Interesting Facts the American Humanist Association (AHA) Might Not Know, part 1 of 4
Edd Doerr, “former elected head of the American Humanist Association for 14 years” dissents from the current AHA campaigns.
This seemed like a good occasion to consider just how the AHA purposes that we be without God.
As for the AHA ads which read “No God?...No Problem! Be Good for goodness’ sake,” Edd Doerr wrote, “I am embarrassed by the A.H.A.’s “good without God” campaign.” 1
This is because, as he explains:
Humanists are philosophical naturalists…one item of the humanist worldview is emphasizing the many positive positions we hold in common with a wide range of religious believers.
I refer to such matters as peace, civil liberties, religious freedom, the environment, social justice, democracy, women’s rights and so on.
He feels that there are more pressing matters upon which to focus and thus, is embarrassed by “angry debates about philosophy.” He states that “Our planetary society does not have the luxury of engaging in” such things and states:
Progressive and mainstream humanists, Catholics, Protestants, Jews and others of good will need to concentrate on what unites us, not on what divides us. Divisive ad campaigns invite blowback and stimulate both ends of the religious spectrum to engage in fruitless bouts of name-calling and invective.
Indeed, atheist complain of being viewed with suspicion, at best, and yet as long as they insist on defining atheism as anti-theism, anti-religion, anti-religious people, anti-God, anti-anything/everything and pro-nothing but a negative position and belligerence they cannot expect much more.
The very reason for inventing terms such as Humanists, Brights, etc. was to attempt to get away from the negative connotations of the term “atheism.”
…our use of this label is a mistake—and a mistake of some consequence. My concern with the use of the term “atheism” is both philosophical and strategic. I’m speaking from a somewhat unusual and perhaps paradoxical position because, while I am now one of the public voices of atheism, I never thought of myself as an atheist before being inducted to speak as one…I think that “atheist” is a term that we do not need, in the same way that we don’t need a word for someone who rejects astrology. We simply do not call people “non-astrologers.” All we need are words like “reason” and “evidence” and “common sense.”
Moreover, while Sam Harris argues that there should be no such word as “atheism” American Atheists counter-argue that they have fought long and hard for the acceptance of atheism and thus, the term should not be gotten rid of. Keep in mind that Sam Harris is the atheist Buddhist mystic who does not like the labels “atheist,” “Buddhist” or “mystic.”
I suppose that the first and fairest question to ask our redefiners is, What is the purpose and value of this complex and bewildering game? I imagine that their chief answer is that they do not wish to cut themselves off…
They wish to work within the tradition or within the church and win people over gradually to a new and more acceptable idea of God; to evolve a religion relevant to modem conditions while retaining the hallowed and well-loved words of old. All this would become impossible if they acknowledged themselves as atheists…
There is the additional consideration that the term atheist has certain undesirable connotations apart from its primary meaning as simply a denial of theism, It has frequently been associated with enemies of society and narrow-minded dogmatists…
The attitude of the redefinitionists perhaps comes most appropriately under the heading of what is sometimes called “strategy.” Direct, frontal attacks on the old ideas do not, we are told, result in progress. They stiffen the defense mechanisms of the faithful and handicap the critic by making him appear a crank and a radical…
Some of them, akin to those who aim to reform the church from within, plan to win subtly…though always being careful to call it something else.
With this in mind we will consider the reasoning behind the ads as we progress.
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