The Decline of Superstitious Beliefs
We have been asking questions:
Does God exist?
Has anyone seen heaven or hell? Do they exist?
Is afterlife real?
Does the soul exist?
Is rebirth true?
The rational, logical and genuine answer to these questions is a categorical ‘No’, as they are questions relating to concepts of religious irrationality.
Rise Of Humanism
The thinkers realized that humanism should replace religious irrationality with a humanist way of life and rational spirituality.
They have formulated, step by step, the genuine philosophy of life, humanism founded on reason and human experience. ‘So, no one invented or founded it. The word describes a certain set of linked and interrelated beliefs and values that together make up a coherent non-religious worldview, and many people have had these beliefs and values all over the world and for thousands of years.’ (Andrew Copson, What Is Humanism).
‘By definition, humanism is concerned with the human being and not with any external divine authority who stands in a superior position to man.’ (The Core Principles of Secular Humanism, Victor A. Gunasekara).
Humanism is a non-theistic, non-religious, naturalistic and secular world outlook, according to which-
1. Human beings can shape their life and destiny. They can look after their welfare individually and collectively.
‘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.’ (Byelaw 5.1 of the International Humanist and Ethical Union)
2. Human beings, as creations of nature, are innately moral and do not need, to be moral, divine or scriptural commands and the fear of imaginary divine punishments for their breaches.
‘In the fourth chapter of The Descent of Man Darwin accumulated examples of co-operative behaviour among social animals, and remarked very reasonably, ‘It can hardly be disputed that the social feelings are instinctive or innate in the lower animals; and why should they not be so in man?’ He concluded the chapter with what may be regarded as the classical statement of the humanist view on the social basis of morals: ‘The social instincts-the prime principle of man’s moral constitution-with the aid of active intellectual powers and the effects of habit, naturally lead to the golden rule, ”As ye would that men should do to you, do ye to them likewise”; and this lies at the foundation of morality.’ (Margaret Knight, Honest to Man) This is the social basis of the origin of morality and not a divine scriptural command of do’s and don’ts for human beings!
3. Human beings are led by reason and their experience for living ‘a good life inspired by love and guided by knowledge’. Science lights their path of life- and science is no dogma. They are nourished, strengthened and united by the human values of love, empathy, sympathy, justice and compassion.
‘So it is frankly admitted by the humanist that descriptions of reality offered by science are provisional and never entirely and totally certain-at any time evidence may present itself that renders old explanations redundant and new explanations preferable.’ (Andrew Copson, What Is Humanism).
4. Human beings don’t believe in the soul and afterlife. In the words of Bertrand Russell: ‘I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive.’ 5. A mystic is not supernatural. The mystic’s spiritual practice is human biology-based.
Sam Harris, neuroscientist and philosopher observes in his book Waking Up:
‘….. Scientists generally start with an impoverished view of spiritual experience, assuming that it must be a grandiose way of describing ordinary states of mind-parental love, artistic inspiration, awe at the beauty of the night sky. In this vein, one finds Einstein’s amazement at the intelligibility of nature’s laws described as though it were a kind of mystical insight’
‘A rational approach to spirituality seems to be what is missing from secularism and from the lives of the people I meet.’
‘The human mind does, in fact, contain vast expanses that few of us ever discover’
6. Human beings have an equal right to happiness
7. Human beings have inalienable thirty rights as declared in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the most important of which are:
‘(1) All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’
‘(2) Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.’
‘(3) Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, worship and observance.’
‘(4) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.’
Humanism-the Light of Life
In the words of Bette Chambers:
‘Humanism is the light of my life and the fire in my soul. It is the deep-felt conviction, in every fibre of my being, that human love is a power far transcending the relentless, onward rush of our largely deterministic cosmos. All human life must seek a reason for existence within the bounds of an uncaring physical world, and it is love coupled with empathy, democracy, and a commitment to selfless service which undergirds the faith of a humanist.’
There is a worldwide celebration of the primacy of man and his natural capacity to pursue his life-goals of achieving meaning and purpose in his life on this Earth. On this planet, he can make his life into a fulfilled or ‘a good life’ or a bad life.
Humanism is the sacred and magnetic mantra of mankind. It is the spirit of the times. It belongs as an ennobling and empowering way of life to not only the present but also the future, as it had so belonged to the past.
I have chosen and been following the rational and humanist way of life. Have you any hesitation in choosing this world outlook?