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August 29, 2008


Terry Thomas

I have read with considerable interest Andrew Copson's take on Humanism. It matches my own thoughts on the term in attempting to express where I stand in trying to avoid the negative implications of the term Atheism. Incidentally I am co-operating with Andrew in translating his educational material into Welsh.
However, while Andrew lists all the uses of Humanism he will try in vain to persuade others, including the religious, that his take on Humanism is the recognized and sole legitimate one. When I was grappling with belief in the years before I became an atheist I referred to myself as a Christian humanist. I still think it was a legtimate use of the term. After all, all humans are properly entitled to think in a humanistic way.
Having grappled with the term humanist in something I am writing I have come round to using the term 'naturalism'. I realise that there are problems with the diverse uses of philosophical naturalism, nevertheless there is a clue to the efficacy of the term when it is used as a term that embraces atheism. This is the attack on the concept by literlist Christian 'philosophers' such as Alvin Plantinga and William Craig Lane. They are not to be seen attacking humanism in a similar way.
Naturalism, for me, stands for a view that covers my atheism, my embracing of cultural forms, art, literature, music etc. and even the existence of religion, while rejecting any notions of 'religious' art or 'revelatory' religion. Much of what I now see as embraced by naturalism matches my position in the history of religions, which I taught in the OU, in which religion in the world is an example of a humanly devised cultural construct. This position I arrived at after years of studying and observing the various religions.
Primarily my 'world view' is explained by the term naturalism, as excluding any 'thing' that is imagined to exist beyond the world as experienced.
Perhaps you might address this posting with thoughts of your own. I have a long way to go before I can claim a wide range of argument to support my current 'world view' but nothing I have come across so far discourages me from following this line.
With kind regards

D. R. Khashaba

For me Humanism means the determination to find all meaning and all value within humanity. But Humanism was side-tracked when it adopted a narrow naturalistic conception of humanity. If humanity is to be the matrix and the fount of meaning and value, we must find our reality, and all reality, in the meaning and value within us. We must see that our inner reality is not reducible to nature as objectively observed.

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