“In a world where we sometimes feel despair about the human race and where differences of race culture and religion are used by the unscrupulous and powerful few to fuel hatred and violence among the powerless, what could be more important than to assert our common human capacity for change.”

– Liz Lochhead, Former Scots’ Makar and Distinguished Supporter of Humanist Society ScotlandText: 1/ Humanism is Ethical. It affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others. Humanists have a duty of care to all of humanity including future generations. Humanists believe that morality is an intrinsic part of human nature based on understanding and a concern for others, needing no external sanction.Text: 2/ Humanism is rational.It seeks to use science creatively, not destructively. Humanists believe that the solutions to the world’s problems lie in human thought and action rather than divine intervention. Humanism advocates the application of the methods of science and free inquiry to the problems of human welfare. But Humanists also believe that the application of science and technology must be tempered by human values. Science gives us the means but human values must propose the ends.Text: 3/ Humanism supports democracy and human rights.Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being. It holds that democracy and human development are matters of right. The principles of democracy and human rights can be applied to many human relationships and are not restricted to methods of government.Text: 4/ Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility. Humanism ventures to build a world on the idea of the free person responsible to society, and recognises our dependence on and responsibility for the natural world. Humanism is undogmatic, imposing no creed upon its adherents. It is thus committed to education free from indoctrination.5/ Humanism is a response to the widespread demand for an alternative to dogmatic religion. The world’s major religions claim to be based on revelations fixed for all time, and many seek to impose their world-views on all of humanity. Humanism recognises that reliable knowledge of the world and ourselves arises through a continuing process of observation, evaluation and revision.Text: 6/ Humanism values artistic creativity and imagination and recognises the transforming power of art. Humanism affirms the importance of literature, music, and the visual and performing arts for personal development and fulfilment.Text: 7/ Humanism is a lifestance aiming at the maximum possible fulfilment through the cultivation of ethical and creative living and offers an ethical and rational means of addressing the challenges of our times. Humanism can be a way of life for everyone everywhere.

About Humanism

As long as there have been groups of human beings living together, there have been humanists. Humanists are people who trust science and rational inquiry to help explain the universe around us, and who do not resort to supernatural explanations. Humanism is a belief system which puts human happiness and flourishing at its heart, and promotes cooperation towards a shared common goal.

People who share the values of science and rational enquiry, and who seek to live an ethical and fulfilling life based on reason and compassion are humanists. Humanist Society Scotland works on behalf of humanists living in Scotland to promote humanist thinking, building networks of humanists across the country and influencing public policy.

Humanism has a long and varied history, but today humanists share the core values which were agreed in the 2002 Amsterdam Declaration of the International Humanist and Ethical Union:

Why not take our fun quiz to find out if you are a Humanist?

Amsterdam Declaration

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Humanist Perspectives

The following are a selection of quotes from well known humanist thinkers, these help to illustrate how humanists approach some of life’s big questions!

“Reason, Observation and Experience – the Holy Trinity of Science – have taught us that happiness is the only good; that the time to be happy is now, and the way to be happy is to make others so.”
– Robert Green Ingersoll, The Gods, 1876

“It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself.   Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe.”
– Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794

“Do not do to others what you would not like for yourself.”
– Confucius, Analects, C 500 BCE

“Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.”
– John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, 1863

“Faith: a firm belief for which there is no evidence.”
– Bertrand Russell, Human Society in Ethics and Politics, 1954

“The wisest is he who realises, like Socrates, that in respect of wisdom he knows nothing.”
– Plato, Apology (C 375 BCE)

Find out more

You can visit Humanitie which is our opinion and lifestyle section to find out more about Humanism in Scotland. If you are not a member, you should consider joining, or visiting a local event to find out more.

Further reading:

Head and heart

What is Humanism?

Humanists are people who share common values, such as science and rational enquiry, and who seek to live ethical lives based on reason and compassion.

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You and us

Why should I get involved?

We are a membership charity, with over 14,000 members from Stornoway to Stranraer. Get involved today to help make Scotland a more secular, rational and socially just country.

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Here and now

What events are taking place near me?

We organise a range of events around the country. If you're interested in finding out more about HSS, coming along to one of our events is a great way to learn more.

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