Am I A Humanist?

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5 Responses

  1. Margaret Nelson says:

    Sorry to take so long to respond.

    I’m not sure I understand how surviving death in some form could be described as anything other than supernatural. Buddhists (and other religions) believe in reincarnation, where your soul, essence, or whatever you want to call it, takes another form in another life. For some, the form depends on how well or how badly you’ve behaved during this life. All of this is speculation, however, since there’s no proof for any of it.

    As a Humanist, I’m really only interested in this life – not in speculating about may or may not happen after we’re dead. As far as I’m concerned, when I’m dead, that’s it – nothing, zip, oblivion. I’ve written about it elsewhere – see one of my blogs. In general, Humanists reject the notion of a supernatural, and regard life after death as an oxymoron.

    It’s true that we may have some things in common with some Buddhists, particularly people from the Western Order, apart from the reincarnation thing. Personally, I don’t find all the introspection that seems to go with Buddhism very appealing. I’m more interested in doing than the “be-ing” of Buddhism.

    To be honest, I don’t think you’re very close to a Humanist way of looking at things, though we may have some things in common, as a I sense a yearning for something I can only describe as mystical, above and beyond our mortality. I think some people are just made that way, whether they ever find what they’re looking for or not. I’m not made that way, and I don’t believe in “rebirth”, whatever form it takes. When we die, the stuff we are made of is re-used in other forms, as the chemical building-blocks of life – carbon mainly. I fully expect to feed the worms, but not to become a worm.

    • Jack957 says:

      Thank you for your challenging reply Margaret which raised in me the following thoughts:

      Supernatural. This may be a question of semantics but it feels more important than that. If something exists, whether in this dimension or another, I cannot see how this can be anything other than natural and therefore be capable of being described by science, even if it cannot be at this point in time. The term supernatural seems to imply something like a god which I think we would both agree is unnecessary.

      Spritual Yearning / Made That Way: This possibility does concern me. I am aware that a “spiritual” gene has been identified in about 30% of people. It is therefore possible that those who put effort into a spritual life are merely following their programming. This together with the description of cargo cults springing up in the South Pacific at the end of WWII as described in The God Delusion are things that have caused me to question where I am. The latter showed how intelligent but unsophisticated people can go off at a tangent for the want of better information.

      Interest In This Life: I agree that the important thing is to concentrate on this life. It is worth living well for its own sake. Speculation about what happens after the point of death can be argued as futile. It will be what it is when it happens. Yet it is interesting. Even those who are adamant that there is nothing more may join Humanist Associations and put just as much effort into thinking/discussing there not being anything else as a religious person. It seems to be a human feature. It would be interesting to know if committed Humanists have that same “spirituality” gene.

      Buddhism: Interesting that you mentioned the Western (Buddhist) Order. That was the bunch that I could most related to.

      Doing v Being: Terms may be the issue here. There are people who can never stop doing. Its as if they need to prevent themselves having the time to think in case something too painful comes in. (I am a professional counsellor and this is certainly true in some cases). Others may want to sit in a beautiful place and take it in which is an example of just being. To be in balance between being and doing could be argued to be the healthiest place to be but at neither extreme.

      Evidence For “Supernatural”: I have witnessed a number of things that would commonly be decribed as supernatural. As I sat with my dying uncle, my wife (10 miles away) saw him sit up twice in bed and heard him call her name. He sat up twice just before the point of death having been unconscious for many hours. Another time whilst out with her she had a vision of a friend who was seriously ill and she felt that she had just died. Being checkable I looked at my watch. When I got home my daughter told me that the woman’s husband had telephoned 10 minutes before to say she had died earlier. Nine minutes had past. This may be evidence of telepathy rather than survival after death but something odd goes on. If sceptical people checked out a good medium offering nothing of themselves what would they find out? Sceptical people do not do that so their theories are not tested.

      Jack

      • Margaret Nelson says:

        We have a very good speaker next week, who’s been involved with Humanism a long time. You’re welcome to come, whether or not you can identify with a Humanist point of view.

  2. Jack957 says:

    I thought I had answered you but I must have missed a button!
    Thanks for the invite but we host a party on that day and therefore I cannot make it.

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