Reflections on Hempstead’s Secular Humanism

I was reading an article in the Law Cruces Sun-News on secular humanism and naturalism, which made me begin to think some more about the philosophy in a similar way.

Paul Kurtz was a hero to many. Hempstead opened the article with a quote by him. In echoing the thoughts of Hempstead, the philosophy of naturalism is one focused on the natural world and natural means to discover that world. It is a philosophy that entails a lack of supernaturalism about descriptions of the world. In other words, they look to the material world and physical explanations for it.

Often, the secular humanist community will support this kind of philosophy. In terms of the epistemological stance, its position is focused on empirical, evidence-based reasoning. For some, they can see the world is meaningless without divine existence, guidance, even intervention. The secular humanist community does not see this at all, generally.

The meaning you get is the meaning you make. There’s no intrinsic meaning to the world, which means that any meaning can only be derived from the world. Any thinking thing can get meaning in the world, but the meaning is not an intrinsic property of the universe. That is an enlightening and freeing perspective on the cosmos.

It follows that responsibilities to ourselves and others come from ourselves and others, and not from some outside supernaturalistic super entities.

The justice that we will get in addition to the fairness that we will experience comes from ourselves and others, not from some divine intervenor.

That makes things like constitutions of secular countries and the United Nations Charter, and similar documents, important for guidance based on global consensus around the right and the wrong things, or the correct and incorrect behaviors in any given instance.

This implies human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, sexual minority rights, labor rights, and so on, and their implementation by ourselves and others. However, to secular humanists, we view the world as not ideal, which means that idealized notions will be tempered by reality.

Prayer and fasting won’t solve our problems. Ideas of saints and sinners will not. Authority figures in dresses will not. Also, being born of a virgin will not, the world exists by natural means and can be understood by natural methods. That natural understanding of the material world or the physical world will be the best guide for our actions, right or wrong, by and for ourselves and others. That is part of a secular humanist outlook.

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