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My answers to questions about Humanism and HCCO - Jeff's creatively-named journal

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February 24th, 2012


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04:44 pm - My answers to questions about Humanism and HCCO
Q:
What does HCCO do?
What is a humanist? Is this just another term for an atheist or how do these relate? Is it appropriate to call a humanist an atheists?
Do you have certain views or beliefs? Are there certain values that perhaps you would raise your children with?
A:
I can answer all of these together. HCCO is a community of, by, and for, Secular Humanists in Central Ohio. It offers social, educational, activist and service events to support Humanism. As the American Humanism puts it, "Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity." Assuming that God is a supernatural being, Humanists are without belief in God, thus they are atheistic. Some, for various reasons, do not prefer to use that term.
Many of our members are interested in imparting Humanist values to their children. HCCO has recently been offering more and more programming for children and families, such as Family Game Night. Another locally based organization, Camp Quest, offers a weeklong summer camp with emphasis on critical thinking in addition to traditional, fun activities.
Q:
A lot of people say that if you do not believe in a god you will not have morals, how do you address this?
A:
Definitions of "morals" and "ethics" are complicated. Humanists ascribe to consequence-based ethics, i.e., they make decisions based on their effect on oneself and others as opposed to divine command or pastoral authority. Humanist Manifesto III states, "Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience... We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility." One could go into a lot more detail; individual Humanists have a wide variety of opinions on tough ethical problems.
Q:
Do most people grow up with these beliefs or do they come to HCCO later in life as adults?
A:
Great question! I know some of both. Many Humanists grew up in conservative religious backgrounds. They may have been doubting since childhood, or much later in life; young adulthood is a common time to question the beliefs of one's upbringing. Others grew up in more moderate/liberal traditions, or even in secular households.
Q:
What are some resources for people who are atheists or humanists in Columbus?
A:
By far the best resource for atheists and Humanists in Columbus is the Humanist Community of Central Ohio. There are other similar groups around, such as Students for Freethought at OSU, and we have friendly relationships with several of them. Columbus also has a huge university and a nice public library system, and a great deal of cultural diversity. Many of us enjoy festivals such as Comfest at which we can share our worldview and learn about others.
Q:
As you probably know religion can be a strength when working with clients, how can atheism or humanism be used as a strength?
A:
Religion CAN be a strength, but I think it sometimes harms my clients as well. But to answer your question, clients who are able to reason skeptically have a head start on challenging their own irrational beliefs and assumptions, such as we do in cognitive therapy. Ability to question a belief or test a hypothesis is psychologically beneficial. I could go on further if need be.
Q:
Do you think it is a replacement for a religion or lack of religion? I have heard both arguments.
A:
For some people, Humanism does replace the community aspect of religion, in addition to describing a framework for making decisions.
Q:
Are there services like churches will have services on Sunday, or is it more informal meetings?
A:
Another good question. Yes and no. The most formal aspects of HCCO are our monthly program, which is often based upon a presentation by an internal or guest speaker, and our yearly Winter Solstice Banquet. Even at these times, humor is often part of our group interactions. None of these events would look at all like a church service, in that there are neither hymns, nor prayers, nor clergy reading from a divinely inspired scripture. Some Humanists do have an interest in ritual, and whether we should have more ritual has been a point of intense discussion within our movement.
Q:
Let me know if there is anything else you think that would be helpful to understanding humanists or this culture.
A:
I think your idea of checking out an event in person is a good one. You also might like to visit Students for Freethought at OSU.
Q:
Thank you for your help, I really appreciate it.
A:
Glad to help!

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