In terms of my view of how the world works:
I identify as Humanist
(But then so do many people of faith who also value humanity.
And obviously, in other terms I identify as a lot of other things too:
male, husband, father, grandfather, British, engineer, philosophical researcher, etc, etc, but let’s stick to the point about holding a worldview.
Identity is a whole other topic in its own right.)
Does that make me an Atheist?
(Well kinda, maybe, probably, but that’s jumping the gun on a metaphysical question, below.)
As a Humanist, I’m also a Free-Thinker.
(Part of what used to be called the Free-Thought movement.)
By freedom of thought and expression we humans are able to understand the world and our place in it – our freedoms and responsibilities- by means of Reasoning unencumbered by dogmas, religious, rational or otherwise.
So I’m also a Secularist.
How we humans govern our affairs collectively, not just our individual reasoning in the world, should also be free from – or at least free to democratically question – any established body of teachings, however rationally benign. (Governance – literally cybernetics – is central here, and “the best kind of democratic government” is a whole other topic.)
Does that make me a Rationalist?
Not in the narrow sense that all our Reasoning be based on logical relationships – “ratios” – between objectively quantifiable values. I sometimes claim New Rationalist as a label for a more broadly defined reasoning that includes much wider palette of human values, but Humanism is itself a good label for that too.
So what about the Metaphysics?
I’m a Naturalist so I am essentially Non-Theist. That is, all of that free-thinking reasoning about the world, and the place of humanity within it, is itself part of the natural world without appeal to any supernatural forces or agents beyond it. My world-view has no need of a supernatural, omniscient, omnipotent agent or being to explain it. I’m pretty certain about that – subject to as much free-thought reasoning as we can bring to it – but that doesn’t mean my world-view proves the non-existence of any god. So I’m not literally Atheist. Neither am I Anti-Theist, since Theists & Theologians are human too. I prefer to define myself in terms of what I’m for, not what I’m against, and there’s a lot to be gained from dialogue with those who think different. It also means I’m neither Agnostic nor Gnostic. I cannot be neutral about the metaphysics of such a naturalist world-view even if for most practical purposes metaphysics can be ignored. Not much is sacred in this world other than nature itself, of which humanity is a part – Sacred Naturalism (say?). A whole other topic.
And what about Science?
So, if we ignore the Metaphysics, for practical purposes, that Free-Thought reasoning looks a lot like Science. As a body of knowledge about the natural world, that established by Science is unbeatable, but as we get closer to the limits of what the methods of science can know, we cannot ignore our Metaphysics which cannot itself be science. In Sacred Naturalism, where reasoning about the Natural world involves human values beyond the narrowly Rational, there are aspects of nature that lie beyond objective scientific orthodoxy. These subjective, qualitative values and direct experiences, may be thought of as spiritual, sacred, even divine, but still entirely natural even if beyond orthodox science.
[The above essentially paraphrases “My Worldview” page.]
Post Note: The reason for the fresh re-statement?:
I’m a humanist because as a free-thinking secularist, life decisions should be based on human values, freedoms & responsibilities beyond narrow limitations of *either* rationality *or* dogma. https://t.co/XrvNCNMEKk
— Ian Glendinning (@psybertron) August 26, 2022
Interesting follow-up post “Is God Sacred?” from AJ over at his “Staggering Implications” on the word we choose for “the sacred”. Noting that the common theme is developing into a movement. (See our exchange in the comments below.)
Also in stating the worldview above, the key topics that define the “What, Why and How do we Know?” agenda here on Psybertron are laid bare as “whole other topics”:
- Identity & Identity Politics
- Cybernetics & Democratic Government
- Metaphysical Naturalism & Fundamental Computation