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Along with the above claim it is sometimes also argued that Secular Humanism has become an "established" religion in our public schools. Secular Humanism has, like Madalyn Murray O'Hair, become one of the Religious Right's favorite boogeymen: all manner of social evils are attributed to them as if it were hoped that, by eliminating them, society would achieve perfection.

Read Article: The Supreme Court has declared that Secular Humanism is a religion

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June 23, 2009 at 2:21 pm
(1) Dave says:

I have to disagree with you in that secularism is not the opposite of religion at all. Secularism is – seperate from the church or more strictly speaking the monastery. Brushing your teeth and driving your car are secular activities. If one is a preacher and has not been ordained one is a secular clergyperson. It can also be argued that secular humanism is a religion or in my opinions falling into the same traps. Humanism, despite what many think, is not irreligious one can be a christian or for that matter any religion and be a humanist – there were clerical humanists. Humanist originally meant from human experience or from the human condition as seperate from but not necessarily exclusive from religion. Modern secular humanism does seem to mean the opposite of religion or really without religion has become dogmatic as opposed to the freethinking exploration of the human condition it has become anti-religious and has thus thrown the baby out with the bathwater much the same as western christianity. A philosophy becomes religion when it becomes dogmatic. Daniel Dennett claims to be a humanist but his darwinian dogma makes him very anti-humanistic you could call his philosophy gene-ism.

June 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm
(2) Austin Cline says:

I have to disagree with you in that secularism is not the opposite of religion at all. Secularism is – seperate from the church or more strictly speaking the monastery. Brushing your teeth and driving your car are secular activities.

And there is nothing about driving a car which is the opposite of religion.

If one is a preacher and has not been ordained one is a secular clergyperson.

Since such a person is definitely religious, here is another demonstration that secular isn’t the opposite of religious.

It can also be argued that secular humanism is a religion or in my opinions falling into the same traps.

Since secular means being not religious, that would render “secular humanism” a contradiction in terms while eliminating the category of religious humanism.

Humanism, despite what many think, is not irreligious one can be a christian or for that matter any religion and be a humanist – there were clerical humanists.

This just means that humanism isn’t inherently or necessarily irreligious. And I never claimed that humanism is necessarily or inherently irreligious — was there a point in trying to attribute such a view to me?

Modern secular humanism does seem to mean the opposite of religion or really without religion

Of course secular humanism is without religion — that’s because “secular” refers to an absence of religion. Secular humanism is thus a humanism without religion.

I’m wondering if you noticed that you first tried to claim that secular humanism is a religion, but then say that secular humanism seems to mean the opposite of or without religion. Is there a good reason for contradicting yourself so completely in such a short span of time?

has become dogmatic as opposed to the freethinking exploration of the human condition

Prove it.

it has become anti-religious and has thus thrown the baby out with the bathwater much the same as western christianity.

Feel free to point to what “baby” is being thrown out.

A philosophy becomes religion when it becomes dogmatic.

The one tiny problem here is the fact that “religion” is not defined as “being dogmatic.” You can have a religion that is not dogmatic and you can have a secular ideology that is dogmatic. Being dogmatic certainly isn’t a good idea or anything that should be encouraged, but it’s a long way from being “religious.”

Daniel Dennett claims to be a humanist but his darwinian dogma makes him very anti-humanistic you could call his philosophy gene-ism.

By that twisted “reasoning,” geologists who dismiss the possibility that elves cause earthquakes are also being both dogmatic and anti-humanistic because they insist on the “dogma” of Plate Tectonics. Doctors who dismiss the possibility that illness is caused by germs and viruses are being dogmatic and anti-humanistic because they insist on the “dogma” of the Germ Theory of Disease.

Such thinking just isn’t valid or reasonable.

June 25, 2009 at 2:21 pm
(3) Dave says:

Well I am not sure I get your response. Driving a car is not the opposite of religion it is like saying driving a car is the opposite of eating toast. The pope in his popemobile – would that make him the opposite of religion?
I think we are confused by what each other means by secular. Secular does not mean the opposite of religion it means seperate from the church. We have secular and religious humanism to indicate two types of humanism. Secular humanism is humanism seperate from the church and religious isn’t. They are two types of humanism but not necessarily opposites. non-religion is the opposite of religion. If I was a humanist and a christian and I attended a Humanist car club that celebrated the joy of driving I would be participating in a secular humanist activity (alright silly example). A secular government is a government that is able to legislate without deference to the church – it can still be religious but the govenment does not put its religion first.

