After a nearly six hour session of listening and talking to creationists, I don’t know what to say. I have had ample warning about what it would be like, but did I really believe it? Yes, it was everything they said it would be. All the standard logical fallacies, all the standard tactics, reverse psychology, straw men, the power of suggestion, and caricaturing everything they disagree with, complaining when others caricature them… I could blog about it for months to come, it would mostly be re-hashing stuff that has already been discussed a million times over. Still, for my readers, I will cover some of it later.
So, let’s get to the important stuff. My biggest concern is the demonising and misrepresentation of Humanism. They effectively equated Humanism with mass murderers, and imply it leads to suicide. They even pulled in the Columbine High-School Massacre. Sure, they did not necessarily state it so directly, but there is no doubt that that is the impression a majority of the attendants would walk out with. The word “atheist” used to be the target of such demonising rhetoric.
So how does one dispel this erroneous perspective? The most effective way would be to “live it”, in the open. Humanists need to come out of the closet, and show their friends and family what Humanism really is. This is exactly what Dawkins and the New Atheism movement is calling the atheists out to do. Live in the light, live honestly, the truth sets you free. (If you don’t live in a Bible Belt, of course, where coming out can be quite bad for your well-being.)
There are varying forms of humanism, including “religious humanism”. For example, I would like to argue that Jesus was in effect a humanist, in a certain sense, but let’s leave that for another day. My shortest definition of Humanism, is “reason and compassion”. Humanism is not the same thing as atheism, Humanism is about an ethical life stance. Please see the quote in On Labelling Myself a Humanist for an excellent summary (by Francis Mortyn, who I don’t personally know, unfortunately).
There is one thing I’m very sorry about: I let slip a highly condescending, sarcastic remark, a “joke” that was completely uncalled-for and in bad taste. (It wasn’t a very accurate joke either. If I wanted to make a politically incorrect joke, there were much better ones to make! Hehe…) It happens though… it’s our “sinful nature”, some would say. We all make mistakes, no one is perfect. I’ll do better next time!
One guy said he’d pray for me, complete with a hand-to-the-shoulder gesture. I appreciate it, I really do. People should realise he means it completely sincerely, with the best intentions. He believes it’s the best and the only thing he can do for me, and he will do it. Pity it isn’t my style to respond with “I’ll pray for you too…”
What an experience! It is everything they said it would be.
Upcoming posts: CMI’s (confessed) lack of understanding of what science and the scientific method is, what is science, a book recommendation with regards to understanding the scientific method and UFO’s, a discussion of the logical fallacies used, examples of the numerous absurd arguments given and made, quote mining, and more on the question(s) I asked:
If I accept evolution as a fact, does Christianity no longer hold anything for me? Should that cause someone to give up on being a Christian and head over to Humanism? Is Christianity only about life after death? I.e., according to your perspective of Christianity, if I don’t fear hell, is there nothing of value for me in Christianity?
I have answers to all my questions, and I have specific complaints and disagreements about 9 out of 10 things said in the seminar. Some feedback would go a long way towards helping me prioritise the following posts. I also have a thesis to finish, so I don’t know how often I will post. Please comment! This is supposed to be a conversation, of sorts…