I decided (after listening to a "talk radio" commentator who abused, vilified, and scorned every noble cause to which I had devoted my entire life) that I was both a humanist and a liberal, each of the most dangerous and vilified type. I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create a reasonably decent society. I am terrified of restrictive religious doctrine, having learned from history that when men who adhere to any form of it are in control, common men like me are in peril. I do not believe that pure reason can solve the perpetual problems unless it is modified by poetry and art and social vision. So I am a humanist. And if you want to charge me with being the most virulent kind-a secular humanist-I accept the accusation. [Interview, Parade magazine, 24 November 1991]
James A. Michener
As one who knows many things, the humanist loves the world precisely because of its manifold nature and the opposing forces in itdo not frighten him. Nothing is further from him than the desire to resolve such conflictsand this is precisely the mark of the humanist spirit: not to evaluate contrasts as hostility but to seek human unity, that superior unity, for all that appears irreconcilable.
I consider myself spiritual and I'm married to a man who is both an atheist and a humanist, and my kids have been raised with the traditions of different religions, but they do not go to church or temple. My feeling is that everyone should be able to believe what they want or need to believe.
I have no notions of a perfect society, I don't know what that means. I know we can do much better than what we've got, I'm no utopian, I'm not a humanist that would like to see everybody living in warmth and harmony: I know that if we don't live that way, we'll kill each other and destroy the Earth.
It is imperative for many branches of fundamentalist christianity to constantly feel conspired against...so they cite humanist manifestos and theosophical societies and concoct these vast and dark organizations that exist nowhere but in the minds of those who conceive these theories.
J. Michael Straczynski
About belief or lack of belief in an afterlife: Some of you may know that I am neither Christian nor Jewish nor Buddist, nor a conventionally religious person of any sort. I am a humanist, which mean, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I'm dead.
I'm a humanist. I always believed, even with Cirque du Soliel, that this is my way to contribute to a better world. I believe I'm very privileged, but many people face the reality when they wake up in the morning of not having food or a glass of water. Life's been good to me, and I believe you have to feed the circle of life.
Absolutists frighten me. During all the endless discussions on my blog about evolution , intelligent design, God , and the afterworld, numbering altogether thousands of comments, I have never named my beliefs , although readers have freely informed me that I am an atheist , and agnostic , or at the very least a secular humanist which I am.
With the development of industrial capitalism, a new and unanticipated system of injustice, it is libertarian socialism that has preserved and extended the radical humanist message of the Enlightenment and the classical liberal ideals that were perverted into an ideology to sustain the emerging social order.
The trouble with me is, Treece thought, that I'm a liberal humanist who believes in original sin. I think of man as a noble creature who has only to extend himself to the full range of his powers to be civilized and good; yet his performance by and large has been intrinsically evil and could be more so as the extension continues.
Existentialism is no mournful delectation but a humanist philosophy of action, effort, combat, and solidarity. Man must create his own essence: it is in throwing himself into the world, suffering there, struggling there, that he gradually defines say what this man is before he dies, or what mankind is before it has disappeared.
Humanism is an approach to life which encourages ethical and fulfilling living on the basis of reason and humanity, and rejects superstition and religion. The most immediate impact of living as a Humanist is that we believe this life is all there is - so what we do and the choices we make really count.
Each of us, even the lowliest and most insignificant among us, was uprooted from his innermost existence by the almost constant volcanic upheavals visited upon our European soil and, as one of countless human beings, I can't claim any special place for myself except that, as an Austrian, a Jew, writer, humanist and pacifist, I have always been precisely in those places where the effects of the thrusts were most violent.
Only rarely do we see beyond the needs of humanity, and he linked this blindness to our Christian and humanist infrastructure. It arose 2,000 years ago and was then benign, and we were no significant threat to Gaia. Now that we are over six billion hungry and greedy individuals, all aspiring to a first-world lifestyle, our urban way of life encroaches upon the domain of the living Earth.
For those who struggle with anti-pagan prejudices and stereotypes, Humanist Paganism might be a powerful educational tool. It can show that a pagan can be a sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and enlightened person, and that a pagan culture can be artistically vibrant, environmentally conscious, intellectually stimulating, and socially just.
And I guess, I guess it's a humanist film. It's not really a spiritual film and it's, you know, it's saying that we're all one tribe of humans and we're on this little rock, floating through the universe and (Amenabar) has these (transitional shots of) POVs where you see humans like ants.
