Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK, attended the Guildford & Woking Humanists group meeting, at the Guildford Institute September 2019. During this packed event, his talk emphasised the importance humanism has in life. Andrew’s talk explained humanism in terms of reality, morality and purpose.
The physical, scientific and material reality is one of the pillars of humanism. Understanding that morality is a social instinct that comes from within us through values, cultures and ethical thinking, not “revealed wisdom” of holy books. The humanist approach to the purpose of life is that we make our own purpose by creating experiences and forming relationships. This the basis of what humanism means.
Humanists UK provides a range of services and support for individuals and the community: pastoral care, ceremonies, funerals, weddings, education, teaching resources for school and colleges.
Humanists UK also promotes human rights and secularism. Secularism is much misunderstood. It calls for the state to be neutral on matters of religion and belief which is why Secularists can be both religious and non-religious. They are very active in campaigning, lobbying governments, influencing policy work and changes in the law.
For example, humanists’ campaign against honour killings and violence against women, discrimination against “untouchables”, the persecution of homosexuals, genital mutilation (especially female circumcision), violent exorcisms, the killing of ‘witches, and other unacceptable practices which often find support in some of our most revered scriptures.
Another aspect to the work of Humanists UK is to help debate ethical questions such as assisted dying, sexual reproduction rights and stem cell research. Humanist believe such complex moral issues should be taught in the school science curriculum, on the basis of evidence and reason and not by invoking the authority of the holy books, which reflect an ancient and very different world view.
For more information on Humanism, go to the Humanist UK website: https://humanism.org.uk/ Or for more information on Secularism try Andrew Copson’s book (2017 edition) Secularism: Politics, Religion, and Freedom.