Millions of people subscribe to a humanist philosophy but not everyone knows the term or even what it means. Here are some helpful tips to help you get a better idea about humanism.
You might discover that this describes you too!
A questions that I am often asked, is whether humanism a cult. The quick answer is no, here’s a longer explanation:
Most people who call themselves humanists share some similarities in that we are human (of course), we rely on reason and science to explain our existence and we reject a supernatural explanation (at least until there is some clear evidence).
Humanists believe that the universe is a natural phenomenon. A humanist therefore believes that each person is responsible for creating their own meaning and for living a fulfilling and happy life. We celebrate difference and freedom of choice.
Humanists accept that we come from different backgrounds and life experiences but we share the following ideals:
1 – “Humanism” focuses on secularism and equality. Humanists agree that we make sense of the world without the need for religion, or to be free from imposed supernatural doctrine
2 – Humanists view the existence of life as a natural occurrence without any supernatural input. We create our own meaning through shared human experience and rational thinking.
3 – Humanists believe in our own power to create a better world, and we believe that any advancement is entirely up to ourselves and our scientific discoveries about the natural world and the universe around us.
4 – Humanists believe that we find our own meaning about what is significance and importance in our lives and centrally it is our relationship with others that give our life meaning and purpose.
5 – Humanists hold a guiding principle of wellbeing for ourselves and others. We believe that we can make good decisions based on discerning the consequences of our own actions and behaviour.
6 – Humanists are committed to living fulfilling lives. Humanists accept responsibility for our own actions and choices. We strive to create a better and more equal world based on acceptance and inclusivity. We believe it is up to us to make the world a better place.
7 – Humanists use an evidence-based approach to determine an improve the quality of life and understandings, we accept that science is a useful tool and that we can continue to hone and refine our ideas.
8 – Humanists value both science and art to enrich life and provide a fulfilling existence. We believe that these achievements can be built upon to create a better world for everyone.
9 – Humanists believe that we have one life and that we should be free to lead it based on empathy and kindness for ourselves and the other sentient creatures with whom we share the world.
10 – Humanists value mutual respect, personal freedom, and self-determination. Humanism supports human rights and social justice for all. Humanism respects that everyone should be free to pursue their own life goals without harm to others, and to live life with tolerance and kindness.
So, if you have read the ten points above how is that for you? I lived my life as a humanist for many years before discovering that I actually was a humanist!
It so happened that I went to a humanist funeral about ten years ago, and it was totally amazing I was blown away by the words and the music and the eulogy. I went home and Googled humanist. I tried out this quiz httpss://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/2088/what-kind-of-humanist-are-you (a decade on and some of the references are a little dated, but it’s still great fun).
According to the quiz, I am a Hedonist Humanist. Well, that made total sense too lol. I’m all for pampering and being kind to yourself whenever you can. What about you?
What I have noticed is that kind people tend to follow kind and loving gods, and judgemental people tend to follow vengeful gods – yet both would claim it was the same god and quote different pieces of scripture to back up their arguments.
Here’s a quick quiz to find out how humanist you are.
It has always been important to me to lead a kind life and from the age of eight I became a vegetarian, many years later I have done my best to embrace a vegan lifestyle. Mostly I can do it, but very occasionally you might find me sneaking a piece of milk chocolate or some cake. Like Oscar Wilde commented, “I can resist everything but temptation.”
I have a fascination for science, but I find it hard to remember facts and statistics, I guess you could say that I have more of a gift for the arts. I married a guy with a scientific mind though, so he’s my go to when I’m trying to puzzle everything out. Our eldest daughter seems to be following in her dad’s footsteps and studied science at university (and is currently working on Covid testing – proud mother hahaha).
There is one thing I would really like to clear up though. Humanists may be atheist and not hold beliefs in the supernatural, but that doesn’t mean that we are anti religion or that we have a problem with people who hold religious beliefs. Far from it, if someone gets comfort from their belief then I totally respect their right to believe it. The only time I have an issue with it is if they try to impose their belief on me or their belief is causing harm to someone else.
Because I am a bit of wedding geek. I freely admit to spending a lot of time researching humanist wedding ceremonies and the latest trends, or reading other celebrant’s blogs I come across this misconception that humanist celebrants won’t allow any form of religious words or music in their ceremonies. That’s not the case at all, if providing a blessing at your wedding is important to your great aunt Frieda, or singing a song that mentions god is a family tradition, I’m not going to stand in the way of that.
Obviously, I won’t be saying the blessing (because that wouldn’t be authentic given my own beliefs) or leading the singing (because that would most likely send everyone scattering – even my family and friends who love me dearly dive for cover when I start to sing) but that doesn’t mean if it is important to you that it can’t be included in your ceremony. Humanism is all about living kindly and with respect after all.
Okay I admit it I have the best job in the world, happy days! There is nothing more special that creating a personal ceremony that celebrates life and feels warm and welcoming for everyone.
If you are planning a humanist ceremony in and are looking for a humanist wedding celebrant in Northern Ireland (or further afield) and you have any questions, do get in touch. I am always happy to chat and there’s no obligation at all.
Ready to plan your ceremony? Get in touch here!
I am a full time humanist celebrant creating amazing personalised ceremonies throughout Northern Ireland and beyond.