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Humanism 101

William Edelen

How individual members of Christian fundamentalism define "Humanism" depends on where they are on a scale of 1 to 10 of brain malfunction.

An example: In a pamphlet produced and mailed out to thousands by a Texas fundamentalist parents? group, they described "humanism" in these words: "a concern for the environment?control of energy...the removal of the free enterprise system...working for disarmament...a distribution of wealth...the creation and support of peace movements." The title of this pamphlet: "Is Humanism Molesting Your Child?"

For some of this mentality, attacking humanism means removing great literature from school libraries -- called "book burning" in Nazi Germany. It means not exposing young people to what they have decided is "obscene." By their definitions they must then ban the bible from school libraries. The bible is full of every obscenity known to the human race?rape...gang rape ...sodomy...adultery?genocide... incest?murder...and all in lurid detail..

What fanatics do to magnificent words and ideas is frightening.

"Humanism" is one of the most beautiful words in our language. In "Humanist Meditations," the Hebrew scholar, Emil Weitzner, addresses those who can no longer believe in the archaic, personal God of the bible, but who still desire to articulate their sense of awe, wonder and Mystery. He writes of "that Mystery which keeps our biological and moral existence together?.It is a paradox that as
knowledge increases, the Mystery deepens. For all that we are...for all that we know...for life unfolding in its wonder and beauty...its promise and hope...let us stand before this Mystery with gratitude."

People often ask me, "Bill, are you a Humanist?" I answer "Yes, and how proud I am to be associated with the humanists... humanitarians...the humanities and all that it means to be truly human in the most noble sense, as one devoted to the classics and emphasizing lasting human values...without losing that sense of the Mystery that Albert Einstein wrote about so eloquently: ?The most beautiful thing that we can experience is the Mystery. It is the source of all true art...and true science.?"

A majority of everything that an enlightened citizenry cherishes is due to humanism. We were rescued from the ignorance and brutality of the Christian church and the Dark Ages by the Renaissance and the humanists. Humanists became advisers and counselors to senators, dukes and popes. As the historian, Will Durant, wrote in his volume, Renaissance, "The humanists transformed the ideal of what it means to be human. The prestige of their learning, combined with their eloquence, conquered Europe. It was the humanists who liberated humans from Christian dogma, and taught them to love life rather than brood about death. It was the humanists who made the European mind free."

Humanists are free of biblical and orthodox superstitions, free from the mental concentration camps of organized religion, free of the primitive fears preached by clergy and priest, but a list of brilliant humanists who were, and are, deeply spiritual with a profound sense of the Mystery, would be endless: Albert Einstein; Plato; Aristotle; Erasmus; Montaigne; Sir Thomas More; Paracelsus; Nicolaus Cusanus; Sir Francis Bacon; Goethe; Albert Schweitzer; Thoreau and Emerson; as well as the first six Presidents of this nation plus Abraham Lincoln.

How proud I am to be associated with humanists...the humane...the humanities...and all that it means to be truly human in the most noble sense...as one devoted to lasting human values.

Published:
  2001-08-19

Categories:
  Christianity, Humanism

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