Why Humanists Don’t Have Horns

Why Humanists Don’t Have Horns

Presenter: Barrie Webster

September, 2010

Humanism is a non-theistic life-stance that sees no need for a god authority. But more than simply not being theist (i.e., atheist), Humanists positively engage with the world in trying to make it better than they found it.

Pat Duffy-Hutcheon – 2000 HAC Humanist of the Year

– two opposing ideological currents within modern humanism: libertarianism and socialism (Hutcheon)

– must move beyond the old struggle for a “balance” between these “irreconcilable ideologies” in favour of an approach compatible with scientific humanism (Hutcheon)

– origins of humanistic thought extend back Confucious, Buddha, and the ancient Greeks.

Glenn Hardie, one of the founders of the BC Humanist Association; UBC alumnus

The Essence of Humanism (2004). Although this book is not available on-line, the BC Humanist Association has incorporated some of his views into its website.

The discussion will begin with a broad and logical explanation of the presenter’s concept of humanism and then relate that to the mainstream, giving examples of humanistic activities that make our society work.  Humanism is, of itself, non-theistic; however, the principles by which Humanists approach life hardly appear outlandish when examined carefully from the standpoint of the approach to life taken by moderate people of religion.  Rather than coming at the topic from the perspective of the folly of a belief in a deity, an attempt will be made to show that most people are humanistic in their approach to getting on with their lives, without their actually recognizing the fact. In doing so, they see themselves as good, upstanding citizens. A broad definition of humanism, then, can serve as a link to those who otherwise believe that religion is necessary to ensure that humanity stays on an even, ethical keel. There are a number of examples that can be used to demonstrate the wisdom of such an approach to humanism.

Questions to ponder:

1. Are moderate people of religion our philosophical and sociological foes, or are they simply looking at life through somewhat different glasses?

2. In what ways could Humanist zealots be just as much of a societal problem as religious ones?


Glenn Hardie, The Essence of Humanism – free thought versus religious belief, Xlibris (2004).