Secular humanism

Secular humanism is an active lifestance that holds a naturalisic worldview and advocates the use of reason, compassion, scientific inquiry, ethics, justice and equality.

"Secular humanism" is distinguished from the broader "humanism" in that the secular Humanist prefers free inquiry over dogma wisdom—upholding the scientific method for inquiry, while rejecting "revealed knowledge" and theistic morality, though not necessarily faith. Secular humanism has appeal to athiests, agnostics, freethinkers, rationalists, skeptics, and materialists. Its basic tenets may be simplified as:

  • Humans have value and can solve human problems
  • Science, free speech, rational thought, democracy, and freedom in the arts go together
  • There is nothing supernatural

Secular Humanism Today

Secular humanism is appealing to a growing cross section of population around the world. Over the past 30 years from 1970 to 2000, is a clear increase in the number of people around the world are listing 'of no religion' as their theistic choice. Secular humanism organizations are found in all parts of the earth: India, China, Australia, Europe, North America, etc.. Special days for secular humanists are the summer and winter solstices and more recently, Charles Darwin's Birthday, commonly referred to as Darwin Day.

In certain areas of the world, secular humanism often finds itself in conflict with religious fundamentalism especially over the issue of the separation of church and state. Secular humanists tend to see religious fundamentalists as superstitious, regressive and close minded. Fundamentalists believe secular humanism as a threat (nonbelievers) as outlined in books such as the Bible and the Qur'an.

Modern and Historical References

The term secularism was created in 1846 by George Jacob Holyoake in order to describe "a form of opinion which concerns itself only with questions, the issues of which can be tested by the experience of this life."

The earliest use of the phrase "secular humanism" was in the Supreme Court case Torcaso v. Watkins. In the 1961 decision, Justice Hugo Black commented in a footnote, "Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others." Such footnotes, known as "dicta," are simply the personal observations of the judge, and hence are only incidental to reaching the opinion. It was later clarified by the court that the term does not refer to a religion.

The term was seized upon by religious fundamentalists, often to cast humanists as anti-religious.

By the 1970's the term was embraced by humanists who, although critical of religion in its various guises, were delibrately non-religious, as opposed to anti-religious, which means that it has nothing to do with spiritual, religious, or ecclesiastical doctrines, beliefs, or power structures. This understanding of secular Humanism is the most common today.

Historical, and possibly infrequent academic usage of secular Humanism, is related to the writings of Pre-Socratic philosophers. These writings were lost to obscurity until Renaissance scholars rediscovered and translated them into modern language. Thus the term "humanist" can mean a humanities scholar (who may be hostile to Secular Humanism and the The Enlightenment), Renaissance intellectuals, and those who have agreement with the Pre-Socratics.

Notable secular humanists

Some notable secular humanists are

Secular humanism manifestos

There are now ten Humanist Manifestos and Declarations:

See also

Humanist and related organizations

Related philosophies

External links

nl:Humanisme sv: Sekulär humanism


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