I’m reluctant to get involved in what appears to be a disagreement between Malachi and Humanism Ireland, or at least between Malachi and some Humanists.. but as someone who is an atheist and a secularist [and a prat? – Ed] and who has described supernatural beliefs as supernatural, but declines the humanist label and certainly wouldn’t join a Humanist Association, I’ll just point to A. C. Grayling’s latest CommentisFree post.
I wonder whether, in the dialogue of the deaf that this quarrel has become, a few reminders might be in order. Secularism is the view that religious outlooks, though perfectly entitled to exist and have their say, are not entitled to a bigger slice of the public pie than any other self-constituted, self-appointed, self-selected and self-serving civil society organisation. Yet the religious persistently ask for special treatment: public money for their “faith-based” schools, seats in the House of Lords, exemption from laws inconvenient to their prejudices, and so endlessly on. They even have the cheek to ask for “respect” for their silly and antiquated beliefs; and in Geneva at the Human Rights Council the Islamic countries are trying to subvert the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because it is inconvenient to their medieval, sexist, intolerant outlook.
I’ll add though, that the term supernatural is not dismissive of believers in the supernatural nor is it “sneering at religion”. It is merely descriptive of those beliefs. That believers in the supernatural might be offended at that description is, frankly, of no relevance to me.
That’s the starting point for any examination of the history of those beliefs, how they evolved, the influence of the organisations responsible for promoting them, etc.
Remember, “Knowledge is power”.
Back to a previous A C Grayling post
In debates that crucially affect the wellbeing of the world, ideas and beliefs should be open to tough challenge and hard discussion. Let someone state a view, and let the view be subjected to rigorous scrutiny, no holds barred, and no pleas of offence, hurt feelings, self-proclaimed sensitivities, sacredness or any other excuse allowed to stand in the way. But with a strictly governed exception, namely, an office-holder speaking ex-officio, let no individual be the target of attack, and even then neither abuse nor ad hominem attack.
There is no excuse for ill manners and insults, though of course there is an explanation: usually, the impotence and weakness of the insulter and his or her case. Insult an idea or an institution, by all means, if you have serious grounds to do so; but not individuals: that is the bottom line.