The (Secular) Humanists

All the varieties of humanists are concerned with the human dimension and with the affairs of life on planet earth. There have long been religious humanists who look to religious teachings for the motivation and authority to act on behalf of others and for the rules to guide outreach to feed the poor, aid the sick, attend to the neglected, and so forth. The secular (or freethinking) humanists operate without reference to supernatural interference or direction.

Secular humanists accept no model for humanity outside the human condition as it can be seen in various historical situations. The motivation to benevolent actions of freethinkers is personal response to observed pain, loneliness, hunger and homelessness, etc. It is not a sense of duty to a divine or compliance with religious authority, but rather a human response to perceived need. Freethinking humanists do not place limitations on their areas of human concern due to scriptural teachings (e.g., excluding certain groups from beneficence). 

Secular humanists regard themselves solely as the subject and agent of history and refuse all appeal to transcendence. Protestant theologian Paul Tillich1, when writing of religion in terms of "ultimate concern," includes secularism: "For secularism is never without ultimate concern." 


1 O’Brien, Joanne and Martin Palmer, The State of Religion Atlas, New York: Simon and Schuster (Touchstone), 1993, p. 41.

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