Michael Werner, past President of the American Humanist Association, gave a moving talk today entitled, “What can you believe if you don’t believe in God?” which is also the title of his new book (which you can read more about here).
Werner explained that his talk is not an argument for atheism because atheism is all about what you don’t believe and his talk is about what he does believe. He said that we all need a “vital center” in our lives that provides a framework for making moral decisions. It isn’t necessary that we have complete certainty in this framework, in fact, it’s impossible to have complete certainty and that no moral framework, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or something else, offers this. In other words, it’s not necessary to have certainty to gain knowledge and understanding.
He went on to say that Humanism is a blend of the enlightenment and the romantic tradition and that, as Bertrand Russel said, “The good life is guided by reason and motivated by love”. We long for a higher vision of life that ennobles us instead of diminishes us, a life that celebrates the values of hope, love and compassion and which gives every person dignity and respects their innate worth.
This was a wonderful talk that enriched our community and addressed many of the issues that we, as Humanists, wrestle with all the time.
— David Bland
From the From the announcement of the talk:
Sunday Platform: “What can you believe if you don’t believe in God?”
November 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
We meet congregationally Sundays at 11:00. Today’s speaker is Michael Werner who will be speaking on, “What can you believe if you don’t believe in God?”
This book is intended to help you live your life, and to shed some light on your own values and ethics, if you don’t believe in God. More than just a primer on Humanism, but not quite a full-blown treatise on philosophy, it offers some answers to those crucial questions Socrates asked: What is true? And how shall we live our lives? Those of us who don’t believe in the supernatural sometimes struggle to understand how we can ground ourselves ethically, and how to find truth, meaning, purpose and joy. This book offers ideas about how to know, without depending on Holy Scriptures or guidance from a deity, what it means to lead a good and ethical life.
Michael Werner is president of the Humanist Foundation, is past president of the American Humanist Association, adjunct faculty member of the Humanist Institute. He has taught widely at major universities. He was one of the founders of SMART Recovery a Self Management and Recovery Training recovery program for addictions. He was in the chemical business and now lives in Wilmington, NC. Michael is a past board member of Humanists and Freethinkers of Cape Fear.