Secular Humanism Resource Recommendations

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Posts 809
Cynthia in Florida | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Aug 3 2019 3:03 PM

I have to write a paper that compares and contrasts a major world view to Christianity.  I've decided to c/c secular humanism and was wondering which resources you recommend?

Thanks!

Cynthia

Romans 8:28-38

Posts 51
RHC | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 3 2019 4:07 PM

I read Packer's book a while ago and thought it was helpful: Christianity: The True Humanism, by Thomas Howard and J I Packer, 1985.

Some other Christian critiques of secular humanism I've looked at are:

 Norman Geisler, Is Man the Measure?: An Evaluation of Contemporary Humanism
https://www.logos.com/product/9152/is-man-the-measure-an-evaluation-of-contemporary-humanism

James Hitchcock, What Is Secular Humanism?

Hope that helps a bit.

Posts 51
RHC | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 3 2019 4:17 PM

I forgot to mention R C Sproul has a chapter on humanism in Making a Difference: Impacting Culture and Society as a Christian
and he discusses some of the underlying philosophy in The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts That Shaped Our World

Posts 4761
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 4 2019 2:36 AM

I would look at books written by Sam Harris. He is probably at the forefront of the Secular Humanism community. Also, I would focus on the actual teaching of humanists rather than Christian-splaining resources that tell you what humanists think.

Posts 1098
Sean | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 4 2019 4:02 AM

David Paul:
Also, I would focus on the actual teaching of humanists rather than Christian-splaining resources that tell you what humanists think.

This is sound advice for researching any topic--go for primary sources written by the proponents of a viewpoint and not just their re-presentations by (Christian) opponents. Sometimes the latter do a good job; other times they are horribly off the mark. It's only fair to one's opponents, and for genuine academic work it's a must.

This is why I'm very thankful for the wide range of resources from less than popular viewpoints in the Logos catalogue--I can do real research in primary sources with it. (But I'm sorry that I don't have any recommendations for Cynthia; this particular topic isn't really one of my areas.)

Posts 1966
Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 4 2019 5:28 AM

David Paul:

I would look at books written by Sam Harris. He is probably at the forefront of the Secular Humanism community. Also, I would focus on the actual teaching of humanists rather than Christian-splaining resources that tell you what humanists think.

This, and I would second Sam Harris, and add Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett.

Disclaimer:  I hate using messaging, texting, and email for real communication.  If anything that I type to you seems like anything other than humble and respectful, then I have not done a good job typing my thoughts.

Posts 809
Cynthia in Florida | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 4 2019 9:28 AM

Wow everyone!  This is really great.  THANK YOU so very much.

And, thank you for the reminder to not merely focus on "Christian-splaining" resources!  Great advice!

Cynthia

Romans 8:28-38

Posts 3024
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 6 2019 10:23 AM

Joseph Turner:

David Paul:

I would look at books written by Sam Harris. He is probably at the forefront of the Secular Humanism community. Also, I would focus on the actual teaching of humanists rather than Christian-splaining resources that tell you what humanists think.

This, and I would second Sam Harris, and add Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett.

I definitely support reading the leading intellectual lights (popular and academic) of contemporary secular humanism when studying secular humanism.

One Christian author to keep an eye out for who hasn't already been mentioned is the philosopher Edward Feser, a former atheist.

Posts 425
Liam & Abi Maguire | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 6 2019 11:03 AM

Others have covered most of the bases, ie. read primary sources, read wide (resources on both sides), read deep (multiple Authors on both sides). This is very wise advice. 

To reading primary, wide and deep I’d humbly add the encouragement to read back. Read someone who can give you a historical overview of where humanism has come from and how it has evolved. From that pick a historical (preferably foundational text/s) and read that too. This way you’ll get some historical context to the ideas being promoted and how historical ideas are being applied in contemporary humanism. 

Whilst not exactly an answer to your question I hope it helps anyway. 

The Very Short Introduction series has an entry on humanism. Whilst i’ve note read it personally (let the buyer understand), other entries in the series have served me very well. Particularly in giving a pencil sketch overview and providing a rough framework on which to begin to hang and categorise other ideas.

