The origins of Humanism

There are those who are willing to reason, accept other cultures, accept other sexualities, accept other race and accept everyone as equal. To use logic, critical thinking, imagination and to be open-minded about possibilities, and alternatives as opposed to what you’ve been taught. To use logic, and be unbiased without an agenda, with the ultimate purpose being to preserve sentient life.

Humanism promotes compassion, ethics, kindness, acceptance, equality, honesty, and reality without God/s. If you’re told that being an Humanist, is living a lie then consider this:

“Humanism is a philosophical & ethical stance that emphasizes the value & agency of human beings, individually & collectively. A humanist believes one should live a good life. Without a belief in any otherworldly or supernatural being…one could still, and should still, lead a good moral life.’’

What’s more honest than this?

Humanism has done more for civil rights, right to indiscriminate education, gender equality, sexual equality, freedom of choice, ethics, moral equality, racial equality in the last ten years than Religion ever has. Being a Humanist, is a simple process of valuing all life, and humanity, rather than worshipping a God that gives nothing back. If everyone adopted this philosophy, the world would be a happy place, but unfortunately organised religion is mostly the preferable choice that parents impose onto their children.

I fail to understand how religious dogma and doctrine can be more important than the human race, when essentially we are allegedly made in God’s image and have dominion over all other life on Earth. Meaning that humanity is the most important of God’s creations.

“Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.” – Bertrand Russell

The word humanism is derived from the Latin word ‘humanitas‘, and ‘studia humanitatis‘ (studies of humanity) was a 15th century, Italian movement that involves secular and moral philosophy. Humanism is a philosophy that humanity is ultimately responsible for their actions, and because of this the value of human agency is paramount. Humanism is very similar to Philanthropy in the fact that both focus on the importance of humanity, and the quality of life. The best way to describe philanthropy is with the following thought.

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

So whereas a Humanist would solve the immediate problem of providing a fish to a hungry man, a Philanthropist would get to the root of the problem and solve it, hence teaching the man to fish, so he becomes selfsufficient.

Despite being without any supernatural affiliation, a Humanist recognises that it’s an individual’s choice to worship their belief in a higher power, and would never get in the way of that, they’re just of the mindset that we should live in a secular society where not one belief has dominance over another, and if religion is taught in schools, then it’s only fair that Humanism is as well.

Some people claim that the gospels of Jesus, and his actions throughout his brief life outlined what would be defined as Humanism, but does this have any basis? No, it doesn’t, and this is why.

Confucius was born over 500 years before Jesus was allegedly born, and the idea of Confucianism emphasises personal and political morality, and Confucius was reimagining philosophies from a thousand years previous.

Protagoras was a Greek philosopher was responsible for this famous quote.

“Man is the measure of all things”

He was one of the first Greek thinkers who declared that perhaps man is responsible for his own destiny, and maybe no higher power was involved, and he heavily inspired Plato, by himself becoming a Sophist (teacher) and teaching his students about virtue.

These are two examples of Humanism pre-dating Jesus, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t share the philosophy as he was allegedly willing to die for man’s sin. There are also religious Humanist organisations, but these are very few compared to the bigoted Christian movements we are all currently aware of. Religious Humanism is verging on Deism, as they accept God exists, and is the ultimate creator, but he doesn’t interfere, and the person is in total control of their destiny and decisions.

“Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.” – Christopher Hitchens,

Despite what I’ve written, I’m quite sure that Confucius, or Protagoras, didn’t wake one morning and say ‘today I’m going to live a virtuous, and ethically moral life from this moment forth’. We are a social species, who live in communities, and for this to have remained successful for the most part throughout history, then empathy, understanding and compassion are essential. It’s instinctive to want to protect your children, Humanism is just going one step further and being protective of everyone‘s children.