I don’t think I contradicted myself, secular humanism was an idea that principally operated without the church or religion. One could be an atheist, agnostic or religious to participate it was fairly all encompassing. However, now it has become the exclusive domain of atheists and agnostics and in my opinion it has also become a replacement for religion not by being the opposite but by being the same but without god/supernatural etc Nietzche predicted this over 100 years ago. This in my mind contradicts secular humanism and hence why i compared it to a religion -but the secular humanists do not seem to mind.

When Christianity and Buddhism first started they were both seen as atheist and irreligious by the pagan romans and the hindus respectively – but by todays standards they are neither of these. Like secular humanism both christian and buddhist philosophy have lost sight of their original vision. Which brings us of course to the ‘baby’ and that is the human condition and the human experience. All three of the aforementioned philosophies have thrown this baby out. They are all ironically antihumanist. They do not make these as paramount – but seek to explain them away with sins, genes or karma. Anyone who says ‘you are unhappy because you have sinned against god’, ‘you are your genes’ or ‘the reason you do what you do is because of past life experiences’ is denying humanism. Daniel Dennett (and he is the only one of the so called new atheists that I have any time for) Is espousing what is an essentially antihumanist idea that the human experience can be explained by their genes thereby diminishing the human experience and the environment humans live in. He also intimates there is no moral core to humans – a fundamental tenet of humanism.
Your geology and medical examples are not analogies of this. a better example would be communists wishing for a capitalist state and free trade – they may call themselves communists but communists they ain’t.

I am dismayed you used the atheist lords prayer ‘prove it’ and am disinclined to ‘prove it’. I don’t need to prove it – I know it – I have levelled the charge of secular humanism has become a religion and you retort ‘prove it’? not a good debating technique.

June 25, 2009 at 2:47 pm
(4) Austin Cline says:

Well I am not sure I get your response. Driving a car is not the opposite of religion

Correct, it’s not — but driving a car is definitely secular.

I think we are confused by what each other means by secular. Secular does not mean the opposite of religion it means seperate from the church.

First, secular means non-religious. You can be religious without being part of a church.

Second secularism is a political philosophy about separating political institutions from religious or church control.

We have secular and religious humanism to indicate two types of humanism.

Admitting this means admitting that secular humanism isn’t a religion.

Secular humanism is humanism seperate from the church and religious isn’t.

Being religious doesn’t entail being part of a church.

They are two types of humanism but not necessarily opposites.

Right, because secular — i.e., non-religious — isn’t the opposite of religious.

non-religion is the opposite of religion.

That simply isn’t true. The prefix “non” means “not” in the sense of “absence of” rather than “opposite” or “reverse of.” I recommend a dictionary here.

A secular government is a government that is able to legislate without deference to the church – it can still be religious but the govenment does not put its religion first.

A secular government is, necessarily, a non-religious government, just as secular schooling is nonreligious schooling and secular institutions are nonreligious institutions.

However, now it has become the exclusive domain of atheists and agnostics and in my opinion it has also become a replacement for religion not by being the opposite but by being the same but without god/supernatural etc

Prove it.

Like secular humanism both christian and buddhist philosophy have lost sight of their original vision.

What is this “original vision” and how has it been lost?

They are all ironically antihumanist. They do not make these as paramount – but seek to explain them away with sins, genes or karma. Anyone who says ‘you are unhappy because you have sinned against god’, ‘you are your genes’ or ‘the reason you do what you do is because of past life experiences’ is denying humanism.

Feel free to support your allegations if you can.

Daniel Dennett (and he is the only one of the so called new atheists that I have any time for) Is espousing what is an essentially antihumanist idea that the human experience can be explained by their genes thereby diminishing the human experience and the environment humans live in.

I look forward to your providing quotes demonstrating that Dennett claims that all human experiences can be explained exclusively by genes.

He also intimates there is no moral core to humans – a fundamental tenet of humanism.

Again, where’s the citation?

Your geology and medical examples are not analogies of this.

Correct, they are analogies of a different claim you made earlier. You can’t add new claims then complain that the analogy fails — that’s disingenuous. Address the analogy with your original claim.

I am dismayed you used the atheist lords prayer ‘prove it’ and am disinclined to ‘prove it’.

I think it would be more correct to say that you cannot prove it — you have no evidence to provide to support any of your claims.

I don’t need to prove it – I know it

So you say. The absence of a single piece of evidence says otherwise.

I have levelled the charge of secular humanism has become a religion and you retort ‘prove it’? not a good debating technique.

