What is Secular Humanism

What Is Secular Humanism - Secular Humanism Definition

Secular humanism is a nonreligious worldview rooted in science, philosophical naturalism, and humanist ethics.

Instead of relying on faith, doctrine, or mysticism, secular humanists use compassion, critical thinking, and human experience to find solutions to human problems.

Secular humanists promote values including integrity, benevolence, fairness, and responsibility, and believe that with reason, goodwill, the free exchange of ideas, and tolerance, we can build a better world for ourselves and for future generations.

Secular humanism calls upon humans to develop within the universe values of their own.

Further, secular humanism maintains that, through a process of value inquiry informed by scientific and reflective thought, men and women can reach rough agreement concerning values, crafting ethical systems that deliver optimal results for human beings in a broad spectrum of circumstances.

“Secular Humanists wish to encourage wherever possible the growth of moral awareness and the capacity for free choice and an understanding of the consequences thereof.”

Free Inquiry, 1980

What Sets Secular Humanism Apart

It’s important to note the distinction between atheism and religious humanism and how they intersect with secular humanism.

Secular humanism occupies one point on a spectrum of reformist orientations, between atheism on the “left” and religious humanism on the “right.” Drawing from all across this spectrum, it is a vigorous hybrid whose debt to its source traditions should never be forgotten.

religion spectrum


Atheism lends a valuable critique of outmoded, regressive religious systems. At the same time, we acknowledge religious humanism’s compassion and its focus on human-centered values.

Nonetheless, secular humanists reject religious humanism’s conviction that leaning on spiritual or transcendental moorings—even if lightly—is essential for the good life.

Secular humanism is invigorated by the best that atheism and religious humanism have to offer—thoroughly naturalistic, yet infused by an inspiring value system.

It offers a nonreligious template that may one day guide much of humanity in pursuing truly humane lives. This is the fulfillment of secularism as George Jacob Holyoake imagined it: the successful quest for the good life, intellectually, ethically, emotionally rich, and without any reliance on religious faith.

CFI and Secular Humanism

CFI’s Secular Celebrant Program trains and certifies secular celebrants to perform weddings, memorials, and other “milestones” of life ceremonies.

While some people of the secular worldview do not see a need for rituals and ceremonies of any kind, many feel that having a way of marking life passages is important.

Unfortunately, these ceremonies may require some to go through religious counseling and/or have religious references in their ceremony.

CFI feels that this is a personal choice and that secular ceremonies – and persons to conduct these ceremonies – should be available to those who want them. A CFI-certified secular celebrant, members of the non-religious community may mark life’s milestones in ways that are most personally meaningful to them.

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