Introduction

Developing Human Potential Without Religion

Humanism believes in the dignity of individuals and in their right to develop their own individual personalities and potentials in positive ways, free from any constraints that might be imposed on them by such things as religion or political ideologies. How far you, yourself, are a humanist will depend partly on just how you view yourself.

imgres-1Do you, for example, believe that you are a result of the genetic inheritance acquired from your parents and your ancestors, emerging through the combining of sperm and ovum to become the unique person you are today? And do you think that without your brain to be the person you are that you would not be  anything?

Do you think that you, as a distinct individual, have unique self-value, and that your personality is of value to your family and friends, and to society itself? If you answered affirmatively to these questions, then you hold some of the basic beliefs of humanism about human beings.

Humanism has a way of making you face a good many questions about the nature of your own self, about your particular beliefs about life, and about your own potential. Human beings are immensely resourceful and resilient, and are full of hidden resources that humanism asks to be brought forth. In this lesson of your Introductory Module we shall explore this humanist view of people — and why religion is rejected by humanists as inhibiting the full development of each individual. In the next lesson we shall then look at ideas about an afterlife, and humanist rejection of a life beyond death.

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