A Humanist's Endorsement

Continuing the discussion from Lents at USA Today: Scientific Possibility for 'Adam and Eve':

And a kind tweet too:

@sfmatheson thank you. I know how much you dislike Christianity, so there is something much more important driving you here. You write,

your endorsement of @swamidass’ effort, and especially your clarity in how you did it, is not only consistent with humanist values, but nearly mandated by them.

I’d like to know more about these humanist values, and how you explain them. I ask this question to understand you. This is not a lead in to an apologetic or polemic trap. I see integrity here, and I want to know more.


Humanist values are pretty straightforward at their roots: humans and their well-being are the most important things there are; ethics are real but must be discovered and considered because they aren’t delivered by gods; doing good is the highest calling there is. So to unpack what I wrote about @NLENTS piece, there is a tension between rejecting the toxic gods of most forms of Christianity, on the one hand, and the centrality of the well-being of the humans who invented it and who continue to consider is to be valuable on the other. The humanists in my community strongly emphasize the latter, and have to be patient with my dislike of Christianity. Their instinct would be the same as @NLENTS: to embrace the project, in spite of its religious motivation and its fondness for damaging myths, because the project has the potential to help humans become more comfortable with science, to the benefit of those people and everyone else.

Values-wise, I was a humanist long before I deconverted, and I think you will find that Christian humanism has deep and honorable historical roots. There are many who find the phrase ‘Christian humanism’ to be nonsense, and they have a point, but IMO a Christ-based Christian faith is strongly humanistic.


Thank you for explaining more @sfmatheson.

If I understand you right, I think I agree with this.


I could be described that way if you mean this:


@sfmatheson I see a lot of common ground. Is it possible to reject toxic Christianity without rejecting Jesus?

I have friends and loved ones who have done that, and I did it for several years. And Jesus as a character with wisdom is a perfectly normal part of a humanist outlook. But Jesus as a god is not, for me, separable from the gods of the old testament and the gods that inspired Paul. Those characters are not respectable, as seen in what they said and did and wrote, but also in the influence they have on people. And it is hard to keep Jesus as a god while rejecting those other gods. So for me and most humanists I know, Jesus is a human character, fictional to some extent, decent and maybe even ground-breaking, but flawed and long dead. I’m more inspired by my friends and loved ones than I am by him.


Thanks for the transparency @sfmatheson. I think I understand you more now. I appreciate your endorsement, with caveats noted.