What is Humanism?
Humanism has many definitions penned by numerous luminaries. A Google search will lead you to several, some of which attempt to divide Humanists into several sub-categories. RBH has adopted perhaps the most ubiquitist definition, that offered by the American Humanist Association. We consider ourselves “Secular Humanists," although we invite Humanists of all stripes to join us in our exploration of this worthy philosophy.
"Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment
that aspire to the greater good of humanity."
Specific Principles of Humanism
Secular humanism does not prescribe a specific theory of morality
or code of ethics. Secular Humanism is not so much a specific
morality as it is a method for the explanation and discovery of
rational moral principles. We are opposed to absolutist morality, yet we maintain that objective standards emerge, and ethical values and principles may be discovered, in the course of ethical deliberation.
These documents are part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe.
1. Council For Secular Humanism
2. American Humanist Association
Humanism and Its Aspirations, or Humanist Manifesto III, is the 2003 successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933. The product of much discussion and research among leaders of the American Humanist Association, it carries the signatures of over 20 Nobel Laureates and other notables, including staff of the Institute for Humanist Studies.
The Humanism Test
Read the statements below.
If you believe they are true, you probably are a Humanist. . .
and didn't know it!
1. All human beings possess dignity, worth and basic rights.
2. We should strive to remake this world into one that affords every human being the opportunity for a rich, rewarding life full of joy and creative fulfillment, and as free as possible from pain and suffering.
3. We stand a better chance of progressing toward this goal if we understand what really works to promote human flourishing.
4. To gain this understanding, reason, science and critical inquiry must be given free rein to discover the truth about the world, human nature, and what makes people happy.
5. Moral codes function to protect freedoms, promote mutual cooperation and advance collective well being; they should be designed (and occasionally redesigned) with that in mind.
6. Fear, dogma, superstition, blind faith, wishful thinking, supernatural “explanations,” and tribal or ideological loyalties should all be avoided, for they tend to close minds, block understanding, and de-motivate the critical inquiry necessary for scientific and moral progress.
Read all about the response people have had to this test at:
By Andy Norman
Another definition of Humanism is offered by Fred Edwords, noted Humanist author.
We particularly like his first sentence.
“Humanism is a philosophy for those in love with life. Humanists take responsibility for their own lives and relish the adventure of being part of new discoveries, seeking new knowledge, exploring new options. Instead of finding solace in prefabricated answers to the great questions of life, Humanists enjoy the open-endedness of a quest and the freedom of discovery that this entails.”