Humanism (life stance)

Humanism (life stance)

: "See also philosophical Humanism": "For the Renaissance liberal arts movement, see Renaissance humanism

Humanism is a comprehensive life stance that upholds human reason, ethics, and justice, and rejects supernaturalism, pseudoscience, and superstition. This article uses the words "Humanism" and "Humanist" (with a capital 'H' and no adjective such as "secular" [ [ Humanism Unmodified] By Edd Doerr. Published in the "Humanist" (November/December 2002)] ) to refer to the life stance and its adherents, and "humanism" (with a small 'h') to refer to other related movements or philosophies. While this convention is not universal among all Humanists, it is used by a significant number of them, and for purposes of this article, helps distinguish between Humanism as a life stance and other forms of humanism.

Humanism has appeal to agnostics, apatheists, atheists, empiricists, freethinkers, rationalists, and scientific skeptics.

Those who call themselves Humanists are a relative minority—numbering between three and five million people worldwide in 31 countries. [ [ American humanist association - Publications - Chapter eight: The Development of Organization] ] [ [ India humanist] ]

The Happy Human is the official symbol of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) as well as being regarded a universally recognised symbol for those that call themselves Humanists (as opposed to "humanists").

Minimum requirements

There are minimum requirements to be designated as a Humanist. Otherwise, however, there is no universal tenet for all Humanists. Still, declarations and statements have been issued to attempt to unify the Humanist identity.

IHEU's "Minimum Statement on Humanism"

All member organisations of the International Humanist and Ethical Union are required by IHEU bylaw 5.1 [cite web |url= |title=IHEU's Bylaws |accessdate=2008-07-05 |publisher=International Humanist and Ethical Union] to accept the IHEU Minimum Statement on Humanism:

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.

Amsterdam Declaration 2002

In 2002 the IHEU General Assembly unanimously adopted the "Amsterdam Declaration 2002" which represents the official defining statement of World Humanism for Humanists.

This declaration makes exclusive use of capitalized "Humanist" and "Humanism", which is consistent with IHEU's general practice and recommendations for promoting a unified Humanist identity. ref|Webbs To further promote Humanist identity, these words are also free of any adjectives, as recommended by prominent members of IHEU. ref|Blackham Such usage is not universal among IHEU member organizations, though most of them do observe these conventions.

Apart from the need to ensure that member organisations are bona fide Humanist (or like-minded) organisations, Humanism rejects dogma, and imposes no creed upon its adherents except the IHEU's Minimum Statement on Humanism [ International Humanist and Ethical Union ] .

Humanist identity

To promote and unify Humanist identity, prominent members of the IHEU have endorsed the following statements on Humanist identityref|Blackham:

* All Humanists, nationally and internationally, should always use the one word Humanism as the name of Humanism: no added adjective, and the initial letter capital (by life stance orthography);

* All Humanists, nationally and internationally, should use a clear, recognisable and uniform symbol on their publications and elsewhere: our Humanist symbol the "happy human";

* All Humanists, nationally and internationally, should seek to establish recognition of the fact that Humanism is a life stance.

Capitalization of Humanist is the normal usage within IHEU, and is recommended usage for member organisations, though some member organisations do not follow the IHEU recommendation. For example, the Council for Secular Humanism continues to use a lowercase h, and the adjective "secular".

Other widely recognised documents

Two other widely accepted general doctrines of Humanism are set forth in the "Humanist Manifesto" [ [ American Humanist Association - HUMANISM AND ITS ASPIRATIONS- Humanist Manifesto III, a successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933*] ] and "A Secular Humanist Declaration" [ [ Council for secular humanism - A Secular Humanist Declaration] ] .

Official days of celebration

Some Humanists celebrate officially religious-based public holidays, such as Christmas or Easter, but as secular holidays rather than religious ones, and are generally aware that these holidays are not Christian but pre-Christian in origin. [ [ "A humanist discussion of... RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS AND CEREMONIES"] ]

The IHEU endorses World Humanist Day (June 21), Darwin Day (February 12), Human Rights Day (December 10) and HumanLight (December 23) as official days of Humanist celebration, though none are yet a public holiday.