I’m not debating. You admit that you’ve leveled a charge and this means that the burden of proof is yours. I don’t need to do anything but insist that you support your claims then, when you fail — and you do fail, utterly — point out that in the absence of a supported case your allegations should be dismissed as nonsense.

June 30, 2009 at 6:35 pm
(5) John Hanks says:

Humanism is humanism. It is not secular or religious.

June 30, 2009 at 6:36 pm
(6) John Hanks says:

We need a one year term supreme jury.

June 30, 2009 at 7:58 pm
(7) Tom Edgar says:

Much ado about sweet BA

July 4, 2009 at 11:02 am
(8) Zayla says:

John Hank:

Not sure if you’re serious, but I disagree. I think the lifetime appointment is absurd, but there has to be some continuity and I think it has to be for a long time, but having these men and women in there until the croak is insanity.

I’ve never thought it through, but maybe a 5-10, with maybe a second term, or something along those lines.

Maybe they should do what they do with the nutbag popes, just elect them when they’re 91 years old and they know they’ll keel over with a year or two.

August 13, 2009 at 12:24 pm
(9) Brian says:

One of the definitions Webster has for religion is a system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith. Faith being a belief in something for which there is no proof. By those definitions atheism is a religion. You say I can’t prove the existence of God, and so therefor I’m a fool to believe, but likewise, you can’t prove there isn’t a God. If I’m wrong then when I die I simply cease to exist, but if you’re wrong then when you die you face an eternity of hell. So who is the bigger fool? The one who has nothing to gain, or the one who has everything to lose?

August 13, 2009 at 1:02 pm
(10) Austin Cline says:

One of the definitions Webster has for religion is a system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith. Faith being a belief in something for which there is no proof. By those definitions atheism is a religion.

OK, what “system of beliefs” is accepted by all atheists: Objectivists, Marxists, liberals, conservatives, Humanists, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Raelians, etc.?

You say I can’t prove the existence of God, and so therefor I’m a fool to believe, but likewise, you can’t prove there isn’t a God.

Depends on how “God” is defined.

If I’m wrong then when I die I simply cease to exist, but if you’re wrong then when you die you face an eternity of hell. So who is the bigger fool? The one who has nothing to gain, or the one who has everything to lose?

Pascal’s Wager, just about the worst and most poorly-reasoned apologetics argument in existence.

October 15, 2009 at 12:06 pm
(11) Joel Weymouth says:

This man is like the teen-ager who got caught doing something naughty: so he parses words.
1. Since it is part of a ruling, it can and has been used successfully in arguments.
2. Whenever you say – I believe – you are making a statement of faith (or religion). Atheists have made a religious statements about the non-existence of God. Nobody has seen everything in this universe, therefore, nobody can say with absolute conviction there is no God, because God might exist in that which they have not observed.
3. Secular Humanism has a manifesto – or canon
4. They are organized
5. They contribute to their causes
6. They have emotional ties against the existence of God – some claim illness when they see people pray (why?)
7. They are are as crooked as most organized religion because they make mythological claims about themselves eg. Catholicism and stigmata.

Example: when you ask an atheist to name one charity started by atheism (that actually helps people who are starving or poor) – the either cite the ACLU (which never feed a hungry child) , Doctors without Borders – (which is secular not atheistic). They then cite the Red Cross. IRC. Funny, the founder of the IRC was an evangelical Christian because he was affiliated with the Internation YMCA- you all know what C stands for don’t you.
8. Atheists are evangelistic and try to convert people – so they also must be insecure – as they claims that evangelicals are.
9. Frankly, Atheists are as neurotic as many zealots. Getting hysterical when you start challenging their beliefs.

If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck -

October 15, 2009 at 12:25 pm
(12) Austin Cline says:

1. Since it is part of a ruling, it can and has been used successfully in arguments.  

Obiter dicta are not a part of the actual court ruling.

2. Whenever you say – I believe – you are making a statement of faith (or religion).  

I believe you are wrong. According to you, that is a religion.

But of course that is an absurd conclusion. Not every statement of belief is also a statement of faith, and neither are also religions. A religion is a type of belief system, and a system must be comprised of multiple beliefs. So, by definition no single statement of belief or faith can be a religion.

Atheists have made a religious statements about the non-existence of God.   

Name a couple.

Nobody has seen everything in this universe, therefore, nobody can say with absolute conviction there is no God, because God might exist in that which  they have not observed.  

That depends on how “God” is defined.

