An Introduction to Humanismon August 2, 2012 at 12:11 am
Humanism is sometimes mistaken for another form of religion, or something which is very complex. Here, some well known humanists explain that all humanism really is, is people wanting to live ethical and happy lives, thinking for themselves, without religion imposing its own morals on them which are not necessarily compatible with living ethically today.
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.
I wanted to spotlight this group and their good work humanizing atheists (forgive the pun). We all know that words hold power and “atheist” has gotten a bad rap over the years. “Atheist” is often seen as a sterile, cold-hearted individual trying to force change on happy families while the term “humanist” portrays a lofty intellectual with evolved views who still deigns to care for other people. One would call Albert Einstein and Leonardo Da Vinci “humanists” but Kim Jong-il and Joseph Stalin are “atheists”.
A good reference for this sort of discussion on general views of a word is Urban Dictionary where anyone can post a definition for any word and then the different definitions are voted upon by the public. “Humanist” reveals only a few definitions all of which mention a lack of religious belief but focus more on humanists caring for “the welfare of humans and other living beings”. Meanwhile the term “atheist” has 224 separate definitions which range from “do not believe in god” to snotty bigots to imaginary creatures when the shit hits the fan to aggressive idiots who just need to read the Bible. Please, take a trip through the 32 Pages of definitions and see how much stigma is associated to the word and what we are up against the instant we say we are “atheist”.
Now an atheist by any other name still doesn’t believe in any gods, but is this maybe a term we should drop for the more friendly “humanist”? Or by doing that are we just retitling ourselves like the Creationists—>Believers in Intelligent Design? Personally I see nothing wrong with “atheist”, but I also use the term “feminist” to define myself and that is another loaded word. Maybe the time has come to cut our losses with the term “atheist” until we can reclaim it someday in the future when it is no longer a weapon against us. Or will such a day ever come?
Let me know what you think. Honestly I don’t know the answer myself. I do know, however, that I like what the British Humanists are doing for our cause.
Do you define yourself as:
- A non/dis/un/believer