There are 8 seperate kinds of Humanism:
Our focus is Modern Humanism.
They trace their roots to the rational philosophy first created in the West in ancient Greece. Many regard Socrates as the first and greatest of Humanists. They value reason over faith; knowledge based on evidence rather than simple belief They reject the concept of God, and regard humans as supreme. From this belief naturally follows: a rejection of a created universe in favor of the theory of evolution and a universe that obeys natural laws a rejection of divinely inspired ethical and moral codes in favor of codes derived by reason from the human condition the belief that full responsibility for the future of the world, its political systems, its ecology, etc rests with humans. There is no God in heaven to intervene and save us from a disaster Many Humanists believe that much historical progress has arisen from the conflict between organized religion and secular society in which the former's beliefs and practices have been replaced. They accept of democracy and reject both theocracy and secular dictatorships as political systems They value freedom of inquiry, expression and action. They have a history of combating bigotry, hatred, discrimination, intolerance and censorship. They are energetic supporters of the separation of church and state They tend to have very liberal beliefs about controversial ethical topics, like abortion, corporal punishment of children, death penalty, enforced prayer in schools, homosexuality, physician assisted suicide, etc. Since they believe that life after death is non-existent, they are highly motivated to alleviating pain and misery around the world. Many are active in environmental groups. Generally speaking, they do not. believe in a God, a Goddess or a combination of Goddesses and Gods. supernatural beings such as angels, demons, Satan, Holy Spirit, etc. heaven or hell or life after death. the separation of a person into body, soul and spirit
Is Humanism a Religion?
The most widely used meaning of the word religion is probably the belief that a God or Gods exist who created the world, who is/are to be worshipped, and who is/are responsible for creating ethical and behavioral codes. In that context, Humanism is definitely not a religion, and would not be perceived as one by many people. Humanists do not generally believe in a supreme deity or deities, demons, ghosts, angels, in a supernatural world, in heaven and hell, or in a divinely ordained ethical code for humans to follow. Most would regard God as a creation of mankind rather than the reverse. Religious Humanism has been loosely defined as religion with matters of faith and traditional belief deleted. Replacing these factors is a belief in humanity as the highest known form of intelligent life, and a belief in the scientific method as the best way to determine truth. Many Secular Humanists feel that the role of religion throughout history has been so profoundly negative, that the word "religion" should not be connected to their philosophy.
Conflicts over Secularism in the Schools
Conservative Christians sometimes complain that Humanism is really the official religion of the public educational system. They feel that the traditional wall of separation between church and state has been breached, and that Humanism has taken over the public schools. This is not an accurate view. The percentage of adults in North America that consider themselves Christian is about 85%; this is probably reflected in the religious beliefs of the teachers and others in the school system. The public school systems base their courses on a secular or non-religious foundation. In most subjects, like mathematics, reading, writing, physics, chemistry etc, this does not present a problem. In human sexuality education, geology, sociology, history, etc the secular approach conflicts greatly with conservative Christian theology. For example, a non-religious approach to human sexuality would make use of the latest findings in sexual orientation; they would teach that bisexuality, heterosexuality and homosexuality as natural human variations. Liberal religious groups, like Reform and Reconstructist Judaism, the United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada etc also take a secular approach to this subject. Conservative Christians interpret the Bible as condemning homosexual behaviour as a sin. They would thus regard it as a moral perversion and are eager that it be taught as such. Mainline Christian denominations hold views which are intermediate between conservative and liberal groups, and are drifting towards the "left". US Public Schools are required to base their curriculum on secularism because of the rule of separation of church and state. Humanism is also based on a secular view of the universe for philosophical reasons. Many mainline and liberal religious groups take secular views in many areas, ranging from human sexuality to geology. Thus public schools are not Humanist any more than they follow the lead of the United Churches. The are simply secular.
Ethical Behaviour Without a Belief in God
Many people feel that ethical and moral behaviour must be based on the absolute teachings found with the Christian Bible. Without a belief in the Christian God, the hope of heaven and the threat of hell, they believe that an individual will not be motivated to behave decently. This belief was seen in a US military policy in past decades which only gave conscientious objector status to persons who believed in a God. Humanists have successfully developed moral and ethical systems which are independent of divine revelation from a deity. They are based upon such beliefs as: systems of morality and ethics can be developed through mutual agreement much like we develop laws and social customs they can be based upon common needs that humans have for survival, security, personal growth and love humans are social animals who can make the greatest achievements through mutual cooperation people will willingly follow humanistic codes because they are effective; reasonable; lead to self esteem; are consistent with one's natural feelings of caring, compassion and sympathy; are accepted by others, and do not lead to condemnation or rejection. No "carrot and stick" are needed to enforce them.
A short list taken from the text of a talk (1) by Frederick Edwords, (Copyright © 1989 by Frederick Edwords) the Executive Director of the American Humanist Association includes: Isaac Asimov, scientist and author Margaret Atwood, author and literary freedom activist Brock Chisholm, physician and first Director-General of the WHO (World Health Organization) Albert Einstein, physicist and conceiver of the Theory of Relativity Betty Friedan, feminist activist R. Buckminster Fuller, futurist and inventor Julian Huxley, philosopher and first Director-General of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization) Richard Leakey, anthropologist Abraham Maslow, psychologist and creator of Third Force Psychology John Boyd Orr, the first Director-General of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) A. Philip Randolf, human rights activist Carl Rogers, psychologist and creator of Client Centred Therapy Bertrand Russell, mathematician and philosopher Jonas Salk, physician and developer of the polio vaccine Ms. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood Andrei Sakharov, physicist and human rights activist Gloria Steinem, feminist activist
Useful Books on Humanism
The following books are believed to be in print as of 1996-MAY. They are published by Prometheus Books (unless otherwise noted): Antony Flew, "Atheistic Humanism (The Prometheus Lectures)" Roger E. Greeley, "The Best of Humanism" David Allen Williams, "A Celebration of Humanism and Freethought" Paul W. Kurtz, "The Humanist Alternative: Some Definitions of Humanism" H. Tristram Engelhardt, "Bioethics and Secular Humanism : The Search for a Common Morality", Trinity Press International Sherwin T. Wine, "Celebration : A Ceremonial and Philosophic Guide for Humanists and Humanistic Jews"