Always cheap on amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Humanism-Very-Short-Introduction-Introductions/dp/0199553645/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?keywords=humanism&qid=1565114704&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Check out my blog 'For Fathers'

Posts 4761
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 17 2019 12:45 PM

Joseph Turner:
This, and I would second Sam Harris, and add Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett.

Of these, Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Dennett are known as "The Four Horsemen of Atheism". All of the above are noted atheists, but that isn't why I singled out Harris as being forefront in humanism. Atheism and humanism are not the same thing, though there are overlaps. Most of these guys are scientists of one sort or another, and also materialists. Harris stands out because he has put forward some broadly fleshed out arguments that include humanist ethics. He frequently speaks of "human flourishing", "human well-being", and the like, and describes what he perceives as beneficial goals for humanity to practice for achieving such goals. Most of the others are mostly just scientists and God-bashers; they don't promote anything like the idealism of Harris. Hitchens was the exception in not being a scientist. He was mainly a writer and commentator. He mostly pointed at things he considered wrong rather than formulating ideas for developing something "right". Harris's The Moral Landscape is probably a good place to start.

Posts 1966
Joseph Turner | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 17 2019 2:43 PM

David Paul:

Joseph Turner:
This, and I would second Sam Harris, and add Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett.

Of these, Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Dennett are known as "The Four Horsemen of Atheism". All of the above are noted atheists, but that isn't why I singled out Harris as being forefront in humanism. Atheism and humanism are not the same thing, though there are overlaps. Most of these guys are scientists of one sort or another, and also materialists. Harris stands out because he has put forward some broadly fleshed out arguments that include humanist ethics. He frequently speaks of "human flourishing", "human well-being", and the like, and describes what he perceives as beneficial goals for humanity to practice for achieving such goals. Most of the others are mostly just scientists and God-bashers; they don't promote anything like the idealism of Harris. Hitchens was the exception in not being a scientist. He was mainly a writer and commentator. He mostly pointed at things he considered wrong rather than formulating ideas for developing something "right". Harris's The Moral Landscape is probably a good place to start.

Secular Humanism has its worldview based firmly in naturalism, which promotes scientific explanations over supernatural ones, which is why I suggested the others.  All four are classified as secular humanists.  I don't know how Cynthia would write a paper on secular humanism without mentioning science, and I would think arguments against a theistic world view would be helpful, so I stand by my recommendations as appropriate for her purposes.  I agree with your comments concerning Harris specifically though, and I agree that if I could pick only one for this purpose, I would pick him.

Disclaimer:  I hate using messaging, texting, and email for real communication.  If anything that I type to you seems like anything other than humble and respectful, then I have not done a good job typing my thoughts.

Posts 425
Liam & Abi Maguire | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 17 2019 4:43 PM

Liam Maguire:

Others have covered most of the bases, ie. read primary sources, read wide (resources on both sides), read deep (multiple Authors on both sides). This is very wise advice. 

To reading primary, wide and deep I’d humbly add the encouragement to read back. Read someone who can give you a historical overview of where humanism has come from and how it has evolved. From that pick a historical (preferably foundational text/s) and read that too. This way you’ll get some historical context to the ideas being promoted and how historical ideas are being applied in contemporary humanism.

After some further thought on the historical development of secular Humanism, a look at the key ideas developed by, and the legacy of, a character like David Hume is probably a good place to start. The 'empiricism' that folks like Dawkins et al push for in all areas of life and their starting point (a priori) denial of the supernatural (radical materialism) is not original to them but in many ways a foot note in the legacy and influence of David Hume. John Lock and Francis Bacon too, to some extent, perhaps, but Hume would be chief among them in my humble opinion.

Check out my blog 'For Fathers'

Posts 2288
Jan Krohn | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Aug 17 2019 4:54 PM

Cynthia in Florida:

I have to write a paper that compares and contrasts a major world view to Christianity.  I've decided to c/c secular humanism and was wondering which resources you recommend?

I've just finished a paper on postmodern influences on evangelicalism. Two of the most helpful resources that I used have significant overlap with secular humanism:

  • Dan Story, Christianity on the Offense
  • Jeff Myers, Understanding the Times (FL e-book)

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