Humanist Identity

Posted By Stefan Monsaureus

Friendly Atheist has posted an email promoting a purported Humanist Identity Project, comparing it to the recent OUT Campaign initiated by Richard Dawkins, and wondering whether such competition is advisable.

I think the broader campaigns have a much better chance at being successful and should be supported by those under that umbrella. Why dice it up and risk alienating those in the vicinity of your camp?

The problem with coming out as an atheist, though, is that it is uninformative – expressing the rejection of theistic belief tells nothing of one’s values. Declaring oneself a humanist, at least, provides a bit more specificity, and the atheism becomes incidental to a worldview of which nontheism is but one (albeit central) part.

I’m not one to encourage division among the ranks of freethinkers, and I certainly don’t think we’ve reached the size where we can afford the luxury of a schism, but promoting humanist identity seems  a worthwhile goal. The trick will be to distinguish humanism from atheism in the minds of the general public, which largely views the terms as synonymous. For that reason,  I hope that humanists will explain their worldview as “progressive atheism” so that it is clear that, yes, humanists are atheists, but that humanists have a distinct worldview that is not universally shared among all those who have rejected supernaturalism.

Possibly similar posts:

    None Found

Be Sociable, Share!
17 December 2007

One Comment to 'Humanist Identity'

Subscribe to comments with RSS

  1. Peter said,

    The trick will be to distinguish humanism from atheism in the minds of the general public

    In daily life, or even traveling in atheist circles, I don’t suspect most people have ever heard/read the word ‘humanism’ (I did not), much less hear of some formal organization with a name that includes the term ‘Humanist’ or ‘Humanism’.

    So, to me, it’s not so much about distinguishing between the two as it is about letting people know that there is a whole new thing out there (that is really not new at all, but still kinda newish the way atheism is newish) called ‘humanism’. And if that outlook on life sounds interesting to you,then you should check out a Humanist organization.

    So, as to this campaign, I can’t really say it’s bad or harmful or anything, but nobody is offended by the term ‘humanist’ (yet), and nobody knows what a humanist is, so ‘coming out’ is really kind of bogus. If you come out as an atheist or gay person, there could very well be hell to pay – not so for a humanist.

:: Trackbacks/Pingbacks ::

No Trackbacks/Pingbacks