Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Humanists held to a higher standard

Recently I was contacted by a graduate student at an ivy-league school back east for an interview about Humanism and Parenting. I agreed and we began the interview (more like a conversation). Within a few minutes, my cell phone lost coverage, not an unusual occurrence at my home. I didn't have the student's phone number, so I hung around waiting for him to call back. He never did; instead, I receive a nasty email haranguing me for my rudeness, implying that I had hung up on him on purpose and accusing me of not meeting the high standards of other Humanists.

It was interesting to me that this student would just assume I had hung up when we were having a pleasant conversation up to that point. However, even more interesting was his assumption that Humanists adhere to a higher standard. I’ve thought this myself before, but it was made abundantly clear with his attitude in the email. It would have been alright, even acceptable, for a Christian (substitute your favorite religion) to hang up on someone if they had called to ask questions about their belief system, but it was completely unacceptable for a Humanist to do such a thing.

This is more evidence and reason why Humanists tend to be even more moral, on average, than the population of religious people, regardless of the religion.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Needing a God to Parent

A couple of weeks ago, I was having dinner with some friends before a concert and we got to talking about growing up religious and about not being religious today. It was a long conversation about all the reasons why none of us were religious (one of my favorite topics, but it is better if some present are still kind-of religious).

Anyway, at the end of it we got to talking about parent and one guy said that if he became a parent, he would have to raise his kids religious.

Our mouths dropped open; all of us wondering just how he had come to that conclusion. Finally I spoke up and asked. He said that he couldn't imagine keeping his kids in line without the threat of a God.

This represents one more fallacy in parenting without religion. What people have to understand is that children (young children) think of their parents as Gods. They don't need some other God to threaten them and in fact don't really understand that. Many psychologists think that our tendency to believe in higher beings comes from this period in our life when we see our parents as Gods - we want that continue; we want someone to be looking out for us, protecting us, and loving us.

Kids want so badly to please their parents, that you don't need any threats from some higher being to keep them in line - you are that higher being.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Radio: Is religion important when raising our children?

KNRY, a talk radio station in Monterey, CA hosts a show called Fathers are Forever and they are going to air a show tomorrow (Friday) night centered around whether or not religion is important when raising children.

This particular shows ill air from 7:00PM to 9:00PM Pacific time. You can listen to the show live here.

Dale Brown (author of Parenting Beyond Belief) and I (author of Humanism for Parents - Parenting without Religion) will represent the secular side of the discussion.

It should be a lively and interesting discussion.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Greg Epstein on Interfaith Politics

Greg Epstein, the Humanist Chaplin at Harvard, published some advice to Obama (and McCain, though he admits the Republicans wouldn't bother to listen). I like Greg and his down-to-earth, practical stance on things. He doesn't jump immediately into slamming religion, but looks at America as a melting pot, with respect to religion as well as race; and purports that humanists and atheists need to be part of that melting pot.

The article is worth a read, check it out here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Is Obama as bad as Bush?

I was looking forward to getting the republicans out of office and to getting a democrat in who might tone down the faith-based programs and get back to basing our government and its decisions on reason and science.

Instead, the democrats must think they need to bend and become more religious to win the election. After everything Bush has done during the last two terms of service, you would think that the democrats would have a fairly easy win (at least now that Hilary isn't in the running).

Check out this article on Yahoo News about Obama and his faith program. Most disturbing of all was his emphasis on doing God's work in office:

Obama showed he was comfortable using the kind of language that is familiar in evangelical churches and Bible studies by calling his faith "a personal commitment to Christ." He said that his time as a community organizer in decimated Chicago neighborhoods, supported in part by a Catholic group, brought him to a deeper faith and also convinced him that faith is useless without works.

"While I could sit in church and pray all I want, I wouldn't be fulfilling God's will unless I went out and did the Lord's work," he declared.

I sure hope he is just using this to gain voters and that he will tone down the desire to bring religion into the government once he is elected.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Off topic - great book:The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

A friend of mine and fellow computer scientist has written one of the great American novels of 2008! It is an incredible book and one well worth checking out. Look at this quote from Stephen Kind on the book (you can find this on amazon):

Praise from Stephen King

"I flat-out loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, and spent twelve happy evenings immersed in the world David Wroblewski has created. As I neared the end, I kept finding excuses to put the book aside for a little, not because I didn't like it, but because I liked it too much; I didn't want it to end. Dog-lovers in particular will find themselves riveted by this story, because the canine world has never been explored with such imagination and emotional resonance. Yet in the end, this isn't a novel about dogs or heartland America--although it is a deeply American work of literature. It's a novel about the human heart, and the mysteries that live there, understood but impossible to articulate. Yet in the person of Edgar Sawtelle, a mute boy who takes three of his dogs on a brave and dangerous odyssey, Wroblewski does articulate them, and splendidly. I closed the book with that regret readers feel only after experiencing the best stories: It's over, you think, and I won't read another one this good for a long, long time.

In truth, there's never been a book quite like The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. I thought of Hamlet when I was reading it, and Watership Down, and The Night of the Hunter, and The Life of Pi--but halfway through, I put all comparisons aside and let it just be itself.

I'm pretty sure this book is going to be a bestseller, but unlike some, it deserves to be. It's also going to be the subject of a great many reading groups, and when the members take up Edgar, I think they will be apt to stick to the book and forget the neighborhood gossip.

Wonderful, mysterious, long and satisfying: readers who pick up this novel are going to enter a richer world. I envy them the trip. I don't re-read many books, because life is too short. I will be re-reading this one."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Colorado ground zero for abortionists in November

The Denver Posts published this article:

Colo. fertilized egg measure backers submit signatures

a couple of weeks ago. This is a trick by the religious right to try to ban abortion (and along with it some forms of contraception, stem cell research, and in-vitro fertilization) in Colorado by masking it as a new definition of when Human Life starts.

Now, I've had a long history of siding with some aspects of the anti-abortionists (pro-lifers) because I can't stand late-term abortions (still legal here in Colorado). Unfortunately, people are not looking at this scientifically and are instead treating it as a religious argument only.

From a scientific standpoint, there is a fairly clear definition of when life ends (when there is no longer a recognizable brain wave pattern). The start of life should be measured the same way. This happens around the 20-21 week point or about when there is "quickening" (when the mother can feel the baby moving). And, more importantly, it is something that can be measured.

If they really want a fight they might be able to win, they should start there and see if that will pass the voters. What they have here will never fly (thankfully).