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Pondering the South African Memesphere – Looking for the Good in Everything

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Rebirth!

September 6th, 2007 · Posted by Who Knows? · 13 Comments

Hello World! My name is Hugo, and I’m a secular humanist… (I’m a secular humanist with a passion for Jesus. <grin>)

I come from a Christian background, and have great respect for liberal Christianity, and am keeping an eye on the “emerging church conversation”. I am a member of a church (Stellenbosch Gemeente), and have no intention of ending that membership. I even intend to attend every now and then, if I have time to do so and then blog about it. ;)

To my friends and extended family members that have a fundamentalist leaning: I am still the same person. I am still as “good a Christian” as I’ve always been, I just have a rather different notion of God than you do. (And no one has a perfect picture…) I have finally realised that maintaining the “Christian” label is more misleading than it is worth, though. I believe God wants me to live a free, happy, honest and moral life, a life of abundance, and God has shown me the way that is best for me. (Secular humanism.) I have read a lot about Jesus, and am convinced he would support me in this venture. I hope you will respect that. Do feel free to discuss any of this with me, I am more approachable than ever.

Oh, and yes, I am in fact being serious – that was a translation into the Christian world-view. I like the idea of a T-shirt slogan “God told me to become an atheist”. I hope to be building bridges between the worlds, to aid in mutual understanding, acceptance and respect. I am not on a mission to undermine anyone’s belief in God. (At most, I will be demonstrating an alternative.) I will, however, stand up for science. I do consider anti-science to be evil.

Where science conflicts with your beliefs, I will try to illustrate a way you could embrace science, while maintaining your relationship with God. I can’t promise it will be easy, but they say the journey of faith was never meant to be? I have had some success in this regard already, and the feedback was positive – it seems that journey brings an increased intensity and fervour to a believer’s search for God.

So, that’s that, I’m out of the closet. (Until relatively recently, I was hiding from myself as well.) May this be an interesting journey we can explore together.

Categories: Religion and Science
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13 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tim Mills // Sep 6, 2007 at 12:57 pm

    It sounds like this was a brave move for you to make. On behalf of friendly humanists worldwide, thankyou for adding your voice to our ranks. I look forward to hearing how things go for you.

  • 2 Hugo // Sep 6, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks. It seems I’m confusing a bunch of people… Oh well, this post was probably more for myself than for other people then.

    Why announce a label change? Because I feel I should. It feels more honest, it feels like living in the light. It follows naturally from what I learned from Christianity.

    To attempt to clarify some of the confusion: the italic stuff is not at all condescending, no. It is meant completely sincerely. It is a translation to another world-view, I am talking to specific people there, and I hope they understand what I mean. It might make sense if you think of those bits as written before I “switched” world-views. Despite calling myself a secular humanist, I reserve the right to still write/talk about God. Dawkins might argue I’m misleading people. CS Lewis might argue my internal moral compass should be called “God” anyway. Whatever… different perspectives, different definitions, the same thing, really.

    All labels are misleading in some fashion, as everyone has a different impression of a given label. Labels are chosen for quick classification purposes, what they really mean, what they are pointing to, can only really be determined through a longer, “deeper” relationship. (And as I said, I’m still the same person. I still think very much the same as I always did… just switching arbitrary labels here…)

    I hope there aren’t many people who misinterpret it in the condescending manner, I cannot explain in any more depth right now.

  • 3 Tim // Sep 6, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    This feels like a natural progression, having read a lot of your writings…

    Good luck and much happiness!

    Anyways, the difference between: atheist, freethinker, skeptic, agnostic, humanist, secular humanist, bright, unitarian universalist, and liberal christian is mostly a question of semantics…

    As long as one stays friendly…! ;-)

  • 4 Maria // Sep 7, 2007 at 1:50 am

    I saw you link here from another blog I was on and just wanted to comment. I wanted to commend and applaud for the sincere, honest, and moving way you have done this. I think you are brave for coming out and am really glad to see you do it in such an honest, decent, and forthright way. I wish you the best of luck. I tend to agree with a lot of what you say as I have gone through something similar. I hope things go well for you and that the people you care about understand. Best wishes! :)

  • 5 Francis Mortyn // Sep 7, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    The word “Humanist” implies definition by reference to humanity. The word makes no reference at all to any Gods, whether to affirm or deny them. In this, it differs clearly from terms like “atheist” which are about Gods or God.

    Humanism is not about metaphysics, the existence of things, whether to assert or deny them. Humanism is about ethics, asserting that right and wrong do exist and do matter, and they are a human rather than a divine concern.

    As Humanist Albert Einstein put it, “I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding, and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem – the most important of all human problems.”

    Where is the measure of what is right and what is wrong? Humanists say it rests firmly in human experience. As Humanist Karl Popper points out, if an act results in a reduction of needless suffering, it is a good act.

    Human experience is known by observable evidence interpreted by reason. This is solid ground on which to build. It provides a dependable ethical foundation better than the speculative claims of alleged supernatural revelation.

  • 6 Hugo // Sep 7, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks Francis! Great definition. You opt for the capital H and drop the “secular”, but likely mean pretty much the same thing, right?

  • 7 thinktoomuch.net » Blog Archive » On Labelling Myself a Humanist // Sep 8, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    […] what is Humanism? Francis Mortyn left the following comment on my previous post, and I like the way it describes Humanism: The word “Humanist” implies definition by reference […]

  • 8 emily // Sep 14, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    wasn’t hugo the guy who has been searching for himself since his third year at stellenbosch? congrats on finally finding yourself. not many people have the determination. hehe. good luck ahead.

  • 9 Hugo // Sep 14, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Hmm, say, who are you? I tried the email address you entered, didn’t work…

    I have been searching for myself for quite some time, yes, so I might be the person you’re thinking of. I just want to know what you’re thinking of… *curious*

  • 10 emily // Sep 17, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    i am sorry, i do not want to enter into a discussion about who am I. I am just glad that you finally know who you are. I stumbled accross this page by acident and it was a mistake. I should leave now. Your last post was the best so far. Hell,… wrong timing,… you needed a more intellectual person to guide your thoughts on religion during 2003. Keep on reading, but especially, keep writing! :)

  • 11 Hugo // Sep 17, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Thanks! I hope you come back one more time, to see this comment. Thanks for everything.

    Hell is not knowing who you are, not knowing where you’re going. Hell is inside you. You then externalise it by projecting it onto everyone around you, and that is unfair on them as well.

    Everyone and everything that crossed my path helped me get to where I am now, for that I am thankful. Even for the fundamentalist lady I talked to once a week, even the “cult” I joined and the friends I still have there. It was necessary, and it was good. It was the right journey for me. I hope I wasn’t too bad an influence on those around me, in the process of finding myself…

    I wish you all the best, and who knows, maybe we run into each other again some time. No hard feelings, and best wishes for everything. Let compassion rule.

  • 12 Hugo // Sep 17, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Here is another take on the afterlife.

  • 13 emily // Sep 17, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    never had any hard feelings. It took a long journey to figure that one out for myself. “Hell is not knowing who you are, not knowing where you’re going. Hell is inside you.” Well said. ;)

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