World Humanist Day

  • Tuesday 21st June 2022

What do I value? 

World Humanist Day [21st June] is a fantastic opportunity to reflect on our own worldviews. What does that entail? It is often easier to know what we don’t believe in. Articulating and practicing what we do believe in can be more challenging. Humanism is one way to structure thinking about values. The fundamentals of modern Humanism as articulated in the Amsterdam Declaration are as follows 

  1. Humanism is ethical. It affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others. Humanists have a duty of care to all of humanity including future generations. Humanists believe that morality is an intrinsic part of human nature based on understanding and a concern for others, needing no external sanction.
  2. Humanism is rational. It seeks to use science creatively, not destructively. Humanists believe that the solutions to the world’s problems lie in human thought and action rather than divine intervention. Humanism advocates the application of the methods of science and free inquiry to the problems of human welfare. But Humanists also believe that the application of science and technology must be tempered by human values. Science gives us the means but human values must propose the ends.
  3. Humanism supports democracy and human rights. Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being. It holds that democracy and human development are matters of right. The principles of democracy and human rights can be applied to many human relationships and are not restricted to methods of government.
  4. Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility. Humanism ventures to build a world on the idea of the free person responsible to society, and recognises our dependence on and responsibility for the natural world. Humanism is undogmatic, imposing no creed upon its adherents. It is thus committed to education free from indoctrination.
  5. Humanism is a response to the widespread demand for an alternative to dogmatic religion. The world’s major religions claim to be based on revelations fixed for all time, and many seek to impose their world-views on all of humanity. Humanism recognises that reliable knowledge of the world and ourselves arises through a continuing process of observation, evaluation and revision.
  6. Humanism values artistic creativity and imagination and recognises the transforming power of art. Humanism affirms the importance of literature, music, and the visual and performing arts for personal development and fulfilment.
  7. Humanism is a lifestance aiming at the maximum possible fulfilment through the cultivation of ethical and creative living and offers an ethical and rational means of addressing the challenges of our times. Humanism can be a way of life for everyone everywhere.

So on the face of it what’s not to like? How do I critically engage with these tenets of Humanism? For example is it just another religion albeit without a god head? Why celebrate humanity, why not in these times of celebrity focus on those who are changing the world – and by the way who are they? 

These are some of the questions discussed when studying Existential and Humanist Pastoral Care – an exciting new MA designed to support people to review and develop their own worldviews and learn practical skills to help others understand the world in which they live through pastoral care and chaplaincy in hospitals, prisons, schools and the wider community  -

by Elizabeth Young