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Unitarian Universalism, Humanism, God and the Humanist Manifesto

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  • Unitarian Universalism, Humanism, God and the Humanist Manifesto

    This thread will explore Unitarian Universalism with mostly references from them, and their history as to the nature of their belief system. Yes, god(s) is mentioned in these references, but the question is how god(s) is described and viewed by Unitarians? The following is a short essay on UU website on the nature of God from the UU perspective for further discussion. Note highlighted, God is primarily described as a 'symbol,' 'concept,' or an 'idea,' 'imagery and metaphors,' and not a theist Creator, and few UUs actual view God as theist Creator God.

    Source: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/welcome/higherpower/151278.shtml

    Many people have questioned whether any concept of God can be meaningful in a modern, scientific world. Others, however, find the idea of God to be profoundly meaningful. Among Unitarian Universalists (UUs) and other religious liberals, conceptions range across a wide spectrum. Some reject God altogether and hold a strictly atheistic view of the universe. Others may use the term God to convey very different ideas, such as the creative power of evolution in the universe, or the power that makes transformation possible in our lives, or the ongoing power of love, or simply the ultimate mystery within which we all must live. And while few UUs think of God as a supernatural being, many understand themselves to be in some sort of personal relationship with God, however conceived. Many also stress the feminine aspects of the divine by invoking Goddess imagery and using metaphors such as mother or sister in place of traditional metaphors for God such as father or lord.

    Theologians remind us that the symbol "God" can serve several important functions. First, it offers a vision of the highest values of truth, justice, love, and goodness toward which we strive. In this sense, it serves as a standard against which to measure ourselves and our achievements. Second, the concept of God can remind us of the relativity and limitations of our own ideas. Here, it serves as a corrective to our biases and a basis for critical reflection. Finally, by bringing together our highest ideals in a single symbol, the idea of God provides a focus for personal devotion or communal worship. These are among the many reasons why God continues to be an important and meaningful symbol for many Unitarian Universalists today.

    © Copyright Original Source

    Last edited by shunyadragon; 06-20-2014, 10:11 PM.
    Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
    Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
    But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

    go with the flow the river knows . . .

    Frank

    I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

  • #2
    Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
    This thread will explore Unitarian Universalism with mostly references from them, and their history as to the nature of their belief system. Yes, god(s) is mentioned in these references, but the question is how god(s) is described and viewed by Unitarians. The following is a short essay on UU website on the nature of God from the UU perspective for further discussion. Note highlighted, God is primarily described as a 'symbol,' 'concept,' or an 'idea,' 'imagery and metaphors,' and not a theist Creator, and few UUs actual view God as theist Creator God.

    Source: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/welcome/higherpower/151278.shtml

    Many people have questioned whether any concept of God can be meaningful in a modern, scientific world. Others, however, find the idea of God to be profoundly meaningful. Among Unitarian Universalists (UUs) and other religious liberals, conceptions range across a wide spectrum. Some reject God altogether and hold a strictly atheistic view of the universe. Others may use the term God to convey very different ideas, such as the creative power of evolution in the universe, or the power that makes transformation possible in our lives, or the ongoing power of love, or simply the ultimate mystery within which we all must live. And while few UUs think of God as a supernatural being, many understand themselves to be in some sort of personal relationship with God, however conceived. Many also stress the feminine aspects of the divine by invoking Goddess imagery and using metaphors such as mother or sister in place of traditional metaphors for God such as father or lord.

    Theologians remind us that the symbol "God" can serve several important functions. First, it offers a vision of the highest values of truth, justice, love, and goodness toward which we strive. In this sense, it serves as a standard against which to measure ourselves and our achievements. Second, the concept of God can remind us of the relativity and limitations of our own ideas. Here, it serves as a corrective to our biases and a basis for critical reflection. Finally, by bringing together our highest ideals in a single symbol, the idea of God provides a focus for personal devotion or communal worship. These are among the many reasons why God continues to be an important and meaningful symbol for many Unitarian Universalists today.