For the Humanist, . . . head and heart . . . must function together. . . . The constitution of the Phillips Exeter Academy reads: 'Though goodness without knowledge . . . is weak and feeble, yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous. . . . Both united form the noblest character and lay the surest foundation of usefulness to mankind.'
I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create reasonably decent societies. I think that young people who want to understand the world can profit from the works of Plato and Socrates, the behaviour of the three Thomases, Aquinas, More and Jefferson - the austere analyses of Immanuel Kant and the political leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.
James A. Michener
Publishing has gone very middlebrow. It's turned its back on legacy of modernism and gone into a humanist mode. When people go through art school they are exposed to the history of the avant-garde, and there's a general understanding that what you're doing as an artist is to a large extent, not just regurgitating that history, but engaging with it. There's this denial of that in the mainstream publishing world.
Albert Camus, a great humanist and existentialist voice, pointed out that to commit to a just cause with no hope of success is absurd. But then, he also noted that not committing to a just cause is equally absurd. But only one choice offers the possibility for dignity. And dignity matters. Dignity matters.
Our humanist community should be thinking more about demonstrating the fundamental truth that goodness requires neither God nor the belief in God by organizing together as a community to do good. Less money spent on billboards that just make us feel good about ourselves and more on soup kitchens and organized visits to the sick and dying.
I am a humanist because I think humanity can, with constant moral guidance, create reasonably decent societies. I think that young people who want to understand the world can profit from the works of Plato and Socrates, the behaviour of the three Thomases, Aquinas, More and Jefferson - the austere analyses of Immanuel Kant and the political leadership of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. [The World Is My Home (1991)]
James A. Michener
John Hodgson can describe Richard Dawkins's atheism as vacuous only because 'atheist' is a term which non-believers use purely as a polemical convenience when we have to define concisely what we don't believe [... ]. No atheist is principally that. What we'd want to call ourselves is humanist or materialist, or biologist or linguist, or for that matter socialist, because one or more of these, or something else again, is what we do and think and are. We have 'purely and simply finished with God', to adapt a phrase of Engels's.
When people say to me, 'Why are you so good at writing at women?' I say, 'Why isn't everybody?' Obviously there are differences between men and women - that's what makes it all fun. But we're all people. There's a lot of good writers who are very humanist, but still manage to kind of skip fifty-five per cent of the race. And I just don't get that. Not to be able to write an entire gender? To me, the question isn't how do you do it? It's how can you possibly avoid doing it?
We must realize that the Reformation world view leads in the direction of government freedom. But the humanist world view with inevitable certainty leads in the direction of statism. This is so because humanists, having no god, must put something at the center, and it is inevitably society, government, or the state.
Francis A. Schaeffer
Today the separation of church and state in America is used to silence the church. When Christians speak out on issues, the hue and cry from the humanist state and media is that Christians, an all religions, are prohibited from speaking since there is a separation of church and state.
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or agnostic. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.
Our faith in democracy, personal freedoms and human 'rights', and the other comforting prescriptions of the humanist liberal credo stem from the supremacy of maritime over territorial power. Pragmatists may deplore this as crude determinism, as another vain attempt to construct a general theory of history. They should reflect on the sort of political philosophy and structures we might now adhere to had the Habsburgs, Bourbons, Bonaparte, Hitler, Stalin or his heirs prevailed in the titanic world struggles of the past four centuries.
It is arguable that when Humanists, "Shook off," as people say, "the trammels of religion," and discovered things of this world as objects of veneration in their own right... they began to lose the finer appreciation of even the world itself. Thus to the Christian centuries, the flesh was holy (or sacer at least in one sense or the other), and they veiled its awful majesty; to the Humanist centuries it was divine in its own right, and they exhibited it. Now it is the commonplace of the magazine cover. It has lost its numen. So too with the cult of knowledge for its own sake declining from the Revival of Learning to the Brains Trust.
Dorothy L. Sayers
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.
Absolute Evil is not the kingdom of hell. The inhabitants of hell are ourselves, i.e., those who pay our painful, embarrassing, humanistic duties to society and who are compromised by our intellectually dubious commitment to virtue, which can be defined by the perpetual smear-word of French polemic: the bourgeois. (Bourgeois equals humanist.) This word has long been anathema in France where categories are part of the ruling notion of logique. The word cannot be readily matched in England or America.
