I am an AMH humanist

I love your reasoning comments and replies. But, do you ever consider recusing yourself based on your Catholic training from certain threads?
Thanks Hal. Glad we've come to understand each other better.

No, I don’t consider recusing myself. I was born into Protestantism, had a heathen lifestyle as a young man, returned to church after settling down, then started reading more. I figure that’s all valuable input.

As a rejoinder to first Hal, and then to Bob I tracked down some things I wrote some years ago and pasted them below. Rather than compose new comments, I’ll use the ones I’ve picked here because I spent some time thinking about and composing them. Thank you in advance for your patience.

First, from a document listed as SHARPS on my hard drive, it has a creation date of 1/18/18. I never did send it to SI.

"Before I present my critique of the article and the idea presented by David Tyler and Gary Bakker I present my bone fides, such as they are. I’ve been a subscriber to Skeptical Inquirer for almost the entire existence of that publication, and I consider myself a rational skeptic and a secular humanist. I am agnostic, or to those that may be interested in discussing belief and faith, I call myself a “true agnostic.” That is, while my personal conclusion is that there is nothing in any existing religious heritage that does not reflect strictly human wishes, desires, and truisms, it is not impossible that there is something that exists which may resemble some of the reflections and contemplations of man down through the ages. I say it is not impossible, though I, like many others, do not see any imperative for the necessity of God. Also, for me, there is the fact that just as there is no defensible proof for the existence of a god, there likewise is no definitive proof of the non-existence of that possibility. To my way of thinking atheists are just as guilty of belief in the absence of proof as the most devout theist. For me personally, true agnosticism is the only intellectually honest position. It is not a conceit, or a dodge, and I didn’t realize until writing this that it is also exquisitely rational.

I disagree with the authors that the term SHARPS will be perceived by the general public as less arrogant and aggressive as the authors presume, and doubt that the term will remain, once absorbed within the public discussion, within the bounds of the idea they are attempting to mid-wife. Like any other idea, or term, or initiative, it will take on something of a life of its own. And like our living children, it may not end up in a place that fulfills our most cherished hopes and desires.

A similar debate has been going on within the political left for at least fifteen years or longer. With the successful campaign of the political right to turn the word liberal into a term of derision, the search has been on for a new political umbrella term under which to collect the dispirited and beleaguered liberals. I am one. My parents were liberals, and expressed that stance to their children and to their friends and neighbors. When I became aware of this re-branding effort I first went to my Webster’s dictionary and looked up the entry for liberalism. In my edition, at 2c: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties. That definition accurately and fully describes my political beliefs and positions – to this day. Yet, it can’t be denied that in the American lexicon at least, association with that term is now linked (rightly or wrongly) with the excesses of big government, cronyism, and the other corruptions that always attend a political majority that would control the levers of power over a period of decades, while the conservatives wandered in the wilderness, as it has be memorialized.

The editorials and position papers I read were posted on a self-proclaimed progressive web site, and if you haven’t had the experience, let me just say that there is no firm agreement on just what it means to be progressive, or what political wish list should most animate a progressive movement. Though there are many there like myself that refer to the root word progress in our understanding of progressivism, there are also many that claim the progressive mantle that are devout religionists, or mystics, or spiritualists, or animists, or many other adherents and dabblers in a variety of paranormal nonsense. It was there that I first heard the term brights, and my first reaction was also one of recoil. Within the community that participates on that progressive site are also many proclaimed atheists, and many of those are what I consider militant atheists. That form of militancy will never result in any progress towards political civility, nor will it endear itself to those it wishes to persuade.

So far, these objections I’ve articulated might seem minor, or just a matter of differing opinion, but there is a more basic question I have concerning this initiative. The authors state that there is no specific philosophical viewpoint. I’ll rebut that this claim represents a social blind spot. The authors mention several times pooling a collective consciousness in order to reach a critical mass. If there is no philosophical viewpoint or goal, then to what end is this critical mass directed? It will also be very difficult to reach that critical mass when the entire effort is, at its base exclusive, rather than inclusive. Will the authors deny that there are many fine, and effective scientists and researchers that also maintain deeply spiritual beliefs?

Since I have been a very appreciative reader of Skeptical Inquirer for all of my adult life I am well versed in the perennial lamentations over the stubborn persistence of supernaturalism, paranormalism, scientific illiteracy, and magical thinking. I’ve often wondered just how consistent over the entire age of man the percentage of spiritualists, atheists, and agnostics really is. I know that my agnosticism is a minority view, as is atheism, and I do not believe that even this uncritical mass originated with the advent of the age of enlightenment. If there is one trait that attends most all true atheists and agnostics it is the determination to hold to our conclusions in the face of overwhelming majority opposition to those conclusions. The capacity for independent and contrary thought; and so I suggest that convening counsels for all those isms contained within the acronym SHARPS may end up like trying to herd cats. Nature on PBS informs me that all cats but the African Lion are solitary, independent creatures."

