We had a really interesting discussion of what it means to be a Humanist in today's America.  Bob started us off with a quick review of some of the many books he has been reading lately on the topic of Humanism.  Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspires to the greater good of humanity without a reliance on supernatural beliefs.  That is to say Humanists are more concerned with creating meaning in our lives and treating each other ethically without a reliance on (or need for) rewards or punishments from God.  Here is a more official definition:

Humanism:  noun
 
  1. an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.

Although a lot of atheists are humanist, there is no direct connection.  It is not that a humanist denies the existence of God, it is simply that ethical and moral behavior are inherently valuable traits and, probably, a requirement for our continued existence on this planet.  You can be a Humanist and still be a believer.  (It seems that a person can  be an atheist and NOT be a humanist, but that makes for a very grumpy outlook on life.)   Actually a more dramatic problem is the Christian (or any theist for that matter) who is NOT a humanist.  Phil Robertson (of Duck Dynasty fame) proclaimed that the reason for not killing and torturing a neighbor is because God forbids it.  If this truly is the only thing that stays your neighbor's hand, then I would not want to be around when he is having a crisis of faith. 

Anyway, Bob recommends Humanism as the Next Step by Lloyd and Mary Morain.  To quote the book blurb:   "...its joyful presentation will surely be a delight for the newly aware Humanist who's just discovering that there's actually a name for the earth-oriented, human-focused, non-religious lifestance."

Every week we have an interesting conversation about truth, meaning, religion (or lack thereof), justice (or lack thereof) and sometimes the environment in America today.  Every week there is a new presentation and a new topic of conversation.  If this sounds like a group that would benefit you spiritually or intellectually, then we would be delighted to have you join us.  As our sign says, we are freethinkers and don't enforce a set of dogmas (however, we are pretty much all humanists here, some religious humanists and some secular humanists.  So, if that is a problem for you, then you may not enjoy the conversation nearly as much as you might otherwise.)

Peace,

Rick