    © Copyright Original Source

    How silly. It makes no sense. It would be more rational to just drop the concept of God if you don't really believe He exists. You could reach all the goals stated above without this made up deity - it is unnecessary.
    Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

    Comment


    • #3
      There were some objections to my description of Unitarian Universalists as consensus church or religion of 'independent thought.' The objection was raised when I proposed polls as best describing what UUs believe and why. What do UUs say about this?

      Source: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/welcome/index.shtml



      What Unites Us?

      We are united in our broad and inclusive outlook, and in our values, as expressed in our seven Principles. We are united in shared experience: our open and stirring worship services, religious education, and rites of passage; our work for social justice; our quest to include the marginalized; our expressions of love.

      © Copyright Original Source



      More on this to follow.
      Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
      Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
      But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

      go with the flow the river knows . . .

      Frank

      I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by seer View Post
        How silly. It makes no sense. It would be more rational to just drop the concept of God if you don't really believe He exists. You could reach all the goals stated above without this made up deity - it is unnecessary.
        The question is what is the foundation of belief for UU, and whether it is right, wrong or silly.

        In a way I agree, but nonetheless I am just presenting UU views toward God, which is decidedly not Theist. Many if not most UUs do drop the concept of God. The views toward god(s) in UU is dominated by humanism, agnosticism, pantheism, and a vague Deism (which is not much different from variations of atheism, agnosticism, Gia like views of god(s), and pantheism.)
        Last edited by shunyadragon; 06-20-2014, 08:34 AM.
        Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
        Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
        But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

        go with the flow the river knows . . .

        Frank

        I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
          The question is what is the foundation of belief for UU, and whether it is right, wrong or silly.

          In a way I agree, but nonetheless I am just presenting UU views toward God, which is decidedly not Theist. Many if not most UUs do drop the concept of God. The views toward god(s) in UU is dominated by humanism, agnosticism, pantheism, and a vague Deism (which is not much different from variations of atheism, agnosticism, Gia like views of god(s), and pantheism.)
          Ok, but it is still silly. What they are describing as god, is not god. God and theism are one in the same. And one wonders, in their "communal worship", what exactly are they worshiping?
          Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

          Comment


          • #6
            The Seven Principles are central to the UU belief system. The following is a

            Source: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/principles/282067.shtml

            1st Principle: The Inherent Worth and Dignity of Every Person


            Unitarian Universalist congregations together affirm and promote seven Principles. We also share a “living tradition” of wisdom and spirituality, drawn from many sources. The seven Principles and six Sources of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) grew out of the grassroots of our communities, were affirmed democratically, and are part of who we are.

            Reflection on the First Principle

            “Reverence and respect for human nature is at the core of Unitarian Universalist (UU) faith. We believe that all the dimensions of our being carry the potential to do good. We celebrate the gifts of being human: our intelligence and capacity for observation and reason, our senses and ability to appreciate beauty, our creativity, our feelings and emotions. We cherish our bodies as well as our souls. We can use our gifts to offer love, to work for justice, to heal injury, to create pleasure for ourselves and others.

            “‘Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy,’ the great twentieth-century Rabbi Abraham Heschel wrote. Unitarian Universalists affirm the inherent worth and dignity of each person as a given of faith—an unshakeable conviction calling us to self-respect and respect for others.,”

            © Copyright Original Source



            This description of Human worth and dignity, and the nature of being human is a very humanist view. There is no mention of the 'Source' of the worth and dignity being outside natural nature of being human.
            Last edited by shunyadragon; 06-20-2014, 06:04 PM.
            Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
            Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
            But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

            go with the flow the river knows . . .

