Professor Alice Roberts is President of Humanists UK.
Professor Alice Roberts is President of Humanists UK.

What is Humanism?

The word ‘Humanism’ is now widely used to mean a non-religious outlook on life. Humanists do not believe that the world was created by a god for some divine purpose. Humanists believe that the universe came into existence through natural processes and that humans have evolved like all other life-forms.

Many people still prefer to believe in some kind of ultimate purpose and find the idea of a meaningless universe unsettling. Humanists prefer to learn about the universe through science and to marvel at its size, beauty, and complexity. Humanists accept that human beings, like all life-forms, have a limited life span. Having this knowledge makes every moment of life incredibly precious. It’s up to us to make the most of the one life we have, and to make the world a better place.

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. Precisely what this means in practice is what we love to discuss and debate. See the ‘What is a Good Life?’ tab for some ideas.

Further reading

‘Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress’ (2018) Steven Pinker

‘Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom’ (2017) Andrew Copson

‘The God Delusion: 10th Anniversary Edition’ (2016) Richard Dawkins

‘The God Argument: The Case Against Religion and for Humanism’ (2014) A C Grayling

‘Humanism: A Very Short Introduction’ (2011) Stephen Law

‘Atheism: A Very Short Introduction’ (2003) Julian Baggini


Link to the Amsterdam Declaration

Introducing Humanism online course: