Monday, 24 March 2008

Why Humanist?

A world-view with a set of values and shared responsibilities that are independent of religion.
Humanists place the physical, emotional and mental welfare of people first - here, now, on this Earth.

Humanism defines values that pre-date religions, and which are often shared with religions. Some of the most simple are:

Do not threaten or cause harm to others.
Treat others as you would like them to treat you.
Help those who are less fortunate than yourself.
Treat people as equals and do not discriminate on the basis of things they have no control over: colour, race, gender, sexuality or disability.
Be free to think as you wish, believe what you wish, say what you wish and do what you wish as long as you stay within an agreed framework of law.
Keep an open and enquiring mind and take joy in finding out - and finding out that there is even more to find out!
Respect people for doing good - not for what they say or what they believe.
Do not indoctrinate children but give them the information they need to make their own decisions about the important issues of life.

Why Secular?

Secular means "concerned with the things of this world rather than a supernatural, ecclesiastical, religious one."
Secularism promotes freedom for religion and freedom from religion. Those who need a religion are free to have one - as long they do not cause or threaten harm to anyone else and they not try to interfere with the freedoms of those who do not need a religion.

Some religious people, ones who are secure in their beliefs, are secularists. They believe that religion should have no special privileges, should not be part of the state, should stand on its own two feet and should not be funded in any way by taxpayers. However, the vast majority of secularists are humanist atheists or agnostics.

Secularism is not an ideology - it is a set of practical aims:

To separate church and state - at the moment the Church of England is the state religion.
To remove religion from law-making - at the moment C of E Bishops sit in the House of Lords and make our laws in their own interests.
To stop taxpayers' money being used to subsidise religions.
To remove religious worship and religious instruction from schools.
We support teaching pupils about religions but we are totally opposed to pupils being instructed in a religion.

To convert all faith schools to secular schools. Taxpayers pay 100% of their costs anyway so this would cost nothing.
To legislate against private schools that promote religion.
To remove religious symbols from all public institutions and buildings.
To remove special time and space being given to the religious to promote their ideas in the public media.
To return religion to where it belongs - the private realm, not the public realm.
To remove all privileges enjoyed by the religious.
If religious people want time-off to pray or to attend religious ceremonies, they should accept that they will not be paid for this time, and that such absences may make it impossible for them to be employed.

Taxpayers and companies should not be expected to subsidise the religious.

To ensure that the views and beliefs of the non-religious are fairly represented.

Why Atheist?

Atheists have no need for a god and they do not believe in one - nor in any of the other trappings of religion.
A hard atheist states simply: "there is no god".
A soft atheist states: "I can see no need to propose the existence of a god - so I won't. Since there is no need to propose one, I don’t believe in one."
This may seem like splitting hairs (it is!) but some people take the difference seriously.

There is no such thing as atheism.
An "ism" usually implies an ideology - a set of structured ideas and beliefs. There is no such ideology as atheism since atheists have a non-belief - we do not believe in a god or the necessity for religion.

There are Socialist atheists, liberal atheists, tolerant atheists, intolerant atheists, non-political atheists, Conservative atheists, Fascist atheists, New Labour atheists, Liberal Democrat atheists, Communist atheists, hippy-dippy atheists, anarchic atheists, rampant greedy capitalist atheists - what on earth would be the ideology that they all share?

Religious people often turn to atheists are say:

"Your religion is atheism - so you are just the same as us really."

This is nonsense. Atheists believe exactly the opposite to religion (see above) so how could there be an atheist religion?

Why Skeptic?

Skepticism is a method of assessing claims. It is a form of critical inquiry which can be used positively: in business; by consumers; in the defence against being defrauded or scammed; as an intellectual exercise; and in increasing one's knowledge and awareness of reality in general.

The idea is to look beyond claims, beliefs and opinions, which are often accepted at face value, and look at whether the evidence actually supports such claims. This approach also makes skepticism a valuable thinking tool where opposing or contradictory claims are made for the same issue.

For an excellent overview of what Skepticism really is visit