Humanism as a lifestance
Humanism is an ethical worldview but not just an atheist or agnostic one. For many non-religious people, it is a life stance that frames answers to so-called “ultimate questions” about life in the same way that religion does for believers. It is also a “belief” in terms of Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the article that protects Freedom of Religion or Belief.
Humanism is deeply committed to the protection of Human Rights. Considering that this is the only life we have, humanists believe that people should have the freedom to live it in accordance with their own beliefs. Humanism therefore defends the right for everyone to choose his or her own beliefs, values, and lifestyles, subject only to them not interfering with other people’s rights.
Humanism is non-dogmatic. It has no source book of unquestionable rules, no leaders to define infallible doctrine, no definitive answer. Humanism differs utterly from those religions and ideologies that seek to impose on others their own vision of truth or their conception of “right living”. As a result, you don’t formally convert to Humanism. Instead, most people become humanists without contact with any humanist organization, sometimes without even knowing the word.
Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance that affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. Humanism stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.
– International Humanist and Ethical Union’s “Amsterdam Declaration”
Humanism defends the civic virtues of democracy which combines personal liberty with social responsibility. Humanism values the art of compromise as the best method for achieving social consensus, and therefore is committed to an inclusive and pluralistic vision of society though which difference is acknowledged as strength and differences are resolved through debate and rational argument.
Humanism stands for tolerance and openness to others: it constantly tries to build bridges between various beliefs, cultures and political forces. Racism, nationalism, religious fundamentalism or exclusive opinions have therefore no place in Humanism. Humanism is diametrically opposed to any system of thought that emphasizes differences and fuels them artificially in an attempt to establish an ideological dominance.
Humanism promotes science and rational inquiry as means to discover truth. Humanists believe that the solutions to the world’s problems lie in human thought and action, fueled by scientific evidence and innovation rather than divine intervention. Humanism rejects supernatural and dogmatic arguments to explain the universe or the purpose of human life. It upholds the idea that people can live ethical and fulfilling lives by virtue of reason, empathy and human cooperation.