            Frank

            I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

            Comment


            • #7
              Source: http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_III



              The Humanist Manifesto III

              Humanist Manifesto III, a successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933*

              Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

              The life stance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

              This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

              Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

              Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

              Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

              Life's fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

              Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

              Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature's resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

              Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature's integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

              Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

              © Copyright Original Source



              Compare this to the Seven Principles and other material from UUs presented here.
              Last edited by shunyadragon; 06-20-2014, 10:09 PM.
              Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
              Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
              But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

              go with the flow the river knows . . .

              Frank

              I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by seer View Post
                It would be more rational to just drop the concept of God if you don't really believe He exists.
                I'm inclined to agree with you on this point. But some people, when they decide that a concept no longer works for them, would rather change the concept than let go of it.

                It reminds me of pantheism. The thing they call God does exist. I see no point in calling it God, so I don't, but I'm not going to waste time trying to convince them that they shouldn't either.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                  This thread will explore Unitarian Universalism with mostly references from them, and their history as to the nature of their belief system. Yes, god(s) is mentioned in these references, but the question is how god(s) is described and viewed by Unitarians? The following is a short essay on UU website on the nature of God from the UU perspective for further discussion. Note highlighted, God is primarily described as a 'symbol,' 'concept,' or an 'idea,' 'imagery and metaphors,' and not a theist Creator, and few UUs actual view God as theist Creator God.

                  Source: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/welcome/higherpower/151278.shtml

                  Many people have questioned whether any concept of God can be meaningful in a modern, scientific world. Others, however, find the idea of God to be profoundly meaningful. Among Unitarian Universalists (UUs) and other religious liberals, conceptions range across a wide spectrum. Some reject God altogether and hold a strictly atheistic view of the universe. Others may use the term God to convey very different ideas, such as the creative power of evolution in the universe, or the power that makes transformation possible in our lives, or the ongoing power of love, or simply the ultimate mystery within which we all must live. And while few UUs think of God as a supernatural being, many understand themselves to be in some sort of personal relationship with God, however conceived. Many also stress the feminine aspects of the divine by invoking Goddess imagery and using metaphors such as mother or sister in place of traditional metaphors for God such as father or lord.

                  Theologians remind us that the symbol "God" can serve several important functions. First, it offers a vision of the highest values of truth, justice, love, and goodness toward which we strive. In this sense, it serves as a standard against which to measure ourselves and our achievements. Second, the concept of God can remind us of the relativity and limitations of our own ideas. Here, it serves as a corrective to our biases and a basis for critical reflection. Finally, by bringing together our highest ideals in a single symbol, the idea of God provides a focus for personal devotion or communal worship. These are among the many reasons why God continues to be an important and meaningful symbol for many Unitarian Universalists today.

                  © Copyright Original Source

                  I understand the sentiment, but mysticism without anything mystical - per se - is just kind of silly. OMG, did I just agree with Seer?

                  I'm not ashamed to admit that I am not a theist.

                  Rather to just embrace humanism, as I do, than to "pretend" at church, in my opinion.

                  But, I will say that, while UU is not my cup of tea, they do far more for the community than most churches in our town - except the Synagogue, of course!

                  NORM
                  When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by shunyadragon View Post
                    There were some objections to my description of Unitarian Universalists as consensus church or religion of 'independent thought.' The objection was raised when I proposed polls as best describing what UUs believe and why. What do UUs say about this?

                    Source: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/welcome/index.shtml



                    What Unites Us?

                    We are united in our broad and inclusive outlook, and in our values, as expressed in our seven Principles. We are united in shared experience: our open and stirring worship services, religious education, and rites of passage; our work for social justice; our quest to include the marginalized; our expressions of love.

                    © Copyright Original Source



                    More on this to follow.
                    Good job on actually referencing the UUA site. Being united in a shared experience is still not the same thing as belief by consensus, though, and that's illustrated perfectly in the first cite. I count no fewer than seven different conceptions of 'God'.
                    I'm not here anymore.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Carrikature View Post
                      Good job on actually referencing the UUA site. Being united in a shared experience is still not the same thing as belief by consensus, though, and that's illustrated perfectly in the first cite. I count no fewer than seven different conceptions of 'God'.
                      If you carefully read the references, what is referred to is not in actuality a God, or god(s). When you are referring to god as metaphors, ideas and concepts it is not a god. Others who have read this agree. What is your hangup? I have asked before, but have not gotten a response: What is your view of what Unitarians believe and why?

