Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Welcome to The Humanist Household's first post! I'm the Skeptical Blogger and I'm going to use this post to give a really quick bit of background on what I believe.
Humanists are a widely varied lot. People describe themselves with terms like atheist, agnostic, non-theist, secular, bright, “not religious”, “spiritual, but not religious”, and skeptic, among many others.
I describe myself as being a secular humanist. For me, that means that I'm a non-theist, but that I'd prefer to define myself by the values I do believe in rather than the things I don't. Stated another way, I'd like to make sure that I'm moving toward something of importance to me - not running away from something that is unimportant. So, in this case, secular (meaning without religious or spiritual aspects) is a descriptor, or modifier, for my humanistic values.
Those humanistic values are shared with many other skeptics and, quite frankly, with many religious people as well. In fact, one of the primary values that I hold - to love your neighbor as yourself - is memorized by kids in Sunday schools all over the world. We all experience the same basic gamut of emotions - similar things bring us all joy (our families and friends, humor, security, etc.); all of our fears share the same root (losing power seems to be the uniting theme to our fears). Our shared experience of the world, and the struggle to exist within it, unite us whether we want it to or not.
For me, humanism also means that I look for answers to human questions in the human world (as opposed to the "spiritual" world). In other words, I try to base my beliefs on evidence. I work to admit to myself when I don't know something. Further, I try to keep in mind that knowing comes from careful observation held in check by the scientific method. My understanding of the evidence that I’ve seen leads me to believe that there is no reason to think that there is a god or any other sentient higher power that is responsible for creating and assigning meaning to existence. I’m comfortable enough with that to say that, while I’ll allow for the possibility that there is a god, the possibility is so unlikely that it would be unnecessary to even address except in the context of a world that is populated primarily by people who disagree with me.
So, if you consider yourself a humanist or some other flavor of skeptic, jump in! In a society that is frequently intolerant of skeptics of any stripe, I hope that this blog will become a sort of informal gathering place where visitors can support one another, debate one another, entertain one another, and learn from one another.