Dear G. McBride,
I don't think you have your history of the Roman Empire down, sorry to say, and certainly not your theology. There is a Roman Pantheon. Not only did it include latinized versions of the Greek Pantheon, but as Rome conquered territory they tended to include the Gods of the new conquests into the traditional set. They ran into considerable problems with the Jews, who had that pesky first commandment, but generally their practice worked fairly well. Some of the Romans were actually fairly superstitious, and paid a lot of attention to auguries — readings by priests of various traditions of entrails of various animal sacrifices.
As for only paying attention to the state and otherwise doing what they pleased, Law was a function of the State then as well. It too was flawed, of course, but I think it's saying a lot to say the equivalent of, as long as you obey the law, you can do what you want. You might have noticed that people tend to have trouble with doing that much, with obeying the law. A lot of doing what they please will get them in trouble with the law, for example cheerfully expressing yourself by killing somebody doesn't require the hand of God to restrain you. Law in practice generally is enough for believer and unbeliever both, right?
And that's discounting the fact the the Empire as a whole converted to Christianity with the Emperor Constantine.
Whey you quote Dostoyevsky, it's important to take the quotes in context. It's like quoting Shakespeare. Nobody knows what Shakespeare himself thought, all the talking was done by characters representing different points of view in the plays. People like to quote, "First kill all the lawyers" from, I believe Henry VIII, as though Shakespeare had that as his personal opinion. They forget to mention that he puts the lines into the mouth of Watt Tyler, whom Shakespeare thought was a dangerous idiot.
So, where did Dostoyevsky find space for your quotation, and what was the context? Who was doing the talking or thinking, and which? other Characters was Dostoyevsky playing them off against?
As for your definition of a humanistic morality, I would suggest to you that you may have something of an idea of religious philosophy and morality. I would suggest to you as well that your understanding of eastern religion and philosophy stops very short. Confucian philosophy, Taoist philosophy and Buddhist philosophy do not require the presence of a God in them. All three have very powerful ethical and moral stances. Would you call them humanistic?
By your definition, they certainly could qualify, as could Catholicism and charismatic Christianity. As you've said, ". . . a humanist philosophy is just whatever you want it to be."
As for Hitler and Stalin having "Humanistic Philosophy," if in fact you're going to create a definition that actually distinguishes it from such things as are not "Humanistic Philosophy," you'd probably have to exclude them both. Being, both of them, totalitarian in nature, they were more interested in the State and in economics rather than in what is human and personal. Their model was economic man and man as an organ of the state. The model of the humanists is more frequently that of Psychological Man or of Man as Person.
I would ask you to consider at least the possibility that Humanistic philosophy is perhaps as far away from Totalitarian philosophy as you can get.
The panic about living on borrowed time seems to be essentially a waste of time. This is time we need to plan and act to change those outcomes we can change, and to live as compassionately and as fully as we can. Time spent in panic is time you steal from that. If your time is religiously informed, I wish you all the good in the world. We need compassion and love wherever we can create it or find it or share it.
Sincerely, Bob Kaven