Sunday, November 2, 2014

Humanism - Traditional Tool of Religious Philosophy

Muhammad Rasheed – “In modern times, humanist movements are typically aligned with secularism and with non-theistic religions. Historically however, this was not always the case.”

Jeremy Travis - What was the case?

Danny Bronson - Give a reference...let me look it up.

Muhammad Rasheed - Many medieval Muslim thinkers pursued humanistic, rational and scientific discourses in their search for knowledge, meaning and values. A wide range of Islamic writings on love, poetry, history and philosophical theology show that medieval Islamic thought was open to the humanistic ideas of individualism, occasional secularism, skepticism, and liberalism.

According to Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, another reason the Islamic world flourished during the Middle Ages was an early emphasis on freedom of speech, as summarised by al-Hashimi (a cousin of Caliph al-Ma'mun) in the following letter to one of the religious opponents he was attempting to convert through reason:

"Bring forward all the arguments you wish and say whatever you please and speak your mind freely. Now that you are safe and free to say whatever you please appoint some arbitrator who will impartially judge between us and lean only towards the truth and be free from the empery of passion, and that arbitrator shall be Reason, whereby God makes us responsible for our own rewards and punishments. Herein I have dealt justly with you and have given you full security and am ready to accept whatever decision Reason may give for me or against me. For "There is no compulsion in religion" (Qur'an 2:256) and I have only invited you to accept our faith willingly and of your own accord and have pointed out the hideousness of your present belief. Peace be with you and the blessings of God!"

According to George Makdisi, certain aspects of Renaissance humanism has its roots in the medieval Islamic world, including the "art of dictation, called in Latin, ars dictaminis", and "the humanist attitude toward classical language". [from Wiki]
 
Bakkah Rasheed-Shabazz - Rhetoric was based upon truthfulness instead of the modern use of deception like Mitt's confusion of the facts in the presidential campaign debate. All claims had to supported by documented fact, and no showboating was allowed.

Danny Bronson - But, the humanists sects were never mainstream relative to the main theistic religions. They appear to be more marginal.

Muhammad Rasheed - The status quote is pointing out that the concept of 'humanism' wasn't traditionally equated with anti-God or anti-religion mindsets, but focused on the human principles within religion over the supernatural aspects. Only in more modern times did the humanist movements become normally of a secular bent, pushed in that direction from the influence of the British Royal Society.

Humanism doesn't equal secular/atheist, but is a very specific list of focused items that secular atheists took on as their own cause later.

Muhammad Rasheed - In other words, the secular atheists don't have a monopoly over humanist philosophies.

Muhammad Rasheed - Warith D. Mohammed, the heir to his father's original Nation of Islam organization, and founder of the African-American "American Muslim Mission" was a popular "humanist-theist" for example, strongly emphasizing the human side of the Islamic faith over the spirit.

Danny Bronson - I get that. I have a hard time equating the new bent on atheism as humanist. It seems to me to be more like fundamentalist secularism. But I have seen more humanist ideals being presented by traditional religions.

Danny Bronson - I used to listen to WD Muhammad back in the 1990s when I was being introduced to Islam by some brothers in Fayetteville. I never converted but I did attend mosque.

Muhammad Rasheed - Danny Bronson wrote: "I get that. I have a hard time equating the new bent on atheism as humanist. It seems to me to be more like fundamentalist secularism. But I have seen more humanist ideals being presented by traditional religions."

Right, and that's what the status quote is talking about. Traditionally, a humanist mindset has been firmly expressed within religious philosophies, and they were never diametrically opposed to each other. That idea is an artificial rivalry, similar to the idea that religion and science are bitter rivals. Again it was the British Royal Society's efforts responsible for that rift as well (and exacerbated by the Protestant "American frontier" mindset).

Muhammad Rasheed - Danny Bronson wrote: "I used to listen to WD Muhammad back in the 1990s when I was being introduced to Islam by some brothers in Fayetteville."

My folks were totally into him, and my Ma above still is. I always thought he went a little TOO far in his emphasis of humanity over the spirit and he made me uncomfortable with it, even as a teen. I feel he would cross a line sometimes that in my opinion didn't reflect the primary point of the message of scripture, that's why I don't consider myself a follower of his.

Danny Bronson - Maybe that's why I dug him. And another guy, naim akbar...I used to enjoy him too...

Danny Bronson - Still like Akbar.

Muhammad Rasheed - I think WD Mohammed's strength was in encouraging the building of an economically empowered community. Na'im Akbar's strength was in making the principals of his psychological field an assessable tool for those same community builders, enabling them to undo the inferiority complex indoctrination of a fundamentally racist society.

Danny Bronson - Articulated well.

Jeremy Travis - Where modern atheists and secularists espouse humanism is in attempting to explain moral behavior without tying it to the supernatural. There are natural reasons why 'good' is good and 'bad' is bad and it seems that humanism explains and expresses that understanding pretty well. It surely does better than religious fundamentalists who essentially feel that anything goes if it comes from 'on high', depending on how they define and understand the concept of 'on high'.

Muhammad Rasheed - Jeremy Travis wrote: “Where modern atheists and secularists espouse humanism is in attempting to explain moral behavior without tying it to the supernatural.”

Honestly our behavior isn’t tied to the supernatural, that’s the point of Free Will; we are free to perform however way we are moved to on earth. “Tying it to the supernatural” sounds like a Disney movie.

Jeremy Travis wrote: “There are natural reasons why 'good' is good and 'bad' is bad and it seems that humanism explains and expresses that understanding pretty well.”

On the terrestrial side I fail to see why or how it would fail to match up with the reason given by the theists. There’s a clear dividing line between what the flesh does, compared to what the spirit being will do once this physical body is shed at death. Everything we do here is “natural.” That’s the point of the test.

Jeremy Travis wrote: “It surely does better than religious fundamentalists who essentially feel that anything goes if it comes from 'on high', depending on how they define and understand the concept of 'on high'.”

Define “better?” As in “I prefer this over that one because I don’t believe in the latter” better?

The theist uses the Supreme Being's concepts as the standard to measure truth from, while the other uses whatever their measure is, and they both determine to explain moral behavior in fleshy humans in a natural world. It will still come down to the physical science of why people do what they do. How individuals among each camp perform depends on how each defines and understands the concepts they study, and among them all there will be varying levels of accuracy.

Jeremy Travis - Muhammad wrote: "Honestly our behavior isn’t tied to the supernatural, that’s the point of Free Will; we are free to perform however way we are moved to on earth. “Tying it to the supernatural” sounds like a Disney movie.

Well, I've heard some theists, Kirby being one, who say that that which is good/fair/right/just is so because god said it is and not based on their own merits; that nothing is good if god doesn't say that it is, nothing is bad if god doesn't say that it is, and that something can go from being one to the other if god says so. That essentially ties 'right' and 'wrong', 'good' and 'evil' with the supernatural.

Muhammad wrote: "On the terrestrial side I fail to see why or how it would fail to match up with the reason given by the theists. There’s a clear dividing line between what the flesh does, compared to what the spirit being will do once this physical body is shed at dead. Everything we do here is “natural.” That’s the point of the test.

See above for the difference as I know it based on what I've heard or read.

Jeremy Travis wrote: “It surely does better than religious fundamentalists who essentially feel that anything goes if it comes from 'on high', depending on how they define and understand the concept of 'on high'.”

Muhammad replied: "Define 'better?' As in 'I prefer this over that one because I don’t believe in the latter' better?"

Well, in a word, yes. Humanism seems to give a more comprehensive explanation for why 'good' is good and 'bad' is bad.

Muhammad also wrote: "The theist uses the Supreme Beings concepts as the standard to measure truth from, while the other uses whatever their measure is, and they both determine to explain moral behavior in fleshy humans in a natural world. It will still come down to the physical science of why people do what they do. How individuals among each camp perform depends on how each defines and understands the concepts they study, and among them all will be varying levels of accuracy."

I think that humanism tends to show how or why something is moral based on what is beneficial versus what is detrimental. Raping people is detrimental to the wellbeing of the individual who has been raped and it is detrimental to a society that allows it, therefore it is wrong. I don't see how the word of god could change that, therefore the word of god is unnecessary in understanding that rape is wrong. Because one can come to that understanding without the need for supernatural/spiritual additives, that is the reason why some of the modern atheists and secularists espouse this thinking.

