Friday, November 24, 2006

A nation of humanists

In light of this wittering (which is too tediously dire to even be worth fisking), it’s great to see this poll:

Respondents were asked: ‘If you had to choose just one of the statements which one best matches your view?’

Scientific and other evidence provides the best way to understand the universe. (62%)
Religious beliefs are needed for a complete understanding of the universe. (22%)

Human nature by itself gives us an understanding of what is right and wrong (62%)
People need religious teachings in order to understand what is right and wrong (27%)

What is right and wrong depends on the effects on people and the consequences for society and the world (65%)
What is right and wrong is basically just a matter of personal preference (15%)
What is right and wrong is unchanging and should never be challenged (13%)

What a delight to find myself, proudly, in the moral majority.

(Hat tip: Humanists for Labour.)


Nick said...

I have absolutely no desire to get in to the "debate" about faith and so on, but purely sticking to this story, that poll is entirely meaningless, and the headline on Labour Humanists' piece on it is such an outrageous piece of spin that it borders on outright lying.

This is just another example of the abuse of opinion polling techniques to "prove" political points, which has become a depressingly common and all too rarely questioned tactic on all sides.

Tom Freeman said...

I generally ignore headlines.

Although, now you mention it, the HfL headline, "Census called into question as new Ipsos MORI poll estimates 17 million Humanist Brits", is an entirely accurate and honest reflection of what the BHA press release said. Maybe it's the BHA you should be attacking?

And are these not humanist beliefs that all these people are endorsing, then? Is it "meaningless" that most people prefer science and human nature to religion as a means of understanding the universe and right and wrong?

Matt M said...

Obviously, there's a big difference between small-h humanists and big-H Humanists - most of the people polled seem to fall into the small-h category, which is hardly that surprising. Small-h humanists are simply people who look to more Earth-bound sources for answers first, which I imagine includes most of the British public.

Nick said...

Perhaps the HfL headline simply reflects the BHA headline, I'm willing to accept that may be an unfair criticism - or at least a fair criticism unfairly directed at the wrong person.

However, I do not believe that the beliefs endorsed in the poll can in any way be described as particularly (let alone uniquely) humanist.

Au contraire, a religious believer could quite happily sign up to all of them, and an atheist could endorse more than one of the supposedly "religious" alternatives, without any logical contortions whatsoever.

It's just another rigged poll which has been set up to give the "right" results.