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Humanism, a first look July 27, 2007

Posted by Joe in atheism, belief, ethics, freethought, Humanism, life, morality, politics, skepticism.

I do not wish to define myself by what I am not. This is my largest problem with the term atheist. It is a statement of something I do not believe, but really doesn’t say anything more than that. So I am seriously looking into Humanism for the first time.

If you have any experience or knowledge of Humanism, please share.

I’ve been checking out Humanist resources on the internet, primarily the home page of the American Humanist Association (AHA). The organization I have been aware of since I was in High School devouring the works of Isaac Asimov (including his posthumous autobiography I. Asimov) shortly after the time when I first acknowledged my own nonbelief. His association with the organization piqued my interest at the time, but I have never really looked into it to consider it for myself until now.

From the AHA website:

As Kurt Vonnegut succinctly described: being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.

Humanism is a progressive lifestance that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

This is a more positive meaningful profession of belief instead of the extremely nondescriptive and entirely negative atheist. I remain an atheist, but I think Humanism may be a better way to define myself in the future.



1. Dan - July 28, 2007

I like the term humanist too, although I have no real attachment to that particular way of defining myself as an atheist, because “humanist” often becomes “secular humanist,” which is very loaded with implicit political agendas. That may be the case, but it distracts one’s self from the very positive definition you provided above.

I also like the terms freethinker and rationalist, myself.

2. Stephen - July 28, 2007

Some of the tenets seem so obvious, it’s a real shame that we need a label for people who believe we should live ethical lives and strive for the betterment of humanity.

3. Joe - July 29, 2007

Well that’s just one part of the definition. Most people use their religious affiliation to explain their morals. The difference with Humanism is the “without supernaturalism” part.

freethinker and rationalist seem ill-defined and not as clear as humanism. Also many theists claim both labels and I don’t see them automatically precluding theism. Humanists expressly state that they do not believe in the supernatural.

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