Secular Humanism


Overview

Secular humanism seeks to create a functioning, civilized society without the influence of a divine being or the moral principles assigned to religious beliefs. The term secular humanism was popularized in the 20th century as a worldview that rejects deities, incarnations and a spiritual existence after death in favor of the belief that dogmas, ideologies and traditions – whether religious, social or political – are to be evaluated individually and not simply accepted on faith. Humanists believe in the use of critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of inquiry rather than faith and mysticism in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important questions.

Humanists:

  • Rely on science as the most respected and reliable means for understanding mysteries surrounding the origins of the universe and life.
  • Do not believe in a theological concept of “evil.” Wrongdoing is explored through scientific methods, such as psychology, sociology and criminology.
  • Believe that realizing individual potential and seeking the betterment of humanity through ethical consciousness and social engagement are paramount. These are approached from a naturalistic rather than supernatural standpoint.
  • Usually believe human suffering results from vulnerability to misfortune, illness, and victimization rather than undeserved suffering either allowed or caused by a deity.

Secular humanists may describe themselves as atheist or agnostic and secular humanism is non-religious. However, humanists describe themselves as being more than nonbelievers. Humanism addresses many of the same aspects of the human existence as religion, including values, the meaning of life and human identity.

Resources

The Council for Secular Humanism is an advocacy and education group sponsored by the Center for Inquiry, which says its mission is “promoting science, reason, critical thinking, and humanist values.” It is based in Amherst, N.Y. (near Buffalo). The council publishes an online newsletter, Secular Humanist Bulletin, and an online magazine, Free Inquiry.






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