Secular Humanism: Its Scope and Its Limits

Ronald A. Lindsay


Secular humanism is a comprehensive, nonreligious lifestance. It is comprehensive because it touches every aspect of life, including issues of value, meaning, and identity.

Presumably, th e two foregoing statements provide an accurate description of secular humanism because they appear on the website of the Council for Secular Humanism. But permit me to register a dissent from these statements. Or, perhaps better said, let me explain how I think the “comprehensive" nature of secular humanism should be interpreted. It should not be interpreted as implying that secular humanism significantly and directly influences all the choices we make throughout our lives. For example, we have no list of required garments or taboo foods. Furthermore, based on my experience, secular humanists have widely varying preferences about forms of entertainment, style of housing, and mode of transportation. With respect to many, if not most, questions, secular humanism does not point in any particular direction. Instead, it opens up our horizons so we can assume responsibility for shaping our lives through our personal choices.

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