Religious Humanism

This site was previously named and was changed in 2020 to Naturalistic Paganism is a form of Religious or Spiritual Humanism. Religious Humanism includes any religion that takes a human-centered ethical perspective, as contrasted with a deity-centered ethical perspective. A humanistic ethic is one that begins with human beings and defines the good in terms of human experience, not the will of any God or gods.

Religious Humanists tend to be atheistic or non-theistic. But humanism adds to atheism a positive ethical component. Not only must we not look to God or gods to solve our problems, but we must also recognize our human responsibility to solve those problems. Even if the gods did exist, a Religious Humanist would say that we cannot know their will, and so we must base on our actions on what we human beings know — our own experience. For Religious Humanists, human experience and reason provide a more than sufficient basis for ethical action without supernatural revelation. In fact, some Religious Humanists argue that humanistic religion may be more ethical than theistic religion, since the will of an inscrutable god or gods cannot be appealed to in order to justify actions that cause human suffering.

For many Pagans, the term “humanistic” is problematic, however, since it seems to exclude the more-than-human world, including animals, plants, and the earth itself. But humanism should not be confused with anthropocentrism. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the notion that we humans are part of a much larger community of beings to whom we have ethical obligations. The adjective “humanistic” is intended to contrast with “theistic”; it excludes gods, not other living beings.

14 Comments on “Religious Humanism

  1. Hi. I’m trying to sort out how I identify myself. I like the comment at the end: “The adjective ‘humanistic’ is intended to contrast “theistic” ; it excludes gods, not other living beings.”

    • I identify with your canundrim I am of mixed heiratage, I do not resonate with the Celtics /German side but with the Pacific Islander side. In saying that I have not come across anyone who does what I do. Most of my so called peers worship a monolithic God. I do not fit into the peer group’s around me. I work with an honor system, where I take responsibility for my own actions and treat others with respect and consideration. I am not a door mat and if I see someone being mistreated I when possible step in on their behalf. I mind my own business and avoid gossip. I just try to be the best me I can be. I am a bit isolated, so be it. I don’t know if this helped you out. I wish you all the best on your journey.

  2. Very good article. It is unfortunate that modern society insists that we define ourselves and give a label to our beliefs. I have not met many people in my life who live within the strict bounds of one religion or another. I think of Catholics who have had an abortion or been divorced or Jews who have had the occasional cheese burger. This term “humanistic pagan” fits very closely with my philosophies and beliefs. Thank you, at the very least it’s a good conversation/debate starter the next time the subject of religion comes up.

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  5. Ordained as a Spiritual Humanist, I am non theistic. Genetic Memory may give an answer to why we feel we’ve lived before. Our Ancestors, like Shinto, are the culmination of all that has created us.
    My personal take on God/desses are that they are aspects of what’s good and worthy, for the most part, and for a witch to call upon one does not make them truly deist,
    While Humanists are Heathen or Pagan, they do not recognize any organized religion or set of beliefs. Since every one of us is unique, our paths become unique as well.

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  7. ” But humanism adds to atheism a positive ethical component. ”

    … Atheists don’t lack positive ethical components as is. It doesn’t take an ‘ism’ to not be a dick and to treat others with love and respect, and this extends to the good Earth and all its creatures and natural bodies.

    • Yes, that is the major difference between atheists and humanists. Humanists have a strong ethical philosophy while atheists are strictly non-believers.

  8. I found this to be very well written and a concept that I have identified with in recent years. I came from a palace of native theistic monotheism to theistic polytheism, and have for a while set upon the interest study and course of humanism through exposure to studies in witchcraft, luciferianism, rosicrucianism and Thelema. What really struck a chord with me was the phrase “Humanistic Pagans embrace the notion that we humans are part of a much larger community of beings to whom we have ethical obligations.” In my praxis this is not limited to beings human, or even living but encompasses many planes of existence that we ourselves traverse.

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