There have been humanists throughout human history. They may not have used the label, but every society has always had those who are not religious, who do not believe in the supernatural, and who make decisions based on what is best for humanity.
Many people share those beliefs today. Over half of the UK's population is not religious, but only 6% describe themselves as humanist. World Humanist Day (June 21) is about bridging that gap, and letting non-religious people know that there is a community for them too, and a set of beliefs to help guide them through life.
According to Humanism UK, most humanists...
1/ Understand the universe through science and the scientific method
2/ Make ethical decisions based on reason, empathy and a concern for other human beings
3/ Believe that, although there may be no afterlife or purpose to the universe, we can still give our lives meaning by seeking happiness and helping others do the same.
Or possibly, as Dick McMahan put it in 2004: “A humanist is someone who does the right thing even though she knows that no one is watching.”
Do you think more people should be humanists? Does religion make the world a better or worse place?
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- You have been given the task of writing the ten commandments for humanists. Remember that humanism is based on reason, science, and the well-being of all humans. As a class, suggest ten ethical rukes, starting with “You must” or “You must not”.
- Class debate: Religion makes society better.
- Find out more about a famous humanist from history. This could be someone who called themselves humanist, or someone who followed its main principles throughout their life. Write a report about how their beliefs shaped their achievements.