Next, an unfinished piece, where I once again tried to put into words some thoughts that had been banging around in my head for most of my life. On my hard drive I titled it “New Religion.”


"March 5, 2002

It was more than a year ago that I wrote the following passage.




The question, and it has always been just one question, is, why ? It is an alone thing every one of us asks ourselves, and that which we all ask together. Death puts the universality to the question. Why this, then oblivion? How, why, do I end ?

At this point in human time the question is to us as pressing and pervasive as it ever was. No tool we have yet devised nor angle of attack applied to the question has yielded a definitive answer. Secular rational reasoning has not forever disproved the possibility of a “creator” or “a higher other”. Religious or faith-based thought has likewise never proved the existence of the human soul or a benign creator nor even the necessity of either idea. Human inquisitiveness is alive with vitality on the edges of our understanding of the cosmos and of living things, and we are being showered with bits of new realizations that, at turns support then deny both those opposing views of existence.

And in the midst of this mounting philosophic brouhaha, we are becoming. Well, we are becoming large, certainly. One result of this is that we are also becoming- and I really resist using this word, but I can’t summon another more generic one- connected. Economically, environmentally, biologically, as well as in real-time communications, we are all feeling our connectedness. With a sense of alarm we realize that our size amplifies our potential to do great harm, either maliciously or by unforeseen consequences of well-intentioned but ill-planned actions.

How we get from here to where we are going next will be forever bound with our answer to the first question- why ? The question needs a new answer, an answer that speaks not to what possibly is unknowable, but to that mix of being and becoming that we call



"That was meant to be the one page introduction or statement of purpose for a full-fledged work concerning the function of religious systems as organizing and directional forces in human development. I also meant to show the inevitability of such organizational ideas and therefore the need to forge a new statement of purpose and yes, belief.

It can be very difficult to maintain a life of skepticism, agnosticism, or atheism today in the United States. I am not in danger of doubting the truth of my conclusions concerning the nature of existence, but I must co-exist in a society descended from a tradition of supernaturalism. After rejecting the Catholic system that I was raised in, the first realization that I had was this: as it exists, the western monotheistic tradition dilutes or even takes away the individual and collective will to act. By granting ultimate responsibility for continued existence and final authority of truth and goodness to a supreme intervening god, we blunt our ability to adapt to the changing circumstances of our existence.

It is impossible to deny that a creator or superior being could exist and be aware of our existence, but it is not a logical or necessary consequence that such an entity should be benevolent and wont to intervene in our affairs. This is a fundamental link in the chain of western religious tradition, a link that I believe was forged in the fire of evolving cultural necessity. This tradition, in its earliest form and continuing through its development, instructs its followers to modify their behavior in order to know the mind and mercy of god. Resist the tendencies to hate, destroy, lust, steal, and covet wealth and worldly possessions, for god’s true purpose and will is superbly just and good, and the light of his contemplation will scorch and obliterate a human life given over to those base behaviors.

Thus this tradition irreversibly linked the first question of why ? with the everyday necessity of how do we live ?. There is no doubt that the humane and workable ethics, morals, and the socially responsible behavior of this religious tradition have been beneficial to the cultures it helped evolve. But this tradition has been an effective force only as long as it has been believable in the main. As long as the idea or ideas supported a coherent operant philosophy in individuals, then consensus was possible. When the logical inconsistencies of the system became apparent to a majority of individuals within the culture, consensus disintegrated. However, the need for a coherent, directional belief system remains."

I never did pursue very persistently writing my treatise. I realized what I was attempting was merely a restatement of my particular own flavor of secular humanism, and that I’m not a well-read academician, nor a philosophical savant. If I fancied that I had any originality of thought, I probably would have discovered during the process and not wanting to be accused of plagiarism, that I was self-deceived.


Hey Lausten what are you talking about non religious prejudice. I am non religious with a question: how can there be prejudice about something that does not exist outside the religious writings. -- Hal
I just listened to this one in the shop last night. I’ve studying Haidt for a bit now and in this speech he takes Dawkins on directly. He’s lecturing some people who have read his stuff, so I’m not sure if that will make it less understandable for you or not. Anyway, he’s saying there has been much work in neuro-science in recent decades, showing how we are led by our emotions, our DNA, our instincts, but somehow we process all that into a “belief” that we use our rational minds to make real choices that are really justified.

Applying this to religion, the new theories are that the way religion was used to help groups survive affected our evolution, so not everyone can just stop believing. To many, it would be like stopping belief in drinking water. It wouldn’t kill them like that would, but it would be just as illogical to them.


Not sure what brought this thread back to life, but I skimmed the long OP. I also skimmed Vince’s post and could not find a theme there.

