February 4, 2013

Are You a Secular Humanist?

Richard Dawkins speaking at the British Humanist Association Annual Conference The British Humanist Association has a short quiz on their website that visitors can use to find out if they are humanists. Perhaps a more accurate way to describe the quiz would be to say that it provides a rough numerical index, expressed as a percentage, of the degree to which respondents share humanist values. Quizzes like this are notoriously imprecise. If you are anything like me, you may find that there were a couple of questions with no options accurately describing your perspective. Still, I really like quizzes like this because they may lead visitors to think about humanism.

I scored an 86% on the quiz, and I was surprised that my score was this high. While I do consider myself to be a secular humanist, I recognize that I am a lousy one in many respects. I'm not particularly optimistic about our ability to overcome the animalistic aspects of our nature. I am too cynical of others' motives. And I am probably too much of a curmudgeon. Okay, I am definitely too much of a curmudgeon!

So why do I call myself a humanist at all? I call myself a humanist primarily because I embrace scientific naturalism and human rights, reject the value of faith, and believe that reason is preferable to superstition when it comes to morality. This last point is critical to understanding secular humanism. That is, the primary reason I call myself a humanist is that I embrace a fully secular form of morality and recognize that no gods are necessary for moral behavior.

How about you? Do you consider yourself a secular humanist?