As some of you may already know, I’m not a religious person. I’ve spoken about my beliefs (or lack thereof) in the past, and shared my experience of not being accepted as a result.
I’ve been interested in Humanism for a while now. Humanists believe in morality without the need for religion and, in their own words, aim to “create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail” – Humanists UK.
Doesn’t that mean that all atheists are humanists?
Not necessarily, no. The chances are that many atheists subscribe to a humanist way of life without realising it, but Humanism UK, as a charity, goes further than that. They campaign for a fairer society and for the voices of non-religious people to be valued as much as those who believe in God.
Why does Humanism appeal to me?
In a word, community. One thing I always envied about my church-going friends was that sense of community and support. I loved that they had a place they could go, where they could discuss their beliefs with like-minded people.
I signed up to join the Dorset Humanists when I came across their stand at Bournemouth Pride. I’ve since found out that they hold regular discussion groups, social events and even lectures from historians and scientists about the ways in which religion has impacted the world. It warmed me to see that this was a group of intelligent, curious people, who wanted to broaden their understanding of the world, engage in lively debate, and above all, practice kindness.
What Humanism isn’t:
- A cult. Believe it or not, this has been suggested to me.
- A “fingers up to religion”. That’s not the point of it at all. The way I see it, it’s an opportunity to meet people who share my beliefs, and explore the world in a way that’s meaningful to me.
- Sad, empty or meaningless. I shouldn’t even have to defend this one, but contrary to what some people might think, meaning doesn’t only come from believing in God.
Other things you might not know about Humanism
One of the other things I quite like about Humanism is that it offers ways to celebrate important milestones in a deeply personal and meaningful way.
For example, Humanist celebrants can perform weddings and baby naming ceremonies. If Dave and I were to have children, I quite like the idea of having a little naming ceremony in our back garden. Humanists also have “guide parents” (in place of Godparents), which I think is a lovely idea.
I didn’t grow up with religion, but I was given the guidance I needed to become a good person. As a result, I’m a firm believer that God doesn’t necessarily need to play a part in a person’s “moral education”, so to speak. I like that Humanism nurtures the very best aspects of human nature, and encourages people to seek out happiness and fulfillment.
I’m not trying to throw anything in anyone’s face, or make a statement. All I want to do is explore the world in a way that makes sense to me.
Isn’t that all anyone wants?