Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsWelcome to ‘Introducing humanism: non-religious approaches to life’. I’m Sandi Toksvig and I’ll be leading you through this course. So, why me? Well, I’m a humanist, I’m a patron of Humanists UK, so that ticks the 'humanist' box, And I'm a parent and a grandparent who would love some answers of my own to life's big questions... you know- before the kids ask me.
Skip to 0 minutes and 29 secondsLife's big questions, which we will be exploring throughout this course: ‘What sort of a thing am I?’, ‘How can I know what is true?’, ‘How should I live?’, ‘How should I treat others?’, and ‘What kind of world do I want?’ I think it’s vital everyone gets the opportunity to explore different approaches to these questions, but also that we have the freedom to decide on the answers for ourselves. There will be other educators throughout the course, including academics and experts who will support your learning.
Skip to 0 minutes and 58 secondsYou’ll also find contributions from humanist campaigners, celebrants, pastoral carers, and members of the public to help widen your understanding of what it means to be one of the millions of humanists living in the UK and around the world today. When people ask me, ‘What is a humanist?’, sometimes I want to say, ‘It’s just common sense.’ Thinking carefully about what to believe. Treating other people with warmth and respect. Making the most of life. However, it’s not common sense to everyone, and a fuller understanding of humanism involves more than that.
Skip to 1 minute and 35 secondsInterested people tend to focus on the things I don’t believe in: a god, an afterlife, a set of divinely ordained rules we have to live by. But in this course we will be concentrating primarily on the things that humanists do believe and the reasons why they believe that. We’ll also be exploring the values they hold and investigating the way they live their lives. Being a humanist can be demanding. It means, when deciding what to believe or how to act, you have to do the thinking for yourself. You have to take responsibility for your own life. You have to take on what, for some, can appear like uncomfortable facts about reality. But it can also be enormously rewarding.
Skip to 2 minutes and 18 secondsIt can be liberating and life-enhancing. By the end of the course you may decide you agree with the arguments humanists put forward. You may share the belief that their approach to life is one that makes the most of our capabilities as human beings. You may, on the other hand, conclude that humanism is naive, mistaken, or dangerous. Either way you will not be alone. Whatever you conclude, you should have developed a better understanding of why humanists believe and value the things they do and how they tackle life’s biggest questions. I hope you enjoy the course.
The education team
Sandi Toksvig will be leading you through the course. However, you will also find contributions from academics, humanist campaigners, celebrants, pastoral carers, and members of the public, who will all support your learning.
Several members of our education team will also be following the course:
- Luke Donnellan: Head of Education, Humanists UK
- Richard Norman: Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Kent, and author of ‘On Humanism’
- Teddy Prout: Director of Community Services, Humanists UK
- Sophie Colligan: Humanist wedding and naming celebrant
- Alan Brine: Humanist pastoral carer, Manchester Prison, and Ofsted National Advisor for Religious Education (2001-2014)
You may wish to follow them. Click on their name to see their profile. Then click on the pink ‘Follow’ button. By following them, you will be more easily able to see their comments and responses to questions. (Please note that the educators won’t be able to reply to all learners’ questions.)
About Humanists UK
At Humanists UK, we want a tolerant world where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We work to support lasting change for a better society, championing ideas for the one life we have. We do this because we’re humanists, people who shape our own lives in the here and now, because we believe it’s the only life we get.
We’re committed to putting humanism into practice. Through our ceremonies, pastoral support, education services, and campaigning work, we advance free thinking and freedom of choice so everyone can live in a fair and equal society.
Our education work helps raise awareness and understanding of humanism as an ethical and fulfilling non-religious approach to life. It is informed with the support of over 150 of the UK’s most prominent philosophers, scientists, and other thinkers and experts, it seeks to promote mutual understanding between people of different beliefs, and it supports people to make their own free choices about what they believe.
For more information, please visit humanism.org.uk.