3. Secular Humanism has a manifesto – or canon

A manifesto is not the same as a canon. The words are not synonyms.

4. They are organized

So are stamp collecting clubs.

5. They contribute to their causes

So do political activist organizations.

6. They have emotional ties against the existence of God

Sorry, but this isn’t part of secular humanism. It may be true of individual secular humanists, but that isn’t the same as being part of secular humanism.

7. They are are as crooked as most organized religion because they make mythological claims about themselves eg. Catholicism and stigmata.

Prove it.

Example: when you ask an atheist to name one charity started by atheism

Atheism isn’t an ideology or belief system that can “start” anything. Theism doesn’t start anything, either.

Oh, and why do you keep conflating atheism with secular humanism?

8. Atheists are evangelistic and try to convert people – so they also must be insecure – as they claims that evangelicals are.

Arguing for a position isn’t evangelizing, unless you believe that everything in politics, philosophy, and economics is also evangelizing.

9.  Frankly, Atheists are as neurotic as many zealots.  Getting hysterical when you start challenging their beliefs.

Prove it.

If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck -

First you’ll need to identify some actual characteristics of religions which secular humanism has — and not characteristics that can be found all over outside religion as well.

October 23, 2009 at 6:28 pm
(13) Paul Buchman says:

>If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck -

If I looked like a doctor and talked like a doctor, would you let me perform surgery on you?

October 23, 2009 at 9:59 pm
(14) Bob Wood says:

Atheism is not a belief. It is the absence of belief in gods. It cannot be proved that there isn’t a god, but it can more probably be proved that there isn’t. Based upon available evidence there probably is no god.
As an atheist, I don’t try to convince anyone else, I just don’t hide the fact of my non-belief.
You can put a top hat on a penguin, and believe he’s Fred Astaire…but believing doesn’t make it true.

October 24, 2009 at 12:23 am
(15) John Hanks says:

Dream on. I’ll believe that humanism is a religion when it starts promoting the supernatural.

October 25, 2009 at 11:17 am
(16) God Isn't says:

Joel Weymouth (11) wrote: “Nobody has seen everything in this universe, therefore, nobody can say with absolute conviction there is no God, because God might exist in that which they have not observed.”

That same “logic” could be used to “prove” the existence of leprechauns, the Tooth Fairy, and anything else the human mind can imagine.

I can say there are no gods with the same conviction I can say there are no leprechauns, because there’s no evidence that they exist.

Demanding evidence is neither neurotic nor hysterical. It’s rational.

October 26, 2009 at 10:35 pm
(17) Tom Edgar says:

Joel is the same as all the others. Confronted with intelligent replies.. Cut and run.

Asked for proof of a God’s existence they are unable to intelligently reply themselves.

October 27, 2009 at 8:03 pm
(18) Paul Buchman says:

#11, Joel Weymouth wrote:
“2. … Nobody has seen everything in this universe, therefore, nobody can say with absolute conviction there is no God, because God might exist in that which they have not observed.”

If your god is not material, how could he possibly be observed anywhere in our material universe?

June 5, 2012 at 12:06 am
(19) Edmond says:

I think my only quibble would be where you say that “The terms “religion” and “secular” are opposites.” I don’t agree. I’m sure that religion has an opposite, and I’m sure it’s somewhere in the camp of atheism, or “areligiosity”. But “secular” is not the “opposite”. Religion and its opposite are the positive and negative positions (align them where you will). Secular is the Zero, the neutral position.

I only think this is important because many religious people may think you mean that secularism is their enemy. It’s not. Secularism protects religion as well as non-religion. All religions should WANT secularism in their government, or they risk being trampled by OTHER religions, or even by other denominations in THEIR religion.

Religion, and whatever its opposite is, are fine choices on a personal level. But for serving large and diverse segments of society, secularism provides the most fairness and the most freedom for everyone.

June 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm
(20) Dean J. Smith says:

Even if the courts HAD declared secular humanism a religion, what weight would that carry? How is it the business of the court to determine what is and is not a religion? Whether something is treated like a religion for some purpose or another, sure, but not whether it actually is or is not a religion. Would Christians take the court’s word for it if it declared some Christian sect was NOT a religion? Whether something really is or isn’t a religion is not within the purview of the American court system.

June 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm
(21) Eric in Oakland says:

Dean said “Whether something really is or isn’t a religion is not within the purview of the American court system”

Actually, it is for legal purposes. Because the constitution and statutes make many references to religion and religious, the courts must decide how to interpret those words.

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