I have a serious question. The Vermont National Guard put out a request for sources - for a program that is a LOT like my Living Made Simpler program in terms of topics they want discussed. (see:https://humanistlearning.com/livingmadesimpler1/

Obviously - it's the military - a non-religious secular approach to a discussion of ethics and personal responsibility and the dignity and worth of each human is mandatory which is why Humanism is the perfect lens through which to have this discussion. Plus - the thought of getting paid to teach humanism explicitly to national guard members is - well - cool. 


My original description of why they should use a humanistic approach was to say - we are secular - meaning non-denominational. It will be a discussion of ethics accessible to people of any background.

I spoke to some friends and they understood why I said non-denominational - because for me, as a Humanist raised without religion from the get go, non-denomination means - inclusive of everyone - including atheists. They said though - that non-denominational for most people means - Christianity without explicitly being christian. 

So I changed it to - "A lot of the topics you are requesting be covered are philosophic in nature and are best addressed in a secular (ie: non-religious way), which makes taking a humanistic approach a perfect choice. The Humanistic approach is accessible to anyone of any background. Our ethics are common human ethics and the critical thinking techniques we use to solve problems will benefit everyone. Most people find this approach to be empowering, enlightening and consistent with their core values."

and "This course is presented from a humanistic perspective—meaning it is designed to be accessible to people of any faith background or no faith background."

My question to you, the good folks of atheist nexus, is this.

Is this an acceptable way to describe humanism to you. Often we think of Humanism as an alternative to religion - mutually exclusive. But I always think that it's precisely because we aren't religious that our values are accessible to everyone and anyone regardless of background.  

What are your thoughts?

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Comment by Jennifer Hancock on September 6, 2016 at 11:45am

Thanks for the feedback everyone! Joan - going to have to work on the passive vs. active voice thing.

Comment by Grinning Cat on August 17, 2016 at 8:25am

What Joan said -- I think you described humanism wonderfully.

... our values are accessible to everyone and anyone regardless of background.

There are religious humanists, who find value in their traditions and their god figures because they find them compatible with their primary values of human well-being.

Comment by Michael Penn on August 16, 2016 at 8:41pm

Joan has very good points here and she is an educator and also has been a teacher.

Comment by Compelledunbeliever on August 16, 2016 at 7:40pm

I absolutely agree with Joan. Being former military I can tell you they don't care as much about theism or nontheism as bringing the troops closer together as a unit. ThIt is All about unity and moral. it may be their only concern. Individual well being is simply a fringe benefit. Please keep this in mind and good luck.

Comment by Jennifer Hancock on August 16, 2016 at 5:40pm

Thanks Michael Penn - At the moment - it's just about getting the job - and explaining why I am good for them. I can handle a class once I get it. But having to explain it in writing to the procurement office. 

You seem to agree with my friends - non-denominational is generic christian, not what I was trying to convey.  Do you think the language I came up with works as a way of explaining it?

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 16, 2016 at 5:40pm

Jennifer, your content perfectly states what I think humanism involves. I especially like your focus on ethics, the use of critical thinking skills to solve problems, and concerning non-religious techniques. 

The problem I have is your use of the passive voice. I offer an alternative that uses the active voice and gives a stronger, more authoritative tone. Please feel free to reject my version if it does not fit your preferred style. Thank you for inviting me to participate in this effort, I feel honored.

***

"A lot of the topics you request are philosophic in nature and best addressed in a secular (i.e., non-religious way), which makes taking a humanistic approach a perfect choice. Anyone of any background can easily access The Humanistic approach.  Our ethics include universal human values and the critical thinking techniques we use to solve problems benefits everyone. Most people find this method empowering, enlightening and consistent with their core values."

We present this course from a humanistic perspective - meaning we designed it to be accessible to people of any faith background or no faith background."

Comment by Michael Penn on August 16, 2016 at 4:46pm

Keep in mind that non-denominational to most people means your audience can be Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, etc. and that all could benefit from the teachings. Take it deeper in saying that all are welcome but as secular humanists we are not addressing anything in a religious way at all. What we want to do is come together in thoughts and events and each address them in a relevant way. Ideas of sharing personal responsibility and ethics by everyone can be discussed and presented openly.

In the right situation your class would warm right up to you and many would be comparing ideas quickly. Everyone takes part and it would be a unique teaching experience for you also.

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