Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsAs a humanist living in Britain, I recognise that human beings have made significant progress

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondstowards a fairer and kinder society: democracy, human rights, social welfare, free education. But we could also do so much better. And most of those alive today do not share my quality of life or benefit from the results of human progress. What if you don’t believe this world is preparation for something else, but rather that it’s the only world we’ve got? If you believe only human beings can improve the quality of life on Earth, then what responsibilities do we have? If people have different needs, passions, and talents, then how can we build a world that enables them all to flourish?

Skip to 0 minutes and 51 secondsIf there is disagreement between people about what to believe and the right way to live, can we create a world that keeps everyone, or at least almost everyone, happy? And if so, what is the best way to do that?

Skip to 1 minute and 9 secondsThe questions we’ll be exploring this week are: What are human rights and why are they important to humanists? How valuable are the rights of freedom of belief and freedom of expression? What is secularism and why might humanists support it? How important is dialogue between those who hold different beliefs? What do humanists campaign for and why? Hopefully, by the end of the week, you’ll be able to explain and evaluate a humanist vision for a better world.

Welcome to Week 5

‘It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses we must plant more trees.’

George Eliot, The Spanish Gypsy

Over the past couple of weeks we have explored a humanist conception of what it means to live a good life and to live morally. This week we will address how humanists might put their beliefs into practice and investigate what kind of society many humanists believe we should be fighting for.

As the novelist George Eliot hints at above, the humanist view is that human beings alone are responsible for improving our quality of life on earth. We cannot expect help to come from elsewhere. Nor can we hold out hope that injustices will be righted in some future life. We need to act to resolve injustices in the here and now.

This week

This week we will explore the motivation behind the humanist vision for a better world and ask how close humanists feel they are to achieving their goals.

This week you will explore:

  • Can imagining we did not know what position we would end up holding within a society, help us to consider what would want such a society to be like?
  • How important are human rights? How might they be criticised and defended?
  • What is secularism? What arguments do its supporters use in favour of it?
  • How much freedom should individuals have? Are there any restrictions we should place on human freedom?
  • What campaigns are humanists involved in in the UK and around the world? Where are their energies best focussed?

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This video is from the free online course:

Introducing Humanism: Non-religious Approaches to Life, with Sandi Toksvig

Humanists UK