Meet the “Neo Humanists” (and Hear Their Values)

As we told you last week, Paul Kurtz, who recently resigned from the Center for Inquiry, is launching a new organization, the Institute for Science and Human Values, to promote what he sees as a more positive and inclusive secularism than that offered by the “new atheists.” Now, he’s introduced a new term, “Neo-Humanism,” for his new approach, which is geared toward “those who are skeptical of the traditional forms of religious belief, yet maintain that there is a critical need to bring together the varieties of belief and unbelief and provide a positive outlook for the benefit of the planetary community.” Neo-Humanism, he says, “aims to be more outgoing and receptive to cooperation with a broader network.”
He’s posted a detailed explanation of what should be involved. According to his recommendations, Neo-Humanists:

1. aspire to be more inclusive by appealing to both non-religious and religious humanists and to religious believers who share common goals;
2. are critical of theism;
3. are best defined by what they are for, not what they are against;
4. wish to use critical thinking, evidence, and reason to evaluate claims to knowledge;
5. apply similar considerations to ethics and values;
6. are committed to a key set of values: happiness, creative actualization, reason in harmony with emotion, quality, and excellence;
7. emphasize moral growth (particularly for children), empathy, and responsibility;
8. advocate the right to privacy;
9. support the democratic way of life, tolerance, and fairness;
10. recognize the importance of personal morality, good will, and a positive attitude toward life;
11. accept responsibility for the well-being of society, guaranteeing various rights, including those of women, racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities; and supporting education, health care, gainful employment, and other social benefits;
12. support a green economy;
13. advocate population restraint, environmental protection, and the protection of other species;
14. recognize the need for Neo-Humanists to engage actively in politics;
15. take progressive positions on the economy; and
16. hold that humanity needs to move beyond ego-centric individualism and chauvinistic nationalism to develop transnational planetary institutions to cope with global problems problems—such efforts include a strengthened World Court, an eventual World Parliament, and a Planetary Environmental Monitoring Agency that would set standards for controlling global warming and ecology.

Category: Buzz


One Response

  1. Congratulations on the development of the “Institute for Science and Human Values”. Since it was apparently formed in the wake of some ill will with the earlier group, I hope that relations with that group will improve, and both organizations will proceed fully.

    Thanks for your request for feedback. I do have a couple thoughts I would like to share, not with any vigor or animosity, so if you are able to use them, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine too.

    I read all 16 of the principles carefully. I find that I can agree with all except with a portion of number one. It’s the part that reads “… appealing to both non-religious and religious humanists and to religious believers…”

    I have a problem with religion, belief in God, faith. These metaphysical, supernatural concepts are irreconcilable with rationality, and do substantial harm; fostering wars, bad interpersonal relations, and diminished personal responsibility. Those who are not believers in the supernatural can still be positive; gentle, loving, and warm. Belief in the supernatural should not be supported, and should be actively discouraged. I don’t see the possibility of a happy confluence of supernatural – belief in God and the practice of religion – with rationality; they are opposites; immiscible. It’s one or the other. And the world would be a better place if there were less belief in the supernatural.

    Some non-believers and some believers are less than skilled in their interpersonal styles. Harris and Dawkins have been deeply and properly criticized by many current authors who suggest that religion and science can overlap. But the critics, I feel, get it wrong; they properly criticize interpersonal style, but wind up taking sides in the concept of natural vs. supernatural, overlap vs. immiscible. To me, “religious humanists” is a contradiction in terms.

    Secondly, I feel that the role description of humanists and neo-humanists should not include environmental issues, global warming, the right to privacy, a world court, a green economy, etc. I assume that most if not all humanists and neo-humanists agree with these issues. However, If the belief statement is too broad, it does not adequately distinguish between humanists and neo-humanists, and other progressives.

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