Humanism: Beliefs and Practices*

*Borrowed titled of thread from Jeaneane Fowler’s book of the same name. It’s a great book on humanism and it is one of the many books I refer to when I’m discussing humanism. It is a great book for learning about humanism, but it is like a textbook and is sometimes used as a textbook in some colleges, which teach humanism. Still, check it out if you want to know more about humanism.

There are other books I refer to when discussing humanism, including some by the late Paul Kurtz and I’ll name them when I use what they have and even provide a link to them in case anyone wants to get a copy and read for themselves. Also, as we discuss humanism in this thread, please feel free to mention, link to, and contribute to the discussion any books you’ve read on humanism, because I am far from being the authority on humanism.

Let’s start with the manifestos first, which I mentioned in another thread and go from there. I will go in order of their creation.

Let’s back up a bit and give a working, general definition of humanism. Humanism is a non-theistic philosophy based on reason and compassion. There are many other ways to define it and those are good definitions too: Definition of Humanism - American Humanist Association

So we have that also to work from as we discuss humanism. Now for the manifestos:

Many years ago, I think it was in the 1930s a group of male professors at a university got together and started swirling around the idea of humanism and at one point it almost turned into a bit of a fist fight between a Xian professor and an atheist professor, but the end result of all of this was the very first humanist manifesto and as you can see, both the religious and non-religious signed it. I need to find that fight, but it maybe in Edwin Wilson’s telling of the creation of the manifestos in the link above. Humanism has a long rich history despite all of that. It’s not a new philosophy, but it did begin to be nailed out in the '30s.

So you may say, “Wait! What? Religious people signed the manifesto?” Actually, we see Unitarian ministers sign even today’s manifesto on the AHA postings of the manifestos. Humanism isn’t just for secularists. There are many forms of humanism- literary humanism, religious humanism, Humanistic Judaism, Humanistic Christianity (think retired Bishop John Shelby Spong), and many other forms of humanism.

Ok that’s probably more than enough resources to get this conversation started, but I will add the second, third, AHA’s current one, Paul Kurtz’s Humanist Manifesto 2000 created when he started Secular Humanists, and more about humanism.

Ok I found the aforementioned little brouhaha here Edwin Wilson Manifesto Ch14 – Internet Infidels :

The Bristol, Connecticut, Press editorialized on May 19, 1933, referring to a report of the manifesto published in the same issue and ignoring the fact that over half of the thirty-four signatories were clerics. In fact, the paper chose to view college professors as being the “culprits” behind the manifesto:

In another column of today’s paper, appears a communication, quoting an article from the Literary Digest, signed by various and sundry college professors advocating a new religion, which these professors dub as “Humanism.”

Just as the day of the superbusiness man has passed, and it is realized that his advice in reference to business affairs is no better than that of the ordinary business man, so the day has also come when the college professor with his sophisticated pronouncement on all kinds of human affairs, should no longer be regarded as omniscient.

College professors are much inclined to give out interviews on all sorts of human affairs. When, however, a mess of them such as have signed their names to this communication, show what they do not know about religion, we are reminded of an incident which happened in our college days, and which, we think, would be a first-rate cure to administer to these professors. This particular incident was known as, “Finlay’s Conversion of Thomas.” Finlay was a very ardent Episcopalian. Another member of the class had become very much interested in scientific study, and his investigations had led him to believe that everything in this universe came from cause to effect, without the directing hand of a supreme being in any way whatsoever. He was expressing his advanced ideas one Sunday afternoon. Finlay listened to what Thomas had to say, but he began to be considerably wrought-up, especially when Thomas denied the existence of a God.

Finally Finlay could stand it no longer, and he stepped up to Thomas with these words: “Thomas, you say just once more that there is no God, and I will knock Hell out of YOU.”

He meant exactly what he said for he was a strong man. . . .

Such a dose of medicine is the only kind of argument which these professors are capable of understanding and in our humble opinion they would be cured.


My point is, nailing out of the first humanist manifesto went about as smoothly as the nailing out of the “official books of the Bible” did. It wasn’t without arguments, fights, disagreements, stories, truths, etc etc. Of course, the media of the day had a field day. I don’t think the philosophy of humanism hasn’t had disagreements anymore than religious sects have- case in point when Paul Kurtz disagreed with the AHA and formed the Secular Humanist organizations, such as CFI, Free Inquiry, and Secular Humanist.

OK I’ll move onto to the second, third, 2000, and AHA’s current manifesto soon, but please feel free to discuss anything I’ve posted thus far or wait until I go through the whole history of the manifestos etc. I think discussing the first one will help with later ones though.

There’s a lot of ground to cover concerning the manifestos and one really isn’t going to find a whole lot about them outside of humanist and Unitarian Universalists websites, except maybe Fundamngelical propaganda. That said, I do have a lot of humanist links to give humanist books to share.

