Monday, 3 August 2015

Is 'Humanism' a religion?

In the USA the Federal Government has, for some bureaucratic reason, decided that 'Humanism' has to be defined as a 'religion'. 

Yet how can 'humanism' be a religion?

If it is a religion it is not 'humanism', as a religion requires an object of faith to function and a credo which members must follow to ensure the spiritual energy (gods, demons, etcetera) is placated for their own and others good.

The point of humanism, along with the original Buddhist philosophy which is at its core, is simple. We are responsible to and for ourselves for the impact our action or inaction has on others and the world around us. There is no 'spiritual guide' or check list that defines whether we are or are not 'humanists' as we seek to be 'aware' of our effect on those around us.

We can only forgive ourselves for hurts we deliberately or unintentionally cause others, there is no 'god' or other outside force we can dump off on to seek 'forgiveness'.

There is no 'right way' to live in terms of what a humanist must or must not eat, their sexual habits, where to live, whether bits of us are chopped off or not for being unclean in this or that Gods eyes, or special days when we must think only about being a humanist and fast or feast. The only concept which guides humanists is to be open to having empathy and compassion for all around and in their world.

This is why it is actually hard work living as a humanist but also why it can be so enlightening and enjoyable as all doors to human expression of emotion, love and action are open. No doors to the expression of 'who we are' are closed off because we are not 'pure enough' or the 'right type' which is why Governments across the world find humanists so bleeding scary as, as the first recorded humanist - Siddhatta Gottama - stated, we should, " our liberation with diligence." We accept we get things wrong, even while trying to do our best out of compassion and empathy for others and understand there is no 'right way' to live life, people must be left to find their own 'right way' which can involve the need for religion and Gods to make sense of the way ahead.

Compare the humanist way of seeking to live life with the 'Anglican' David Cameron or the 'Catholic' Ian Duncan-Smith who justify their anti-social, anti-human and anti-world policies under the guise of 'Christian' compassion, directed by their deep seated 'Christian' beliefs while hiding behind the facade and pillars of the 'Christian' religion they profess to follow, just stopping short of the ancient and hypocritical Crusader cry of 'God wills it!' - the last refuge of the ultimate charlatan.
Many great religious figures of the past and present are both Christian and humanist, Hindu and humanist, Islamic and humanist, Zoroastrian or which ever other religion you wish to name and humanist. It is their own human compassion and empathy which is key to how they act and behave. If they wish to claim a Gods guiding hand is behind their actions, this is fine by me as it gives them comfort, a sense of safety and security knowing they have 'done right by their Gods'. Yet these are the same Gods other religious people use as an excuse to execute and maim 'non believers' in the name of the same religion and faith, 'Gods will it!'

The difference between any two sets of religious people, even the apparently polar opposites described in the previous paragraph, is not religion, faith or belief, both groups hold that in common, but their humanism.

In turn this is why I argue humanism is not and can not be a religion, it is outside of unthinking faith, untrammeled belief in Gods and their peculiar needs for 'sacrifice' while being inherent in each and everyone of us, if only we engage with it. When we do engage as humans with empathy and compassion, enemies become friends and strangers become family with not a 'Gods wills it!' nor religious person in sight.

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