What in God’s name is Humanism? 

‘Christianity is a bit like a meat pie you know there is something in it, but you are not sure what’ 

Milton Jones

That is how I used to view religion. I was Christian and I am now a Humanist this article is about how and why I moved from Christianity to Humanism and then a little bit about the humanist viewpoint. 

I used to go to church every day at school and sing praises. I liked the stories and the church itself was a testament so to speak to the religion that built. It was beautiful. My parents were not religious, so I made my own rituals at home. 

I called it the 3 Ps, every night before I went to bed first, I said my prayers, did 50 press-ups (healthy body = heathy mind) and then read the Psalms (a few chapters of the Bible). As time went by I stopped the prayers, then stopped the psalms and ultimately the press-ups too and I was left with a gap.  

I got interested in Hinduism which is a pretty uncool thing for a 16-year-old trying to make his way in the world to be into, but reincarnation explains pain and suffering in a way that Christianity never did for me. Basically, pain and suffering exist because you were evil in a past life – neat, but it also has a god with a monkey head.  

So, by the age of 20 I was over it and into the staunchly rational fields of holistic medicine, Homeopathy, crystals and yoga. Unfortunately, just as you never see homeopaths sans frontiers going to a disaster zone, they were also unable to help me with my existential crisis.  

And so, as the joss stick smoke faded, I moved into self-help hell. You know the stuff: the power of Yes, the power of no, the $100 Start up. You can’t spell success without U! I read hundreds of these books. Thank goodness for Star Trek, the Hitch Hikers Guide the Galaxy and Richard Dawkins or my sense of reality would have become seriously twisted. Without them I may have ended up selling herbal Viagra to Tantric Yoga practitioners in a Mayan temple in Guatemala. 

I was becoming a humanist – realising that the universe was not built for us, but we have survived as a species against all the odds by grouping together. Pooling our knowledge so we don’t have re-learn everything ourselves but can stand on the shoulders of those who went before us – Newton’s proverbial giants and that is what separates us from the apes. 

Religion has helped mankind make huge advances in architecture, medicine and the distribution of information. But that comes at a cost (faith) and that cost is now stifling the creativity it once nurtured in established religions. None of the current world issues that matter like climate change, nuclear war, technological disruption are addressed or comforted by religion.  

Humanists believe that humanity has the capability within it to fix the problems it faces we do not need to look to god. After all even the Pope looks both ways before crossing a road. 

Humanists believe that we are good because we want a fair and safe world for those we love and by extension those that they love and so on. We are part of something bigger – the human race. 

I like the humanist view because they are trying to do is create the communities that religions have without the guilt or fear. I was married by a humanist celebrant on the end of a pier (non-consecrated ground heaven forbid), they have naming ceremonies instead of Christenings, Winter solstice instead of Christmas, spring festival instead of Easter and so on.  

Events like this allow people to come together and talk about the things that worry them and band together to get things fixed. The British Humanist Association won their imaginatively named campaign Teach Evolution not Creationism which stopped schools teaching creationism in science classes in 2014. You can still teach creationism just not as a science class.  

The British Humanist Association promotes a positive outlook on life, and I wish I had found them years ago when I was searching for something to sooth my aching soul. Please check out their website and listen to Stephen Fry, Tim Minchin and others explain it all a lot better than me!   

References

https://humanists.uk/humanism/