One little comment on what you said about United Methodists. Yes, they did vote to restrict LGBTQi freedoms in their church, but that was a very close vote and it says more about their presence in places like Africa than it does about anyone you might meet in America who is UM. They have an odd parliamentary system for determining what God thinks. They were going to talk about splitting at this year’s convention, but that is now on hold.

Sounds nice, but you know today you’ll get a resounding Fuck That from Republican, Libertarians and the Faith Blinded.

Haven’t you hear, ME FIRST is the core faith of today’s right wing.

The future don’t matter one iota to the lying crumb bums.


And when you say humans have hundreds of years, I do hope you are meaning that philosophically as opposed to literally.

For those who appreciate Earth processes and hold onto their respect for Physical Reality over what’s unfolding within our EGO CENTRIC MINDSCAPES - it seems that expecting us to be around next century about his time, becomes ever more vanishingly tiny. Hell, next 50 years will see radical regression like humanity has never known. You can bet your emergency supplies that our society won’t be around by the time my fresh baby grandson reaches adulthood.

This is just the first wave, there are other biological surprises brewing out there in the crowded market places; and melting permafrost; and medical trash heaps; amongst other places. Not to mention the increasing challenging farming seasons ahead.

But than, here's a vital secret that the Brainwashed - Faith Blinded - Totalitarian Republican masses have managed to MemoryWipe and deny:

Weather and Climate and our Biosphere’s Health matters a hell of a lot more than Profits and EGO and imagined Gods in the long haul.


Bringing it back to Earth Centrism. :slight_smile:


Oh and I find Pinker is an excellent example of someone lost within his mindscape.

He’s become a performer more than a thinker.

And when one is in control of all sides of the story one get say anything one likes, especially when they’ve crammed their heads with all sort of discombobulated knowledge, the audience is unfamiliar with.

He comes across to me as thinking his explanations create reality - rather than focusing on his explanations chasing reality. But than when one becomes a professional performer, one must consider the audience and manipulate their thinking and feelings like any good playwright or performer learns to do.

says more about their presence in places like Africa
Would you care to unpack that one a little?


Christian homophobes are spreading their hate in South Africa Christina Engela writes from South Africa


The fundamentalist assault on equality, tolerance and Constitutional protection of human rights in South Africa comes mainly from evangelical churches based in this country, but which often have close ties to local and foreign church groups or societies which share a common intolerant fundamentalist view on matters such as abortion, gay rights and theocracy.

Prime examples of such hate groups in South Africa are Christian Action Network, which is based in Cape Town and whose figurehead, “Dr” Peter Hammond, is involved with radical US religious right groups such as the ICCP (International Church Council Project), which consists of a main committee, and smaller committees which include foreign leaders of churches from around the world. The ICCP is tied into the US Religious Right through its leaders.

The International Church Council Project (ICCP) An American body replete with names like Dr. Jay Grimstead, D.Min., Found. Dir. Coalition on Revival, Dr. R.J. Rushdoony, Ph.D., President, Council of Chalcedon on its board (now deceased and replaced by his son) - along with Peter Hammond of CAN in little old South Africa. These people are leading figures in what is known as the “Great Commission Church Movement” This shows me that the US Religious Right has been pulling the puppet strings right here in South Africa for at least 20 years now.


TheNation _ com/article/archive/its-not-just-uganda-behind-christian-rights-onslaught-africa/

It’s Not Just Uganda: Behind the Christian Right’s Onslaught in Africa
For years now, evangelical activists from the United States have been speaking out against homosexuality and cheering on antigay legislation all over Africa.

By Nathalie Baptiste and Foreign Policy In Focus
APRIL 4, 2014


sxpolitics _ org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/colonizingafricanvaluespra _ pdf

Colonizing African Values 2012

How the U.S. Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa


The Uganda Story

Rev. Kapya Kaoma, Contributor
Project Director at Political Research Associates
The U.S. Christian Right and the Attack on Gays in Africa
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

link : PoliticalResearch _ org/bio/kapya-kaoma

The U.S. Christian Right and the Attack on Gays in Africa
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011


says more about their presence in places like Africa -- Lausten Would you care to unpack that one a little? -- CC
Briefly, because it's complicated. You're right about the influence of evangelicals on Africa. I've posted about "The Family" so I won't review what we both know. But why is Africa accepting of that influence? A couple reasons; there are more people who are even further along on the fundamentalist spectrum than evangelicals are, and there are governments that are even more corrupt than ours. The influence then was for Americans to go over there and teach them the techniques they were using over here to exploit that fundamentalism. It doesn't work as well over here because we have more consistent education and information across our continent. It was not quite as visible of a campaign with the Methodist because they weren't going over there and making new connections with dictators, they just went to the Methodist churches that were already there. Due to the history of how churches were built there, by splitting off a new one once one had been established, there is a wide reaching network to facilitate communication, even across borders.

