Humanism (5)
Humanism isn't a religion per se, but it operates in an overlapping territory (e.g., morality) with religions, and has a number of tenets in common with EBS, so it's useful to include it here. The official defining statement of World Humanism is:
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 recognizes our dependence and responsibility for the natural world. Humanism is undogmatic, imposing no creed upon its adherents. It is thus committed to education free from indoctrination.
  • 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-view on all of humanity. Humanism recognizes that reliable knowledge of the world and ourselves arises through a continuing process of observation, evaluation and revision.
  • 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 fulfillment.
  • Humanism is a lifestance aiming at the maximum possible fulfillment through the cultivation of ethical and creative living and offers an ethical and rational means of addressing the challenges of our time. Humanism can be a way of life for everyone everywhere.
While we agree with all of these points (especially the emphasis on rationality and morality), we believe that Humanism stops short of being a workable belief system. Everybody considers his/her own thoughts to be reasonable, and actions to be moral. Without defining a standard of value, just telling everybody to be rational and moral doesn't actually tell them anything at all. EBS doesn't go much further in that direction, and really only lays the foundation for a rational belief system. But it does acknowledge that morality has to be canonized in order to facilitate human interaction. Anybody who doesn't see that is just reacting against the problems of existing dogma, without proposing any kind of replacement. The reality is that an imperfect canon is better than no canon at all. As long as there is dogma, there will be people who want to operate outside of it. But if there weren't any rules at all, civilization would collapse. Not everybody in this world is of sufficient intellectual capacity for the simple mandate to be rational and moral to be enough.

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