WHAT DO HUMANISTS DO?

Humanists are people who have a particular philosophy and lifestance. Basically, they have no god beliefs nor do they believe in any aspect of the supernatural. In this respect, Humanists are part of a growing demographic in Canada that started out at less than 1 percent of the population in 1971, the first year that the Canadian Census began asking questions about religious belief, and which today stands at 25 percent. Apart from that, Humanists are much like other people. They live, laugh, love, do their best to enjoy life and get along with other people.

Like other people, Humanists need the fellowship of others who think and believe as they do. Like others, therefore, we get together in meetings and on other occasions to discuss things, socialize, and occasionally to celebrate special events.

Like many other people, Humanists enjoy the arts, such as music, drama, painting, sculpture, architecture, and literature. They are also likely to have a high appreciation for the sciences.

Humanists are likely to have a well-developed sense of social justice. They want everyone to be able to enjoy the good life. It bothers them that in this wealthy country of ours, some families must struggle to make ends meet and that there are children who actually go to bed hungry at night. We would like to see more effort made to educate people so that they can get along better in life but we also realize that there are many who need a helping hand.

Humanists are strong secularists. We believe that religion and state should be kept strictly separate. We object to municipal councils and other public bodies opening their meetings with prayer. We object to a separate school system funded by public taxation and desire that only public schools should receive public support. We believe that all laws should be based on objective and secular values, rather than religious, reasons, and that no account needs to be taken of any religious morality in the forming of laws and rules for the conduct of citizens in a secular society.

In 2004-5, Humanists in Ontario, along with women’s groups, human rights groups, and even groups within the Islamic community, opposed strongly the proposed introduction of Muslim Sharia law into the Ontario arbitration system. We were all too aware of the abuses of human rights and women’s rights that take place under Sharia in Islamic countries, such as the impoverishment of women under the half-an-inheritance rule, the automatic credence given to male over female testimony, female genital mutilation and honour killings. As a result the government of Ontario not only did not proceed with this plan but did away with all religious arbitrations proceedings entirely, including Jewish and Catholic.

Quinte Humanists is one of many similar organizations across Canada and around the world.  The Humanist Association of Canada, with which Quinte Humanists is affiliated, is the main national organization and there are now several Centres for Inquiry across Canada. However, world-wide the Humanist movement numbers hundreds of thousands of people. Some European countries boast many tens of thousands of members. The flagship organization for international Humanism is the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) which has Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status at the UN.

If you, too, are among the 25 percent of Canadians who count themselves as non-religious, you are probably a Humanist. Come out to some of our meetings and get to know us. We welcome all persons of goodwill and would love to meet you.

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9 Responses to WHAT DO HUMANISTS DO?

  1. eric says:

    Good morning
    for our collective consideration…
    The Humanist challenge is that accepting alternate belief systems with respect does not reduce our reliance on fact based logic.
    We need religous beleivers to respect our right to question their “non-fact based” beleifs. The historical focus of many of our leaders on a power base driven by assorted religons was based on keeping their people away from “information” . \in 2011, information is available and people question how they can be subservient to external direction. Humanism is about respect and logic.

  2. Jeff says:

    The best talk on secular humanism that I’ve ever heard was delivered by a Mormon. His main thrust was this: society at large should make its decisions from a secular perspective, not a religious one. It seems sad to me that he would not be fully welcomed at any humanist meeting I’ve ever been to. He’s a fully functional convert, but that wouldn’t be enough.

  3. Sandy says:

    This is a good idea for a thread, but it seems well off the rails. WTF Jane?

    My view is that being a humanist does not mean any specific positive duties, but reflects a point of view revived by the enlightenment that the only useful answers to the questions that humans pose are those based on evidence adduced by human beings observing the world. This is in contrast to the point of view that the answers to these questions are kept by supernatural beings and sometimes revealed religious devotion.

    From this perspective, humanists organizations will likely criticize any action that tries to impose something on society that is not based on evidence or asserts as truth, something that is irrelevant and unverifiable by means other than internal subjective belief. Where these actions are harmful, humanist organizations will seek to expose the lack of evidence and work to stop the action.

    I think Humanist organizations should also work to provide the community fellowship and charity traditionally found in religious organizations.

    But humanists don’t “do” anything anymore than optimists “do” things.

  4. Bill Broderick says:

    For a good overview of what Humanism is all about, google the I.H.E.U. Amsterdam Declaration. As for what Humanists do, some of them join together in Humanist organizations and enjoy the fellowship of those who think as they do.
    Some also engage in charitable works and projects, work on the environment, and try to help their fellow human beings in some way–which is what a lot of very decent people do whether in or out of religion. Some of my most inspiring moments have been at Humanist gatherings and conferences. One is coming up in Toronto September 30th to October 2nd. The theme is: “Planetary Overload: Survival of the Human Species”. See: http://www.HumanistCanada2011.ca or call
    1-877-486-2671.

  5. eric says:

    thought for the ages: Humanists, with increasing regularity are providing leadership not criticism.

  6. Peter Holt says:

    Bill Broderick was an Honourary Lifetime Member of the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association and a very generous donor and tobacco-control activist in Quinte. He routinely was the person who had come the longest distance to attend the NSRA’s Annual General Meetings and on occasion was a guest at my home on Toronto Island. I joined HAT because of him. He had such a joy in life, in people, and in discussion and debate. He was selfless, thoughtful, encouraging, inspiring, and funny. I just love the picture of Bill with magnifying glass and my compliments to whomever took it and to whomever chose it for the Centre of Inquiry’s announcement of Bill’s death. The world is a better place for Bill’s having been in it, but a poorer for his passing. I am grateful for his friendship and his example….

  7. Clare says:

    Following a recent humanist meeting, I realise that there is still some confusion as to what humanists are or do.
    1. We are not “Humane-ists”. While I am sure most of us are humane, that is not what the group is all about.
    2. We are not “Humanitarians”. Again, we might be as well, but that implies giving large amounts of money to the poor or third world countries. Most of us are not wealthy enough to do this.
    3. We are not the” Humane Society”. Most of us love animals and care about their well-being, but that is not what we are about either.
    The word “Humanist ” is derived from the word “Human”. So we believe in people as opposed to Gods.
    The logo is a stylized drawing of a happy little dancing man.