V. S. Pritchett
Although I'm not Christian, I was raised Christian. I'm an atheist, with a slight Buddhist leaning. I've got a very strong sense of morality - it's just a different morality than the loud voices of the Christian morality.... I can't tell you how many films I've turned down because there was an absence of morality. And I don't mean that from any sort of Judeo-Christian-Muslim point of view. I'm not saying they're wrong and can't be made. But, fundamentally, I'm such a humanist that I can't bear to make films that make us feel humanity is more dark than it is light.
The medieval period based its scriptural exegesis upon the Vulgate translation of the Bible. There was no authorized version of this text, despite the clear need for a standardized text that had been carefully checked against its Hebrew and Greek originals. A number of versions of the text were in circulation, their divergences generally being overlooked. It was not until 1592 than an 'official' version of the text was produced by the church authorities, sensitive to the challenges to the authority of the Vulgate by Renaissance humanist scholars and Protestant theologians.
Alister E. McGrath
It's no understatement that the church has done a poor job in teaching our young people that reason and faith are not opposites, and that atheists are far from being on the side of reason. You can find on our website a chart which I use to demonstrate the various worldviews work out, and which one, Christianity, is rational. Many kids, however, who grow up huddled in a Christian environment find themselves in the university setting completely unequipped to defend the rationality of the Christian faith against the secular humanist worldview so prevalent on college campuses.
But it doesn't happen that way, I keep telling myself knowingly and sadly. Only in our fraternity pledges and masonic inductions, our cowboy movies and magazine stories, not in our real-life lives. For, the seventeenth-century humanist to the contrary, each man is an island complete unto himself, and as he sinks, the moving feet go on around him, from nowhere to nowhere and with no time to lose. The world is long past the Boy Scout stage of its development; now each man dies as he was meant to die, and as he was born, and as he lived: alone, all alone. Without any God, without any hope, without any record to show for his life. ("New York Blues")
How do we negotiate between my history and yours? How would it be possible for us to recover our commonality, not the ambiguous imperial-humanist myth of those shard human (and indeed also most divine) attributes that are supposed to distinguish us absolutely from animals but, more significant, the imbrications of our various pasts and presents, the ineluctable relationships of shred and contested meanings, values, and material resources? It is necessary to assert our dense particularities, our lived and imagined differences; but can we afford to leave untheorized the question of how our differences are intertwined and, indeed, hierarchically organized? Could we, in other words, afford to have entirely different histories, to see ourselves living - and having lived - in entirely heterogenous and discrete spaces?
Satya P. Mohanty
I bid you welcome to a new Utopia where men may be free of the so-called moral subjugations and constraints, and where for a time we may shake off those bonds of servitude wherein we are so tyrrannously enslaved." "You are the humanist, George, not I- what the deuce does he natter on about?" "Mostly whores and Booze, " George replied with a grin. Sandwidh contined while rapping once more upon the door, "Man is led into vice only when he is denied, my friends; for it is his nature to long after things forbidden and to desire most fervently what is denied." "Another translation?" Philip asked George. "Whores and booze... in boundless supply." "Ah, "Philip said. "I stand in renewed appreciation of the philosophers.
As I see it the world is undoubtedly in need of a new religion, and that religion must be founded on humanist principles. When I say religion, I do not mean merely a theology involving belief in a supernatural god or gods; nor do I mean merely a system of ethics, however exalted; nor only scientific knowledge, however extensive; nor just a practical social morality, however admirable or efficient. I mean an organized system of ideas and emotions which relate man to his destiny, beyond and above the practical affairs of every day, transcending the present and the existing systems of law and social structure. The prerequisite today is that any such religion shall appeal potentially to all mankind; and that its intellectual and rational sides shall not be incompatible with scientific knowledge but on the contrary based on it.
In the humanist world following Erasmus, man is at the centre of the universe. Man becomes largely responsible for his own destiny, behaviour and future. This is the new current of thought which finds its manifestation in the writing of the 1590s and the decades which follow. The euphoria of Elizabeth's global affirmation of authority was undermined in these years by intimations of mortality: in 1590 she was 57 years old. No one could tell how much longer her golden age would last; hence, in part, Spenser's attempts to analyse and encapsulate that glory in an epic of the age. This concern about the death of a monarch who - as Gloriana, the Virgin Queen - was both symbol and totem, underscores the deeper realisation that mortality is central to life. After the Reformation, the certainties of heaven and hell were less clear, more debatable, more uncertain.
