Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds The question of how to measure how many humanists there are is actually a surprisingly complicated one. So about 5% would actively say they belong to or affiliate to humanism as a worldview, but the number of people who hold humanist beliefs is actually much higher, reflecting the fact it’s not always a particularly well understood term, and a term that sometimes people describe themselves as having discovered, as an existing label that already applies to views that they had but didn’t have a term for. In fact, just over a fifth of the population holds humanist beliefs when you ask people how they make ethical or moral decisions, and whether they look to science or religion to understand the universe around them.
Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds When you explain this fact to people something like 17% of the total population are then willing to apply the humanist label to themselves, much higher than the 5% who are readily familiar with it and are happy to do so upfront.
How many humanists are there?
Not all those who describe themselves as non-religious could be described as humanist. However, as societies become more secular, humanist groups increasingly take root. The largest humanist group in the world today is in Norway, due to state support. Humanists UK is perhaps the largest group with no such funding, and as of 2017 has 65,000 members and supporters. The International Humanist and Ethical Union has affiliated groups all over the world, from Europe to India to Nigeria and Uganda. Humanism is a rapidly growing global movement, riding the wave of secularisation.
The persecution of many humanist ideas still exists today, and is a threat to humanism throughout much of the world. However, humanist thinking is now widespread, and throughout much of the Western world one can live as a humanist without fear of punishment or persecution.
In this video Richy Thompson introduces how many people in the UK use the label humanist to describe themselves, and explains that there are many more people who share humanist beliefs and values but remain unaware of the label.