Re: Ch. 5 - "Creeds to Live By"
utilizing graham for this chapter is off the wall. i can understand quoting a critic of humanism, but the choice and quotations don't add anything to the text. graham at one point sites atraucities such as the nazis, mao, castro, khmer rouge, etc. are the result of humanistic attepts to create a better world. these regimns were not humanistic! i utterly despise attempts by idiots who do not understand history and reality in any realistic way to link socialism with athiesm. humanism is not about slaughtering people for any reason. in a matter of fact, most humanists are anti-war to a fault, meaning they would be hard pressed to support a war even if it were 'just' (for the extreme few that likely ever were, are, or will be... but i should hesitate from injecting too much personal belief into my response). suffice to say this quoting of graham was totally inappropriate and did nothing to add to the text what so ever. i would prefer to have heard rebutal from someone offering valid concerns against humanistic morals and values. and why the shift from naturalism to humanism? the author seems to want to use them interchangably in this last chapter, introducing humanism only in the last 20 pages of the text.
it is my belief that the concept of obligatory morals and need for action to help our fellow man was not made in this text. i am not convinced, and i am an athiest, thus by the authors definition a naturalist of sorts as well. i should be the first person to pony up support for a moral structure for my athiestic beliefs. but the words intrinsic, obligatory, etc. kept coming up which i completely disagree with. as i previously noted, the author wants to have his cake and eat it too.
without absolutes (e.g. an all powerful god dictating values and morals), everything becomes relative. beyond that, no one is obligated to do anything and nothing has intrisic value. a value and moral structure should instead be framed around the belief (in my opinion) that we should strive for the greatest good for everyone because we believe it will produce the best results for both ourselves and those around us. also, when those around us are elevated (through altruism for example) we receive positive emotional benefits, so we benefit from helping others indirectly. it is not intrisic, it is not absolute, but given the choice it seems logical for a sane person to conclude that doing something that attempts to improve things rather than make them worse should generally be considered when possible, especially when we ourselves can be put in a better position. 'improve' can not be pinned down but is relative to the social situation, location, culture, and time of the individual. this is at least my view of values and morality and i can live with myself and think i live a fulfilling life in which i improve not only my life but that of those around me when it is possible and i am in a position to do so without extensive undertaking (again, a relative term to my own dispostion).
i feel the description of the text was incredibly misleading. the back of the book introduces that text "Suppose there is not God." but for most of the text, the author assumes just the opposite. as mad indicated, trying to draw parallels between two different outlooks of life instead of identifying a completely different moral and ethical framework independant of religion. while i can not fault the author for not writing the book i wanted to read, i think the book is completely different than the full write up on the back of the book and else where indicated, or perhaps i just read wrong. in either case, the author failed to make a case i am in a position to be a strong supporter of if it was valid.