Where Secular Humanism Falls Between Atheism and Religious 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.

Atheism lends a valuable critique of outmoded, regressive religious systems. We welcome its vision of a universe upon which meaning was never imposed from above. But secular humanism goes further, calling on humans to develop within the universe values of their own—as it were, from below. 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.

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 (see definitions): the successful quest for the good life, intellectually, ethically, emotionally rich, and without any reliance on religious faith.


Secular Humanism plots on a line with atheism on the left and religious humanism on the right.

Folksonomies: enlightenment science skepticism humanism secular humanism

secular humanism (0.910172 (positive:0.482969)), religious humanism (0.798568 (positive:0.545235)), Humanism Secular Humanism (0.728043 (positive:0.401367)), Secular Humanism Falls (0.547840 (positive:0.401367)), humanism’s compassion (0.346284 (positive:0.667206)), humanism’s conviction (0.344205 (positive:0.711407)), regressive religious systems (0.291950 (negative:-0.622301)), George Jacob Holyoake (0.274352 (positive:0.474006)), good life (0.271963 (positive:0.565391)), truly humane lives (0.266319 (positive:0.798463)), atheism (0.255606 (positive:0.335056)), secular humanists (0.249464 (positive:0.711407)), reformist orientations (0.222651 (neutral:0.000000)), source traditions (0.205094 (neutral:0.000000)), human-centered values (0.202382 (positive:0.667206))

Secularism (0.950291): dbpedia | freebase
Secular humanism (0.918631): dbpedia | freebase
Atheism (0.882528): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Humanism (0.727971): dbpedia | freebase
Freethought (0.666580): dbpedia | freebase
Religion (0.612281): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Agnosticism (0.611506): dbpedia | freebase

 Secular Humanism Defined
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Flynn, Tom (Summer 2002), Secular Humanism Defined, Council for Secular Humanism, Retrieved on 2011-03-30
  • Source Material [www.secularhumanism.org]
  • Folksonomies: enlightenment science skepticism humanism skeptics