The (Secular) Humanists
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
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.