About Humanism

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Indiana Residents Living in Poverty Exempt from ObamaCare Individual Mandate

Thanks to our God fearing Governor Mike Pence, who is fondling the Tea Bags in hopes of getting to Washington, many Indiana residents that need help the most will still not have health insurance. You don't have to take my word on this, just go to healthcare.gov, put your place of residence as Indiana and set your income to 100 percent of the poverty level. Bam, no subsidy, you are exempt.

Hoosiers are among the impoverished residents of 25 states who are left on the sidelines as their Republican lead governments play political games with real lives. An extra kick in the head to low-income working Hoosiers is that individuals cannot even qualify for Medicaid in Indiana based on their income. Also, the income limit for a family of two is just $229.50 a month.

So, if you work and are in poverty in Indiana, Mike Pence and the state legislature said "screw you" deal with it and go to the emergency room when your health gets too bad. Of course, this hurts everyone in Indiana and across the nation because the economically wasteful practice of unnecessary emergency room visits will continue.

This is another example of how misinformation and deliberate confusion regarding the Affordable Care Act hurts all Americans.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Origins of The Pledge of Allegiance

The history of the pledge of allegiance is a study in how organizations go about squashing freedom from religion guaranteed by the Constitution. As stated on UShistory.org the original prose reads: “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands--one nation indivisible--with liberty and justice for all.”

The author is Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and socialist. He wrote it for a magazine as part of a scheme to sell American flags. It worked.

Changes came in 1923 and 1954. A crux of the "America was founded on God" argument takes a hit when we acknowledge that "under God" was added in 1954. So, it took about 62 years after writing the pledge for anyone to insert God into it, anywhere.

The change of "I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands..." came in 1923. Why bother changing it from my flag to the flag? That is best left to another discussion, but the consensus is something about not wanting immigrants to feel they may come to the U.S. and make the flag their own.

President Eisenhower added "Under God" in 1954 at the urging of the Knights of Columbus, who are, of course a group of Catholic men. Where is our wall between church and state? Justice Brennan sums up where it went in his group dissent (3 other justices also dissented) with the decision made in the 1984 Pawtucket Christmas display case.
As we have sought to meet new problems arising under the Establishment Clause, our decisions, with few exceptions, have demanded that a challenged governmental practice satisfy the following criteria:

First, the [practice] must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, [it] must not foster `an excessive government entanglement with religion.'" Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S., at 612 -613 [465 U.S. 668, 698]
FindLaw; Lynch vs Donnelly 465 U.S. 668 (1984)

Bringing back this type of reason-based methodology to our laws may end the puritanical ideologies that destroy our ability to establish a real culture reflective of the 21st century. Perhaps we would not be in this position if Eisenhower had only resisted the pressures of the Catholic Church.

The origin of the pledge of allegiance is a minister who apparently understood the dangers of church mingling with government.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Error in Theistic Humanism

Defining humanistic principles involves understanding the types of humanism. For simplicities sake it is convenient to categorize humanists into two types, theistic and non-theistic. There are sub-delineations of humanism--some of which I find valid--which are better left to a discussion of a different scope.

Theistic and non-theistic

I am a non-religious humanist or a thinking agnostic. Theistic humanism focuses on human needs, powers and morals, the same as the non-religious variety. I do not have the need for traditions that worship a non-evidenced based, theoretical belief system. Holding religious convictions is not entirely incompatible with the humanistic goal of understanding homo sapiens --the lone surviving species of the family Hominidae. However, humanists without a religious twist, bring a less biased worldview to this goal of understanding.

Humanism is logic

Whether someone considers himself a theistic or nontheistic humanist, this statement on Wikipedia's humanism page sums up the need for humanists to separate themselves from faith based doctrines that hinder the pursuit of truth.

During the Renaissance period in Western Europe, humanist movements attempted to demonstrate the benefit of gaining learning from classical, pre-Christian sources in and of themselves, or for secular ends such as political science and rhetoric.

Perhaps there really is something to all that hype about the Renaissance. It is natural for humans to look beyond what they are told to find the truth about our own species and the universe in general. This is especially so when illogical stories and agenda based rhetoric is presented to us as the truth. I only hope that the natural curiosity of humans will prevail over the need to take shortcuts to explain our place and meaning within the universe. Shortcuts will lead to our destruction before we are even close to the truth.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bible Courses in Texas Public Schools Teaching Fanaticism and Intolerance

Non-theists everywhere are threatened by Texas public schools bible courses. Legislation such as the 2007 Texas House Bill 1287 that promotes specific curriculum for elective bible courses in public schools violates the first amendment.Five other states: Tennessee, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina and Arizona followed suit with their own versions of the bill. Arkansas is currently considering similar legislation. This is simply outrageous on many different levels.

What is more disconcerting are findings from a Southern Methodist University study; "Reading,Writing & Religion II Texas Public School Bible Courses in 2011 – 12". This study examines course curriculum's and test questions given to Texas students.