The matter on which I judge people is their willingness, or ability, to handle contradiction. Thus Paine was better than Burke when it came to the principle of the French revolution, but Burke did and said magnificent things when it came to Ireland, India and America. One of them was in some ways a revolutionary conservative and the other was a conservative revolutionary. It's important to try and contain multitudes. One of my influences was Dr Israel Shahak, a tremendously brave Israeli humanist who had no faith in collectivist change but took a Spinozist line on the importance of individuals. Gore Vidal's admirers, of whom I used to be one and to some extent remain one, hardly notice that his essential critique of America is based on Lindbergh and 'America First'-the most conservative position available. The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has-from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject party-mindedness.
For the humanists, whatever authority Scripture might possess derived from the original texts in their original languages, rather than from the Vulgate, which was increasingly recognized as unreliable and inaccurate. In that the catholic church continued to insist that the Vulgate was a doctrinally normative translation, a tension inevitably developed between humanist biblical scholarship and catholic theology... Through immediate access to the original text in the original language, the theologian could wrestle directly with the 'Word of God, ' unhindered by 'filters' of glosses and commentaries that placed the views of previous interpreters between the exegete and the text. For the Reformers, 'sacred philology' provided the key by means of which the theologian could break free from the confines of medieval exegesis and return ad fontes to the title deeds of the Christian faith rather than their medieval expressions, to forge once more the authentic theology of the early church.
Alister E. McGrath
For Socrates, all virtues were forms of knowledge. To train someone to manage an account for Goldman Sachs is to educate him or her in a skill. To train them to debate stoic, existential, theological, and humanist ways of grappling with reality is to educate them in values and morals. A culture that does not grasp the vital interplay between morality and power, which mistakes management techniques for wisdom, which fails to understand that the measure of a civilization is its compassion, not its speed or ability to consume, condemns itself to death. Morality is the product of a civilization, but the elites know little of these traditions. They are products of a moral void. They lack clarity about themselves and their culture. They can fathom only their own personal troubles. They do not see their own bases or the causes of their own frustrations. They are blind to the gaping inadequacies in our economic, social, and political structure and do not grasp that these structures, which they have been taught to serve, must be radically modified or even abolished to stave off disaster. They have been rendered mute and ineffectual. 'What we cannot speak about' Ludwig Wittgenstein warned 'we must pass over in silence.
How can one person be more real than any other? Well, some people do hide and others seek. Maybe those who are in hiding - escaping encounters, avoiding surprises, protecting their property, ignoring their fantasies, restricting their feelings, sitting out the pan pipe hootchy-kootch of experience - maybe those people, people who won't talk to rednecks, or if they're rednecks won't talk to intellectuals, people who're afraid to get their shoes muddy or their noses wet, afraid to eat what they crave, afraid to drink Mexican water, afraid to bet a long shot to win, afraid to hitchhike, jaywalk, honky-tonk, cogitate, osculate, levitate, rock it, bop it, sock it, or bark at the moon, maybe such people are simply inauthentic, and maybe the jacklet humanist who says differently is due to have his tongue fried on the hot slabs of Liar's Hell. Some folks hide, and some folk's seek, and seeking, when it's mindless, neurotic, desperate, or pusillanimous can be a form of hiding. But there are folks who want to know and aren't afraid to look and won't turn tail should they find it - and if they never do, they'll have a good time anyway because nothing, neither the terrible truth nor the absence of it, is going to cheat them out of one honest breath of Earth's sweet gas.
After moving his family from Yakima to Paradise, California, in 1958, he enrolled at Chico State College. There, he began an apprenticeship under the soon-to-be-famous John Gardner, the first "real writer" he had ever met. "He offered me the key to his office, " Carver recalled in his preface to Gardner's On Becoming a Novelist (1983). "I see that gift now as a turning point." In addition, Gardner gave his student "close, line-by-line criticism" and taught him a set of values that was "not negotiable." Among these values were convictions that Carver held until his death. Like Gardner, whose On Moral Fiction (1978) decried the "nihilism" of postmodern formalism, Carver maintained that great literature is life-connected, life-affirming, and life-changing. "In the best fiction, " he wrote "the central character, the hero or heroine, is also the 'moved' character, the one to whom something happens in the story that makes a difference. Something happens that changes the way that character looks at himself and hence the world." Through the 1960s and 1970s he steered wide of the metafictional "funhouse" erected by Barth, Barthelme and Company, concentrating instead on what he called "those basics of old-fashioned storytelling: plot, character, and action." Like Gardner and Chekhov, Carver declared himself a humanist. "Art is not self-expression, " he insisted, "it's communication.
William L. Stull