Religion+Humanism=?

Since I was little, I have grown up blessing candles on Friday nights every week before I could even reach the counter. Saturday mornings at synagogue are a part of my weekly routine and I say a little prayer every night before I go to sleep.

I guess you could say that through growing up with religion, many of my values stem from it. Be respectful to others, listen to your parents: they are morals that most rational people with or without religion have. However, religious teachings also link with something else. Religion has a direct link to G-d and the supernatural world.

When I first heard about “religious humanism”, the idea seemed counterintuitive to me. How can a perspective on life which stresses the prime importance of humans rather than the importance of a divine power, be connected with religion, whose main objective is to honor and glorify G-d through spirituality and be devoted to his supreme power in the universe? (Nauert 5-10).

So, I did some investigation. While these sound like opposites, they actually share many of the same foundations. In Reason and Reverence: Religious Humanism for the 21st Century, the author William Murry writes:

religious humanism emphasizes the importance of communities that affirm, support, and encourage these values through preaching, teaching, caring for one another, and celebrating life’s passages together. (Murry 1-3)

The difference between secular humanism and religious humanism seems to be that while they both believe in human potential and importance, religious humanism also focuses on their spirituality, spreading these ideas, and teaching them to their community and other communities.

So what about G-d? Religious humanists do not believe in G-d (Murry 1-3), but they focus a lot on spiritual growth unlike secular humanists. Without a belief in G-d, I think that the “religious” aspect of religious humanists is a belief that you can use spirituality as a way of finding yourself and connecting to a deeper part of who you are: all of your innermost thoughts and emotions rather than connecting yourself with a divine power.

Personally, I have a spiritual connection with G-d, but I believe that there are many ways to understand your spirituality, and whether that is through G-d or your own power is a personal choice.

Works Cited

Sources:

Murry, William. Reason and Reverence: Religious Humanism for the 21st Century. Boston: Skinner House Books, 2007. 1-3. Web.

Nauert, Charles. Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe. Cambridge University Press, 2006. 5-10. Web.

Images:

N.d. Painting. MEFS Morris Evangelical Free Church; http://www.mefc.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=96&Itemid=104

N.d. Infographic. Archdiocese of Washington; http://blog.adw.org/2010/12/wheres-the-human-in-humanism-humanist-ads-violate-their-own-humanist-standards/

Featured Image:

Religion. N.d. Graphic. LaGuardia Community College; http://www.eportfolio.lagcc.cuny.edu/scholars/doc_fa07/rezwana.islam/images/Religion.gif

Advertisements

10 comments

  1. matthewthemadscientist

    Interesting post!
    How prevalent is religious humanism today? Most of the humanists in modern times that have gotten a lot of attention have been secular humanists. Do you think that advancing technology has reduced interest, or need for spirituality?

    • ilana1234

      Matthew, Thanks so much for reading my post! I’m very glad you enjoyed it. As to your question, I believe that though secular humanism gets more attention, there still are plenty of religious humanists, and some that might not even know it. I know a handful of people who don’t really believe in G-d, but will still keep some form of spiritual practice for themselves. As for actual numbers, its hard to find any statistical data on the amount of religious humanists, so my answer is somewhat anecdotal.

      And as for technology reducing need for spirituality, I believe that the answer depends on the person. Some people see improvements in technology and scientific answers, and the more knowledge they get the less they are in need of faith; however, with all of the questions being answered in the world of science, more questions come up and some people look at that and deduce that sometimes the more we know, the more we realize that we don’t know. This creates more uncertainty for people and they may turn to faith as a result.

      Once again, thanks so much for reading my post, and I hope my reply will help answer some of your questions.

      -Ilana

  2. jackr224

    I agree with llana, i think that for technology reducing the need for spirituality, it all comes down to the individual and their own specific set of beliefs. But i think that overall, technology is lowering our interest in spirituality.

    • ilana1234

      Hello Jack, thanks for reading. You made a very intriguing generalization that technology is in fact lowering our interest in religion. It would be interesting if you could back this statement up with some statistics. Do you know of any statistics are out there that show that technology is truly lowering our interest in religion and spirituality? I did some research and couldn’t find any, so I would be interested to know if you have found such data. Once again I’m glad you liked my post. Thanks,

      -Ilana

  3. janine248

    Ilana! Great article. I think it’s interesting because it’s from the point of view of a religious person. Do you think technology is lowering our interest in a lot of ways? Other than religion?

    And is the population of religious humanists growing, or decreasing? What do you think other challenges that present themselves to humanists are, other than technology?

    • ilana1234

      Hey Janine, I’m really glad you read my post and happy that you found it interesting! I think that if technology is perceived to be reducing our interest in religion, it may also be reducing our belief in certain values and societal norms that stem from religion. However there isn’t much hard data on this and much of this is speculation. It could be that people are finding that their core beliefs about life according to religion are being strengthened because similar to my answer to Matthew’s questions, technology could increase people’s spirituality in some cases, because some people may have a growing interest in religion due to technological finds.

      Because generally religious humanists are not affiliated with specific religious humanist groups or churches, it is hard to find statistics which show a rise or decrease in religious humanists, and unfortunately I couldn’t find any statistics after searching for a while.

      I think that other than technology, a challenge religious humanists have is the slight contradiction many people could see in their beliefs. They are indeed humanists, but their spirituality aspect insists that they believe in something more outside of them which aides in their spirituality. To other people this could be perceived as an inconsistency and may not look good.

      Also they don’t have any common long standing doctrines, texts or liturgy that create a basis for their beliefs. For example, most people can recall that Christians have the Bible, Jews have the Torah and Muslims have the Quran, but most people don’t know of any books or traditions that religious humanists base themselves off of, or if their are any. Thanks!

      -Ilana

  4. zach2342

    Hi Ilana, I really enjoyed your post on religion and humanism. I really liked the way you started the piece off with something about you, in this case your religion, Judaism. I wrote about a similar concept and I also started my piece off about my religious upbringing as a Catholic. I liked the way you shed some light on how the difference between religious and secular humanism is that religious humanism also focuses on spirituality. Really well done, thanks for posting.
    Zach

    • ilana1234

      Hi Zach, Thank you so much for reading my post. I’m glad you brought up in your comment how my religion gives the writing an interesting perspective. I wonder how our separate religious upbringings would effect our views on religious humanism; if they would be similar or different. I would be interested in hearing your opinion. Once again, thanks for reading,

      -Ilana

  5. morgigglez

    Hey Ilana!
    Your blog post is very thorough and your view on humanism is very nice! I was wondering what your opinion is on the contradictions of secular and Christian humanism?
    Thanks,
    -Morgan

    • ilana1234

      Hi Morgan, thanks so much for commenting, you bring up an good question! In my blogpost, I wrote that one of the core differences between secular humanism and Religious humanism, or Christian humanism, is the aspect of spirituality that goes along with religious humanism. I think that this illustrates how religious humanism, while having a humanist basis in glorifying the human race, could show a little more leniency with their core belief in humanism. The definition of spirituality shows a belief in something outside of one’s self, which is an idea not present in a secular humanistic view. Once again, thank you for reading my post, and I hope I answered your question.

      -Ilana

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: