Keeping the Human in Humanism

A Humanistic Perspective

by C.A. Chicoine


I am a reader and a writer, a thinker, and a dreamer. And I am a Humanist.

I wasn’t always a Humanist–not self-proclaimed anyways. I’d only become familiar with humanism about five years ago. But I did share some of the same basic humanistic values, as many of us do.

I wrote this article with my family and friends in mind–this one's for you. Because, as I'm sure they'd agree, I'm a bit of an anomaly. And as Jennifer Hancock encourages in her book, The Humanist Approach to Happiness, we must all embrace our inner dork.

So, in this article, I'd like to share my perspective on Humanism and how I view the world. I'll provide a little background so you can understand how I developed my perspective and why I have reached the conclusions that I have.

As a child, I had to know everything about everything. Where did we come from? How did we get here? Why are we here? Of course, I was given answers to those questions–and then some. But I sensed that there was something more than what I was told. So I did what any other child with an unbridled curiosity would do–take it all in with a degree of skepticism and a healthy dose of imagination. And as a result of this, I developed a keen sense of observation about life and the people around me.

Then, in September of 1980, I was introduced to something that would influence my way of thinking and my life.

“The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our contemplations of the cosmos stir us. There is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the grandest of mysteries.” ~ Carl Sagan, from Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, episode 1, The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean.

I am referring to Carl Sagan’s television series Cosmos. Not only had it ignited my enthusiasm for astronomy, space exploration, and world history, but more importantly it taught me that: science, history, mathematics, psychology, philosophy, and ethics–all fields of inquiry–are interconnected; and that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".

And it wasn’t long before its influence began to show up in my work. I started writing my first science-fiction series, titled Dū Mek, in May of 1981. When I start work on a new story, I have to know everything about the characters, their lives, and their environs. So, I’d research and learn all that I could about the subjects applicable to the story. And in the case of this particular story, that meant a trip to the public library to read up on subjects from ancient civilizations to space exploration. I remember how frustrated I’d get with the pace of things. It seemed I could never learn enough quick enough to sustain my focus on finishing the story. It was very discouraging, to say the least.

Being only a young teenager at the time, I felt that there was still much more I needed to know to make for a compelling and intelligent read. So, after working sporadically on the story through 1982, I set it aside. Until, in 1985, I breathed new life into Dū Mek. I revised what I had and followed through with it as far as I could. The last story was left open enough at the end for me to return to the series for a sequel.

But as it turned out, my fiction writing would take a back seat for a number of years as I pursued my musical ambitions.

Moving ahead about twenty-five years to 2006, I slowly began to get back into writing fiction. I had a new Sci-Fi fan fiction that I was excited to explore, titled Tomorrow Started. It is based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (DADoES) and the movie inspired by the novel, Blade Runner. In DADoES, after it was revealed that the prominent religion on Earth, Mercerism, was a hoax, I picked up where that story left off. And I introduced an alternative to Mercerism that would appeal to those left on Earth–that was already being practiced in the Off-world Colonies. And I wanted it to have a science-based ideology that emphasized personal freedom as well as a truly just legal system. The only problem was it needed a name.

Then, in April of 2007, I found the very system of thought I had in mind for the story–and it had a name. And what’s more important is it really did exist outside of my imagination and the scope of this story. It is called Humanism.

And as I learned more about Humanism, I found that there was some dispute within the Humanist community regarding their approach–modus operandi–to their activism strategy. Some of their propaganda–anti-religious advertisement–and disparaging comments left on social networking sites about religion goes contrary to the very values and principles they are supposed to represent.

This sort of rhetorical gaucherie leads to misleading generalizations about Humanism that, anyone who rejects religious dogma and the supernatural, in favor of reason and science, is not only an atheist, but a Humanist as well. As a result, there is the tendency for New Atheist activists to look upon them as one and the same. However, that is a false assumption. Humanism is not synonymous with atheism. This not only misrepresents what Humanism truly is about, but it could turn away new people who are on the fence with their faith, stigmatizing Humanism as arrogant, opinionated and judgmental–not unlike the culture from which they came.

In this article, I will offer perspectives on the issues surrounding the conflicts within the Humanist community over their principles.

Chapter One - Understanding Humanism

Most people have only a vague idea what Humanism is. And if you were to look it up in a textbook or online, you’d find numerous references to it. For example, in the 14th and 15th centuries, there was what we refer to today as the Renaissance humanism, an educational and cultural movement. In the early 20th century, there was the New Humanism, a theory of literary criticism. And the 1950’s brought us Humanistic psychology, a humanistic approach that emphasizes the study of the whole person. The list goes on–in its varying forms–across a myriad of different disciplines. Although these references center on human values and concerns, their subject matter differs greatly. Furthermore, identifying the accurate material from inaccurate can make it a challenge for a novice to wade through all of the information without becoming confused or overwhelmed.

The Humanism that I am addressing in this article is the human-centered approach to life. That is my simplest definition for Humanism. To take it one step further, I’ll provide you with the Minimum Statement adopted by the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world union of over 100 Humanist, rationalist, secular, ethical culture, atheist and free-thought organizations in more than 40 countries. Their mission is to represent and support the global Humanist movement. Their definition of Humanism, as stated on their website, is as follows:

"Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality."

In 2002, the IHEU General Assembly unanimously adopted the Amsterdam Declaration 2002 which represents the official defining statement of World Humanism.

I like what Harvey Lebrun wrote in his article, titled Humanism with a Capital H.

Humanism is:

1. A naturalistic, scientific, secular philosophy or concept of humanity and the universe that precludes any belief in or reliance upon supposedly supernatural powers.

2. An ethics or way of life based on human experience and imbued with compassion for other human beings that calls for commitment to betterment of humanity through the methods of science, democracy, and reason, without any limitations by political, ecclesiastical, or other dictates.

“Individuals and organizations that subscribe to one but not the other of these two basic principles, or to a part but not all of either one, may be said to be humanistically inclined–but they are not advocates of Humanism in the modern sense of the term. Those called Humanists (with a capital H) proclaim both items as intrinsic elements in their philosophy, way of life, religion, or whatever they choose to call their deepest affirmations.”

I think Babu Gogineni, the former Executive Director of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, said it best of Humanism in his Keynote Speech at the Finnish Humanist Union's Meeting, Helsinki, in 1997 titled, The Future of Humanism.

“In a general sense, humanism for us is a cultural achievement of mankind, and its most sophisticated, advanced and articulate expression is in our time. Despite our minor quibbles about whether humanism should be capitalised as in the names of religions, whether it should be summarised into a minimum statement with which humanists agree world-wide, or whether it should be described as a life stance or not, there is a broad consensus today as to what humanism means to all of us assembled here: that it is a philosophy of life which asserts the centrality of the human being.”

Chapter Two - Keeping the Human in Humanism

“We can all evolve, and now with added impetus perhaps we can also coevolve.” ~ Edward O. Wilson, The Humanist Magazine, November - December 2007. The Environment and the New Humanism.

After reading through various humanist-related magazines, online articles, and blogs–and their corresponding comment sections–over the following year, I'd had enough of the relentless anti-religious attacks. It left a bad taste in my mouth–not unlike the pungent stench of reality TV, sensationalized news reporting, and political smear campaigns. And it became tiresome very quickly.

So, after my yearly membership with the American Humanist Association expired, my ties with the movement were officially severed.

Then, in May of 2011, my friend, Todd, was ordained to perform atheist, agnostic and Humanist wedding ceremonies. I was taken aback because he hadn't really known my position at that time. So that opened up the discussion. We'd chat briefly about Humanism and atheism, and forward related articles to one another. But I didn't want to discourage him from pursuing Humanism, so I didn't discuss the reservations I had about the movement with him, for a time. He once commented to me, “I know for sure it's not easy being a secular humanist in this country …”

However, it was bound to come up sooner or later. And he became interested in why I had distanced myself from Humanism. And it was then, in late November, when I told him that I’d have to think this through some more, and that I'd write something up for him. I wanted to remain as objective as I could while providing him with an unequivocal perspective of what I felt the root of the problem with the Humanist movement and community as a whole–as I saw it–was. This article is the result of that inquiry.

And it was through my research that I came upon an article written by Herb Van Fleet, titled Becoming Kinder Gentler Humanists. I was astounded. It was like we were on a similar wavelength. In it, he wrote;

“... I'd been struggling to understand the Humanist philosophy and how that philosophy drives its mission and programs. That is to say, as a Humanist, what exactly am I, and what does it mean to be one?”

He pointed out some recent examples of the negativism, from the content of an issue of a humanist magazine to his monthly humanist meetings and discussion groups. So, I’m definitely not alone in this line of thought. And I’m not convinced that we're in the minority either–not as a Humanist. But, lumped together with the atheist community, we would most definitely be in the minority.

He continues;

“If I could divide the world of non-believers into two parts, they would consist of the Non-Theists and the Anti-Theists. I understand Non-Theists as being characterized by the absence or rejection of theism or any belief in the supernatural, including any god or gods, personal or otherwise. They have the almost Nietzscheian worldview that the question of God’s existence is irrelevant in the same way as questioning the existence of Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster is irrelevant. For them, life goes on quite well without the need for myth or magic. In my view, Non-Theists are skeptical but not cynical, tolerant but not gullible, pragmatic but not dogmatic, altruistic but not without limits.

“Anti-theists, on the other hand, are active opponents of religious institutions and are critical of those who believe in the supernatural and who claim the existence of any god or gods. The anti-theists, of course, are the atheists, which have come to be called the New Atheists, and are led by the four horsemen of atheism – Dennett, Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens. The New Atheists vilify religion, especially the Abrahamic faiths, and blame the religionists for most of the ills of civilization. They are vehement in this cause, sometimes confrontational, often condescending, and seem to take some pleasure from their ridicule and mockery of religion. Ironically, it seems to me that such zealotry has produced the very fundamentalist mind-set that they seek to rout from the religious community!

“If it is true that the New Atheists have become intolerant, cynical, judgmental, and have taken on, dare I say it, a holier-than-thou attitude, then, in my view, these should not be the attributes of Humanism, nor acceptable by those of us who call ourselves Humanists. In spite of this however, the New Atheists are becoming increasingly influential in the Humanist movement. Indeed, as these nattering nabobs of negativism become more involved, the term Humanism may ultimately be perceived as a euphemism for Atheism. In fact, based on recent news media reports, that is the case already. Clearly, it will be a challenge for the Humanists to promote the distinction.”

I could have just forwarded this article to Todd and been done with it. But, I felt that my point would have been an understatement because I’d come across another article, and another, and yet another supporting these same ideals.

Paul Kurtz said, in his acceptance speech at the American Humanist Association, in June 2008, for its Lifetime Achievement Award, titled The Convictions of a Humanist;

“A mistake often committed today by militant non-believers is to simply equate humanism with atheism. The recent books by our esteemed colleagues Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Victor Stenger–having enjoyed some well-deserved popularity–point out that belief in God is a "delusion" and that the Abrahamic God after all is not great. But the main thrust of humanism is not to simply espouse the negative, what we do not believe in, but what we do. I am a secular humanist because I am not religious. I draw my inspiration not from religion or spirituality, but from science, ethics, philosophy, and the arts. I call it eupraxsophy; that is the practice of wisdom as an alternative to religion. The convictions of a humanist eupraxsopher involve both the head and the heart, cognition and emotion.

“In my view, humanism first and foremost entails a set of ethical values. These were implicit in the philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome; they were expressed in the efflorescence of the Renaissance; the emergence of modern science; the liberation of humans from bondage by the democratic revolutions of the modern world; the battles for human freedom and human rights; and the defense of freedom of thought and free inquiry.”

Continuing along those same lines, in an article by Barry F. Seidman, executive producer and host of Equal Time for Freethought, titled Re-booting Humanism, he writes;

“Even in times such as these, where religious fundamentalists are waging war on each other, we mustn’t take the easy route and merely bash religion. But this is what today’s spokespersons for atheism, from Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins to Christopher Hitchens and Ibn Warraq are doing. The problem with this is not that there are people willing to do battle with the irrationality of supernaturalism; there should always be such warriors on our side willing to take on what is the most dangerous aspect of religion. The problem instead is that these same people often either self-identify as humanists, or are identified as such by organized humanism.

“Once humanism is tainted with the us vs. them mentality, which characterizes the battle between theism and atheism, it has forfeited its ability to bring naturalism into the marketplace of ideas… Where all folks, religious or not, can partake in the human endeavor toward better means and ends."

And, getting to the point, Chris Stedman, the Interfaith and Community Service Fellow for the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University, wrote in his article, titled The Problem with Atheist Activism;

“So let's call it like it is. If your top priority is working to eliminate religion, you are not simply an atheist activist -- you are an anti-religious activist.

“I maintain significant disagreement with many religious beliefs, but I do not wish to be associated with narrow-minded, dehumanizing generalizations about religious people. I am disappointed that such positions represent atheist activism not only to the majority of our society, but to many of my fellow atheist activists as well.

Atheist and anti-religious are not synonyms. I will -- and do -- work with other atheists on our shared goals of trying to make the world a safer place for atheists, but we diverge at anti-religious activism.”

To show another perspective on this, from astrophysicist and science communicator, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the following excerpt is taken from an article, titled The Humanist Interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, in The Humanist Magazine, September - October 2009.

“In the category of worst practices, there are occasions where people—either humanist or atheist—are just completely obnoxious in a conversation with others. I even had a tussle with Richard Dawkins (I think it’s my most viewed YouTube clip) in which I accused him of being completely ineffective because he is so sharp of wit in the service of his point of view, and he is so well educated that he may fail to fulfill the directive of his title, which at the time was Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. That implies that your conversation with another person is an act of persuasion in some ways, not hitting them over the head. You want to understand what is going on in another person’s mind and meet them there. Otherwise, you’re not as effective as you could be. Dawkins has been hugely popular with his books and his speeches, so it’s not as though he’s ineffective, but I’m convinced he could be much more effective than he’s been.”

And I'd like to add this excerpt from an article by Andrew Lovely, titled A Newer Atheism: The Case for Affirmation and Accommodation.

"If atheist activists care about progress and the betterment of the human condition, perhaps the ‘deconversion’ of theists should not be prioritized, but instead the promotion of humanistic values. Our socio-political agenda should not include or be premised on the universalization of our atheistic world-view. If the movement is more than apologetics and includes prejudice and proselytization, it is more destructive than worthwhile. Theists can be–and often are–humanists too, and society is better off for it. Atheist (or secular) humanists and theist humanists each find extremist ideology repulsive and dangerous, and should be willing to work together in stifling its spread."

I'd like to close this chapter with some wisdom shared by Stephen Fry, an English actor, comedian, author, journalist, broadcaster, and film director. In the closing remarks of his acceptance speech for being awarded the 2011 lifetime achievement award from the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University, he said;

“It is not the job of an atheist or a Humanist to preach, or to be sanctimonious, to be smug, to be pleased with ourselves, to know the truth, to hold the truth above others, to bully, to tyrannize, to dominate arguments, to say that we have the absolute truth on the universe. That's been done to us for thousands of years.

“We are the cure for such thinking. We are open, we are honest, we are full of good spirits and cheerfulness. We understand, and we love just as much as anyone in any religion loves our fellow man. Yes, we're angry at injustice. Yes, we're angry at hypocrisy. Yes, we're angry at all the wickedness the world offers. But, what we can not do is be guilty of precisely the kind of humbug, cant, and wicked hypocrisy that has dominated so much of human discourse for the past two thousand years.”

Chapter Three - The Future of Humanism

"The world will know us by our deeds. People will come to know who we are and what we value, more by what we do, than by what we say." ~ James Croft, Good (Without God), CFI Leadership Conference 2011, June 25, 2011.

To question the future of Humanism is to question the future of humanity itself. I, for one, am hopeful about the future.

Sri Lankan Ambassador to France, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, as a panelist at the international conference on “21st Century, Towards the New Humanism” on January 23, 2012, at the Russian Centre for Science and Culture, said;

“I think that rediscovering and advancing humanism provides us with a valuable opportunity. It is an answer to the crisis of ideas, to the crisis of philosophy, the crisis of ethics, the crisis of attitudes, that is part of the global crisis today. Why do I say that humanism provides us with opportunities? Because, humanism is the closest we can get to a universal good, to a universal idea! Humanism puts the human being at the centre.

“Placing the human being at the centre means to recognize that above all else, beyond national, ethnic, political, cultural, civilizational, religious, systemic, and ideological differences, one thing unites us and that is that we are all human. So long as we respect that fact, that above all else, and in the final analysis, we are human, we are able to connect, to communicate, to seek common solutions. This is why I find the search for a humanistic worldview to be, not only some ideal exercise but a very practical answer to the global crisis of today.”

I once again turn to Babu Gogineni, with his Keynote Speech at the Finnish Humanist Union's Meeting, Helsinki, in 1997, titled The Future of Humanism, where he said;

"But for us to be effective – and to be more relevant – we need to stop marginalising ourselves. We ought to get back into the mainstream of human activity, and we should try to put back the adventure that there once was in humanism, when humanists contributed to creating society with the human being as its archetype."

First, and foremost, we need to be clear on our stance, as Barry F. Seidman pointed out in an article, titled Warming Up to Humanism Part 2: Wisdom from Barry F. Seidman. He wrote;

“Though it is clear to me that all participants in this debate all have legitimately argued their concerns regarding the state humanism finds itself in today – internally fractured and ineffective in changing minds – I feel that before we can talk about how to make humanism more appealing to “moderate” religious folks (the majority of our fellow citizens), we must first decide what the heck humanism means to those of us who claim the word as our own.

“Individual humanists, or even big tent humanist organizations, struggle to describe what there is unique to their message. Science advocacy, skepticism and secularism are not unique to humanism–that much is clear. And without a concrete understanding of what humanism actually means to our lives, atheism begins to take on that roll of unique difference. This is not very surprising in a country such as America where religion is so much a part of the fabric of what it means to be American. But atheism is not a worldview. [...] When we decide to focus on atheism to express what it is about our worldview which we feel has the best chance of creating a better society, we are missing the point (of humanism).”

In recent years, there have been a number of Humanists who've shared their ideas about what direction they'd like to see the Humanist movement go in.

Returning to Paul Kurtz's acceptance speech, titled The Convictions of a Humanist, he said;

"There are two key humanist principles that we now need to promote and defend in the ethics of the future. First, is the need to develop our moral obligations to the broader global community over and beyond nation-states. This means that we should consider every person anywhere on the planet equal in dignity and value.

"Second, each person is responsible for his or her own future and that of society, but in addition we all have a stake in the future of humankind on the planet. This means the application of reason and science and the principles of ethical humanism–a concern for improving the lives of everyone on the planet as far as we are capable of doing, and most important the resolve to work for these goals. Herein are the convictions of a humanist at the beginning of the twenty-first century."

David Warden, chair of Dorset Humanists, gave a lecture to the Ethical Society in November of 2003, titled Has Humanism Any Future? He had this to say about Humanism;

“Humanism is bigger than the Humanist movement. We know this is true because we’ve all met people who are broadly in sympathy with Humanism, and may even call themselves Humanists, but they feel no need to join a Humanist organisation.”

Mr. Warden then continues with some proposals and his beliefs on Humanism. I'd like to share the one on spirituality with you. He said;

“I believe in Humanist spirituality. I didn't really want to use that word spirituality, because of its religious connotations. But I think there is an important dimension in human life to which the word spirituality refers. I'm thinking about primal needs which can't be satisfied by the free-market economy. For instance, during the week I might rely on instant meals from the supermarket but on a Friday or a Saturday night I get pleasure from preparing a meal from scratch, soaking the beans, chopping up the vegetables, frying them gently in olive oil, adding some crushed garlic, cumin seeds and a good splash of red wine. From a purely rational point of view this makes no sense at all. If all I need to do is eat, I might as well carry on eating instant meals. But I recognise that I have primal needs that can't be satisfied by rationality but only by getting in touch with my deepest feelings about things. I have a primal need to cook.

“Unfortunately, this is where traditional religion has a distinct advantage over Humanism. Ancient church buildings and religious relics connect with these primal instincts. The slightly musty smell in a village church. The sense of connection with countless generations of worshippers the soaring vaults of Cathedral naves, the penetrating blast of a church organ, the purity of the chorister voices, the soothing effect of flickering candles, the sumptuous costumes of bishops and deans. It's pure theatre. And what have we got? We have Conway Hall. But apart from this we mostly meet in drab community centres. Well, let's set our sights a bit higher. Let's start building humanist buildings that connect in some way with people's deepest values. Humanism is a very young movement. We need to start thinking on a grand scale and start planning for the next thousand years. This belief in a humanist spirituality also presents a challenge to economic assumptions about human well-being. It encourages the recognition that beyond a certain optimal point the accumulation of possessions starts to erode our sense of well-being. A striking example of this is celebrities like Elton John having periodic clear-outs of expensive clutter. On a more realistic level, it might involve spending more time learning a musical instrument and less time listening to CDs, or more time painting and less time worrying about whether you've taken in the latest blockbuster exhibition at the Royal Academy. 'Humanist' spirituality' means developing some resistance to the over-commodification of life.”

Greg Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, shares his vision of the future of Humanism–as The New Humanism. In an interview for The Humanist magazine, March - April 2007, titled The Humanist Interview with Greg Epstein, Humanist Chaplain of Harvard, he said;

“First of all, it can no longer be enough to hope that Harvard will in and of itself act as a secular cathedral, just as it's not enough to rely on what Gary Wolf dubbed "The New Atheism" in his November 2006 Wired magazine cover story. The cover text of that issue read: "No Heaven. No Hell. Just Science." Well, it's true and important that humanists don't adhere to the idea of a heaven or a hell, and we do value science as the best tool humans have for understanding the world around us, but Just Science? To me, that language raises the concern–often quite valid–that the New Atheism is too cut off from emotion, from intuition, and from a spirit of generosity toward those who see the world differently. In short, it represents the head of Humanism, an over-intellectualized, disembodied approach. To be relevant in the twenty-first century, we must also emphasize the heart of Humanism.

