Can you have religion without God? : Lifestyles

Can you have religion without God? : Lifestyles

(also see AEU.org)

The Ethical Society of St. Louis was founded in 1886. (Our original home was Sheldon Memorial Hall, named for the first Leader, Walter Sheldon.)It’s one of a couple dozen Ethical Societies around the country. Ethical Societies were dreamed up by 19th-century freethinkers who noticed that most religions seemed to share basic ethical ideals such as kindness, justice, and charity. Where religions seemed to differ and often caused conflicts was in their conceptions of God (or gods) andtheir beliefs about the afterlife.

Ethical Societies were created as communities that practiced religious humanism. “Religious
humanism” may sound like an oxymoron to people who consider religions only as systems of supernatural beliefs. But we believe that religions were created by people to serve human needs — including meaningfulness, ethical guidelines, and motivation to live ethically.

Religious communities also fulfill social needs for people of all ages, help organize social-justice activity, and provide ways to celebrate and mourn and mark important times together. Ethical Societies do all these things, while leaving supernatural questions about the existence or nature of gods or an afterlife to the conscience of individual members. Many of our members don’t believe in a god or an afterlife, but some do,and some others “don’t know and don’t worry about it.”

The name for the worldview shared at the Ethical Society is Ethical Humanism. You will likely get as many definitions of Ethical Humanism as there are Ethical Humanists, but our basic shared beliefs are that every person  has a potential for goodness, that every person deserves to be treated  with fairness and kindness, and that human beings are responsible for caring for each other and for solving our problems.

Ethical Humanism asserts that suffering and cruelty are the result not of  supernatural devils or sin or bad luck, but rather natural events or  human errors and bad choices. Therefore, it is up to human beings to  reduce suffering and cruelty by increasing our understanding of nature  and of ourselves and by learning how to motivate people to do more kind acts and less harmful acts.

We meet on Sundays because that tends to be the most convenient day for most people. Our Sunday meetings (called “platforms” for historical reasons) usually consist of children and adults speaking about their ethical values, a wide variety of music, a central address by the Leader or a visiting speaker on a topic related to ethical living and social justice, and the kind of pass-the-basket-and-announcement-period familiar to most churchgoers. Our platforms look and sound a lot like many religious meetings, exceptthat they don’t include prayer or worship.

So what kinds of people become members of the Ethical Society, and why?

All sorts of reasons, of course, but the most common are young families looking to instill positive ethical values in their children, people who have left their traditional religion behind but still want to be part of a community of shared values, and people of all ages looking to find peers and friends who share their concerns and hopes for humanity.

Lately, polls have found that a large and growing number of people say that they have no religion — some polls find that this group is as large as 20 percent of all Americans.

Yet a lot of these people have values and beliefs that traditionally have been called religious — high
ethical principles, a conviction that there is more to life than merely getting by economically, a feeling of connection with the human family as a whole and the natural world that we’re a part of. These are the folks we’re trying to reach out to at the Ethical Society, to let them know that there’s a place for them.


June 21: Today is World Humanist Day

June 21: Today is World Humanist Day

World Humanist Day is a Humanist holiday celebrated annually around
the world on the June solstice, which usually falls on June 21st.
According to the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), the
day is a way of spreading awareness of Humanism as a philosophical life
stance and means to effect change in the world. It is also seen as a
time for Humanists to gather socially and promote the positive values of

The holiday developed during the 1980s as several chapters of the
American Humanist Association (AHA) began to celebrate it. At the time,
the date on which it was celebrated varied from chapter to chapter, with
selections such as the founding date of the IHEU, or other significant
dates. From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, the AHA and IHEU passed
resolutions declaring World Humanist Day to be on the summer solstice.

The manner in which World Humanist Day is celebrated varies
considerably among local Humanist groups, reflecting the individuality
and non-dogmatism of Humanism as a whole. Whilst the event might be a
simple gathering, such as a dinner or picnic, with ample time for both
socialising and reflection, the method of celebration is down to the
individual Humanists. Some groups actually develop intricate social
rituals, music, and proceedings which highlight the metaphoric symbolism
of the solstice and the light (knowledge) which brings us out of
darkness (ignorance).

