about the best definition and not all
goes for the Wiki version. But I am to much of a cynic to embrace the philosophical side of it. I see my self as an atheist. Pure and simple.

Silvanus:
Even so, I wasn't discussing my beliefs.

I never thought you were, and I hope I've not given that impression.

You haven't told me why the reasons for disbelief should be included in the label, yet, though.

Surely I have. The reason is that words have meaning, and to be useful in communication we should use words whose meanings are clear. Which is why when I introduce myself to people I don't identify myself as a "Floobdoobi-wan".

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I agree, it doesn't need to be a philosophy (because it isn't a philosophy). However, I've seen a good deal of young people on the Internet trying to pass it off as one, identifying themselves as atheists as though that term told anyone anything about them.

This isn't really relevant. I've seen a good number of people who don't do that.

I think you're confusing the words "This isn't really relevant" with "I don't agree". ;) But in any case, it doesn't matter that a good number of people don't do that. I never said or implied that all atheists do.

Let's make this very clear: I'm not saying we must never use the word 'atheist' ever again. I said in my first post here that it's a descriptor, it's just not a very good one. For people for whom their atheism is not an important part of their identity, they are welcome to call themselves atheists on the rare occasions that the issue comes up. When one's atheism is an important part of one's life (as it often appears to be for the people who make Internet arguments about it), then all I'm saying is that it would be healthier to choose a more clear way to describe one's philosophy. It should be positive not in the sense that it has a happy connotation, but positive in the sense that it describes what one is rather than what one is not.

I'd understand it a bit more if people came to your door and tried to convert you to footballism.

In college, this essentially happened to me. Also, see every Super Bowl ever.

I'd also understand it a bit more if there was a good portion of the media harping on about how we should all go back to good old-fashioned footballist values.

A good portion of the media does harp on "good old-fashioned footballist values". Not in those words, of course, but turn on any local station in the fall and you're going to get a huge dose of football and positive associations with the sort of masculinity it is believed one needs to have in order to be successful. I've encountered no small number of people in my life who have claimed to me that young boys can not develop properly into young men without playing American football. Perhaps we might now move away from quibbling about the analogy and focus on the meat of the issue.

I said that atheists have positive identities defined by other areas of their lives, just as Christians do.

I would argue that a good deal of Christians don't. I've met far, far too many Christians who identify themselves by which sins they want people to think they avoid and not by what they do. Isn't that after all the problem with that beardy fellow on Duck Dynasty - that he defines his Christianity by his belief that it is opposed to homosexuality, rather than by any of the positive lessons it teaches? Defining yourself by what you are not is unhealthy no matter who is doing the defining.

You expressed the same damn sentiment when you said,

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I don't identify myself by what I'm not into, I identify myself by what I am.

...That's my point. You said that "it's not healthy to define yourself by what you're not", as if that's the only string to any atheist's bow.

I never said nor implied that that atheists have nothing to their lives aside from atheism. All I said was that there are a good number of atheists whose atheist identity is very important to them, but that identity rests entirely on what they don't believe rather than by what they do. And that that is unhealthy. Please do not invent attacks against an entire community that aren't there.

Atheists are not lacking some fundamental aspect of their personality just because they don't believe in a deity,

I never said nor implied anything of the sort. I can understand how your previous errors regarding my position were genuine misunderstandings, but I cannot see how this is anything but an intentional strawman for the purposes of starting a fight.

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Defining yourself by what you are not is unhealthy no matter who is doing the defining.

Perhaps I missed this in one of your other posts, but I went back and reread them, and still couldn't find it. Why exactly is it unhealthy to define yourself by what you aren't?

I hope this doesn't come off as sophistry, but I get the feeling that the insistence on defining oneself based on what they are rather than what they aren't is pedantic.

I could say "I am not sexist" just as easily as I could say "I am for womens equality". As far as I can see, they amount to the same thing, the only difference is in the words I chose to use. I feel atheist is a great descriptor for a particular question, that being, do you believe in a diety? I haven't seen atheists building entire identities around that label, I know for sure that I didn't when I first identified as an atheist. Any speculation that they do or don't seems to me just that, speculation.

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I never said nor implied anything of the sort. I can understand how your previous errors regarding my position were genuine misunderstandings, but I cannot see how this is anything but an intentional strawman for the purposes of starting a fight.

Cool your jets. You're the most aggressive one here and you're the one who's spoiling for a fight. It's just an argument about semantics.

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I never said nor implied that that atheists have nothing to their lives aside from atheism. All I said was that there are a good number of atheists whose atheist identity is very important to them, but that identity rests entirely on what they don't believe rather than by what they do. And that that is unhealthy. Please do not invent attacks against an entire community that aren't there.