To them, most of them anyway, I’m sure it seemed just and right. They saw countries over there with laws against homosexuality, and they wanted those laws, so they saw them as people to partner with. They shared their ideas about what God wanted and how to organize and recruit members. The parliamentary system in the UMC was not equipped to handle it. The votes that matter are the ones that happen in the international conference every 4 years, and they gamed that system. There are no requirements that those votes are the will of the congregations, except vague statements about “discernment”.

@citizenschallengev3 Thank you for the introduction to your blogging background. I too am writing a website/blog, not published yet about “the nones” enter the nones into your browser search bar. They are a group big as the evangelicals or state side Catholics. My thought is to organize this group called the nones, I have just started a meetup group to try. One goal is to find and support politicians, some claiming to be an atheist to run on reason, science, and secular values. People don’t like voting for atheists.

After close to 10 years my site is not ready to publish yet but, I have become a WordPress expert. I started the blog with a name "beforehumanhistory, referring to the time of a few hundred thousand years before we invented writing and Christians morphed into the official state religion of the Catholic church.

I notice mindscape frequently in your posts/replies. It reads like mindscape is becoming your platitude.


I believe Anil Seth would agree with the term “mindscape” as part of his hypothesis of consciousness being a “controlled hallucination” which is the creation of “mindscapes” or “best guessess” of the nature of external sensory stimuli.

I know the human species has evolved over an unamaginal period of time like other species on Earth. I also know Genesis style stories existed much before Judaism.

I also know many of us are naturally primitive in our belief system and will have to take our religious positions and embedded religious instructions to the grave. Paving the path into the future.


Hal, I looked up nones, and admit I wasn’t familiar with them. Having read a little about it, it holds no fascination for me, religion is philosophy - fine and dandy in it’s own right - but if one’s reasoning is based on a respect for Physical Reality over the stories we create for ourselves, then I believe the only way to go is Earth Centrism, since it is Earth what created us and whom we will dissolve back into. It is also Earth that provides our touchstone with physical reality and the universe.

The story telling is fine (in fact required) for our insecure death-fearing souls to flourish, but it ought still get recognized for its limitations.

Seems to me one can’t get closer to fundamental reality than that.

That notion (Earth Centrism) gets dismissed a lot, but you know, no one has explained their critique of my assessment with anything substantive. Though I keep inviting it.

Hal, I do like much of what you write - stuff worth thinking about for sure. As for trying to explain my thoughts:

MARCH 14, 2020 Earth Centrism ~ Geocentrism. Seriously ?

Since (folks) still sound confused about what I’m trying to enunciate, allow me to review what the term “Earth Centrism” actually means.


Oh and it does rhyme with Humanism! :slight_smile:

Nice walk on the prairie. Thanks for the prose

@lausten The non-believer prejudice stems from (I think) the way atheist leaders have presented human history as a long period of worshipping nature then it just stuck as a meme and became what we call religion today.
Lausten is that what you really think?

from the first notion of montheastic religion non believers were not shy in expressing their opinion. It was the Catholic leaders when they took over Christianity that declared nothing happened before written history. It took hundreds of thousands of years for humans to develop the skills to invent writing and be able to produce something as difficult as the Bible.


How have you been Hal?

I’m describing what other people think, so I’m not sure what you are asking. I don’t think that “human history as a long period of worshiping nature then it just stuck as a meme and became what we call religion today”, but a lot of non-believers do.

I’m not sure what point you’re making either, since you seem to be claiming to know something about how people thought before written language came along.

I just now discovered this thread. I am sorry I missed its earlier incarnation. I find much of what you say, Hal, to be interesting and quite acceptable mete for discussion.

I know that AMH’s had verbal behavior long before they developed the added verbal skill of textual behavior. (Pardon my behaviorist terminology.) We know that many peoples, before they knew how to read and write, had (often very rich) religious narratives that were passed on in oral histories. So it stands to reason that various complex religious narratives developed long before any humans developed textual behaviors.

I would guess that something like “animism” was a part of this. Maybe it was sort of the original religion and maybe it was even predominate for long time periods. But I would also bet that other various religious narratives took hold long before there was any written history.

Sure hunters might be pre-disposed to develop a religious narrative that involved animals. Gatherers might develop different superstitious narratives. Then with the development of agriculture, other superstitious narratives probably came to the fore.

I am happy that you noticed

Anatomically modern humans (AMH) have been evolving for a few hundred hundred thousand years now.

Anatomically modern humans (AMH) have been evolving for a few hundred hundred thousand years now.
For many of us, the evolution included some interbreeding with other human species, like the Neanderthals and Denisovans.

You appear to have a bit of Neanderthal. (That is a compliment.)