Humanism seems like a practical ethical philosophy to me. A way to develop the appropriate acts of morality in life grounded in a scientific and physicalist interpretation of the world — granting the strange interpretations of the ‘physical’.
The foundational aspects of the world seem to be the physical, the material, or the atomistic. A world built on atoms, for most intents and purposes, with construction into the material or the physical. That is, the atomistic, by precise definitions from physics, of the world into the apparent material or physical sensed, perceived, and conceived from evolved organs and capacities.
With the diminishment, or reduction, in the viability of the philosophy of the supernatural, not necessarily the metaphysical, conception of the world, the diminishment of the supernaturalist, transcendentalist, philosophies appears, not only palpable, but understandable too.
Religion in the advanced societies continues to diminish — but over generations — and will continue to attenuate with more time, based on projections by Pew Research Center. Its diminishment seems a pity, and one with a silver lining.
I pity the loss of parts of culture because of the grafting nature of most religions. By which I mean, they graft onto the surrounding society, and so culture with the social-cultural, and even the political, life. With the loss of religion, then, comes the loss of culture, religions also give community; religions build it. They even maintain it, but they also destroy or co-opt, it.
This natural diminishment of faith based on the dominance of the young one in town, on the global stage: science and its frameworks. The empirical knowledge and the theories that encapsulate them. These theories and frameworks overrun the supernaturalist philosophies, probably on functional truths.
Things work. In a physicalist sense, they run. These intellectually robust, but emotionally unsatisfying, theories, not on purpose but by the supplanting of the assertions of the past, then dominate the culture. Science is more objective than the faiths, and more hard-edged in its interpretation of the world.
The naturalist, not by assumption but through the slow, steady, accumulation of support, perspective becomes the best represented of the world, and so us and our placement in the cosmos. The ethic follows from this.
A moral authority from the ground state of religion; its ashes. As the quantity of the religious declines, and the scientific revolution — centuries in the making — continues to move forward, the liberalization of religion will continue, mostly, unabated as well.
Humanism, or humanist-like, ethical philosophies, ways of practical or pragmatic living, will grow as mushrooms out of the rot of the others. Maybe, even as things are minor now, it is time for a change in the interpretation of the world and the relation of people, one to another and, to the world.
What does this mean for pragmatic living? It means knowing the times, and the nature of the institutions around us. Acting in good conscience based on the limitations in energy, knowledge, and time, then taking the responsibility of the possible negative even in the apparent, at the time, positive, from drinking coffee or not, to who to partner with for life, or not.
Original Publication in Humanist Voices.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.
I’m quite sure that culture will fare quite well without the auspices of religion and will in fact flourish.
While religion currently contaminates many aspects of our secular society its loss will not be mourned and I suspect future generations will look back in bewilderment at how we allowed this toxic mix of bronze age snuff porn to control our lives.