What is Humanism?

Humanism is the common-sense idea that humans are alone responsible for creating their own future and that the processes by which we make that future should be predicated on our best understanding of human values and needs in our various environments. More generally it includes the understanding that all life has rights commensurate with it’s ability to cogitate on it’s own state and hence suffer.As such, humanists are likely reject any “moral code” that lacks an evidential basis and puts the above considerations secondary to ideas not based on a naturalistic understanding of the universe. Humanists make sense of the world using reason, experience and shared human values. We take responsibility for our actions and base our ethics on the goals of human welfare, happiness and fulfillment.

We therefore seek to make the best of the one life we have by creating meaning and purpose for ourselves, individually and together.

Humanism in it’s current form began in the 14th Century as a program to revive the cultural, and particularly the literary legacy and moral philosophy of classical antiquity. It progressed to become the “humanities” as is studied in schools around the world as well as leading the world toward the Enlightenment. As such Humanism takes it’s roots from the pre-Christian Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, Epicurus and many others.

The basic tenets of secular humanism are

  • Humans (& all life) has intrinsic value, can create their own purpose in life, and can solve their own problems.
  • Science, free speech, democracy, rational thought, and freedom in the arts go together.
  • There is no evidence suggesting the existence of the supernatural and therefore no reason to believe it exists.

Secular humanism is a philosophical school of thought that advocates the use of reason, compassion, scientific inquiry, ethics, justice, and equality. It appeals to agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, and materialists. George Jacob Holyoake created the term “secularism” in 1846 in order to describe “a form of opinion which concerns itself only with questions, the issues of which can be tested by the experience of this life.” Secular humanist organizations can be found in all parts of the world: India, China, Australia, Europe, and North America. Summer and winter solstices are special days for secular humanists, as is Charles Darwin’s Birthday. Darwin was born on February 12, 1809. Secular humanists celebrate Darwin’s use of human reason and empirical science.

Since Secular Humanists do not believe in life after death, many are active in organizations that relieve human suffering. These include rights of refugees, anti-death penalty, and environmental groups. They do not believe in God, but that people create their own meaning in life. Secular Humanism often finds itself in conflict with religious fundamentalism over the issue of separation of church and state and the origins and nature of morality. Secular humanists see religious fundamentalists as superstitious, regressive, and closed minded. Fundamentalists often believe that as non-believers, secular humanists are a threat as outlined in books such as the Bible and the Qur’an. Humanists do not have one fixed ‘text’ that describes humanism in its entirety.

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