Liviu - a young Norwegian humanist at the World Humanist Congress in Copenhagen, 2023
Liviu - a young Norwegian humanist at the World Humanist Congress in Copenhagen, 2023

What is humanism?

The word ‘humanism’ is now widely used to mean a non-religious worldview or lifestance. It refers to people who believe that the universe came into existence through natural processes and that the human species has evolved like all other species on Earth. The word 'humanism' also refers to people who wish to live their lives in accordance with good values.

Humanist values include the following:

  • Only believing things which are based on evidence and reason
  • Loving the life we have because time is short and the world is a wonderful place
  • Cultivating good relationships with other people
  • Being a good citizen
  • Treading lightly on the Earth because it's the only habitable planet we've got

Some people are resistant to giving themselves a label like 'humanist'. We understand that. But if you broadly agree with the basic ideas of humanism, maybe you are a humanist!

We're not antagonistic towards religion in all of its forms. We have friendly relationships with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and people belonging to other faiths. But we do oppose irrationality, dogmatism, and fanaticism and these negative traits are often associated with certain types of religion.

In a nutshell, then, humanism comes down to two simple ideas. The universe is a natural place, not created by a god. And human beings are responsible for living good lives.

There's an internationally-agreed statement on humanism called the Amsterdam Declaration. You can read it here.

Further reading

Most of these books, and many more, are available to borrow from our humanist library at Moordown Community Centre. The library is open on the second Saturday of the month at our regular events. Please be sure to return books in a timely manner. 

  • The Little Book of Humanism: Universal lessons on finding purpose, meaning and joy (2020) by Andrew Copson and Alice Roberts
  • Understanding Humanism (2022) by Richard Norman, Andrew Copson and Luke Donnellan
  • The Humanist Movement in Modern Britain: A History of Ethicists, Rationalists and Humanists (2023) by Callum G. Brown, David Nash and Charlie Lynch
  • The Little Book of Humanist Funerals: Remembering and celebrating a life (2023) by Andrew Copson and Alice Roberts
  • The Little Book of Humanist Weddings: Enduring inspiration for celebrating love and commitment (2021) by Andrew Copson and Alice Roberts
  • Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress (2018) by Steven Pinker
  • Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom (2017) by Andrew Copson
  • The God Delusion: 10th Anniversary Edition (2016) by Richard Dawkins
  • The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism (2014) by A C Grayling
  • Humanism: A Very Short Introduction (2011) by Stephen Law
  • Atheism: A Very Short Introduction (2003) by Julian Baggini