You're then using a problem which possibly only affects a small minority of individuals (atheist who only works in opposition), then you're applying them to a larger group.

It also don't see the problem with only existing in opposition.

OT: Most people I know are secular humanists. I thought that was the norm of society.

EDIT: Okay, now you're just being passive aggressive.

Jux:
I could say "I am not sexist" just as easily as I could say "I am for womens equality". As far as I can see, they amount to the same thing, the only difference is in the words I chose to use.

They're not quite the same. The subtleties make all the difference. "I am for women's equality," shows you have a goal. Maybe you have an idea how to achieve it. Maybe you work for it. It naturally lends itself to action, to a system for deciding what is good and what is not.

"I'm not sexist" doesn't say anything. It could be the same as "I am for women's equality," or it could be "I am putting up a paltry half-hearted, lazy defense against accusations of sexism."

A != B is not the same thing as A = -B.

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Jux:
I could say "I am not sexist" just as easily as I could say "I am for womens equality". As far as I can see, they amount to the same thing, the only difference is in the words I chose to use.

They're not quite the same. The subtleties make all the difference. "I am for women's equality," shows you have a goal. Maybe you have an idea how to achieve it. Maybe you work for it. It naturally lends itself to action, to a system for deciding what is good and what is not.

"I'm not sexist" doesn't say anything. It could be the same as "I am for women's equality," or it could be "I am putting up a paltry half-hearted, lazy defense against accusations of sexism."

A != B is not the same thing as A = -B.

Perhaps my wording was poor. Is "I am against sexism" any better? Or "I am anti-sexist"? Perhaps the example of 'anti abortion' and 'pro life' is better[1]?

In any case, my initial question still stands.

[1] Not a stance I personally take, though the wording might be better than my other example in conveying my point

yes i'm nominally a "secular humanist".

and weirdly enough the majority of weddings and funerals i've been to have probably been nominally "secular humanist" too...certainly if you include civil registry office weddings pre 2005...

The Humanist Society of Scotland gets a lot of that work nowadays...and given one of the few church funerals i have attended consisted of the calvinist "wee free" minister telling everyone how shit/damned they were and not even mentioning the deceased by name it's probably not all that surprising...

Jux:

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Jux:
I could say "I am not sexist" just as easily as I could say "I am for womens equality". As far as I can see, they amount to the same thing, the only difference is in the words I chose to use.

They're not quite the same. The subtleties make all the difference. "I am for women's equality," shows you have a goal. Maybe you have an idea how to achieve it. Maybe you work for it. It naturally lends itself to action, to a system for deciding what is good and what is not.

"I'm not sexist" doesn't say anything. It could be the same as "I am for women's equality," or it could be "I am putting up a paltry half-hearted, lazy defense against accusations of sexism."

A != B is not the same thing as A = -B.

Perhaps my wording was poor. Is "I am against sexism" any better? Or "I am anti-sexist"?

I don't think either re-wording really solves the problem.

Perhaps the example of 'anti abortion' and 'pro life' is better[1]?

Nah, I think in that case what we're talking about is marketing, more along the lines of Silvanus's original suggestion. We know for a fact that most people who call themselves "pro-life" are not in fact pro-life, as evidenced by the supremely high overlap between people who oppose abortion and people who support capital punishment. "Pro-life" isn't a philosophy, it's just a code-word for "anti-abortion". I think a person's relationship with the Universe deserves a more sincere description than a code-word that plays well with people who don't think these things through very much.

In any case, my initial question still stands.

I thought I answered it. You can build a philosophy around a positive position. A negative position is effectively "anything is okay except for that one thing I don't like," which is not something a person can build principles around. We have the same problem with "vegetarianism" - it's pretty much another marketing code for "anything but meat", and encompasses a whole slew of competing dietary principles to the point that any time I hear a conversation with someone about their vegetarianism it's inevitable that they will have to explain exactly what their dietary principles are and why they have them.

That's why I said that "secular humanist" is a better term. You can build principles from that. Now if someone doesn't see their atheism as very important to their lives and doesn't use their atheism as the basis for their principles, maybe they don't need to think very hard about their atheism and they don't need anything other than a vague descriptor for their life. That's fine. I just said I like "secular humanist" better is all.

Frission:
Cool your jets. You're the most aggressive one here and you're the one who's spoiling for a fight. It's just an argument about semantics.

