Can humanists teach Christians a few things?

May 13, 2011

By Norris Burkes

Florida Today

Apr. 22, 2011

Would we have a better world if we had followed the teachings of Aristotle, Confucius and Baudelaire instead of the religious teachings of the Koran or the Bible?

British academic A.C. Grayling believes we would, so he’s written his own version of a bible called The Good Book: A Humanist Bible. It’s an anthology of hundreds of philosophers and writers organized into chapters and verses.

Now, let me quickly assure religious readers that I haven’t gone to the dark side, and this isn’t a book endorsement. However, I do think religious people have something to learn from Grayling.

But first you need to know that Grayling doesn’t follow the anti-religious atheism espoused by the likes of Richard Dawkins. Called by some the velvet atheist, Grayling avoids the militant and is more comfortable with the word humanist.

What’s the difference between an atheist and a humanist?

Well, that’s a tricky question. Most atheists, and certainly all the ones I know, are humanists. However, atheism by itself is simply the assertion that there is no God.

Active stewardship

Humanists like Grayling take their beliefs beyond that assertion and will become active in their care of people, animals and our planet. Sometimes they can sound downright spiritual when describing their views.

Maybe that’s why Grayling recently told Jessica Ravitz of CNN that “each individual has to work out the values they live by and especially to recognize that the best of our good lives revolves around having good relationships with people.”

Graying believes that the only difference between religious people and the humanist is that “humanist ethics didn’t claim to be derived from a deity.”

Wow. Except for that last sentence, the teaching sounds much like the lessons of the Golden Rule and the Good Samaritan parable I learned as a kid in a Baptist Sunday school.

Moral compass

Don’t get me wrong. I happen to think that looking for your moral compass inside yourself is a good way to find yourself lost in a very deep forest. Nor am I endorsing a pot-luck belief system where you are free to believe a little of this and a little of that.

Nonetheless, I think humanists are right about some things.

Years ago, I took a comparative religion class at a Christian university. My professor, while decidedly Christian, believed that each religion, even humanism, has something to teach the Christian.

For instance, the humanist teachings about our planet remind me that God loves all his creation. His creation is the center of his love. When religious people forget that, they tend to become, as the saying goes, “so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good.”

But if there is one lesson I hope the humanist and Christian alike can take away from the Christian Bible, it would be the story in Mark’s Gospel about a father who brings his crazed teen to Jesus asking Jesus to help him if he can.

In the Norris paraphrase, Jesus responds incredulously. “What do you mean by, ‘if I can?’ Of course I can.”

Or more respective of the text, Jesus says, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately, the boy’s father exclaims, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

These words, “help me overcome my unbelief,” probably characterize the struggle most of us encounter, whether humanist or religious.

For you see, we all have unbelief at some time or another. We can all display an unbelieving streak when we fail to believe in one another, when we fall short of our goals to change, and simply fail to do the human thing.


The ice age is coming D:

January 7, 2010

Hey guys. Sorry for my distance, it’s been kinda hectic around my home and I’ve been stuck in this mood since New Years. I had the worst New Years ever and I’m still a bit gloomy about it.

2010: I don’t feel any different. I’m kinda the one who doesn’t really care about this stuff. Like yeah, every year should get better, and every year we should try to improve, but shouldn’t we be doing this all the time? Shouldn’t we constantly have, and be making, ”resolutions”? I’ve always thought of time as this arbitrary thing, so it doesn’t really phase me.

But I must ask if any of your resolutions are working out. So are any of your resolutions working out?

DRUMLINE HAS STARTED!!! GUESS WHO’S PLAYING SNARE?? Brian is 🙂 Guess who’s playing lead marching cymbals? Brian’s icy cold ex girlfriend 😦

I’m sorry my posts don’t really have a point but are probably super boring, so here’s a few videos for you to watch!!

The Online Gamer – I got this off of RWJ’s youtube show. The video has some swearing in it… beware. I thought it was funny when I realized how easily I related to the gamer guy.

United State of Pop – A good mix of the top 25 billboard hits.

Random Thoughts:

When did Emma Watson get so hot?

Have you seen the previews for that vampire movie Daybreakers? It looks awesome and I really want to see it. I haven’t seen Avatar yet, but I hear nothing but good stuff about it.

Peppermint Hershey Kisses are so good. I couldn’t sleep last night so I took a bunch and melted them into this like topping and put it on oreos. It was an incredible experience.

I’m reading Into Thin Air right now. It’s about some Mount Everest climbers freezing to death. I’m so glad I live in California.

I got my permit yesterday. Once I get my license, I’m basically free. I can go anywhere I want. I can go to Magic Mountain every day after school if I wanted to. No more bikes, metros, buses, and angry complaints from my mom when she has to drive me to the gas station so I can get daily 5 Hour Energy. I’m so stoked.

I really want to go to this Tim Burton exhibit in New York. It looks amazing.

And that’s about it that’s going on with me right now.

Peace out,



Tik Tok – Ke$hA cover

January 1, 2010

Therapeutic Smile

December 22, 2009

Awwww. Harry Potter interview:

Here’s an awesome holiday playlist:

Most of it was picked out by my sister, but I need to add to it and send it back to her. Any suggestions?

I’m taking Driver’s Ed 🙂 I get my permit on Wednesday, wish me luck! Today we learned how to properly hit a deer that’s in the middle of the road, so it won’t crash through the windshield and kills us.

I  uploaded my Christmas list, but the format is all off, and I’m too impatient to go back and redo everything. I would submit it the way it is but I’m also a perfectionist and I ughhh. Here’s it is with out the cool pictures:

10 things I want for Christmas:

  • New Alternative Press subscription
  • Aeropostale open plaid pjs
  • Nightmare Before Christmas sweatshirt
  • assortment of xbox, Wii games.
  • money…
  • an airplane ticket to New York
  • a car?
  • Symphony Chocolate
  • assortment of CDs
  • Hamburger bed


Yay, Christmas.

December 3, 2009

Hey guys.

Here’s just a bunch of random thoughts and rambles.

So…being Tiger Woods right now must suck. He cheated on his wife and now every stripper out there who wants a reality tv show is coming out out and saying they’ve had affairs with him. I mean, really? Can you just leave the guy alone? Elin Nordegren should know that t 1 in 4.6 married or cohabitating men have been unfaithful NOT TO MENTION that Tiger Wood’s is a celebrity. There’s really no surprise here.

Lady Gaga makes me SICK. I see at least one of her videos on MTV every morning and it’s just so disturbing that I have to look away. And I’ve seen some pretty disturbing things. Hahahahahha. How do you make Lady Gaga cry? Poke her face. 🙂

The remake of The Karate Kid that’s coming out is going to crash and burn. Will Smith’s producing it and his son’s the main character? It’s an unnecessary remake. Which leads to the question, what movies, do you think, should never ever be remade?

Hmm. How to be popular? Look it up on wikihow 🙂

Oh and jeez, you have to listen to this song by the Christian hip-hop group: “Stuff Christians Like”
It’s called “Christian Side Hug” and it’s literally a rap song about how it’s a sin to hug someone from the front. They suggest that you hug someone from the side to avoid sexual urges. Check it out:

I love it when people make moral issues on stupid things like hugs. 🙂

Uh, that’s all I have today.

Have a super good week 🙂


Nov.23, 2009

November 24, 2009

OverAll Enthusiasm.

November 16, 2009

Haha if you watch FlapJacks on Cartoonnetwork you understand the title of this post (;

Does this not make you smile?