Muhammad Rasheed - Jeremy Travis wrote: “Well, I've heard some theists, Kirby being one, who say that that which is good/fair/right/just is so because god said it is and not based on their own merits; that nothing is good if god doesn't say that it is, nothing is bad if god doesn't say that it is, and that something can go from being one to the other if god says so. That essentially ties 'right' and 'wrong', 'good' and 'evil' with the supernatural.”

In His scriptures, God defined what is righteousness and what deeds represent sin/evil. These are the concepts from which our modern day notions of morality derive, the same way our modern system of law derived from the Jewish practicing of biblical and Talmudic law. The Book was sent specifically as the guide to mankind and functions as the manual for life. In order to benefit from it you must perform the way it says to perform, and those who perform best will be rewarded over those who perform least, while those who refuse to perform and reject the manual will ultimately be punished. This is the very definition of merit-based. Kirby and his ilk are wrong if what you described is what they believe.

God is the Supreme Creator, and EVERYTHING is so because He said that it is… spoke it into being. He created this universe based on the rational, measurable laws of mathematics that can be studied and understood, and understood in relation to one another within the framework of a rational, physical creation. The fact that one can basically learn the general-purpose, high-level programming language of mathematics to understand the numerous aspects of the universe is unrelated to the fact that everything points back to God as the Author of that programming, and the idea that He has a point to it all. The secular-humanist wants to confine the limits of what can be understood about our existence to a narrow focus within that programming language space, and feels that the idea of there being no point at all to anything because there is no God is somehow a ‘better’ understanding of the part of the programming language they wish to focus on. To me that’s narrow-minded thinking.

Jeremy Travis wrote: “Humanism seems to give a more comprehensive explanation for why 'good' is good and 'bad' is bad.”

I see the humanist explanation as only a part or aspect of the bigger picture reason for why. There’s a high-level reason, and then a narrowly-focused lesser reason confined to the nature of human communities/societies that can be directly measured and understood. That understanding will be deeper if the higher-level explanation is also accepted and meditated upon.

Jeremy Travis wrote: “I think that humanism tends to show how or why something is moral…”

How does it do that?

Jeremy Travis wrote: “… based on what is beneficial versus what is detrimental.”

Theism does both.

Jeremy Travis wrote: “Raping people is detrimental to the wellbeing of the individual who has been raped and it is detrimental to a society that allows it, therefore it is wrong. I don't see how the word of god could change that, therefore the word of god is unnecessary in understanding that rape is wrong. Because one can come to that understanding without the need for supernatural/spiritual additives, that is the reason why some of the modern atheists and secularists espouse this thinking.”

Today within our modern Western society, considered by many to be the apex of human civilization progress, we find people raping each other, justifying why it’s okay to do it, and even getting off scot-free from doing it after being tried in court. In less sophisticated societies in the past, and even in the same kind of societies around in the world today, people prove to be even more blasé about raping people. Whether the educated people in society come to the conclusion on their own that rape is wrong, by studying the effects of it upon society, doesn’t seem to matter one way or the other. What would they do with that info? Note it in a text book or scroll and file it away? Should they manage to convince the policy makers to make a law against rape, would that stop people from raping each other? Has it? The people who want to rape people continue to go around raping people because that’s their thing. And those laws against it will not survive beyond the lifespan of the society itself.

In the scriptures, God said to be good to one another, treat each other as you yourself wish to be treated, and sow not mischief in the land, among many other similarly-themed items. And He had His messengers preach this for thousands of years… in fact the last great western society came and went inside of that era of the prophets. That society and all of its laws, whatever they may have been, are gone, while the message of God remains. And it will remain still once this current technologically marvelous Western society is also gone, it’s message codified within the values of family cultures, passed on for more generations. People will continue to know that it is wrong to do bad things to one another because they were taught such growing up in their homes from the message of scripture as filtered through the values of their culture, and this will continue long after the laws of an advanced society have turned to dust, as has always been the case. The people who want to buck those values and do wrong to others anyway, will continue to do so.

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