Spring Barrow Voice will, as usual, drop through your letter boxes at a time when the daffodils are out, the shops are full of Easter eggs and the Christian churches in the village are getting ready to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. But how many people these days actually believe the resurrection happened? Can a dead man really rise again? Science says not. People of the Christian faith undoubtedly believe that it happened, but what about those who find it impossible to accept supernatural events such as this? Where do they look to find an ethical code that excludes the supernatural?
One place is Humanism. The organisation, Humanists UK, brings together non-religious people from many different backgrounds. It encourages the development of their own views and an understanding of the world around them. Members believe that you don’t need religion to live a good life. The natural world is wonderful enough without having to imagine a supernatural or divine creator. Our natural human capacities for reason, kindness and love are all we need to live well and give life meaning. Kindness is a core value. Scepticism of the readymade codes of behaviour provided by the major religions comes with the territory! However, tolerance, warmth and respect for differences are key humanist values because it is so important that we all try to live together harmoniously.
Humanists think that this life is the only life we have and look to scientific evidence to understand the world. No heaven, no hell. For example, the biblical creation story is replaced by the theory of the creation of matter 14 billion years ago in a huge explosion known as the Big Bang; that our planet was formed from molten debris 4.5 billion years ago and life started on it as a single-celled organism about a billion years later.
Humanists believe that our form of life, Homo sapiens, evolved from these first primitive life forms over billions of years. They believe that man is just as much a natural phenomenon as an animal or a plant and that we weren’t supernaturally created or reflect in our bodies the body of a creator god. However, as Humanist David Attenborough points out, because we don’t see ourselves as special doesn’t mean we can opt out of responsibility for our actions. No species has ever had such wholesale control over everything as we now have. The responsibility is huge.
Sadly, the word ‘Humanism’ itself seems to give priority to us, Homo sapiens, but this is a mistaken view – all living life forms are respected – we are simply a part of nature. Would you be interested in learning more? I find the humanist approach to life a positive and helpful one, but this article has only outlined a few of its basic aspects. If you’d like to delve deeper go to www.humanism.org.uk If you would like to comment on this article, especially if you are a Barrow faith leader, please send your response to the editor at email@example.com