Yes, I’m a Humanist


First off, what does being a Humanist mean?  To put it simply, Humanism is a belief in human rights and scientific reality.  Those are essentially the two guiding principles that inform our view on most subjects.  So if you wonder what Humanists think on any given issue, just figure out what the human rights and/or scientific viewpoint would be, and there you are.

Humanists, like myself, believe that we fallible humans have the sole responsibility to figure out the world around us. While many religious people believe that life's big questions were answered in the past by others claiming to receive supernatural guidance, Humanists don't have confidence in those claims for a variety of reasons.

Humanists have a diversity of views on different subjects, but the core belief is the necessity of human beings to figure out how things actually work, where everything came from, what actions are helpful versus harmful, and what things are meaningful to our lives. For the Humanist, human rights forms the basis of morality and it is our responsibility to figure out right from wrong and do our part in promoting a more moral society.

While most religious people believe that the world today can be directly influenced by supernatural powers as the result of prayer, rituals or other techniques, Humanists don't find these claims convincing.  On the contrary, we are convinced that human beings have the sole responsibility to control and change the world around us.  If something in the natural world needs fixing or improving, we must do it ourselves.

Most Humanists rely heavily on the scientific method as used by the scientific community to figure out the natural world. It's a fallible process run by groups of fallible humans, but overtime it has proven itself to be the most successful tool we have to increase the accuracy of our understanding of life on planet earth.

Since there are many big questions that science hasn't and may never be able to answer, Humanists have different opinions on subjects such as the existence or possible nature of god, an afterlife and other highly interesting but so far entirely unverifiable subjects.

That's basically it in a nutshell if you use a "big tent" meaning of Humanism. Different groups of people sometimes combine another term with humanism to create a more detailed and specific meaning, such as secular humanism, modern humanism and even religious humanism.  Other people who use a different primary label about themselves, such as agnostic, atheist, or followers of some type of religion, will also sometimes describe their views as being aligned with or largely in agreement with those of Humanists.

In fact, I would argue that the worldview of Humanism is accepted by a far larger number of people than those who would actually say something like, "Yes, I'm a Humanist."

(Last updated February 6, 2014)