Among the test questions are fictitious quotes such as, “The Bible is the source of liberty” attributed to Thomas Jefferson. The study goes on to point out a real Thomas Jefferson quote: “The Bible is such a book of lies and contradictions there is no knowing which part to believe or whether any.”

A Huffington Post article summarizes a few other distasteful study findings concerning teachings offered to Texas students:

"Christ's resurrection was an event that occurred in time and space -- that it was, in reality, historical and not mythological (cf. 2 Pet. 1:16)."
"Survival of the Jewish nations [sic] is one of the miracles of history and her greatest agony is yet to come."

Teachings even include that we may be living in the time of the "end of days" and that scientific evidence points to the Earth being 6,000 years old.

Keep in mind that the author of this study is an award winning, distinguished professor at a Methodist University! This man, Mark Chancey, supports religious electives and realizes the folly of these teachings. His folly is that he is devoting time to making recommendations on how to teach Christianity in a better way. The better way, seems to be his way.

Christian double standard

Any specific religious teachings in public schools are clear violations of the first amendment. My guess is that most of the people supporting this violation are also screaming the loudest about how banning an assault rifle is a violation of the second amendment.

I thought we sent our soldiers to foreign lands like Afghanistan to fight similar teachings of hate by Muslims. We place embargoes and all sorts of financial restraints on Iran for such hate speech. Yet we allow it in Texas. Is it all right to be a fanatic as long as your brand of fanaticism is the right brand?

The federal government must put a stop to "elective" bible courses in public schools before it gets worse. Maybe some Americans want to raise ignorant, intolerant children with a closet full of AR-15's but I do not think most of us do. And I know we should not have to be the ones to deal with these hate-filled children when they grow up! This is another example of how Americans do not need more religion we need more empathy

Friday, January 11, 2013

Not Believing in God but Still Going to Church

There is evidence that some Americans go to church and do not believe in God. A quote from Edwina Rogers, leader of the Secular Coalition for America, states:

"Of people who participate in religion and go every week, among the Protestants, you have about 30 percent who actually go and don't believe in God."

This comes from, of all places, CBN news.

Why would anyone do this?

There are several reasons why a person would go to church as a non-believer. I speculate that most of us can make a list of reasons that looks something like this.

• Wanting to appear to be a "good" person
• Feeling obligated to take children to church
• Thinking they need to in order to get a better job, promotion, more sales, etc.
• Fear of being ostracized by friends or family

Most humans have a need to feel like they are a part of something. Expanding the appeal of organizations such as the Secular Coalition of America can assist in providing alternatives for churchgoers with questionable motivations.

Perhaps one day we will have organizations like the University of Kansas' Society of Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics having meetings and donation centers throughout our cities. Perhaps we could have legitimate inquiries and debates concerning real issues such as gun violence and evolution without interjecting religion. Humans are problem solvers, and humanists are able to solve problems from a less biased perspective.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Newport Tragedy Not Because of Lack of God

I have seen several stories and Mike Huckabee taking advantage of the tragedy at Sandy Hook to promote a bring God back to our public institutions agenda. While I believe that, for the most part, these people shave good intentions, I think they are misguided and displaying bad taste by infusing a political agenda into the aftermath of a tragedy. These things do not happen because of a lack of God. The only political talk should focus on specifically protecting our children and our public areas in general without adding more gross human rights violations to our daily routine.

Most non-theists, such as humanists, understand that people have control over their own behavior. The vast majority of us have a moral code built in as part of our collective unconscious, or at least an understanding that if we violate major human moral codes there will be consequences ranging from a lack of friends to a death sentence.

I do not have the answers, but bickering over religion is certainly not going to save any lives. I do have some opinions on the causes of what I see as a lack of passion for our fellow humans in the United States. They have more to do with how we have allowed others to provide for us and tell us how we need to take make more money at any cost, even if it means moving across the country from our families. We can only find these answers within ourselves and until we, as a society become less accepting of simple greed and rudeness, unfortunately these tragedies will not recede.

Then again, we are all human, and there will always be those of us who do things that defy logic and reason.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Humanists Help With Hurricane Sandy Recovery

Humans have intrinsic "goodness" that is overlooked or even overshadowed by irrational belief in mythologies. Highlighting this is the recent efforts for humanist related organizations to come together to help those suffering from the aftermath of hurricane Sandy.

The Secular Coalition for America is an excellent organization for those of us wanting to support issues, people and causes that promote separation of church and state as well as other freedoms. They put out a list of ways we can help with the aftermath of Sandy . Included is the the New York City Atheists blood drive and other non religious based foundations and drives that we can donate our services and money to.

Humanists, agnostics and atheists should not be scared away from community service or simply helping one another because many organizations that help or purport to help are religious based. In my opinion, non-theist organizations will attract more well meaning and productive people to provide real help, than their theist counterparts will. Humanists, with their internal motivation, do not have to do just enough to save their souls or look good for their congregation.

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