What is Humanism?

310475_2499767540025_280728461_n  When I mention the word Humanism, I am usually met with a blank stare (or the digital equivalent). On occasion I am “informed” that I worship humans, though I have not yet been accused of eating them, thankfully. Come to think of it, since my departure from organized religion I’ve heard that I worship a lot of strange things…the sun, Baal, myself. Adoration of a supernatural entity is so central to theists that it must be hard for them to imagine a life of joy, love, and altruism without some sort of god in the middle of it all. In fairness, I dwell in a space where the God-line is blurred, where peaceful, reverent awe of the universe and its intricacies suspends me in what may best be labelled scientific pantheism (a topic I’ll cover later this month.)

Though Humanism dates back to the middle ages and has grown into a movement of millions worldwide, it is not yet a household word, and the concept remains mysterious to many. What exactly is Humanism (not to be confused with cannibalism!) and what do Humanists believe?

I discovered this quote that elucidates the core of the movement.  It is, “the general love of humanity … which we will venture to call ‘Humanism’, for the time has come to create a word for such a beautiful and necessary thing” (Anonymous, 1765, France)

Drawing from the Amsterdam Declaration 2002 and the Humanist Manifesto III, here is a list of Humanist beliefs and values that I have pocket-sized for your convenience. Now you can learn all about Humanism in the time it takes you to drink that Bulletproof coffee, or break down the boxes from yesterday’s Amazon delivery, or put on three pairs of pants (that’s you, my Wisconsin friends), or meander mindlessly through Instagram on your second device. (I won’t be offended. I promise.)

  • Humanists believe in science and reason as an ever-evolving way to understand life and renounce making life choices or laws based on religious doctrines.
  • They affirm that technology should be used for the betterment of our global society, and not to harm.
  • They describe visual and performing arts, creative thought, imagination and music as vessels through which life can be enjoyed and its history preserved.
  • Humanists believe in the inherent dignity and worth of all individuals and are strongly motivated to protect and defend human rights and the fair and ethical treatment of all people.
  • They acknowledge that personal freedom bears social responsibility, both to those alive now and to future generations.
  • Humanists believe we are born of nature and return to nature at death. It is a moral duty to use our brief time wisely, filling it with love, awe, wonder, and meaning. As our lives are finite, each person should strive to live purposefully and grace Earth with a positive impact that will live on after our deaths.
  • Socializing, forming relationships, sharing in times of wealth and helping in times of need are values that add happiness and meaning to life.
  • There is joy in building a global society that benefits all. Humanists strive to reduce the suffering caused by inequity and to distribute the wealth of nature justly, so that all humans can achieve the maximum fulfilment of life on Earth.
  • Humanism offers an alternative to religion, providing community and a secular-based approach to altruism and self-improvement.
  • In a nutshell, Humanists advocate for social justice, diversity, civil liberties, sustainability, responsible and ethical behavior, arts and creative thought, and the deep appreciation for the circle of life, all outside of the confines of religion. Their slogan is, “Good without a god.”

Am I a Humanist in the truest sense? I certainly agree with the principals of Humanism and am proud to be part of the movement (in a way I never was of my participation in organized religion). I broadcast the term whenever possible, to raise awareness and empower this nonreligious group, especially to populations that shamefully still equate atheism with malevolence or amorality. But the American Humanist Association claims to “work tirelessly in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend civil liberties, secular governance, and scientific integrity.” Therefore, I may not be worthy of the title.

My blog encourages communication between theists and nonbelievers, with an underlying goal of defending the marginalized and supporting human rights in arenas where religion is fighting them. In the photo above, I am singing at an event to raise money for the homeless. In those small ways, I guess you could say I am an activist. I admire those who are out picketing and marching, relentlessly writing letters and calling senators, even covering their car with political bumper stickers. (My Prius is graced with only one, a white dove that spells the word “Peace.”) Then again, it may not be necessary to become a revolutionary to invoke social change. Even quiet voices will resonate if enough of us are speaking.

If enough of us are speaking, society will hear us…even if it is not listening.

Stay tuned next weekend for an exploration of Humanism as it relates to Christianity and the teachings of Jesus.  Until then, I’ll leave you with this quote from Matthew Healy, of the group “The 1975.” It speaks a simple but profound truth:

The one responsibility I believe I have is to stand up against ideas that promote inequality.

35 thoughts on “What is Humanism?

  1. A superb declaration. We seem to hold very similar worldviews. So much so, in fact, that in my latest post, I publicly banned myself from using the word “pantheism” on my page ever again (in addition to other words I’ve overused to the point of absurdity).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I’ve just begun to use it, thanks in part to one of your posts. I’m not as much of a “revolutionary” as my mom was in her hippie days (and continues to be), so I’m not sure if I qualify as a Humanist. But I can definitely relate to the quiet understanding that Earth and the cosmos are breathtaking and beyond full comprehension, and all of life is intricately and eternally connected. I’m heading over to your page in a moment. I relish every bit of your wicked humor and down-to-earth insights!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh my Thor, Dani! You and I are so much alike. And we just “met.”

    I too lean towards both Scientific Pantheism and Humanism. My preference, of course, is NO label, but these are two of the philosophies that speak to me the most as a non-believer.

    I especially liked the way you presented the former: I dwell in a space where the God-line is blurred, where peaceful, reverent awe of the universe and its intricacies suspends me.

    Looking forward to your post where you approach the topic in more detail.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Nan. We are kindred “souls” for sure (whatever a soul is, hahaha!) One of these days I’ll have to include your town on one of my road trips, so we can have a proper coffee and a laugh together. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A very informative and well written blog. I was always siding with humanists because they always supported the most sensible and logical perspectives of an issue and that list you provided has confirmed this.

    I identify myself as an atheist and support the same things as humanists, however I would probably be more identifiable by Christians I blog as an anti-theist.

    Of course, I am only active in blogging religious people to help right the wrongs, such as child indoctrination, identify how they are indoctrinated with mythical superstition and some neurological facts about where their God exists, right alongside with all the other gods of this world.

    Keep up your good work and you are a fine example of a humanist

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I think what you’re doing is very important. It’s a sacrifice, in a way. At least in my experience, there are days I’d rather blog about the snow, but I feel like there are so many important truths to depart, to those who need to hear them, that I am drawn to my purposeful blogging every weekend.

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      1. Thank you for reading my blog that has been neglected for a long time, I just cannot find enough time as I enjoy visiting everyone else’s.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. The great thing is, it shouldn’t have to matter. Labels are only important when used to define and outline concepts. None of us has an inherent duty to label ourselves, whether for our own benefit or that of others. Our beliefs should be as individual as which music or flavor of tea we prefer. It’s when people unite under a common belief system that is oppressing others that “beliefs” gain unwarranted power to do harm. Here at Love over Religion, you are always welcome to live in the in-between, as I do. 🙂

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      1. I find going my own way the most unlonely and happy place. Just wish it hadn’t taken so long to get here. I was reading another blog I follow and he just had his aha moment and wished it had happened sooner too. He’s 23. Lol

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! How cool that you live in Wisconsin, too. You’re close enough that I can visit your apothecary when your dream comes true. I love herbal medicine. I just followed your blog, and will also read your personal story about your dad. I may hit you up for some herbal remedies this winter, too. I work in a school, and I’m contantly exposed to everything a person can contract, haha! I’m very fond of elderberry and willow bark teas, which are hard to find. Thanks for reading, and hope we can meet in person someday. 🙂

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  4. Not sure if you are a nerd or not but I like to use this analogy.

    Humanists are equatable to Star Fleet and the Federation. Humans working together for the betterment of mankind, striving to attain personal greatness while at the same time working towards the goals of a peaceful and just society.

    Religionists are equatable to the Borg. Working together around a small set of rules, conforming to the same theology and attempting to either destroy or assimilate anything that does not fit their dogmatic mold.

    Anyway, if you’re a nerd I think you’ll get this analogy….if not…I have just outed myself as the supreme nerd that I truly am. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha! I love it. I’m embarrassingly undereducated on all things Star Trek. But now that I know there’s a clever religious analogy, I may just carve out some time to get up to speed on it. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. 🙂 I look forward to future conversations with you.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Wow! I am most certainly a Star Trek nerd and your analogy was spot-on! In fact, I think I’m going to share it on my blog … if that’s OK with you.

      Perhaps this perspective isn’t new, but it’s the first time I’ve heard it … and I love it!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. In the photo above, I am singing at an event to raise money for the homeless. In those small ways, I guess you could say I am an activist.

    How did you find out about charity events like that? I would love to start doing more things like that, but I’m not always sure where to start or where to find them!

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    1. I was in a band at the time, back when I lived in Florida. I was part of a very socially active community. We did lots of benefit shows, shows to raise awareness, etc. I can’t even remember exactly how we found out about each one. I might suggest that you check with your local UU Church. They are very involved with local and global charitable efforts. (Not sure if you’re familiar with them, but they’re not a “church” in the traditional sense. More of a gathering of progressive liberals that don’t follow a religious doctrine. The American Humanist Association (there’s a link in my blog post) is a wonderful resource as well. Are you a musician or a singer? There are online network groups for musicians, though I honestly can’t remember the names of them, off the top of my head. Depending on what region you live in, you may be able to get info at “grassroots-type” bookstores, cafes, or pubs. At Meetups.com you can check for local gatherings that are dedicated to whatever you are interested in. (Alternately, you can start your own group there.) Also, check Facebook groups for your town or city. There may be some dedicated to community events right where you live. On those same sites, you may be able to tie in with others who are interested, and even create your own local event. Good luck, and please keep me posted on your success!

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      1. Thanks for taking the time to respond and the suggestions. I was just curious how people locate such opportunities. I found some stuff locally that I might check out at some point.

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  6. From a Freethinking (Bohemian) Humanist to another fellow Humanist Danica, this was an excellent read and reinvigoration of my/our values. Thank you! 🙂 ❤

    I am looking forward to your next blog-post on Humanism/Christianity/Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmm, possibly Danica. I’m sure we are in many ways, on many levels. I am indeed a “lover of life” … wanting happiness, fun, and profound experience(s) for all and myself together. Doing so and creating that can be done in MANY various ways at differing depths. 🙂

        Not trying to sound cryptic, just polite… here on your blog. And I’m probably making it worse like I’m from another planet. LOL 🙃👽

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Hm…guess I am a humanist too. But then again, do I want to be ‘placed in a box’ (which isn’t even possible I think)? And the way we humans tend to use that same humanity as an excuse (for I am only human, don’t blame me)…Yes, I am human, a human…but so much more…
    XxX

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true! I don’t think Humanists have to label themselves as such. Many people consider aspects of their personalities as fitting with the standards outlined in The Humanist Manifesto. For me, it is mainly my blog. Hope you have a great day, my virtual friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oooh, thank you for the recommendation, Astrowx! I just Wikipedia’d her, and she looks like an author I would definitely get into. Do you happen to remember the book title? It looks like she has several. I will likely (slowly) read them all anyway. 🙂

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