Much to answer here. Let's start with your opening question, "Why are humanists so intolerant and so easily offended?" As you made clear, you recognize that not all humanists are intolerant and easily offended. Intolerance and sensitivity about issues are evenly spread among the spectrum of humanity, with many certain religions attracting more intolerance than others. For example, people who believe they know the will of their god/gods tend to be far less tolerant than those who have no such dogmatic beliefs. If you think your god says that homosexual behavior is a "sin," then it reasons that you would be intolerant of such behavior. And it is fair to say that humanists who are about equality would be intolerant of people condemning such condemnation of behavior. Again, intolerance and sensitivity are human traits where biases tend to make us see the outgroup as having more negative traits and less positive ones. Speaking as a social scientist, I know of no such studies that support the idea that humanists are less tolerant than Christians.
We keep hearing the mention of "religion" as if all religions were the same. They are not.
No, they are not. But most of them have one element in common: the belief that the practitioners know some divine will. There are over 40,000 denominations of Christianity alone, and each Christian has their own idea of who god is what what he/she/it wants. People use their interpretations of religion to start wars (e.g. George Bush who claimed that God told him to go to war), murder people, and watch their children die because parents refuse to give children medical treatment because they believe god will heal the child, etc.
It is not the religion that is dangerous, it is the refusal to use critical thinking when one believes they are doing God's work.
Look at the commands of Christ and let me know why I should not wish my children to be taught these in school.
Okay, let's look at some of Christ's commands: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26 or "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Matthew 10:34. Let's ignore the fact that Christians believe Jesus is God, and not even go into God's commands in the Old Testament. No thanks, we don't need any more hateful and violent children.
Listening to a report today about child depression, rates of divorce, suicides, crime, bullying, etc. I am filled with despair. Is all this increasing misery due to the decline of religion? One may well think so.
We don't have to guess - we have science that can provide answers. First of all, your premise that child depression, rates of divorce, suicides, crime, bullying, etc. is worse now than in the past is incorrect. Don't confuse media exposure with occurrences. Virtually all of the sociological research conclusively demonstrates that the world is a better place now than any time in our past, by virtually all measures that matter. Check out the book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
. Furthermore, we see secular countries score higher in areas of happiness, low crime, low prejudice, etc. The data do not show, in any way, that decline in religion leads to any of these negative effects.
Lynette, I feel badly that you are so filled with despair based on your Christian worldview. I encourage you to explore different media sources, engage with different groups of people, or perhaps even change churches (or become a humanist!). If you see the world for what it actually is, you will see that, although certainly far from perfect, it is a wonderful place that overall just keeps getting better.
Bo Bennett, PhD
Social Scientist, Business Consultant
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