Many Humanists also celebrate the winter and summer solstice, the former of which is the root of the celebration of Christmas, and the equinoxes, of which the vernal equinox is associated with Christianity's Easter and indeed with all other springtime festivals of renewal.

Humanism history

The endorsement by the IHEU of the capitalization of the word "Humanism" (and the dropping of any adjective such as "secular") is quite recent. The American Humanist Association began to adopt this view in 1973, and the IHEU formally endorsed this view in 1989. As an organized movement, Humanism itself is quite recent - born at the University of Chicago in the 1920s, made public in 1933 with the publication of the first Manifesto, and becoming incorporated as an Illinois non-profit organization in 1943. The International Humanist and Ethical Union was founded in 1952, when a gathering of world Humanists met under the leadership of Sir Julian Huxley.



The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world-wide umbrella organization for those adhering to the Humanist life stance. It represents the views of over three million Humanists organized in over 100 national organizations in 30 countries. [ [ American humanist association] ] Originally based in the Netherlands, the IHEU now operates from London.


While Humanist organizations are found in all parts of the world, one of the largest Humanist organisation in the world (relative to population) is Norway's Human-Etisk Forbund [ [ Human-Etisk Forbund - The Norwegian Humanist Association] ] , which had over 69,000 members out of a population of around 4.6 million in 2004 [ [ Statistics Norway - Members of religious1 and philosophical2 communities outside the Church of Norway. 1990-2004. Numbers and per cent] ] . This popularity is partly attributable to a unique set of Church-State relations.

Some national Humanist organisations, especially in northern Europe, organise secular coming of age ceremonies as an alternative to religious initiations, like Confirmation.


There are also some more regional groups not belonging to the IHEU, such as the " [ European Humanist Federation] " and the [ humanist subgroup] of the "Unitarian Universalist Association" which adhere to variants of the Humanist life stance.

Conflicting beliefs

In certain areas of the world, Humanism finds itself in conflict with religious fundamentalism, especially over the issue of the separation of church and state. Many Humanists see religions as superstitious, repressive and closed-minded, while religious fundamentalists may see Humanism as a threat to the values set out in their religious texts, such as the Bible and the Qur'an, which they hold to be authoritative and of divine authorship.

Associated beliefs

Atheists, agnostics, and rationalists are those thought to be supporters of Humanism, although may not always be due to various uncertainties and conflicting ideas present in their own, personal ideologies. However, they are occupied with a metaphysical issue, addressing questions of existence, while Humanism ignores such metaphysical matters and has its focus on ethics.


There is uncertainty about the prevalence of Humanists in the world, because of the lack of universal definition throughout censuses. Nevertheless, regarding the category of religion, many national censuses contentiously define Humanism as a further sub-category of the sub-category "No Religion", which typically includes atheist, rationalist and agnostic thought. This is the case in the article world religion. However, this is not always the case; in its 2006 census Australia used Humanism as an example for the "other religions" line.

In England, Wales [ [ Census 2001 - Ethnicity and religion in England and Wales] ] and Australia, [ [ RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION] Australian Bureau of Statistics] [ [ RELP Religious Affiliation - 1st Release] Australian Bureau of Statistics] around 15% of the population specifies "No Religion" in the national census. In the USA, the decennial census does not inquire about religious affiliation or its lack; surveys report the figure at roughly 13%. [ [ Top Twenty Religions in the United States, 2001 (self-identification, ARIS)] ] In the 2001 Canadian census, 16.5% of the populace reported having no religious affiliation. [ [ Statistics Canada - Population by religion, by province and territory (2001 Census)] ] In Scotland, the figure is 28% [ [ General Register Office for Scotland - Analysis of Religion in the 2001 Census] ] .

However, many Humanists may state "no religion" with no further definition, or simply not respond to the census question at all.

