We have read in the newspapers today that a High Court judgment has decided that humanism should be included in religious studies in our schools. At first sight, this looks like cloud-cuckoo land. Humanists are adamant that they are not a religion and directly deny the truths of faith.
What do we think about this?
First we have to make a distinction. Orthodox Christianity is of course humanist to the core. The creation of human nature, the Incarnation, the promise of a redeemed world to come are fundamental to all of us. Our moral teachings are largely based on human nature and focused on enabling it to flourish. So what we are talking about here is secular or atheistic humanism which is based on a denial of faith and the supernatural. It is the declared enemy of religion.
We should not be surprised because we often hear believers pointing out that secular humanism actually requires more faith than religious belief since it asks us to hold that the Universe appeared without a cause, that human life has no meaning beyond itself, that moral choice is no more than utilitarianism. Moreover the proselytisation of secular humanism (See the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association) carries overtones which we associate with the intolerant attitudes that were present in medieval religion. Instead of promoting the diversity of our society, and protecting human rights, it works to quench these.
However it is possible to argue that the outcome may not be all bad. Young people will already have come into contact with humanist values. And they will be surrounded by them in their adult life. It could be an advantage to understand the ungodly, and to have grasped their inadequacies. Know your enemy is often the best first step. Remember that Montgomery hung a picture of Rommel in his caravan. Whose picture would you put up?
However, although this is not clear in the newspaper reports I have seen, this does not affect faith schools which, in this respect, have different provisions.
Tell us what you think. You may find that looking up humanism on Wikipedia is five minutes well spent.