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Humanism is the belief that we can live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. Humanists make sense of the world using reason, experience and shared human values. We seek to make the best of the one life we have by creating meaning and purpose for ourselves. We take responsibility for our actions and work with others for the common good.

What humanists believe

Humanism is an approach to life based on humanity and reason - humanists recognise that moral values are properly founded on human nature and experience alone. Our decisions are based on the available evidence and our assessment of the outcomes of our actions, not on any dogma or sacred text.

Humanism encompasses atheism and agnosticism ‑ but is an active and ethical philosophy far greater than these negative responses to religion.

Humanists believe in individual rights and freedoms ‑ but believe that individual responsibility, social cooperation and mutual respect are just as important.

Humanists believe that people can and will continue to find solutions to the world's
problems ‑ so that quality of life can be improved for everyone.

Humanists are positive ‑ gaining inspiration from our lives, art and culture, and a rich natural world.

Humanists believe that
we have only one life ‑ it is our responsibility to make it a good life, and to live it to the full.

Humanists - who are they?

At least 15.5% of the population is non-religious according to the 2001 census, making this the second largest "belief" group in the UK. Other surveys on religious belief in Britain have found 30 - 40% (and 65% of young people) declaring themselves atheists or agnostics. A Home Office survey (2004) found almost 22% of no faith, and that religion played little part in the lives of most of those calling themselves Christians. Many people, even if they do not call themselves humanists, live their lives by the principles outlined above, and many thousands use the services of the British Humanist Association every year; organised Humanism is the tip of a very large iceberg.

An Ipsos MORI poll of November 2006 revealed that 36% of the population share humanist beliefs on morality and the nature of the universe.

More statistics on religion and belief here .

BHA Vice-President Claire Rayner says: "I was a humanist without knowing it for many years before I found the Association - when I did, it was like finding a sort of home. Here were people with a range of views that matched my own, who shared my respect for life in all its forms, and who, above all, did not try to bully other people to follow their beliefs".

To find out more about the work of the BHA click here , and see also  Why join?

Want to know more about Humanism?

Humanism, a brief introduction for students of all ages

Humanist Philosophers ' Group What is Humanism?  (BHA, 2002, buy it here ) - a pamphlet from the Humanist Philosophers' Group makes the case for Humanism. Read an extract .

So you think you can live without God?  - members of the Humanist Philosophers' Group answer some common questions and challenges. 

"Urban myths" about humanism, secularism and atheism, some responses

The milk of humanist kindness Philosopher and distinguished supporter of Humanism A C Grayling in his blog at Comment is Free �, Guardian 21/11/06

Click here for a list of distinguished supporters of Humanism.

"Who needs God?" - an Independent on Sunday feature about Humanism and the BHA.

Non-religious beliefs - some definitions and distictions. What's the difference between an atheist, an agnostic and a humanist, for example?

What do humanists mean by "spirituality" ?

Humanists talking - individual humanists talk about their lives and beliefs.

Humanist "Thoughts for the Day " - short talks showing what humanists can do when asked for a "thought".

Barbara Smoker Humanism (BHA, buy it here ) - a useful and accessible introduction to humanist ideas and history.

Richard Norman On Humanism (Routledge, 2004) - an accessible and powerful defence of humanist ideas and ethics, written by a humanist philosopher.  Buy it here .

Jim Herrick Humanism - an Introduction - Humanism for the general reader. Buy it here .

Hobson & Jenkins Modern Humanism - answers to some of the basic questions of life from a humanist perspective. Buy it here

A Short Course on Humanism (BHA, buy it here ), suitable for adults who think they may be humanists and groups that would like to study and discuss Humanism.

Are you a humanist? This quiz will help you decide!

Thinking About Death   - read the introduction to the Humanist Philosophers' Group book of essays based on their 2002 conference, and buy the book by phoning 020 7079 3580.

Thinking about Ethics - an account of where humanists think moral values come from, and the implications.

Discussions of philosophical, ethical and social issues outline how humanists approach a range of issues and provide discussion questions and further reading for students of all ages. (Please note that these are not definitive statements about what all humanist think or BHA policy.)

Richard Robinson An Atheist's Values - long out of print, this excellent defence of humanist morality and critique of "Christian values" can be read at  http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/athval0.htm

Humanist ideas have a long history - read about it here . You can also read extracts from humanist writers past and present in A Humanist Anthology  (edited by Jim Herrick and Margaret Knight, RPA, buy it here ), and E M Forster's What I believe  (BHA, buy it here ).

Are your ideas on God, religion and morality philosophically consistent? Try Battlefield God and other philosophical games at The Philosophers' Magazine website .

The UK based Humanists website carries information about the humanist ethical tradition, news, answers to common questions, and jokes.

American Humanists' Humanist Manifesto


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