What is Humanism?

For thousands of years, human beings have wondered about how the universe came to be and how to live a good life. Some have turned to religion to do answer these questions, for example, by claiming that the world was created by gods and goddesses, and that these magical beings are the source of morality. These positions are based on ‘faith’ but aren’t supported by scientific evidence.

For just as long, there have been humanists, people who reject superstition in favour of reliable truths, and pursue good and ethical lives on the basis of empathy for other living things, recognising our equal need as human beings to feel safe, secure, and happy.

Trusting science to explain reality

Rather than look to authority figures or religious texts, humanists look to the scientific method and the use of reason to explain the world. This approach has been tremendously successful throughout human history. For example, we know that humans and every other species evolved from common ancestors, contradicting many of the creation myths found in religions. We also know, through testing theories via the scientific method that the world is made up of extremely small particles called atoms. This approach to understanding the world means humanists don’t believe in gods or goddesses, because there is no evidence to suggest otherwise.

Empathy and behaving ethically

Humanists don’t believe in gods or goddesses, and recognise that morality is about human relationships and our relationship with animals and the environment. We all need to live together in this world, so it makes the most sense to be good to other people, as that’s how we’d all like to be treated in return. Most people, including religious people, live by this approach in their every day lives, sometimes without realising it.

Some people refer to this approach as ‘the Golden Rule‘. What’s great about the Golden Rule is it’s simple and easy to follow. All it requires is empathy, the ability to imagine how others might think or feel about something.

This approach has inspired humanists to care strongly about human rights and doing good to help others, not in the name of any gods or goddesses or for glory, but simply because that’s the way they’d like to be treated.