I assure you, I may be guilty of many things, but aggression and spoiling for a fight are not among them in this thread. If you're seeing aggression, you might want to have a good think about where inside yourself that aggression is leaking from that it is clouding your interpretation of what other people say.

[1] Not a stance I personally take, though the wording might be better than my other example in conveying my point

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I think a person's relationship with the Universe deserves a more sincere description than a code-word that plays well with people who don't think these things through very much.

I think this is quite an excellent point, though I would say that anyone that can sum up their relationship with life/the universe/god with a single word or phrase should give more thought to it, whether it be 'atheism', 'christian' or 'secular humanist'.

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You can build a philosophy around a positive position. A negative position is effectively "anything is okay except for that one thing I don't like," which is not something a person can build principles around. ... I just said I like "secular humanist" better is all.

I would think that principles can be built around both. I think something like 7 out of the 10 commandments are 'do nots'. I think your issues with something like vegetarianism could just as easily be applied to something like secular humanism, or feminism. Surely something so large is going to have many varities within it.

Jux:

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I think a person's relationship with the Universe deserves a more sincere description than a code-word that plays well with people who don't think these things through very much.

I think this is quite an excellent point, though I would say that anyone that can sum up their relationship with life/the universe/god with a single word or phrase should give more thought to it, whether it be 'atheism', 'christian' or 'secular humanist'.

Thank you. And I agree with what you say above completely. Which is another reason to like "secular humanist" over "atheist". It at least is composed of two words rather than one. <grin>

I would think that principles can be built around both. I think something like 7 out of the 10 commandments are 'do nots'.

Ah, but the 10 commandments are not the foundation of any religion I know of. They're not the foundation of Christianity, and not even really the foundation of Judaism. The foundation of Judaism is God's covenant with His people, and the foundation of Christianity is Jesus's sacrifice for the grace of those who believe, with some wiggle room for people with slightly different theologies. The 10 commandments are simply a breakdown of rules which are considered to be important developments of those foundations.

I'm not saying we should never have a negatively-worded rule. When I used to teach pre-school kids "Don't touch!" while pointing at the dodgy outlet in the classroom was way more effective than "Touch anything in the room except this!" I'm just saying as a foundation for building principles, I think a positive position is more useful than a negative one. If I'm trying to figure out what I should do in a situation, I think about the things I want to achieve, not the things I want to avoid.

I think your issues with something like vegetarianism could just as easily be applied to something like secular humanism, or feminism. Surely something so large is going to have many varities within it.

I agree, any large philosophy is going to get vaguer as it grows to encompass more variations in ideology. So I'd not aggravate things with an unclear, negative position.

I think some people (not necessarily you) are reading hostility into my post which is not there, so let me be supremely nerdy and put it like this:
Who are you?
What do you want?
Why are you here?
Where are you going?
Do you have anything worth living for?

I respect and admire people who are able to answer these questions, because I often can't. When people answer with a negative ("Well, I'm not that at least!") I can't respect that, because that's not an attempt at an answer. That's passing off dodging the question as an answer.

That's not saying I can't respect that person for other reasons, or that they're bad people, or that they're immoral people.

DANGER- MUST SILENCE:
<grin>

I laughed, but in the way one might laugh at a really, really bad pun.

DANGER- MUST SILENCE:
Ah, but the 10 commandments are not the foundation of any religion I know of.

Aye, but I said principles, not religion.

DANGER- MUST SILENCE:
If I'm trying to figure out what I should do in a situation, I think about the things I want to achieve, not the things I want to avoid.

What if what you want to achieve is just something you want to avoid? This is actually a serious question.

DANGER- MUST SILENCE:
Who are you?
What do you want?
Why are you here?
Where are you going?
Do you have anything worth living for?

I respect and admire people who are able to answer these questions, because I often can't.

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but part of me feels you're making things way too complicated for yourself if you can't answer these.

I'm Matt, right now I want food, but it's almost 2 am and I should probably wait till I wake up before eating, I'm here because I like talking about religion and politics, I'm going home in about 2 hours, and life is worth living for. Not being a smart ass here, that's really about it. I do my best to keep those kinds of questions in the here and now, and as simple as possible, because if I tried to extrapolate, I'd be writing for days about each one of those questions, and frankly, no one here would be interested in reading all that.

http://calvinandhobbes.wikia.com/wiki/G.R.O.S.S. Super relevant.

edit: And as far as footballism goes, sign me up for Saintsology. Saint Breesus is taking us to the superbowl again! Who Dat! ;D I think being a Saints fan is the closest I'll ever come to religion again. I have my post season tradition where I do a black and gold mohawk whenever we make it to the playoffs and shave it when we're out.

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