#MiddleGroundPodcast – Fajr Club – “What Is Secular Humanism”

In this session of Middle Ground’s Saturday class, Fajr Club, I direct a discussion of John Wesley Robb’s The Reverent Skeptic – A Critical Inquiry into the Religion of Secular Humanism. It’s in conjunction with Linda Raeder’s article, Mill’s Religion of Humanity – Consequences and Implications.

“All … forms of humanism have at least two things in common: (1) A concern for human good, both individually and collectively, and (2) A belief that man must resolve his problems alone and that there is no reality, above or below or outside of man, that can provide a resource or energizing power that will assist him in facing the exigencies of human life and society. Man and nature are all there is.”John Wesley Robb

“Another type of secularism that is most prevalent among intellectuals is what might be called a spiritual secularism, which places its emphasis upon the life of the creative mind. Some have called it the new religion of culture. It stresses the arts, in all of their forms, and places the creative expressions of men and women throughout history as prime examples of the transcendent power of the human mind and spirit to overcome the vicissitudes of daily life. It provides moments of self-transcendence for its adherents through the theatre, the visual arts, a wide variety of literary forms and through music. It glorifies the outreach of the human spirit toward higher and more expressive forms of creativity. It is a source for the nourishment of the human spirit and is often a replacement for the self-transcending experience that traditional forms of religion attempt to provide.”John Wesley Robb

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Also episode #116 from The Mad Mamluks’ podcast, Somewhere in Time, with Joseph Kaminski.

Can A Humanist Sustainability Work?

Edward Humes Garbology is a fascinating read. In it, he points to numerous challenges plaguing modern man, namely the issue of waste and how it not only degrades the natural environment but actually cases harm to humans. I know many secular humanists who hold to the notion that, to quote Matt Damon’s botanist, Mark Watney, “I’m gonna have to have to science the shit out of this”.

But what’s most striking is that it’s science, or perhaps more accurately, scientism, that got us into this issue in the first place. I make the designation of scientism, in that it is precisely that humanist strain of science which has sought to divorce itself from religious and spiritual ethics. Humanism, according to dictionary definition is “a system of thought criticized as being centered on the notion of the rational, autonomous self and ignoring the unintegrated and conditioned nature of the individual”. It is specifically this “autonomous self”, detached from the natural world — through its “rational” mechanics — which gives license to itself to treat the world as mere objects, having no sign or significance beyond their molecules and atoms.

So how, precisely, are we going to science the feces out of our conundrum when the malady points to a much deeper diagnosis: schizophrenic god-complex. Schizophrenia in that modern man is caught between expelling God and attempting to be God himself. Thus far, the “science-ing the shit out of this” theory doesn’t seem to hold water.