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Presenting Humanism to others…. Presentation principles…. Humanism as a world view is still evolving Positive philosophy of life Belief in everyone being free to make the most of the one life we know for sure they have

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presentation principles
Presentation principles…

Humanism as a world view is still evolving

  • Positive philosophy of life
    • Belief in everyone being free to make the most of the one life we know for sure they have
    • Endorse “positive freedom” that respects individual ambition and the human rights of others
    • Want to help to create a “good society” that cares for others.
  • Humanists are inquisitive – we look to science to find answers, which are always tentative.
  • Personalise – “How I came to this view?”
  • Keep God out of it!?
  • "The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.“ Bertrand Russell, Philosopher
humanists have a positive view of human nature
Humanists have a positive view of human nature…

There are many problems in the world and people can often be very selfish and, sometimes cruel towards others.

However, people also show extraordinary kindness..

What is your personal experience of this?

Why should people act well towards others?

humans have progressed by cooperating
Humans have progressed by cooperating…

Through millions of years of evolution, human beings have succeeded by working together...

  • to help each other in times of trouble
  • to bring up and educate the young
  • to clear land for farming
  • to construct buildings and communal projects
  • to created stable societies that trade and allow individuals to specialise in what they are good at
  • To care for the needy – the sick, the elderly..

Humans working together have the capacity to do remarkable things using a combination of knowledge, skills and imagination. A good society allows all individuals to achieve their potential.

What are the important achievements of human society?

humans are also inquisitive
Humans are also inquisitive..

What things fascinate us?

some things that have fascinated me
Some things that have fascinated me…
  • Where did we (i.e. humans) come from?
  • How long have we been around?
  • How did the universe start?
  • Is there life on other planets?
  • How did the incredible variety of life on earth come about?
  • What happens when we die?
  • Are there ghosts and spirits? Is there anything that is supernatural?
  • Where might genetic engineering lead? What might humans look like in future?

Humanists keep their minds open to new ideas and information and respect science.

where did we come from
Where did we come from?

We don\'t know for sure but the best that science can tell us is...

  • Our universe began with a BIG BANG 13.7 billion years ago.
  • It has been expanding ever since.
  • Life has evolved gradually from simple to more complex life forms – though life today shares common basic DNA – which suggests that complex life evolved from earlier simple life forms.
  • Homo sapiens evolved 250,000 to 400,000 years ago.

We appreciate the wonder of evolution, which has created so many forms of life from simple origins and the process goes on!

what happens after death
What happens after death?

We can’t be sure!

  • Many people hope for an afterlife – but little evidence of this.
  • If there is it will be a bonus.
  • Most likely thing is that our bodies will decompose and molecules will be used to create new life.

This idea is very liberating. It makes us want to make the best of the one life we know we have – live every minute and help others to have a good life too – and leave a good legacy for those who come after us!

what is the purpose of life
What is the purpose of life?

Life on earth is accidental.

For each individual it is a UNIQUE ONE-OFF EVENT

Some religions argue that the purpose of life is to serve God.

Humanists believe that individuals have “agency” –i.e. the power to create their own meaning!

how should we live life
How should we live life?
  • People seem to be happier when they have a chance to improve themselves.
  • This is more likely if they live in an orderly, secure and caring society. So creating a good society is important to us all.
  • However, we don\'t all have to be the same. Individuals should be free to find their own fulfilment. Humanists appreciate diversity.
  • It is OK to enjoy life!! You don\'t have to feel guilty about having a good time (so long as it is not at the expense of others).
do we have rules to live by
Do we have rules to live by?

While Humanists generally agree with:


“You should treat others as you would like others to treat you.”

They generally feel that few rules hold for all times. When Society changes we often need to change the rules.

But the PRINCIPLES of how we live our lives stay the same.

An important word for Humanists is “EMPATHY”.

We are concerned for others and, when things go wrong, we try to imagine ourselves in other peoples shoes e.g. Gaza.

We recognise that often deep fulfilment comes when we do things together with friends, communities and societies.

does the supernatural exist
Does the Supernatural exist?

Are there spirits, ghosts etc ?

We can’t be sure!

But as long as I haven\'t experienced them or seen convincing evidence I will work on the assumption that they are unlikely and not relevant to my daily life.

is there a god or gods
Is there a God or Gods?

We don\'t know for certain!

  • But it is difficult to understand how there could be an all-seeing, all-knowing God who doesn\'t intervene to prevent atrocities e.g. genocide.

In the past, GODS and the supernatural were used to explain the unknown

  • The realm of the unknown has shrunk over time and so has that of God.

God is no more evident than fairies!

  • If he or she ever existed then he seems to have gone away.
  • Deist view is that God started everything and then has played no active part – left to humans to solve problems and create a good life.

Humanists prefer to look to human ingenuity and science for explanations and to solve problems.

how can we make sure that society stays good
How can we make sure that society stays good?

Observing how society works gives us hope.

  • We come across many people who act kindly towards others.
  • Modern society has been shaped by the “Liberal Meme” – Dawkins
    • We have gradually extended human rights through prison reform, rights for women, the disabled, the elderly…
    • Life for many people is better today than ever before.

The rules we live by are made by human beings on the basis of experience.

    • Human beings have been successful down the ages by working together to overcome problems. Widely agreed codes of behaviour have been the key.

A framework of LAW to ensure basic human rights is important.

2002 amsterdam declaration of humanist principles
2002 Amsterdam Declaration of Humanist Principles
  • Humanism is ethical. It affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others. Humanists have a duty of care to all of humanity including future generations. Humanists believe that morality is an intrinsic part of human nature based on understanding and a concern for others, needing no external sanction.
  • Humanism is rational. It seeks to use science creatively, not destructively. Humanists believe that the solutions to the world\'s problems lie in human thought and action rather than divine intervention. Humanism advocates the application of the methods of science and free inquiry to the problems of human welfare. But Humanists also believe that the application of science and technology must be tempered by human values. Science gives us the means but human values must propose the ends.
  • Humanism supports democracy and human rights. Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being. It holds that democracy and human development are matters of right. The principles of democracy and human rights can be applied to many human relationships and are not restricted to methods of government.
  • Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility. Humanism ventures to build a world on the idea of the free person responsible to society, and recognises our dependence on and responsibility for the natural world. Humanism is undogmatic, imposing no creed upon its adherents. It is thus committed to education free from indoctrination.
  • Humanism is a response to the widespread demand for an alternative to dogmatic religion. The world\'s major religions claim to be based on revelations fixed for all time, and many seek to impose their world-views on all of humanity. Humanism recognises that reliable knowledge of the world and ourselves arises through a continuing process of observation, evaluation and revision.
  • Humanism values artistic creativity and imagination and recognises the transforming power of art. Humanism affirms the importance of literature, music, and the visual and performing arts for personal development and fulfilment.
  • Humanism is a life stance aiming at the maximum possible fulfilment through the cultivation of ethical and creative living and offers an ethical and rational means of addressing the challenges of our times.

How should these principles be applied to running a Humanist school?

what is humanism lacking
What is Humanism lacking?

How can we make it better

and acceptable to more people?