A piece by Austin Dacey takes a swipe at humanists.
When you think about it, organized humanism is a hard sell. Do you like paying dues and making forced pleasantries over post-service coffee cake, but can’t stand beautiful architecture and professionally trained musicians? If so, organized humanism may be for you. Greg Epstein (the “humanist chaplain” at Harvard and the author of Good Without God) is a lovely person, but I’ve heard him sing, and I think I’ll stick to Bach, Arvo Pärt, and Kirk Franklin for my spiritual uplift. Do we really need an institution for people who find Reform Judaism and Unitarian Universalism too rigid? Yes. It’s called the weekend.
and Ophelia Benson says right on
It’s not, after all, as if humanists and/or atheists are like theism turned inside out – carrying all the same baggage but with minus-signs replacing plus-signs; it’s not as if we come complete with our own atheist music and atheist prayers and atheist temples and atheist holidays and atheist hats. It’s also not as if the ‘more’ that there is to life is necessarily a peculiarly atheist kind of more. It’s just more. Most of it is every bit as available to theists as it is to us. (I say ‘most’ because there probably are various senses of freedom, liberation, autonomy, that are specific to atheism, in the same way that there are various senses of protection, companionship, cosmic love, that are specific to theism.) We can all revel in poetry, music, nature, landscapes, relationships, conversation, learning, dance, play; feelings of wonder, awe, joy; chocolate, ice cream, weirdly fascinating stupid tv shows about real people being neurotic, chocolate.
In rebuttal, let me point to Emily Cadik’s piece on secular communities in The New Humanism
It’s true that if you are an avid orchid lover, you can find community among your fellow orchid admirers, and likewise for coin collectors and other hobbyists. But for those of us who are generalists, as I am, who are interested in a lot of things but not obsessed by any of them, it’s valuable to have a general interest community of people who are reasonably like-minded (we’re certainly not on the same page on everything).
No, we don’t want humanism to be a clone (or evil twin) of religion. But I would argue that religions evolved over thousands of years because they met human emotional needs, and some religion practices, like singing together and meditation, can be secularized and naturalized and provide satisfying experiences for some humanists who have a taste for these things.