Strictly speaking, Humanism is a non-theistic belief. As such, it could be sub-categories of religion only if the main category of "Religion" means "Religion and (any) belief system". This is the case in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on freedom of religion "and" beliefs.

Notable Humanists

See also

Humanist and related organizations

* American Humanist Association
* British Humanist Association
* Camp Quest
* Campus Freethought Alliance
* Center for Inquiry
* Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal
* Council for Secular Humanism (formerly CODESH)
* Council of Australian Humanist Societies
* Ethical Culture
* Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations
* Fellowship of Reason
* Freedom From Religion Foundation
* Godless Americans PAC (political action committee)
* Humanist Association of Canada
* Institute for Humanist Studies
* Internet Infidels
* National Center for Science Education
* New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists
* Quackwatch
* Skeptics Society
* Secular Student Alliance
* Secular Web
* World Transhumanist Association

Related philosophies

* Agnosticism
* Atheism
* Comparative religion
* Empiricism
* Epicureanism
* Extropianism
* Freethought
* Humanism
** Secular humanism
** Humanism (life stance)
* Objectivism (Ayn Rand)
* Philosophical naturalism
* Rationalism
* Religious humanism
* Secularism
* Transhumanism
* Human Nationalism
* Marxist humanism


* List of official religions - meaning, official state religions




* [ Humanism With A Capital H] by Harvey Lebrun of the American Humanist Association
* [ Humanism is Eight Letters, No More] Endorsed by Harold Blackham, Levi Fragell, Corliss Lamont, Harry Stopes-Roe and Rob Tielman of the IHEU
* [ Human Rights Brief No. 3] Assessment of international law pertaining to freedom of religion and belief from Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
* [ Australian Bureau of Statistics 1996 Census Dictionary - Religion category] and [ Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001 Census Dictionary - religion category]
* [ Religion, 2001 census, Canada]
*# in "Harvard Magazine" December 2005 p 33.

External links

Humanist manifestos and declarations

* [ Humanist Manifesto I] (1933)
* [ Humanist Manifesto II] (1973)
* [ Humanist Manifesto III ("Humanism And Its Aspirations")] (2003)
* [ A Secular Humanist Declaration] (1980)
* [ A Declaration of Interdependence] (1988)
* [ IHEU Minimum Statement on Humanism] (1996)
* [ Humanist Manifesto 2000: A Call for a New Planetary Humanism] (2000) condensed version
* [ The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles]
* Amsterdam Declaration 2002 (July 2002) - the official defining statement of World Humanism, as endorsed by the IHEU


* ""
* ""
* ""
* "", four parts of a Wikibook


* [ International Humanist and Ethical Union]
** International Humanist News is also available at [] .
* [ British Humanist Association]
* [ Council for Secular Humanism (formerly CODESH)]
** [ "What is secular humanism?"] Introduction from the publishers of "Free Inquiry" magazine
* [ The American Humanist Association]
** [ The Humanist] (magazine)
* [ The Humanist Association of Canada]
** [ Humanist Perspectives] (magazine)
* [ Council of Australian Humanist Societies]
** [ The Australian Humanist] (magazine)
* [ International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organisation]
* [ The Institute for Humanist Studies]
* [ Site of the Romanian association Solidarity for Freedom of Conscience - Romanian/ English]


* [ HUMANISM: Why, What, and What For, In 882 Words] (1996)
* [ 10 Points of Humanism: A Definition] from [ "The Philosophy of Humanism"] by Corliss Lamont
* [ The History and Philosophy of Humanism] - Speech given by Steven D. Schafersman in Oxford, Ohio (September 24, 1995)
* [ Religious Movements Page on Secular Humanism]
* [ Nanovirus] : a humanist perspective on technology, politics and culture
* [ Is Secular Humanism a Religion?] :Many Say It Is, but Secularists Say It Isn't
* [ Secular Humanism: A Survey] by Stephen P. Weldon
* [ Mikael Häggström's Humanism]

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