Secular Humanism? Yeah, right: Gimme Religion, and ASAP…

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Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka

For better or worse, Bernie, “We’re-All-In-This-Together” is not a religion. Spirituality? Maybe, but I doubt it. Nice try, though. It’s okay to be Jewish, you know. It doesn’t mean anything bad, as long as you’re not a tool of the modern state of Israel. So feel free to clarify that, ASAP, but obscuring your ethnic origins by muddying up religious waters is not helpful…

So Bernie sounds like a ‘secular humanist’ to me, and not a ‘practicing Jew’. But I’m not interested in politics right now. I’m interested in religion. So is ‘secular humanism’ a religion? Naah, not really. Why not? They’re all just belief systems, aren’t they, ‘secular humanism’ and every religion? So what’s the difference? Does a religion have to have a God? Buddhism doesn’t really have a God, and Islam allows no images of one. Hinduism has loads.  So what’s the difference?

Short answer: plenty. In fact, secular humanism DOES have a God, and its name is mostly ME. That’s the difference, and that’s the opposite of what religion is all about. Religion is all about being a part of something bigger than you, and secular humanism is all about individuality, and individualism, specifically this individual, and all too often (drum roll here, please): ego.  God help us.

Now, while that point may be debatable, the devotion to Science (with capital ‘S’) is not. Now, nobody loves science more than I do, but it is not God, nor religion. It is a belief system for many, true, but it shouldn’t be. It should really be no more than a system of theory, experiment and measurement. That’s what it does best. Anything else is pure BS…

Religion, like any belief system, is all about absolutes, for me such ideals as truth, beauty, and goodness. Others might emphasize love, dignity or wisdom, like Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism, respectively, things you can believe in absolutely. Science is not about absolutes. Science is about theory, working hypotheses in various stages of proof–or not. Making a religion of science is the height of foolishness, from people who are largely missing the point.

And Nature is the other pillar of the humanist trinity that includes Science and Individualism. Now while this is probably a better bet, it still comes up short. What exactly are you worshiping when you worship ‘Nature’? I know it’s not the ‘intelligent design’. That’s heresy to an accidental humanist. So what is it—the colors, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures? That’s sensualism, not religion.

Nature is easily my favorite part of the secular humanist pantheon, but falls far short of the ‘absoluteness’ needed for true belief. The problem is: it’s not always ‘right’ nor best. There’s nothing more natural than a big animal eating a small one, but religion—especially Christianity—rightly teaches us that they’re equal in status. This is where Western democracy and Christianity define a single culture. But where the religious equality is easily something to believe in, the political manifestation falls flat frequently, and works best only where it’s traditional—the Christian countries.

For me Nature is almost the only thing worth loving in this world of stuff that we call life in the universe. Divorced from Nature, we’re divorced from our lives, so no wonder we’re often divorced from our wives, and husbands, and families, almost as an afterthought. Nature is a constant inspiration, but still it is often ‘wrong’ from a humanistic point-of-view. Sex is natural, but do we pursue it constantly? Don’t answer that. We protect against hurricanes and tornadoes, not welcome them, likewise earthquakes and other ‘acts of God’. Seven hundred million years ago the planet was an ice cube. That’s nature for you…

Secular humanism is not a bad thing, not at all, but it’s not religion, not really. Define the absolutes in your life and that’s your religion, the highest common denominators that you hopefully share with others, hopefully something bigger than yourself. That’s what you believe in. Everything else is entertainment. Everybody—almost—believes in something, even the staunchest raunchiest atheist. But it hopefully should be something bigger and better than you, not drugs or alcohol or sex or other transitory pleasures. Go beyond your ordinary self to your extraordinary self. That is the challenge.

That is where you find your religion. For me, Nature is not that religion, though I love it, but just the opposite of religion, in fact. Those wild urges should be tamed. That’s what religion does. That’s how the lion lies down with the lamb: you tame them. That’s how those competitive urges become sports, not wars. You tame them. That’s how lust becomes love; you tame it. That’s how violence becomes creativity. You tame it. That’s why we need religion. You name it…

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