- Published on Friday, 14 May 2010 07:17
- Written by Bill Broderick
- Hits: 1257
What is humanism? Basically, it is belief in humanity. Further, it is belief in human achievement and human potential. Although atheistic, it is not defined by atheism but rather by its concern for human happiness, for improvement of the human condition, and by rationality and critical thinking rather than superstition and belief in metaphysical phenomena for which there is no evidence.
For example, we know that human beings exist. This is not a matter of hearsay or opinion, it is fact. Further, we know that human beings have needs that must be met, such as food, shelter, companionship, love, a sense of usefulness, esteem, and a measure of freedom.
We do not know that any god or gods exist, nor do we know what they want or need. There are always those who go to great lengths to tell the rest of us what the god or gods want and need. But how can they possibly know?
If the gods (singular or plural) truly exist, they must be as far above mortal people as people are above the flies and ants. Can we imagine that insects could ever have any idea of the wants and needs of human beings? Can we imagine that some fly or ant might be moved at some point in time to "do man's work" as some mere humans sometimes claim to be moved to "do God's work"?
For some strange reason, much of doing "God's work" seems to involve either forcing other people to convert to their religion or else oppressing or enslaving them and stealing whatever they happen to have that is of value (land, gold). The Spanish Conquistadors come to mind in this respect. Also the colonialists who brought their ideas of "salvation" and "civilization" to India, the Orient, Australia, Africa and the Americas. Wars, genocides and holocausts are almost always waged by those doing "God's work."
Here is what Robert Green Ingersoll, the great nineteenth century American agnostic, freethinker, humanist and orator, had to say about what should be our proper attitude towards God and our fellow human beings -
About God: "There is nothing a man can do for God, as God needs nothing. But there are many things we can do for our fellow men because many of them are in constant need. All days should be for the good of man, and that day in which the most people are really happy, is the best day."
About humanity: "Let us live for man. Let us remember that those who have sought the truths of nature have never persecuted their fellow-men. The astronomers and chemists have forged no chains, built no dungeons. The geologists have invented no instruments of torture. The philosophers have not demonstrated the truth of their theories by burning their neighbours. The great infidels, the thinkers, have lived for the good of man."