Constructing an Ethical System from Scratch
Becoming and adult when no one teaches you how.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like a fraud. A lot. Mentally, I’m still 12 years old. When my son’s friends are in the house, I have to remind myself, wait – I’m the adult here. How the heck did that happen?
At the ripe old of age of 48 – I should have my sh*t together already. And mostly I do. Actually, I’ve pretty much been functioning well now for almost my entire adult life.
I was lucky – I had parents who helped me develop a good ethical system and who taught me how to think and make good decisions based on that ethical system so that when I’ve had to make decisions on my own, I’ve done a pretty good job of it. So while I might feel like a 12 year old fraud pretending to be an adult, the reality is I’m a pretty good adult.
Continue reading “Are you starting from scratch?”
Why we are afraid to speak up
Standing up for yourself even when you risk retaliation.
I am a Humanist and a realist. While I would love it if everyone was civil and disagreements were handled, respectfully, I also live in the real world. And in the real world people can be kind of nasty.
One of the courses I offer through Humanist Learning Systems is a NO FEAR Act training. This is a training required for all members of the US government every two years. It is a form of mandatory anti-harassment training. The NO FEAR Act is an acronym for The Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act.
Continue reading “Lose your fear – speak up”
Are you a good person?
Why striving to be good will help you be happy.
Being good is a moral judgement. And the funny thing about morality is it is all about how we judge other people. Other people either help us or hurt us. If they help us – we deem them good. If they hurt us – we deem them bad. These moral judgements are entirely subjective based on our own feelings and perspective centered on what is good for us.
This is why it’s so darned difficult to define what it means to be good. We know how we would like to be treated, but that doesn’t mean other people want to be treated that way.
Continue reading “Are you a good person?”
Politics and Critical Thinking
Can we stop electing politicians who aren’t smart enough to think of the consequences of their proposals before they propose them?
Recently, the Oklahoma legislature proposed eliminating civil marriage. (see: http://www.snopes.com/politics/sexuality/okmarriage.asp) Their reasoning for this bill is that they don’t want the state to approve gay marriage. Whether this bill will ever pass the senate or be signed into law by the governor is up for debate. What I want to discuss is why critical thinking skills are important in politics.
Let’s say you agree with the premise of this bill. You don’t want gays to get married for whatever reason you have and since gay marriage is now legal, you think the best way to avoid having gays get married is to ban civil marriages.
Continue reading “We need to elect better politicians”
Using Reason to Your Advantage
Everything happens for a reason. What are your reasons?
There is a meme going around the internet – everything happens for a reason and sometimes the reason is that you were stupid and made a bad decision. Can’t argue with that.
Given that things happen for a reason and that sometimes the reason is because we made a bad decision, we should probably try to stop making bad decisions. This is easier said than done. Which is why using your faculty of reason is so darned important.
Reason is defined as: the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic. There is a reason why this definition of reason (ie: the power to think) is tied linguistically to the definition of reason as causal. Reason is both the thought of whether we should do something and the act of actual doing that causes whatever it is to happen.
Continue reading “What’s your reason?”
Freethought and Free Speech – the danger of thinking for yourself
What is so wrong with thought or speech that the retaliation is by assault and murder?
I am obviously a Humanist. This is a Humanist blog. On it I discuss politics, personal welfare, personal relationships, democracy, freedom and human rights. I do this because I care about the welfare of people. Not just people I know, all PEOPLE.
And it’s really hard to care if you don’t take an interest in things that affect them. Like taxation, and schools, and health care and human and civil rights.
And while we aren’t necessarily anti-religious, we most definitely are when religion is used to justify the oppression of people. Which is probably why Humanist activists are getting murdered around the world.
Continue reading “Freethought and Free Speech”
Of Bondage and Humanism
Why are we so turned on by abusive sexual images? Should we be?
My friend and fellow Humanist Toni Van Pelt wrote an essay about her thoughts on the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon. (See: http://instituteforscienceandhumanvalues.com/index_htm_files/An%20enforcement%20tool%20final.pdf)
As a Humanist, I am all for individuals exploring their sexuality in whatever way they want. What they do and choose to do with other consenting adults is their business, not mine. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions on whether or not any given particular sexual pursuit will lead to happiness or not.
Continue reading “Humanism, Sex & Bondage”
What to do if angry atheism isn’t working for you
My Humanism is not a secret. I am quite open about it. It’s what I do. I’m also an atheist. I don’t make a secret about that either. I’ve been atheist since I was a teenager and before that I was agnostic. I was never a believer.
I meet a lot of people in the course of my work. Some are very comfortable in their faith and they are looking for ways to improve their thinking and ways to integrate their values more thoroughly into their day to day lives. Some are people who are questioning their faith and are looking for ways to build an ethical system to replace the one that isn’t working well for them. And still others have abandoned their faith altogether and are looking for a way to express their secular values without the anger that dominates the “angry atheist” movement. It is to this last group that this essay is addressed.
For those of you who have found atheism but who are looking for a way to be atheist without being angry. I’ve got great news for you. There is no right way to be an atheist. Some atheists are angry – sure. Some aren’t. It’s the same with every group actually. As my dad always says – no group corners the market in stupidity.
Continue reading “There is a better way”