Secular humanist– equals but separate

by | March 4, 2015

I was recently reading various articles on the Internet about Secular Humanist Judaism. Various atheists I have known in person are proud to be referred to as a cultural Jew; that is they may keep some of the trappings such as some of the food and customs, but do not at all take the notion of a God seriously– We all know someone like that and there are lots of famous examples too. That got me thinking about the concept of a Secular Humanist Christian. What would that be like? I think it would be a lot like most of us. Either we grew up with religion or we studied the bible as part of our English writing heritage, we listen to religiously themed music, look at religious Christian art because we happen to enjoy art. Perhaps if we did not try to mix the concept of atheism with that of Judaism as we never mention our (most of us?) Christian heritage in our atheism, we’d not be having the charge of Islamaphobia levied against us.

Think about it. Is someone still an anti-Semite if a bigot defaces a star of David symbol on a cultural Jew’s front living window? After all this cultural Jew is an atheist not a believer. A bigot is a bigot and I’d like to think they weren’t an atheist but, it is still possible they are isn’t it? What about the case of a cultural Jew on social media publishing a star of David and they get attacked by a horde of angry sounding atheists who mistakenly think they are a believer? Are the atheists now antisemitic? The point here is we as a society have already conflated religion and theism, at least with Judaism. I think we never notice this because the majority of us in this society are cultural Christians.

Is it then possible that there exist Secular Humanist Muslims and we have an exact parallel with that of Cultural Judaism? Yes, of course. I personally know a Secular Humanist Muslim. He is fond of reciting portions of the Koran and he loves some of the culture as we ourselves — As Cultural Christians often like portions of the Bible. After all, Dawkins talks about the beauty of some poetry from the KJV. This would explain the reticence of the Left to criticise non-Christian religions. We (Cultural Christians), like it or not are in the majority.

This understanding I think is necessary to help us deal properly with the threats from organizations such as the Muslim Action Forum (MAF). We must be able to demonstrate a proper separation of criticism of religion from the criticism of people themselves and, that criticizing such things as the ‘metzitzah b’peh’ or oral suction during a circumcision is not anti-Semitic. We are also in danger of having a blasphemy law that protects only the Christian religion modified to cover all religions.

4 thoughts on “Secular humanist– equals but separate

  1. Heather Hastie

    Very interesting. I think we must always be careful to criticize the idea and not the person. The problem I see is that for some people their ideas are so deeply held, they’re unable to allow criticism of them. Further, when the supernatural becomes involved, they believe their actions in defence of their beliefs are essential to their whole future alive and dead. Freedom of speech is a relatively new concept, and a lot of people don’t really know how to handle it. There can be a very fine line between criticism and abuse. Ideas though are a choice, unlike race, sexuality, gender (mostly), nationality, so there is a difference between criticizing a religion and something like homophobia.

    1. Diane Bruce Post author

      Yes of course to all. The point here is, with some people it’s the culture, not the supernatural that binds them into a church. Social groups such as a church are very powerful tools for good and evil. Those of us who live in Eastern Canada are seeing the evolution of churches (Dennett) into non supernatural institutions, just look at the work of Greta Vosper and the rise of Sunday Assembly.

  2. Eric Adriaans

    Point number seven of Bertrand Russell’s essay “What is an Agnostic?” (I happened to be reading that essay a few days ago and have the book at hand) asks “Can an Agnostic be a Christian?” One might as well insert “atheist” for “agnostic” in that question. Russell seemed to think that it depends greatly on what you mean by “Christian”; he also focussed on the question from an ethical standpoint rather than a cultural one.

    Whether people embrace or reject parts (or the whole) of their cultural identity or heritage – I think all people want to live in a society that does not victimize people based on identity or heritage; nor do people wish to be victimized for their thoughts or for exercising their rights and freedoms.

    To really advance, people need to understand that their own freedom from victimization is permanently and completely fixed to the freedom from victimization of every other person.

    1. Diane Bruce Post author

      I saw the exact same argument but applied to ‘cultural Jew’ from online atheists. I read a nice article on it as well.

      You are exactly right, all people want to live in a nicer society. What I am really pointing out here is we have moved on from a toxic religion to a tamer ‘de-fanged’ religion with a large part of eastern Canada.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.