Saturday, November 17, 2007

Orthodoxy to Humanism

Here's an interesting post by Rabbi David Gruber explaining why he left Orthodox Judaism for secular humanism. He starts with the growth of his misgivings and then goes into detail on why he thinks the main claims of Orthodoxy are wrong--even immoral, because, as he says "it had robbed me of my individuality."

His new philosophy of life is:
I wish to base my life on a non-theistic world outlook that recognizes the supremacy of reason, and the dignity of the human being, who can and must stand alone in this world, and whose accomplishments and perseverance in an incredible and beautiful, while hostile and indifferent universe can and should be celebrated.

Hear! Hear!


littlefoxlings said...

thanks for the link

Mike Messerli said...

I assume your "hear! hear!" means you agree. To this one statement, "the dignity of the human being" I too agree, but I'm not willing to elevate humanism to "achieve" something I already believe in- the dignity of the human being. I just don't agree that we get that by turning our backs on diety.

Good blog, by the way, I will stop by to visit at times, thanks.

Shawn Klein said...

Hi Mike,
Thanks for the comment.

If we are agree on the dignity of the individual, we are on the right path.

I think, however, that most humanists or atheists think that belief in the divine leads to the degradation of the individual and not dignity. Certainly, the major religions repeatedly remind their followers that they are a mere pittance in comparison to God. Not much dignity there.

Mike Messerli said...


You are right, many religions do make man "small", but I don't think a faith in God makes that universally true....but that's a discussion over a cup of coffee. On the other side of the coin one of the things I notice that amazes me is that humanism and atheism both make little of human dignity with some of their major themes and don't even realize it...again, thanks for your thoughts.

Shawn Klein said...

Hi Mike,

True enough, there are humanisms or atheisms that do little for human dignity. Communism comes to mind here.

I feel compelled to make the following point about atheism. Atheism is not a worldview or philosophy. It is merely the recognition that the claim of theism is without sufficient warrant. That is, it is merely the negation or rejection of the claim that there is a god or gods.

As such, there are all different kinds of atheists--many of whom share nothing in common except the lack of the proposition that god exists.

Humanism is different and offers a substantive view about the world. (See: Humanist Manifesto--do not take this link as approval of the manifesto)

Mike Messerli said...


I have read the manifesto quite a while ago. Know about it, discussed it with others in the past. Thanks for the link though.

You made on comment I would slightly disagree with, but it feel a little petty to bring it up....almost a discussion over words, but I will mention it. You said, "Atheism is not a worldview or philosophy. It is merely the recognition that the claim of theism is without sufficient warrant."

I would disagree with you, and I think Dawkins would as well. In his recent work, "The God delusion" he tried very hard to establish atheistic darwinian thought as the only viable "religion" mankind can logically defend. I think most atheists are honest enough to say that atheism is a worldview. In fact I surprised you would maintain it's not. It, at it's very core, is what a worldview is all about- a way to view anthropology and the world we live in. So on that point I would disagree. Again, thanks for letting me "play"...I have enjoyed your comments.

Shawn Klein said...

I haven't read Dawkins' book, but I think it is incorrect to link, necessarily, atheism and Darwinism together. One can accept Darwinism without any logical requirement that one reject the proposition that there is a god. And one can be an atheist without accepting Darwinism--there were atheists before Darwin.

More over, it is a fundamental mistake to claim that Atheism is "way to view anthropology and the world we live in." Ayn Rand advocated atheism, but this hardly tells you anything about her view on the world or how to act in it. It merely tells you about one aspect of her view of the world: it doesn't involve god. Bertrand Russell was also an atheist--but that's just about the only thing Rand and Russell agree on: their respective worldviews are quite different.

Distun said...

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