Secular humanism is hope for the realization that within us-not in any of the many gods we’ve believed in throughout history-lies the key to meaning, purpose, better lives, and a better world. Within secular humanism lies hope that we can create doubt and actively begin to question what we’ve all been taught to believe about this thing we call “God”and that we can begin to question what religion teaches us about ourselves and each other.
The beliefs most of us were brought up on have always separated us from one another, but in the twenty-first century they have become extremely divisive, as evidenced by the rise of religious fundamentalism. In this decade, after thousands of years of worship and prayers by the billions, religious men praised Allah as they flew into New York City’s World Trade Center and killed thousands. Religious men with different beliefs made sure many thousands more would die in retaliation. All were sincere in their beliefs, just as misguided in understanding right and wrong, and supported by millions of devout followers.
Centuries of religious belief brought us here. Centuries of religious belief have not led to a better world; instead, religious beliefs prevent a better future. In the United States, a supposed Christian nation, Christless Christianity dominates; a country born in Enlightenment now returns to the Dark Ages. Worldwide, religious extremism is leading to social and political extremism.
Economic, social, and political systems collapse around us. Belief and ideology, even as they fail, have become more important than knowledge by limiting the use of what we learn and what we know. Underlying them are fundamental flaws in religious systems of belief that have not only failed us, but actually do us harm. Theistic concepts of God have created a social problem that impedes human potential. They have created individuals afraid to question, afraid of our very selves, afraid of each other. Blinded by faith, we accept the beliefs passed onto us as absolute, with no questions allowed. Believe, don’t think. Worse yet, religion teaches us that, by our very nature, we have no worth, a teaching that devastates us all. Do you really think you are worthless? Do you believe that you must be saved?
If you do believe in one of the gods we’ve had, might you consider that worship and prayer are the absolute worst ways to relate to it? Whatever your concept of a god, what is the difference between a relationship with “the one true god” based on prayer and worship and a relationship of prayer and worship with an idol? Which is the act of idolatry?
Traditional religions teach meaningless concepts of God, which leads to dysfunctional individuals and societies. It is hard to defend the notion that, in 2010, centuries of religious belief have created a better world while as nations, societies, and individuals we’ve become more violent and more intolerant of each other because of what we believe. Until we question the beliefs that got us here, nothing will change. We limit ourselves and our potential. We’re lost as individuals and as nations as long as we continue to accept the differences between our beliefs and the reality we’ve created because of them.
Now more than ever, we must find the courage to doubt, to question, to discover new answers. What if we learned that we matter, that you and I can make a difference? What if systems served us instead of the other way around? What if our creativity wasn’t destroyed by institutions? What if we learned our very nature isn’t sinful? Much more is possible. Imagine what might be.
Regardless of belief in God, we find real meaning in the relationships we build. It is through relationships that you and I discover who we are. It is through them that you and I become creative forces, that we become something greater than ourselves. Time and again, when we get beyond our beliefs and beyond the divisions separating us from one another, we amaze ourselves. We discover and take pride in each other; we discover the ecstasy in being human. Within secular humanism, within our humanity, we can find purpose and meaning in this life, hope for our future, and the foundation to discover what it means to be human independent of belief in any god.
Secular humanism is hope.