File Size: 1023 KB
Print Length: 169 pages
Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (January 27, 2011)
Publication Date: January 27, 2011
Written in a highly speaking style with simply a touch of dry British wit, "Humanism" is a benign read that sacrifices detail for brevity, but as there is a great offer of misunderstanding about what any of the tenets of humanism might be, it still does service as a "very short introduction" to it--which is, after all, what the series is about. Much more fully developed works on the topic abound, but I am unaware of another book I would instead give to a religious buddy who had asked me for something that might help explain my perspective with her.
I do wish, as another reviewer says, that there would have been less of a give attention to atheism per se and more on a positive case for humanism. While there exists very substantial overlap, the overlap still resembles a Venn diagram more than it does two Lifesaver goodies still in the spin. History in particular looked to get fairly brief shrift; while it was probably imperative to demonstrate that the seeds of humanism lie well within our past, some modern day examples of, say, successful humanists might have been interesting. Also, while the last chapter is on a humanist method to traditions such as weddings and funerals, I would like to have seen more about what a humanist will, how a humanist lives, and perhaps less on arguments against gods (which I came to the book already completely accepting).
Something I give Law a lot of credit for, and that is recognizing that within humanism various ideals and approaches and ideals can exist. Specifically, I appreciate that he did not make automatic acceptance of abortion on demand a hallmark of humanism, because that is an concern that I feel important ambivalence about (and before you pounce, please keep in mind that I just mean within my own skull--as I feel a male and have been "fixed, " I don't have real skin in the game except as a theoretical moral principle)., This switched out to be quite a frustrating read to say the least. The guide seems to only make an effort to give attention to Humanism in the shadow of Christianity. One gets the feeling from the opening chapters that this book's main emphasis is not really to spread out up one's mind to the finer points of Humanism, but works to show the reader how much better Humanism is when compared to that dingy and ancient strategy to life that is supposedly Theism.
Stephen Law writes the book in a tone of a man that finds themself on the defensive and feels that he will not need to only state a case for his own beliefs, but must constantly refute the views that someone may have to oppose their own point of view. Why was it necessary to spend two chapters and 41 pages (just less than a 3rd of the book) to arguments for and against God? Coming from what I know there were plenty of Christians that considered themselves to be both Humanists and Christians (Erasmus, Calvin, the early Anabaptists). Perhaps they were not Humanists in the mold that Law deems Humanists to fit into. But this cannot be true because this individual constantly tries to advise his reader that Humanism is a broad strategy that allows each individual that identifies themselves as a Humanist to take into account matters in their own way.
Needless, to say I really was hoping for more. A whole lot lot more than what was written here. Actually the final chapters that promised to be the most fascinating and should have allowed someone to see how Humanism understands such major issues because the that means of life and Humanist ceremonies dealt more with discounting Christian understandings rather than explaining the views that were supposed to be written about.
To finish on a positive notice, I especially liked Law's explanation of his own Humanist wedding toward the finish of the guide. It was a tender notice that gave a smile during an otherwise frustrating read. I also could not agree more with his mention that young people should be taught how to approach things with a greater philosophical attitude.
All in all, if your are currently an Atheist and looking for a lot of talking points as to why you are a Humanist, this is the book for you. If you are a Christian currently flirting with a conversion to Atheism and Humanism of Law's brand, this is also a book for you (after you have dealt with some of his cases for Atheistic Humanism - there are answers). If you are a person expecting for a more systemized and objective explanation of Humanism, you may want to look elsewhere.
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