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Secular humanism

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Secular humanism is a worldview, or religion, which is based on the presupposition that there is no supernatural, and is therefore atheistic.

Contents

Description

Secular humanism is a branch of the humanist philosophical system that proposes that humans are the sole arbiter of meaning and purpose in their own lives. Humanism explicitly rejects the notion that any non-human or supernatural entity may have some agency in this sphere. Secular humanism is distinct from religious humanism in that it additionally rejects the notion that humans may be usefully aided by the supernatural by means of religion, spirituality or other ritual practice in their moral decision making. In rejecting the supernatural, humanism is atheistic.

Secular humanism rejects solipsism and asserts that the scientific method is a valid way of knowing things about the the universe at large, encouraging rigorous testing of ideas and beliefs. It is a fundamentally optimistic outlook on the world, proposing that through considered action humans can make their own lives and the lives of others better.

History

Although humanistic ideas have been around for most of history, Humanism as a movement was not formalised until the publication of the Humanist Manifesto in America in 1933. This document put the view that existing religions were becoming outdated, and that a new religion was required.

Humanist Manifesto II was published in 1973 to update the Humanist view, didn't refer to Humanism as a religion, but still saw Humanism as a replacement for traditional religions.

In 2003, Humanism and its Aspirations, subtitled Humanist Manifesto III, was published.

Humanism as religion

Many humanists deny that secular humanism is a religion. The Council for Secular Humanism states that secular humanists have "a conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith" — something religious people apparently do not have, even though theists have cited ample evidence for God's existence.[1]

However, the Council itself acknowledges that "Secular humanists are generally nontheists."[1] Humanism was promoted as a religion from the beginning and still claims that status when it suits humanists to do so, such as when arguing before the courts that "freedom of religion" applies to their beliefs. For example, the 1933 Humanist Manifesto I repeatedly refers to humanism as "religious humanism", while rejecting the supernatural. John J. Dunphy referred in a 1983 article to humanism as "a religion of humanity"[2]

Bibliography

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 What is secular humanism? - Council for secular humanism.
  2. Dunphy, John D., Religion for a New Age, The Humanist Magazine 43(1), January-February 1983, quote online here
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