But that’s just my opinion.
And that in it’s entirety is the point of humanism.
It is not a doctrine, religion or a cult. ‘Pragmatic optimist’ and ‘ethical rationalist’ are also good descriptions, but at the heart of it is adult, philosophical thought.
A humanist values their own understanding of science and nature and builds from this their own moral code. It is not about believing blindly in a supernatural story handed down by a religion; it is about questioning and understanding all that is around us.
The big questions that people often look to religions to answer for them,
– what ultimately is real
– what makes life worth living
– what is morally right or wrong
– does ‘God’ exist
have never just been the preserves of the church.
These questions have foxed philosophers from Aristotle to Alain de Bouton, via Galileo, Confucius, Charles Darwin and 6th Century Indian Brahmans. Mae West had some great thoughts on them too!
A humanist chooses to work out for themselves what they believe in, over handing over the justification for their existence to someone else. To believe in what you are told without question, denies a human the unique power they have in the animal kingdom; the ability to reason. The ability to see themselves.
That is not to say that we can lay everything at the door of science, as this doesn’t hold the answers to all our questions either – there is no formula for telling us what is moral, what is right, or quite frankly, why there is anything at all.
For me, being a humanist means having a focused, positive outlook towards existence. I prefer this to stating I am an athiest or an agnostic.
I choose not to take the passive stance of ‘I don’t believe, or at least I don’t believe in anything right now’, as I feel humanism represents an active stance of ‘I’m alive! Check out everything! Look at where we’ve come from! Wow, I wonder where we’re all going?’
For me, that’s the ultimate freedom of thought.
To live in a society, to truly LIVE and LOVE, we need to work together – it’s a place where complete anarchy and hedonism would not get humanity very far.
It’s about living a life where you do what’s right; not just because you’re told you’re going to get 1,000 virgins on the other side if you do or be reincarnated as a flea if you don’t.
You can be the best human you can be without believing in a God. Honest. But don’t take my word for it! You figure it out – that’s humanism!
To quote Stephen Fry,
It is essential to nail one’s colours to the mast as a humanist
For me, that is not a turning away from mystery or a cold rational dispute with the numinous and spiritual in life, it is an acceptance of the awesome and splendid responsibility we each have for our own destinies, ethics and morals.
I repudiate the authority of churches, revealed texts and vain unsubstantiated assertions and embrace the shared glories of humanity’s intellectual and spiritual struggle to understand the universe into which we are born with honesty, openness and faith in our own natures.”
(Subsequently, I found this link to the Oxford English Dictionary quite useful.)