While I largely disagree with James Croft that humanism (small H) is what Humanism (large H) delineates, owing mostly to the confusions brought about by self-identification and the frequent re-use since the Renaissance of the word “humanist” to mean various things, this post is worthwhile if you’re looking to understand what exactly Humanism comprises and what does not, actually, fall under its banner.
Humanism is a philosophy of life which embraces three central values: reason, compassion, and hope. Humanists believe that the best way to figure out how the world works and what is really true is through the exercise of our reason, using disciplines like science and philosophy to better understand our situation. We believe that every person is of equal moral worth and dignity, meaning that no person should be discriminated against or treated poorly based on their race, sex, gender identity, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, class or other identifying characteristics. And we believe that human beings must solve our problems ourselves – that any hope for the future we have comes through our efforts as individuals and groups to improve the human condition.
Humanism is defined in the third Humanist Manifesto* in the following way:
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
A short version: a rational mind plus a heart aflame for justice = a Humanist.
It is for that reason that I have defined Atheism Plus as the intersection between social justice advocacy, humanism and atheism. They, and we, are very similar. We are natural allies. We are willing to put the priority on the “atheist” part of the name not only because we want to challenge the stigma it’s accumulated, but because we demand that our positions on humanism and social justice are the consequence of our lack of belief in deities and the supernatural. Since there are no gods, we are the only ones we can turn to.
I believe that Humanists (large H) are very much in the same intersection as Atheism Plusers. We don’t intersect on a few other circles, though; like our predilection toward antitheism, coming from movement atheist stock.