World Humanist Day has not yet become a fully celebrated holiday in
all Humanist organizations, although many of them are beginning to
recognize it and plan events and activities around the holiday.
International Humanist and Ethical Union lists several different ways
that national and local Humanist groups celebrate World Humanist Day.
For example, the Dutch Humanist Association broadcast short films about
World Humanist Day on Dutch TV in 2012. The Humanist Association of
Ireland held poetry readings in the park to celebrate the day. The
Humanists of Florida Association has recommended groups hold
Introduction to Humanism classes on World Humanist Day.


Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In All UK Public Schools

Teaching Creationism As Science Now Banned In All UK Public Schools

In what's being heralded as a secular triumph, the UK government has banned the teaching of creationism as science in all existing and future academies and free schools.
The new clauses, which arrived with very little fanfare last week, state that the....."requirement for every academy and free school to provide a broad and balanced curriculum in any case prevents the teaching of creationism as evidence based theory in any academy or free school."
So, if an academy or free school teaches creationism as scientifically valid, it's breaking the funding agreement to provide a "broad and balanced curriculum."
In the UK, state-funded academies are basically equivalent to charter schools in the United States, and are primarily comprised of high schools. Free schools, which were introduced in 2010, are non-profit
making, independent, state-funded schools which are not controlled by a local authority, but are subject to the School Admissions Code. Free schools make it possible for parents, teachers, charities, and business to set up their own schools.
In addition to the new clauses, the UK government clarified the meaning of creationism, reminding everyone that it's a minority view even within the Church of England and the Catholic Church.

The answer is actually yes. And in fact, the Roman Catholic Church has recognized Darwinian evolution for the past 60 years. It openly rejects Intelligent Design and Young Earth Creationism saying that it "pretends to be science." But the Church’s unique take on the theory, what it calls theistic evolution, still shows that Catholics have largely missed the point.


Back in 2012, the UK government banned all future free schools from teaching creationism as science, requiring them to teach natural selection. At the time, however, it didn't extend those requirement to academies, nor did the changes apply to existing free schools. The new verbiage changes this, precluding all public-funded schools — present or future — from teaching creationism as evidence-based theory.
The new church academies clauses require that "pupils are taught about the theory of evolution, and prevent academy trusts from teaching 'creationism' as scientific fact." And by "creationism" they mean:
[A]ny doctrine or theory which holds that natural biological processes cannot account for the history, diversity, and complexity of life on earth and therefore rejects the scientific theory of evolution. The parties acknowledge that creationism, in this sense, is rejected by most mainstream churches and religious traditions, including the major providers of state funded schools such as the [Anglican] [Catholic] Churches, as well as the scientific community. It does not accord with the scientific consensus or the very large body of established scientific evidence; nor does it accurately and consistently employ the
scientific method, and as such it should not be presented to pupils at the Academy as a scientific theory.
And in regards to protecting religious beliefs, the clauses acknowledge that the funding agreement does......not prevent discussion of beliefs about the origins of the Earth and living things, such as creationism, in Religious Education, as long as it is not presented as a valid alternative to established scientific theory.
The British Humanist Association, which has been advocating for the change since 2011 via its "Teach Evolution, Not Creationism" campaign, is celebrating the move.
"[We] believe that... the objectives of the campaign are largely met," noted BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal in a statement.

"We congratulate the Government on its robust stance on this issue." He added: "However, there are other ongoing areas of concern, for example the large number of state financed creationist nurseries, or the inadequate inspection of private creationist schools, and continued vigilance is needed in the state-funded sector. We will continue to work for reform in the remaining areas, but are pleased that the vast
majority of issues are now dealt with."
This move by the UK government stands in stark contrast to what's happening in the United States. In Missouri, for example, a proposed bill would require schools to "alert" parents when evolution is taught.