That said, after the first manifesto, a second one came along in the 70s. Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson nailed out a new one in 1973. Why? Because the Humanist Manifesto is one that grows and changes as time passes. It was meant to evolve as society and the world changed over time.

This is the manifesto that I think Gene Roddenberry (link to AHA interview) spent most of his life adhering to, not to the letter like a religion, but as a guide, maybe even a reminder. I also think it is one that the retired Bishop Spong and other religious humanists or humanistic Xians adhere to, but not necessarily the U.U. They to have a more modern version on their site or at least some of their sites, but that’s not to say they don’t follow the AHA’s version. UU ministers have notorious for signing the various Humanist Manifestos.

When I was a teen I read about Humanism and years later I found the manifesto very familiar. Sadly, while I was reading the humanist info (it was probably the AHA interview with Gene Roddenberry), my mother walked into my room without knocking, yanked it out of my hand, shouted, “This is not Christian”, and walked out of the room with it. I never saw it again.

I do want to make note right now, that there was another Anglican priest who tried support humanistic values into Xianity. Anthony Freeman wrote the book “God In Us: A Case for Christian Humanism”. He was excommunicated for it, but he basically wrote Bishop Spong has said for years. The forward in the updated edition was written by Bishop John Shelby Spong. That’s not to say Freeman didn’t impress some Episcopalians and Anglicans. Sites like SOF (Sea of Faith) in Australia and the U.K. popped up. That said, they are a bit too religious for me, but they are examples of Humanistic Christianity. Don Cupitt, another Anglican minister, though I think he left the Church, also wrote “Radical Theology”. All three former ministers helped to start SOF and Bishop Spong started a similar group in the U.S., but I forgot what it was called. I still think they are more religious than humanist, but that said, they are humanistic.

There is also humanistic Judaism, as I mentioned before and others. Some of these groups also signed the second manifestor too. This group also claims Greg Epstein as a Humanist Jew, but he calls himself a humanist. Either way, I accept him as a humanist and a humanist minister. Sherwin T Wine is also claimed as a Jew and a humanist and I do believe it is possible to be both.

Now we also have humanist groups around the U.S. - Houston and KC, as well as the various U.U.s and also Ethical Societies around the U.S., which are all humanist groups.

During the 70s, about the only organizations for non-theists were the AHA, American Atheists, UUs, and Ethical Societies, but that was about it. Today, we can find various humanists and atheists groups and organizations all over the U.S.

This leads us to the third humanist manifesto in 2003 AND The Humanist Manifesto 2000, by Paul Kurtz. Now why are there two, you may ask? This is about the time Paul Kurtz left the AHA and created the Secular Humanist. This isn’t discussed much due to not wanting to discuss disagreements among humanists, for whatever reason.

That said, most notably we have humanists and UU ministers, as well as others, signing all the manifestos with the AHA. Some religious clergy signed the first and the second manifestos, but you don’t see religious clergy with the third one. I missed this one, written by Paul Kurtz in 1980. I don’t know when he wrote the Affirmations, but anyone can read those too. Sadly, the only article I can find on the 2000 one by Paul Kurtz is for subscribers only, but it can be read here, if you have a subscription: Humanist Manifesto 2000 | Free Inquiry

Keep in mind, humanism is not a religion. I consider it a way of life, much like the Roddenberrys do and did. That said, you can read more on the AHA site or at Free Inquiry (a link to a page on Free Inquiry site above), and here on CFI. Edd Doerr and Fred Edwords, both on AHA site, wrote a lot about humanism also.

There is so much more to discuss about humanism, but the manifestos are a good starting point, IMO. You can learn more at Humanists International, Institute for Humanist Studies, AHA Center for Education, and others. There was a The Continuum of Humanist Education (COHE), where I took courses in humanism and it’s how I got Fowler’s book, because she created some of the courses there, but it seems defunct now (the site won’t load) and you really don’t have to take courses to learn about humanism. There are plenty of books on humanism, some I have listed. Paul Kurtz wrote a lot, as well as Edd Doerr and Fred Edwords (we’ve lost all three now, I think). There is also The Philosophy of Humanism, by Corliss Lamont. I bought the book after I saw the PDF. He also wrote The Affirmative Ethics of Humanism, too.

I probably threw an awful lot, just on the manifestos alone, which seems like also involves a lot of info on humanism too. I’ll stop and allow people to go over what all I posted and comment on what they can. I have a lot more on humanism too, but this is a good start to encourage discussion at least on the manifestos.

I forgot “The Amsterdam Declaration” of 1952 and updated 2002.

[quote=“mriana, post:4, topic:8325, full:true”]

I forgot “The Amsterdam Declaration ” of 1952 and updated 2002.

Amsterdam, my hometown. We know what it is to be human… :hugs:

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Yes, they made the first international humanist declaration, even though it wasn’t called that, it was used by Humanist International.