Humanism is a non-religious ethical philosophy, a way of life and a way of thinking, that involves adherence to strong ethics, an emphasis on human rights, and respect for the Earth and its creatures. A Humanist works toward creating a more humane and responsible world, with a commitment to reason and compassion. Are you a Humanist… perhaps without knowing it? If you agree with most of the following statements then you won’t be far off the mark if you say, “Yes – I’m a Humanist too!”
- The universe is natural, neither for us nor against us
- Natural events have natural causes
- We human beings are part of nature and have kinship with all life
- Morality is a challenge to be figured out by human beings from experience and our interactions with others
- Compassion, empathy and reason are a natural guide to deciding right from wrong: we are responsible to ourselves and to each other to do what’s right
- Human beings are communal animals: People need each other and learn from each other
- Reason is a useful and powerful tool for solving problems, and the methods of science help us understand ourselves and the universe we live in
- Humans are presented with possibilities and opportunities, living together on a crowded planet; we should work on our problems, learning from others, and not ask or expect supernatural intervention to solve them
- What happens to us often results from choice and by chance, through the actions of the natural world and how we interact with others; it is not determined by stars and planets, or by gods or other supernatural forces
- There are no promises of special privilege to anyone, neither is anyone doomed or afflicted
- We all have ideas. It’s right to be open to learn from others and hear their views
- Individual freedom of choice and freedom of expression is part of being human and worth defending
IHEU Minimum Definition of Humanism
The International Humanist and Ethical Association (of which OHS is a member) offers the following Minimum Definition of Humanism:
Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.
Ten Guiding Principles of Humanism
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- Humanism aims at the full development of every human being.
- Humanists uphold the broadest application of democratic principles in all human relationships.
- Humanists advocate the use of scientific methods, both as a guide to distinguish fact from fiction and to help develop beneficial and creative uses of science and technology.
- Humanists affirm the dignity of every person and the right of the individual to personal freedom compatible with the rights of others.
- Humanists call for the continued improvement of society so that no one may be deprived of the basic necessities of life, and for institutions and conditions to provide every person with opportunities for developing their full potential.
- Humanists support the development and extension of fundamental human freedoms, as expressed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and supplemented by UN International Covenants comprising the United Nations Bill of Human Rights.
- Humanists advocate peaceful resolution of conflicts between individuals, groups, and nations.
- The humanist ethic encourages development of the positive potentialities in human nature, and approves conduct based on a sense of responsibility to oneself and to all other persons.
- Humanists affirm that individual and social problems can be resolved by means of human reason, intelligent effort, critical thinking joined with compassion and a spirit of empathy for all living beings.
- Humanists affirm that human beings are completely a part of nature, and that our survival is dependent upon a healthy planet that provides us and all other forms of life with a sustainable environment.