The Space Between: Atheism and Humanism, By Kate Fridkis

Posted on January 18th, 2010 | Filed under Faith and Politics, In Print: New Books, InterViews

With excerpts from their brand new books, interViews brings you two prominent visionaries’ thoughts on the spaces where religious belief meets non-religious belief, where supposedly antithetical worldviews sometimes blur, and where the complexity of the spectrum of faith begins to be revealed. Samir Selmanovic is founder and co-leader of Faith House Manhattan and author of It’s Really All About God: Reflections of a Muslim Atheist Jewish Christian. Greg Epstein is the Humanist chaplain at Harvard University and author of Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. Their ideas are changing the way that people understand religion today.

While Humanism continues to go unmentioned, some of the current literature on atheism seems to roar from every page, “Atheists and religious people are nothing alike! Either you believe or you don’t! Either it’s stupidity or it’s science!” And countless voices that together form a long history of fear and anger and condemnation towards non-believers scream back, “If you don’t believe in God, you’re worthless, meaningless, and doomed!”

But as Selmanovic and Epstein show us patiently, thoroughly, and lovingly, there is simply more to the story. As usual, life, and people, are more complicated. Too often religiosity is confused with ethics and morality. It is imagined, and forcefully stated time and time again, that without belief in God life becomes morally slippery, if not downright chaotic. It’s time to separate these ideas. It’s time to get messy, personal, and real.

kate3-150x150Kate Fridkis is interViews Editor for The Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue. She recently received an MA in Religion at Columbia University.  Her research focuses on intersections of religion, secularism, and gender.  She is also a lay cantor at Congregation Kehilat Shalom in central New Jersey.  She graduated summa cum laude from Douglass College, Rutgers University with a BA in Religion. Kate has written several novels and is enjoying the opportunity to continue with her literary and academic pursuits.

3 Responses to “The Space Between: Atheism and Humanism, By Kate Fridkis”

  1. Dwight Jones says:

    “While Humanism continues to go unmentioned, some of the current literature on atheism seems to roar from every page.”

    Bravo, Kate.

    My “stance” is that Humanism has been hijacked by atheism, which is like stealing the mustard from everybody’s sandwiches.

    Can I cite you as a Humanist writer on my cite, I mean site?

  2. Kate Fridkis says:

    Thank you, Dwight! I appreciate your comments. You may definitely cite me, though I haven’t officially defined or identified myself as a humanist. My role here is to report more than to represent.

  3. Nancy Kaufmann says:

    When I try to tell people I’m a atheist Christian, I get reactions from “That’s an oxymoro!” to paternalistic smiles that say “Oh, you must just be in a New Age phase.”
    People like me can have it hard. How can one explain in a brief encounter that one has long since been convinced that a God is simply a human figment, but also reveres the teachings of Jesus? Even the Quakers (a group with whom I’ve been involved for years) cannot bring themselves to get beyond their insistence on reference to God. They claim not to have dogma, but cannot accept atheism. I doubt that Humanist could fare any better than Atheist.