How much do you know about Secular Humanism?



9 Questions

What is secular humanism?

Which of the following is NOT a key element of the Council for Secular Humanism's worldview?

What is the Happy Human?

What is the relationship between humanism and religion?

What is the International Humanist and Ethical Union?

What is the Education for Economic Security Act of 1984?

What is the issue surrounding the teaching of evolution in the United States?

What is the American Humanist Association?

Who are some notable humanists?


Secular Humanism: A Philosophy of Reason and Ethics

  • Secular humanism is a belief system that values human reason, secular ethics, and philosophical naturalism while rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, and superstition.

  • Humanists believe that humans are capable of being ethical and moral without religious beliefs and that ideology must be examined by each individual.

  • The humanist life stance emphasizes the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions.

  • The Happy Human is recognized as the official symbol of humanism internationally.

  • The term secular humanism has evolved over time and has been used since at least the 1930s by Anglican priests.

  • Humanism emerged from non-religious movements of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as Owenites, Ethical Culture, and freethinkers, as well as a few non-religious radical Unitarian congregations.

  • The first Humanist Manifesto was announced in 1933, and since then, various Humanist Manifestos have been written to unify the Humanist identity.

  • Humanist organizations have disagreed as to whether Humanism is a religion, and there are three categories: religious (or ethical) humanism, secular humanism, and the life stance.

  • The International Humanist and Ethical Union was founded in 1952, and the British Humanist Association took that name in 1967, but had developed from the Union of Ethical Societies, which had been founded by Stanton Coit in 1896.

  • Humanists have put together various Humanist Manifestos, in attempts to unify the Humanist identity.

  • The Council for Secular Humanism describes the world view with the following elements and principles: free inquiry, separation of church and state, ethics based on critical intelligence, religious skepticism, reason, a belief in science and technology as the best way of understanding the world, evolution, and education as the essential method of building humane, free, and democratic societies.

  • All humanists, including religious humanists, reject the notion that humans are either inherently good or evil and believe in the continually adapting search for truth through science and philosophy.Overview of Humanism and its Modern Context

  • Humanism is a non-theistic belief system that emphasizes the importance of reason, science, and ethics without reference to supernatural beliefs.

  • Humanism does not prescribe a specific theory of morality or code of ethics, but many humanists adopt principles of the Golden Rule and believe that universal moral standards are required for the proper functioning of society.

  • Humanism is compatible with atheism and agnosticism, but being atheist or agnostic does not automatically make one a humanist.

  • Humanism is a worldwide movement with an estimated 4-5 million people in 31 countries, but there is uncertainty due to the lack of universal definition throughout censuses.

  • Humanism is not a religion and comes with no obligation to celebrate or revere specific days in the year, but humanists may choose to mark the winter and summer solstice and the equinoxes.

  • Humanist celebrants perform celebrancy services for weddings, funerals, child namings, coming of age ceremonies, and other rituals.

  • In the United States, the issue of whether and in what sense secular humanism might be considered a religion has become the subject of legal maneuvering and political debate.

  • The first reference to "secular humanism" in a US legal context was in 1961, although church-state separation lawyer Leo Pfeffer had referred to it in his 1958 book, Creeds in Competition.

  • The Education for Economic Security Act of 1984 included a section, Section 20 U.S.C.A. 4059, which initially read that grants may not be used for any course of instruction the substance of which is Secular Humanism.

  • The issue of whether teaching evolution amounts to teaching the "religion" of secular humanism has been seized upon by religious opponents of the teaching of evolution.

  • The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the worldwide umbrella organization for those adhering to the Humanist life stance.The Philosophy of Humanism

  • Humanism is a philosophy that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence over acceptance of dogma or superstition.

  • The term "humanism" is ambiguous, having been applied to several different intellectual movements throughout history.

  • The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world union of more than one hundred Humanist, rationalist, secular, ethical culture, and freethought organizations in more than 40 countries.

  • Humanism is a non-religious ethical outlook based on an interest in human affairs at the human scale.

  • Humanists believe that human experience and rational thinking provide the only source of both knowledge and a moral code to live by.


  • The term "humanism" was coined in 1808 by Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer.
  • The Renaissance is considered to be the period when humanism emerged as a distinct philosophical and literary movement in Europe.
  • The Humanist movement in the United States began in the early 20th century, and was largely influenced by the European movement.
  • The first Humanist Manifesto was published in 1933, and was followed by two others in 1973 and 2003.

Notable humanists

  • Some notable humanists include Bertrand Russell, Carl Sagan, and Margaret Sanger.


  • There are several Humanist Manifestos and Declarations, including the first Humanist Manifesto (1933), the second Humanist Manifesto (1973), and Humanism and Its Aspirations (2003).

Related organizations

  • The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is the world union of more than one hundred Humanist, rationalist, secular, ethical culture, and freethought organizations in more than 40 countries.
  • Other organizations include the American Humanist Association, the British Humanist Association, and the Council for Secular Humanism.

See also

  • Secularism
  • Rationalism
  • Freethought

Notes and references


Test your knowledge of Secular Humanism with this quiz! Discover the history, principles, and notable figures of this non-theistic belief system that values human reason, ethics, and naturalism while rejecting religious dogma and superstition. Learn about the different categories of Humanism and the organizations associated with it. Challenge yourself to see how much you know about this philosophy of critical thinking and evidence-based reasoning that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings.

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