It’s very good. Read the whole thing.
But what about the argument that contemporary Humanism is becoming a cult, with its own unquestionable dogmas? Is the board of the AHA donning robes and preparing the thumbscrews? Of course not. In fact, steps like this show that organized Humanism is becoming more Humanistic. Humanism means more than a commitment to skepticism and freethought, and more than not believing in God (and the more I do Humanism the less I think that even matters). It means working to promote the dignity and worth of all people; fighting for the oppressed and the marginalized; working together for a more just world; and striving to bring out the best in ourselves and in others. Humanist organizations should seek to uphold these positive values at all times, and in disassociating themselves with the increasingly cringeworthy behavior of Richard Dawkins, the American Humanist Association showed a commitment to them.
Of course freethought, skepticism, and intellectual debate are central to the Humanist project. We should be vigilant against any tendency toward groupthink or cultishness. But for too many years, organized Humanism has focused on freethought and skepticism to the detriment of the broader panoply of values the tradition should uphold. It has promoted – even lionized – figures who are rightly well-known for their contributions to science and skepticism, but who are not good representatives of the fullness of our tradition. People like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins became darlings of our movement at a time when it was focused far too much on defeating religion, and far too little on defeating injustice. That is now changing, and some in the movement don’t like the change. They want to hold onto their heroes, and resist the criticism they receive. New battle-lines are forming, and with this decision the AHA has chosen a side.
Good for them that it’s the right one.
I know what side I’m on. I’m relieved at one decision we made years ago. When the late Ed Brayton and I were discussing what to call this network, we both shared the goal of making it inclusive and committed to broader concerns than just “there is no god”, and we went back and forth on appropriate names; we quickly ruled out anything with “atheism” or “atheist” in it, because even then we could see the divisions becoming deeper and there were a few too many people calling themselves atheists that we did not want to be associated with. When Ed came up with “freethoughtblogs”, we said “PERFECT!” and I immediately bought the domain. And here you are. And here we are, able to easily distinguish ourselves from those people.
I recently renewed the domain registration, by the way.
Thanks, Ed, for your foresight.