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What is Humanism?

Humanist Core Values

•  individual and collective well-being

•  objective knowledge and understanding as derived from critical thinking

•  intellectual honesty as a key virtue enabling rational behavior

•  empathy as a key virtue enabling ethical behaviors.


Humanist Worldview Statement

Our basic assumption is Naturalism. This is the view that there is one reality composed of natural objects and processes from which everything, including human life, arises.


With human well-being as our primary focus, we use reason and evidence, along with our capacity for creativity and empathy, to understand, to interpret, and to apply our knowledge responsibly -- in a way that contributes to enhancing individual and collective human well-being.

We have come to understand that all life on Earth is interdependent and that the preservation of our environment is critical to the well-being of humankind.

With this recognition, we also strive to find ways that enable us to deal with our differences and to co-exist more effectively within a sustainable flourishing ecosystem.


Humanism FAQ:  Questions and Answers

Q1)  What is humanism?  

The central tenet of humanism is that nothing is supernatural, human beings are responsible for their lives and the conditions of society, and their task is to improve their own well-being and that of others during their lives on earth. Well-being is understood as minimizing pain, hunger, and disease, and maximizing good health, the development of one's potential, happiness in the present, and optimism about the future.

Q2)  How do humanists achieve well-being?  

Well-being itself is a core value to which humanists aspire, along with objective knowledge, critical thinking, intellectual honesty, and empathy. Well-being comes about through social activities, education programs, humanitarian outreach, and civic engagement.

Q3)  Don't humanists emphasize science a lot?  

Humanists believe that the best way to solve human problems and to improve society is to use knowledge of nature and the world, based on science, reason, and experience, rather than to depend on the claims of organized religions.  

Q4)  What do Humanists of Greater Portland do?  

They offer Sunday morning  speaker programs on a variety of interesting topics, followed by coffee, refreshments, and socializing. One Sunday a month they have live music. They have offered classes such as “Humanist Happiness” and “Critical Thinking”. They also have ongoing discussion groups such as “Surviving Religion”, “Applying Humanism”, and Science Discussion. They go on walks, have pot lucks, and they sponsor book groups. And they have an on-going program to collect food and clothing for those in need.

Q5)  How can humanists lead moral lives without religion?  

Humanists don't need a religion to tell them to “treat others as you would have them treat you.” Also, humanists are more likely to base their ethics on fairness and justice, rather than simply because they were believed in the past. Most humanists today support such moral stances as women's equality, civil rights, the humane treatment of animals, expanding access to voting, and the protection of our ecology.

Q6)  Are humanists atheists?  

Many humanists come from a prior religious tradition. Some humanists are atheists, some are agnostics, but many don't care about labels. Most humanists recognize that our ancient ancestors believed in gods to explain the causes of disease, misfortune, and the forces of nature. 

Q7)  Are humanists against religion?  

Humanists support the democratic ideal of freedom of religion and freedom from religion. When religious leaders promote their beliefs in the secular sphere, such as public schools, government property, courts of law, or legislatures, then they have violated the concept of church-state separation, and must be reminded that we live in a democracy, not a theocracy.