“I do see a movement taking shape that is positive rather than negative, with the potential to reach millions of young people in the coming generation or two. In response to the Wired article we should call this approach The New Humanism.

“This new humanism is noteworthy in three ways: it's multicultural, it's inclusive, and it's inspiring. Of course none of these notions are completely new, but one could argue that they haven't been emphasized enough by the organized Humanist community.”

Harvard University has taken an active role in the Humanist community in this respect. They developed a program called the Humanist Community Project. From their website;

“This initiative, from the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, is an attempt to research and provide resources to Humanist, skeptic, atheist and nonreligious communities around the country so they can build, grow and improve their local efforts.

“In essence what we hope to produce on this site is a collaborative expression of the collective wisdom of hundreds of Humanist communities across the world, so that every group can become as successful as the best group. By sharing our collective wealth we hope each group will become more and more fantastic, until we have large numbers of thriving, passionate, activist Humanist communities with big memberships, all across the USA.”

I’d like to close this chapter with another excerpt from David Warden's lecture, titled Has Humanism Any Future?

“What is the purpose of organised Humanism? Jonathan Miller, a prominent atheist, has recently been quoted as wondering why Humanists need to get together at all. He seems to view us as a peculiar sect . I agree with Jonathan Miller to some extent; I acknowledge that we are a peculiar sect. But the reason why organised Humanism needs to exist is to give people a choice between traditional religion on the one hand and nothingarianism on the other.

"Nothingarianism equates all too often to limited moral and intellectual horizons and a susceptibility to all sorts of quackery. Humanism is a learning community which gives people the chance to practice their thinking skills and widen their moral horizons.

"The received wisdom is that people don't join groups anymore. I accept it's a challenge, but I don't think we should be too defeatist about this. Many people are looking for something to believe in and belong to beyond the narrow confines of hedonistic individualism.

"One of the things we'd like to do is offer an educational course in Humanism covering religion, philosophy, psychology and ethics. We'd also like to foster stronger relationships with other UK groups and provide educational services to local schools. You have a wonderful humanist library in Conway Hall. I'd like every humanist group in the country to build up its own Humanist library.

"So Has Humanism Any Future? I said near the beginning of my talk that humanism is bigger than organised Humanism and I'm confident that even if organised Humanism collapsed, Humanism would still be a powerful and pervasive force in the world. As for organised Humanism, I think it does have a future but whether it continues to exist as a peculiar sect or grows into a thriving belief system is partly up to us. One of my fantasies is that in 100 years' time, a young man will be rummaging in the bookshops of Hay-on-Wye and he'll come across a first edition of a Conway lecture entitled Has Humanism Any Future? And by then, he will know the answer."


Wading through the oceans of material on Humanism wasn’t an easy task. There were an unlimited amount of websites propagating misinformation. But I was able to achieve what I set out to do. I shared my perspective on Humanism with you.

There is a great deal more to learn about Humanism. I have included a link section to this website, linking you to resources available on the web to learn more about this human-centered approach to life.

There are also other concerns I have that about the Humanist Movement that I haven't touched on in this article, such as Humanism with no adjective. The list of adjective-ated humanisms–secular humanism, religious humanism, etc.–does little more than confuse the novice humanist searcher. It divides us, not defines us.

As Jennifer Hancock wrote in her article, titled Just a Humanist;

"We have enough hurdles to overcome without putting self-imposed obstacles in our way. If we really want to talk to others about Humanism we must start talking about Humanist values and not just about “Freethought, or “Atheism” or “secularism.” Humanism is worth talking about in its own. Further, if we are to grow our movement, we need to start talking about what really matters, and that is our ethics and our values as Humanists.

"If we are to succeed, we must conduct our outreach in a way that gets people interested in what we are talking about while trying not to scare them or confuse them. Only labeling us as Humanists, plain and simple can accomplish this. Everything else is distracting and potential harmful to our cause. I am a Humanist. How about you?"

As Humanists, we are role models of what it is to be human, and should encourage the exploration of our potential in becoming better humans through science, reason, and skepticism–with the principles of ethical humanism.


~ C.A. Chicoine

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