The Dubuque Area Humanists have just completed our first year after being organized. We provide a community for those who have a natural as opposed to supernatural view of life in the universe.
We have learned a lot and have provided services in the tri-state area. The first thing we found was that many people did not know what “humanism” means. In fact, even our most active board member admitted that.
Humanism attaches prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanists see humans as neutral beings with the potential to do good as well as bad, but we work toward the good as we seek rational ways of solving human problems.
We find substituting the word “good” for “God” is where we find common ground with religions. We are a chapter of the American Humanist Association which has a motto: “Good without a God.”
Another thing we have learned is that many people who have challenged us assume we don’t believe there are any forces in the universe. This makes one think of Einstein, whom some supernaturalists like to quote “God does not play dice.”
Einstein was using this as a metaphor, as he later clarified, “I do not believe in a personal God, and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious, then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
The Pew Research Center reports nearly one out of 10 people in the USA are either atheists or agnostics while in Europe it is about three times higher. The “nones” is one group in the United States which is growing in numbers as opposed to Christian groups, which are declining.
In our monthly meetings, we have had presentations on: the value of science, pagans and the solstice, group delusion, and the Prime Directive of Star Trek. We have had several service activities including providing food to those who need it and trash clean-up in public places. Probably the most pleasure we get is from our small-group discussions with our 25 members.
One book often brought up is Bart Ehrman’s “How Jesus Became God.” Ehrman is a Moody Bible School graduate, University of North Carolina professor, and a presenter in the Great Courses Series. He points out that some of the people who wrote about Jesus, including Paul, had never met him.
We also hosted for the public Hector Avalos, Ph.D., a professor of religious studies at Iowa State University who was a popular evangelist when he was a teenager. He spoke on the problems with the New Testament. One telling comment was when he was asked about God healing people, he answered, “People heal people.”