Online course

Introducing Humanism: Non-religious Approaches to Life

Learn about humanism - a non-religious, ethical worldview shared by millions across the world.

Introducing Humanism: Non-religious Approaches to Life

Learn about how humanists approach life's big questions

Humanism is a non-religious, ethical world view shared by millions of people around the world. Humanists believe that this life is the only life we have, that the universe is a natural phenomenon with no supernatural side, and that we can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.

However, there is widespread misunderstanding about what it means to be a humanist or to live a life without a religion. On this course you will learn more about humanist beliefs and values, and discover how humanists attempt to answer life’s big questions.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 secondsWe live in an increasingly pluralistic world. We are surrounded by a diversity of beliefs. Today, an increasing number of people are not religious. Many believe that the universe is a natural phenomenon with no supernatural side. They believe that this is the one life we have. And they want to lead ethical, meaningful, and fulfilling lives. People like humanists. Humanism is a way of realising that if we only have one life, if we're only here once, that actually that leads to a lot of inspiring answers about how we should behave and how we should spend our time. For me, humanism is sort of... atheism plus?

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 secondsI think for me, humanism is a worldview whereby you're sceptical, rational, and you try to incorporate moral thinking into everything you do. I’m Sandi Toksvig. I’m a humanist, and I’m a patron of Humanists UK. I’m fascinated by life’s big questions.

Skip to 1 minute and 7 secondsQuestions like: ‘How should I live?’, ‘How can I know what is true?’, ‘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. Everyone's going to have a different answer to the question "what makes a good life?"

Skip to 1 minute and 32 secondsI think it's really freeing - because I think you don't have to follow what any authority tells you- you can work things out for yourself, you can take responsibility for the views that you have - - and I think that freedom of thinking, that sort of free-thinking, I really like that, and I think that's part and parcel of humanism. There is widespread misunderstanding about what it means to be a humanist, or to live a life without religion. During this course, we’ll provide you with a deeper understanding of the humanist approach to life and of how humanists answer life’s big questions.

Skip to 2 minutes and 4 secondsWe’ll explore the tensions and dilemmas contained within a humanist view, as well as the arguments against it, and the responses humanists give to those arguments. You’ll find contributions from academics, humanist campaigners, celebrants, pastoral carers, and members of the public to help widen your awareness of what it means to be one of the millions of humanists living in the UK and around the world today. You have to care about the world, and the people in it - you have to be excited by it! You have to want to contribute. It's a way for me to express what I am rather than what I'm not, its a promotion of equality and celebrating diversity, and celebrating all the richness of life, really.

Skip to 2 minutes and 48 secondsI mean, I think, as human beings, we have everything within ourselves and amongst each other, to really make something beautiful out of life. It should also allow you the opportunity to reflect on life’s bigger questions for yourself. ‘Introducing humanism: non-religious approaches to life’. Join us for a conversation about the best way to live.

What topics will you cover?

  • The humanist understanding of human beings: our nature, capacities, and responsibilities
  • How humanists answer questions about the world (science, reason, scepticism) and the consequences for a humanist understanding of reality
  • A humanist approach to making life meaningful and the value of individual freedom
  • The origins and evolution of morality and a humanist perspective on how to be good
  • The humanist vision for society (secularism, freedoms, and human rights) and the motivations behind their goals
  • Different definitions of humanism, its history, and its diversity

When would you like to start?

  • Available now
    This course started 29 October 2018

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Investigate and explore humanist beliefs, values, and goals
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the humanist worldview
  • Apply what one has learned in discussion with others
  • Evaluate the humanist approach to life
  • Reflect upon one's own approach and answers to life's big questions

Who is the course for?

This course is suitable for anyone looking to develop their understanding of humanism. It will particularly appeal to those with a passion for exploring life’s big questions. It will also be of value to teachers and other educators wanting to develop their subject knowledge about non-religious beliefs, and to sixth-form students looking to prepare themselves for a degree in the humanities.

Who will you learn with?

Luke Donnellan

Head of Education at Humanists UK, responsible for resource creation & teacher training. Experienced TV producer, primary school teacher, and practitioner in philosophy for children.

Who developed the course?

A UK charity advancing free thinking and promoting humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail.

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