via What is Humanism?.
The Core Beliefs of Humanism
Humanism has two core beliefs, from which many important implications follow. An analogy to a court of law may help to clarify these beliefs.
- In the American system of law, jurors attempt to reach decisions about the guilt or innocence of a defendant based solely on evidence. In much the same way, a good Humanist will try to find good evidence for all of his or her beliefs, including his or her religious and political convictions. This analogy with a court of law can be extended: jurors must, of course, be alert to misleading testimony. Even outside of a court of law, Humanists believe that people must learn how to sift and assess what they are told by the media, or by figures of authority, no matter who those figures happen to be. Defendants cannot always be relied upon to provide reliable, unbiased testimony. Similarly, the media, and authority figures too, often have an agenda of their own—frequently the enhancement of someone’s wealth or power. And even when this is not the case, authorities are themselves often uninformed or confused. In short, then, the first Humanist core conviction is that all beliefs, no matter what sort, must be grounded in carefully sifted facts.
- Humanists believe that the evidence that our values have a supernatural basis is weak; on the other hand, Humanists find compelling the evidence that our values are based in the human person. Therefore, in order to know whether a given course of conduct is meaningful or right, we can ask ourselves whether it promotes the maintenance or development of the normal capabilities of human beings, such as thinking, feeling, and physical health.
Some of the important implications following from these core convctions are:
- People should try hard to get the facts before forming opinions or commiting to values.
- People should base their values primarily upon the worth and inherent dignity of the human person.
- The refinement of any good value system is the project of a lifetime. There is no single, comprehensive, authoritative source of truth.
The idea that all people are much the same everywhere, and are equally entitled to justice and opportunity regardless of race or gender, owes much to Humanism.