                      The 5th principle explains more on the concept of a belief consensus and diversity. The only thing that defines the belief are the 7 principles. You may be hung up on the word 'consensus' and still combative about the results of the polls, but nonetheless by the principles and the polls UU is predominately 'humanist, 94%. Consensus may not be the best word, still the polls themselves definitely do reflect what and why Unitarians believe today.This of course may change, but that cannot be assumed as an objection. In another post I will review the history of UU, and how it evolved into the UU of today.

                      Source: http://www.uua.org/beliefs/principles/282072.shtml



                      5th Principle: The Right of Conscience and the Use of the Democratic Process Within Our Congregations and in Society at Large


                      Unitarian Universalist congregations together affirm and promote seven Principles. We also share a “living tradition” of wisdom and spirituality, drawn from many sources. The seven Principles and six Sources of the Unitarian Universalist Association grew out of the grassroots of our communities, were affirmed democratically, and are part of who we are.

                      Reflection on the Fifth Principle


                      “In our religious lives, the democratic process requires trust in the development of each individual conscience—a belief that such development is possible for each of us, as well as a commitment to cultivate our own conscience. We could call it a commitment to the value of each person. In the words of Theodore Parker, ‘Democracy means not “I am as good as you are,” but “You are as good as I am.”’ My connection with the sacred is only as precious as my willingness to acknowledge the same connection in others.”

                      © Copyright Original Source



                      The Seven Principles evolved and came about by a Democratic process that resulted in the consensus of 'What Unitarians believe.'
                      Last edited by shunyadragon; 06-21-2014, 08:07 AM.
                      Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                      Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                      But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                      go with the flow the river knows . . .

                      Frank

                      I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Doug Shaver View Post
                        I'm inclined to agree with you on this point. But some people, when they decide that a concept no longer works for them, would rather change the concept than let go of it.

                        It reminds me of pantheism. The thing they call God does exist. I see no point in calling it God, so I don't, but I'm not going to waste time trying to convince them that they shouldn't either.
                        In reality the thing they call God is not a God. It is simply our natural physical existence. Pantheism is in reality atheist/agnostic.
                        Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                        Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                        But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                        go with the flow the river knows . . .

                        Frank

                        I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by NormATive View Post
                          I understand the sentiment, but mysticism without anything mystical - per se - is just kind of silly. OMG, did I just agree with Seer?

                          I'm not ashamed to admit that I am not a theist.

                          Rather to just embrace humanism, as I do, than to "pretend" at church, in my opinion.

                          But, I will say that, while UU is not my cup of tea, they do far more for the community than most churches in our town - except the Synagogue, of course!

                          NORM
                          In this scenario you described I will side with the Unitarians over Judaism.

                          (1) First problem, despite various attempts at modern philosophical reform, convenient pragmatism, and midrash Judaism remains anchored in a singular exclusive ancient paradigm. Unitarian Universalist Unitarians are not. They are more open to diversity and change despite their anchor in humanism. The problem of being anchored in an ancient paradigm as with Judaism, Christianity and Islam remains a limiting factor to efforts of change and reform to adapt to the modern world.

                          (2) Question: How many Jews conveniently 'pretend' to believe in God?

                          (3) An interesting view expressed to me by a Unitarian is that one of the purpose of Unitarian belief system concerning 'God(s)' is to wean believers away from the belief in the supernatural to a more real humanist and natural perspective. I am not saying that this a specific belief of UUs, but it fits the nature of the UU belief system concerning God(s).
                          Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
                          Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
                          But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

                          go with the flow the river knows . . .

                          Frank

                          I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

                          Comment

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