Humanist Symposium #17

Welcome to the 17th edition of the Humanist Symposium! The Humanist Symposium is meant to be a celebration of the humanist life–its purpose “is not primarily to criticize religious beliefs or debunk the latest superstition, but to offer and discuss a positive alternative to belief systems based on the supernatural.” As such, these values fit squarely within the mission of Mind on Fire.

The next symposium is in three weeks at Spanish Inquisitor. If you are an atheist, agnostic, freethinker More information and guidelines for submission can be found here.

That said, let’s go straight into the best posts for this edition:

Greta Christina presents On The Amazingness of Atheists… And Why It’s Doomed.

I think the contemporary atheist movement is largely — although far from entirely — made up of people who are smart, thoughtful, ethical, caring, passionate, honest, funny, brave, and able to think for themselves… to an amazing degree.

And I think that amazingness is doomed.

In Catching Flies: Both Honey and Vinegar Needed at Atheist Revolution, vjack writes about the need to balance criticism of religion with the promotion of rational, humanist and secularist values:

We need to stand for – and not just against – something. We benefit from a shared sense of community, and future generations benefit from our example.

At Daylight Atheism, Ebon discusses the hidden power of the freethinking voting bloc in Atheists at 75%?

This is a very significant result when one considers where it appeared. Daily Kos is the largest progressive political blog on the internet, averaging around 1 million hits per day, and represents a vast community of involved, motivated writers, donors, voters and activists. The fact that nonbelievers apparently predominate by such an overwhelming margin is an extremely encouraging indicator that atheists and freethinkers are becoming more and more politically involved and active, and cements our status as an important bloc of swing voters.

At Letters from a broad…, C. L. Hanson talks about her six year old son’s naturalism in Me, my kids, and “teach the controversy” and seeks advice from her blogging audience:

Naturally Nico’s naturalism extends to the study of primates…and he likes to talk about our cousins among the other great apes. Again, there is no controversy on this point in the scientific community. But…

There is controversy about it in my family. And we’ll be visiting them back in Minnesota this summer. And I’m kind of wondering what will happen if he starts talking about primates with his (human) first cousins. Nico’s not yet aware of “the controversy” — is he going to get told about “Adam & Eve” and “Noah’s Ark”? I’m a little concerned about this, and I imagine my sister is equally concerned about my kids telling hers about their ancestors among the great apes.

Any of you parents out there have any suggestions on how we should prepare them before setting off on our trip this summer?

Christian Bachmann takes a controversial stand in Why I respect beliefs that are not mine posted at Free Thinking Joy:

I also reject the idea that a belief deserves more respect if it is close to mine, or if it is more likely to be “true”, or if it is shared by a lot of people, or if books have been written about it, or the like. What I reject in particular is the idea that respect is a somewhat weaker form of agreement.

At An Apostate’s Chapel, the Chaplain relates a recent Lunch With A Liberal Christian friend. It presents a complex and compassionate view of thoughtful Christians rarely seen in the Atheosphere:

She has many good questions about the Christian indoctrination that she’s carried in her head for nearly 50 years. And yet…she doesn’t believe in a fire-and-brimstone hell, but she continues to believe in heaven and continues to hold a body-soul dichotomy. She’s not actively seeking to attach herself to a church community, but she holds out a slim hope that it may happen someday. She still believes in God and a divine-human Jesus. She’s still trying, as I did for many years, to cobble together some vestige of Christian belief that comports with her practical knowledge of the world. Will she ever be able to let it go?

At Words that sing, Lirone asks the question, “How do you find reliable signposts to guide a journey of personal development?” discusses The answer is a complex one, and discusses the relative de/merits of institutional religion, New Age spirituality, self-help books and recent psychological research.

Alonzo Fyfe answers the following question on the nature of Justice at Atheist Ethicist:

[F]rom a desire utilitarian perspective, what is justice? As a theory of value, it seems pretty clear that desire utilitarianism has an answer to that question. I’m just not sure how to approach the question of what, for example, a judge would do in order to make a just decision, or how policy-makers would begin to structure a just law. Are these questions that make sense from a desire utilitarian perspective?

At Disillusioned Words, Jeffrey Stingerstein compares Emotional Truth Versus Objective Truth (and how they relate to theism and atheism):

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