I am a Humanist

Entered on April 19, 2009
Age Group: 50 - 65

I am a humanist. Like most Humanists, I am skeptical about God. Even if God exists, there is no credible evidence that he plays a role in our lives. We are on our own. We must have faith in ourselves to solve our problems, and provide the greatest possible happiness and good for all.

I believe truth is discovered by reason applied rigorously observation; it is never “revealed” in Holy Scripture. Therefore, I place the highest value on free inquiry: the freedom to explore any topic, ask any question, and entertain any answer without fear, unrestrained by authority, unfettered by dogma.

I believe it is possible to live a moral life without God. Democratic principles are the source of my ethical code. Based on rationalism and embedded in our constitutional documents, this code says that every human being is entitled to live in dignity; we are endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These and other rationalist principles serve as my ethical code. Is my life less moral because my code is found in secular documents? Is my code inferior because I credit men with creating it rather than God?

I do not believe in an afterlife in the Christian sense that we have souls that survive death and “live” on. There is no evidence for that theory. But in another sense I believe there is an afterlife, and also a before life. Science informs us that mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be transformed. Everything has always existed and will continue to exist in some form forever. Fourteen billion years ago our universe consisted of hydrogen and some helium. The heavy elements – “the nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, and the iron in our blood” – are compounds forged in collapsing stars. Exploding, these stars spewed out heavy elements that coalesced into our sun and solar system. Life evolved. As Carl Saga said, “We are made of star stuff.”

We have a cosmic identity with the past, present and future. Our atoms contain the history of our universe; they were present in the first stars; they were used by generations of plants, fish, and animals. When my remains are scattered, they will return to the “earth’s stomach” and to the endless cycle of use and re-use. Some elements may fall into a subterranean river and remain there for centuries. Others will nurture new life. And, perhaps, some distant day, as Rupert Brook says in his poem Dust, “one mote of all the dust that’s I shall meet one atom” that once was Kate and tiny parts of us will be together again.

I am humbled by my belief in a timeless before and after existence. There is beauty, grandeur, and hope in it. And, for me, it has the merit of being true – as far as our scientific knowledge allows us to know the truth. What more could anyone ask?