A time to reflect on summer solstice, of coming out of the shadows of the infancy of our species to this, the longest day in the Northern Hemisphere. Whilst people dance at stonehenge channeling the sprits of our ancestors, being a pagan at least for the day, or an excuse to party under the auspices of an ancient heritage, there is something else to say.
Today is world humanist day – the timing could not have been better chosen. Because here in the north the days will become shorter, whilst in the Southern Hemisphere the days will become lighter. The perspectives on humanism, depending on where you are situated philosophically speaking see humanism either as an ethical movement of thought and action, or as a godless attempt at morality destined to fail without acknowledging the need to recognise the divine. One reaches out to science as best hope of improving conditions for humanity, the other that the ultimate goal is to be one with God. We are either a means for a greater eternity that awaits, or this really is your one and only shot at life and consciousness.
Thus today is an opportunity for humanism to showcase that the light of the enlightenment burns brightly still, that there are people who care for their communities and beyond them without hope of reward in the next life, or out of fear of a revengeful deity. That the duties we owe to each other are based on the bonds of shared experience of human desires and needs – we are not free to be as we will but rather social beings in need of an existence that provides for the welfare for all to thrive as this allows us to prosper in turn. Only by living in such a society can we achieve a sense of freedom.
The God concept goes against this notion of freedom. Rather, it is used by people who claim to know directly, or to understand those that did once know, how you should and should not behave. What you should eat, whether medical treatment is permissible, what should turn you on – they will continue to insist on these things based on opinions and assertions by people who did not understand nutrition, human biology and sexuality as we now do.
In their arrogance to speak for the divine they would make us ignorant of the advances of science and human thought that have happened. The enemies of reason will even suggest that science threatens the natural order, and will open the floodgates to immorality – destroying civilisation.
History shows that argument has played over the centuries. We are imperfect, falling short of the ideals we can develop. The answer though is not to consider ourselves as wretched sinful creatures needful of redemption and grace. It is to strive to be better than we are to learn more, not because we will ever be perfect, but because by doing so we are making the world we live in better. Thus a sense of purpose and meaning exists for humanists.
However you are celebrating or marking today, may you be good for goodness sake as you continually look to lead the good life.
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Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog