Christian Humanism?

January 9, 2009

David Manes–a peer from my college days–has written a fascinating piece on Christian humanism, exceeded only by the discussion it prompted.

Personally, I think the merger of Christianity and humanism dulls the meaning of one or the other, but would be a lot happier with Christian humanists running around than Christian fundamentalists, so I won’t complain too much. I think growing up a fundamentalist makes it hard to accept more liberal/ less strident expressions of faith as being legitimate forms of Christianity. For a while I went through what I call my “liberal Christian phase” (about 9 months maybe?) where I described myself as a Christian and said that I believed in God. Over time I realized that what I meant by “Christian,” what I thought of Christ, and what I meant by “God” (something akin to Einstein’s God/Universe equivalence) were drastically different from what the people I was conversing with meant.

At this point, I feel that God, as commonly defined by most of the people I know who claim belief in Him, is not a concept that I find very useful/helpful/logical. If everyone meant what Einstein said, then I might describe myself as a deist/theist/whateverist, but we don’t live in that world.


A Tale of Two Cities

September 26, 2007

Cambridge and Malibu, that is. It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…

I just read two very different articles over at Beliefnet that compliment each other well. One is by Michael Shermer, a Christian who attended Pepperdine University, got interested in science, and later became an atheist. His article is titled Atheists are Spiritual, Too. An excerpt:

Spirituality is a way of being in the world, a sense of one’s place in the cosmos, a relationship to that which extends beyond ourselves. There are many sources of spirituality; religion may be the most common, but it is by no means the only. Anything that generates a sense of awe may be a source of spirituality-art, for example.

Shermer describes taking scientists including Gould and Dawkins to visit the Mt. Wilson observatory in California.

As we were standing beneath the magnificent dome housing the 100-inch telescope, and reflecting on how marvelous-even miraculous-this scientistic visage of the cosmos and our place in it all seemed, Dawkins turned to me and said, “All of this makes me proud of our species.”

Alister McGrath, on the other hand, has a piece entitled Breaking the Science-Atheism Bond, in which he describes his own pilgrimage from atheism to Christianity.

The faith McGrath found sounds more reasonable than the faith Shermer left (Shermer’s is remarkably similar to some strains of the tradition in which I grew up). Also, the atheism Shermer developed seems to be better defined then what McGrath held; from McGrath’s article, it sounds like he confuses atheism with positive belief that there is no God, which is of course a view only held by a small minority of atheists. I’d like to hear them dialogue sometime.


All and Enough

July 11, 2007

Humanist Quote of the Day:

Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

(from Humanist Manifesto III)