Humanism was represented on a religious panel of seven representatives at St. Paul’s University on Wednesday of last week.

The speaking notes of the Humanist representative on the religious panel are as follows:

I would like to thank Dr. Ghanem very much for including a Humanist on this panel. Humanists are not usually recognized and accepted as a belief system in the same way that
religions are. And Humanists are not usually recognized, and accepted as a belief system in the way that Humanists would like to be, and think that Humanists should be recognized and accepted as a belief system.

So being on this panel is a little bit of a first for Humanists in Ottawa. And we are very grateful to Dr. Ghanem for including us on this panel.

Humanists have been fighting and struggling to be an identified, and recognized entity and to be socially acceptable in Canadian society. Humanists do believe that nonbelievers are the last group in Canada that it is still safe to discriminate against.

And based on Statistics Canada’s statistics 25% of Canadians are nonbelievers.

Part of the reason for the non-recognition of nonbelievers in our society is that nonbelievers tend to keep a very low profile to avoid discrimination and bigotry.

Humanism is a religious free way of life that believes that it is our responsibility to lead ethical and meaningful lives for the greater good of all.

Humanism is not a religion – it is more of a concept and a movement like environmentalism, feminism, western liberalism, libertarianism, free enterprise, capitalism, socialism, etc.

Unlike the previously mentioned concepts and movements, Humanism does involve a world view of Humanity, and how humans should live their lives and deal with their problems and the problems of Humanity.

Humanists do feel that we should be recognized, and accepted as a presence and a voice on the moral and ethical landscape of society. Some of the Humanist values and beliefs do involve
religious issues. Humanists are strongly in favour of the separation of religion and the state. Humanists are strongly in favour of a completely secular state. Only in a completely secular state will all religions and belief systems be really free. One thing that Humanists have in common with all of the other religions is that we do believe that we are right and all of the rest are wrong. Humanists do believe in respecting the values and beliefs of others, unless their values and beliefs are degrading to Human dignity. Humanists do believe in respecting the values and beliefs of other, even if they do not agree with them, especially if they do not agree with them, unless they are trying to impose their beliefs on others.

Ancient Greek philosophers have been identified as being Humanists. Democritus (Greek philosopher: 469-370BCE), asserted that human beings can set higher standards of personal integrity and social responsibility by rational, moral, fair and compassionate means rather than involving the supernatural and a supernatural being or beings. Greek gods at that time – of which there were many –were not particularly moral or ethical.

Some early Christians in the 4th & 5th century of the common era were considered Humanists by some because of their concern about human suffering and their attempts to do something about it (ie: St Francis), so sometimes Humanism is referred to as Secular Humanism to differentiate it from the Humanism of some of the early Christians. And to emphasize its non-theist beliefs.

The concept of Humanism was suppressed for 2000 years from the time of the Greek philosophers to the time of the Renaissance when it re-emerged during the Enlightenment, and the age of Reason at a time when free thinkers faced social stigma and risked death by coming out as atheists and agnostics. At a time when dogma was the unquestioned and accepted norm.

This was the era when the Unitarian Church came into being – which does not call itself a church but a congregation. The Unitarian Congregation’s main guiding principle is to respect the beliefs of others – no matter what those beliefs are – including atheism – therefore it has attracted a lot of atheists…there are also theists in the Unitarian Congregation.

Humanism is concerned with humans and humanity and is not concerned with a God or Gods or the afterlife.

It is based on:

  • Reason
  • Freedom
  • Equality
  • Compassion
  • Responsibility – for ourselves and for others
  • Fairness
  • Respect for the values and belief of others, unless they try to impose their beliefs or their values on others, or their beliefs degrade human dignity.
  • Do not evangelize. Humanists want nonbelievers to be aware that they exist and that they are a safe haven for nonbelievers and a community of like-minded individuals.

Humanists are very concerned with human rights (especially freedom of speech), freedom/equality/democracy, human suffering and separation of the state and religion, and are opposed to any form of discrimination, racism and bigotry.

Humanism is a worldwide movement with Humanist Associations all over the world.  There is a Humanist Association of Ottawa, a Humanist Association of Canada, as well as the  International Humanist and Ethical Union (a world union of Humanist organizations).  Humanism in its modern form is several centuries old.

Questions:
1. Why am I a Humanist?
Because I do believe in Reason, Logical Rational Thinking, Science, Freedom(democracy), Equality, Compassion, Responsibility for ourselves and others, and respect for the values and beliefs of others unless they are trying to impose those beliefs on others. I believe in a secular state.

2. When all religions preach love and peace, why is there so much war in the world?
Humanism’s view on this question is that religions are often the cause of wars because of their intolerance and lack of respect for the values and beliefs of others. Religion is not the only cause of wars. Wars are also the result of poverty, human suffering, competition for resources including land, and male egos….It will take more than preaching love and peace to end wars. It will take action to end human poverty and suffering and reason and rational, logical thinking to over-ride male egos to end wars..

3. What is your religion’s (belief systems) position on the female role in society?
Humanism believes in equality for everyone – that we are all equal.
The female’s role in society is not an issue in Humanism anymore then is the male role in society.

4. How can Humanism promote peace in the world?
Humanists can promote peace in the world by promoting respect for other and respect for their values and beliefs, by promoting the use of reason and rational, logical thinking in dealing with problems and by working to end Human suffering. The symbol of Humanism, is the Happy Human, Humanists want all humans to be happy.

What are your comments on Humanism, or what does Humanism mean to you?

Humanist Dave “B”

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