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HUMANISM Robin Grinter. What is Humanism? a secular, non-religious belief system a long and respected philosophical tradition a powerful secular morality.

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Presentation on theme: "HUMANISM Robin Grinter. What is Humanism? a secular, non-religious belief system a long and respected philosophical tradition a powerful secular morality."— Presentation transcript:

1 HUMANISM Robin Grinter

2 What is Humanism? a secular, non-religious belief system a long and respected philosophical tradition a powerful secular morality

3 Convinced atheists and thoughtful agnostics Atheists lack belief in God or a supernatural world Agnostics honestly do not know whether any god exists or not, but live with this uncertainty All Humanists live AS IF there is no god or supernatural agency intervening in this world or taking an interest in human affairs

4 Where do Humanists get their morals from? Not from creeds or commandments teachings in holy books doctrines or dogmas But from inside - not from outside our experience - not the demands of authority

5 Morality is part of human nature ‘The underlying assumption that only purely selfish behaviour is natural to man…is false. If experience shows that people act unselfishly as well as selfishly, we can only conclude that both types of behaviour are natural…… If the capacity for evil is part of human nature, so is the capacity for good.’ AJAyer

6 …and we don’t need religion for it ‘Why should I consider others? Because we are naturally social beings; we live in com- munities; and life in any community, from the family outwards, is much happier, and fuller, and richer if the members are friendly and cooperative than if they are hostile and resentful.’ Margaret Knight

7 Why should we behave well? One passing life to live with passion Not for: hope of eternal heavenly bliss fear of eternal torment in hell ‘We can make this one life worth living with all the more intensity because we know that – like all things – it has a final and irrevocable end.’ Andrew Copson

8 Why should we behave well? The Golden Rule The belief that all human beings are potentially as valuable as each other, and all deserve happiness ‘The social instincts... with the aid of active intellectual powers and the effects of habit naturally lead to the golden rule “As you would that men should do to you, do to them likewise”; and this lies at the foundation of morality.’ Charles Darwin

9 Yes, we can! Humanism is grounded in an optimistic view of human nature a life affirming and positive view of the world not weighed down by feelings of guilt or sin

10 How should we behave? Principles not commandments Not detailed Koranic rules for living Old Testament commandments New Testament injunctions But universal principles that can be applied to changing circumstances

11 Promote happiness, reduce unhappiness ‘Create all the happiness you are able to create…remove all the misery you are able to remove…and for every enjoyment you sow in the bosom of another you shall find a harvest in your own bosom.’ Jeremy Bentham

12 Value others equally ‘Always treat people as ends in themselves, never as means to an end.’ Immanuel Kant

13 Use reason to understand situations ‘Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.’ Bertrand Russell ‘Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.’ Bertrand Russell

14 Take responsibility for our situation In our daily lives with our family and friends our work and our life as citizens our actions as global citizens

15 Humanism is not ‘moral relativism’ Humanists are not ‘moral relativists’ for whom ’anything goes’ Their principles are: universal relevant to ever-changing situations likely to require changes in laws and behaviour

16 Humanism and improved Religious Education Our secular society is addicted to short-term consumer values, and so therefore are many of our young people If young people without faith (the majority) are told that they can only find values and morality through religion, there is a real danger they may decide to have none at all

17 Universal values Humanism: has long-term secular principles and values can speak to young people who want values but do not have faith assures them they can be good without God

18 Humanism supports good RE As part of the RE syllabus, Humanism will: validate the yearnings for secular values treat young people searching for values with respect encourage them to recognise and learn from the values embodied in all the major faith systems

19 The Manchester Humanism Units for RE Follow the two key principles of ‘Transforming Religious Education’ (June 2010) : a respect for belief and values an open, critical and investigative approach

20 The Manchester Humanism Units for RE Provide at each Key Stage: a full presentation of the Humanist belief system treatment of each thematic element in the National Framework (2004) A wealth of teaching suggestions and learning activities The Units are available for use by any SACRE

21 An In-service Course in Humanism Exploring Humanism - a GMH introductory course, will be used in Summer 2011 to help Tameside teachers understand Humanist thinking The Manchester Humanist Units for RE will provide exemplars for teachers as part of this course, which will be available for any SACRE

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