Thursday, November 03, 2005

What is an Agnostic?

I come from a family where religion was almost the family business. My father and his brother were both ordained ministers and missionaries. Their sister was also a missionary. My grandfather was deeply involved in starting several churches. One of my mother's sisters married a preacher. As you can imagine, agnosticism was not a very popular point of view with some of my relatives. I was fortunate that my father was a free thinker as well as a deeply religious man. He encouraged us to find our own paths and supported his children regardless of their belief or lack of it. I tried to make the 'leap of faith' that my religious family members talked about but was never able to cross the gap. I briefly flirted with atheism but concluded that it was too much like all the other religions. Many atheists seem as sure of the rightness of their belief as the most rabid fundamentalist christian. The point is that I don't know whether or not a god or gods exist. I admit that I may be missing something but I have never seen any evidence of an all-powerful supernatural being. I keep an open mind on the subject, however, which is why I am not an atheist.

Here is a website that has an interesting discussion of agnosticism by Bertrand Russell: What is an Agnostic?

What Is Secular Humanism?

Secular Humanism is a term which has come into use in the last thirty years to describe a world view with the following elements and principles:

* A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith.
* Commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions.
* A primary concern with fulfillment, growth, and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general.
* A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.
* A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.
* A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility.
* A conviction that with reason, an open marketplace of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children.

I copied this explanation of Secular Humanism from the following address:

This is a very interesting site for anyone wishing to further explore the subject.

What is the purpose of this blog?

During my explorations of various religions and philosophies, I never found one that fit very well with my personal world view. Most of them have aspects that I find to be interesting, wise, or useful but I always balk at some of their basic assumptions. Over the past 40 years or so, I explored Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Existentialism, Transcendental Meditation, and several other isms. A long time ago I decided that I was an agnostic but that is more an defintion of what I do not know rather than a positive statement of what I believe. I have been curious about secular humanism for several years but had never taken the time to investigate it until recently. I think I have finally found a philosophy that comes as close to my personal world view as is possible without founding my own religion. The more I read about secular humanism, the more I feel like I have found a philosophical home.

This blog will be a record of my journey of exploration. It will have my personal thoughts and feelings and links to things that I find interesting. I encourage you to voice your reactions to what you find on this page. I enjoy a good argument more than most people so feel free to disagree. I have two requests. First, keep your comments reasonably polite. I will delete your post if you get too personal or obscene. Second, don't try to snow anyone with factoids. This is not an academic forum but you are more likely to make a believable case if you cite your sources. Opinion is great but it should be labelled as such.