Secular Humanism (Secular = Atheistic; Humanism = Concern for Human welfare) does not believe in the Soul, afterlife, karma, reincarnation, heaven or gods and most of all does not believe that man’s mission on earth is to have an implicit & unquestioning faith in gods and to keep praising & glorifying them.
"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything" -- Friedrich Nietzsche.
But debating about the existence or non-existence of gods with the believers is an exercise in futility, because you just cannot reason someone out of opinions they were never reasoned into. Early childhood indoctrination by parents who themselves were brainwashed into religiosity is hardwired into the brain and virtually impossible to outgrow.
Everything that our parents tell us is not bad. After all our parents tell us a lot of sensible things like: Don’t go near the fire, it will burn you; don’t touch the hot plate, for similar reasons; don’t handle sharp knifes, they might cut & bleed you; don’t put your fingers in the electrical socket, you will get a shock that might kill you; don’t go into deep waters, you might drown & die, etc.
One can see the results of transgressing these rules in themselves and other defiant & unruly children. So children start to have faith in whatever their parents tell them. And when these same parents tell them about gods, there is no reason to doubt its veracity. They swallow the folklore hook, line & sinker. Result: Another captive lifelong slave for the illusory gods.
What then does a secular humanist believe?
- He believes that gods are a low quality product sold by very good salesmen to people with a lot of insecurities.
- He believes in living this only life so that when he passes on, the part of the world which knew him, will be better off, for him having lived.
- He believes that humans do not need religion to have morals. If you can't determine right from wrong, you lack empathy, not religion.
Many people have asked me, “Aren’t you afraid that you don’t believe in God? What will you do when you meet your Maker?” I quote Bertrand Russell, who would say, “You didn’t give me sufficient evidence my Lord and if God is a rational being, surely He’s not going to punish me for using my mind gifted by him, to conclude that gods are the most foolish invention of mankind!"
We humanists find a stark beauty ----
- In demonstrating kindness & compassion without reward [since there are no god(s) in heaven to reward us],
- In exhibiting sheer Joy-de-vivre without purpose [since our existence is ultimately without purpose & meaning] and
- In recognizing human progress however transient & momentary it may be [since the effects of all human actions will ultimately fade away without trace in the ultimate 'Heat death'].
We might have to give up, however reluctantly, our intuitive Complacency, Certitude, Dogmatism, Entitlement. External Locus of Control & Intolerance imbibed from our societal elders, which leads to fanatical religiosity and cultivate the rare & counter-intuitive traits of Inquisitiveness, Skepticism/Critical thinking, Tentativeness, Internal Locus of Control, Feeling of abundance & Compassion.
But then we might have to forego the three benefits of religiosity:
* Protection in this life against traumas, diseases, poverty & calamities,
* Immortality & life of happiness after death &
* Ultimate Justice to those who have hurt us with impunity.
It's a Double Whammy
On one hand to be a SH you have to put in a lot of effort to become an autodidact in Cosmology, Evolutionary Biology, Anthropology, Evolutionary psychology, Values & Meaning in life. This is unpleasant for many, specially for people who find reading the editorials in newspapers rather taxing. It is easier to join a Bhajan mandali (Prayer group) and recite the familiar but mindless bhajans (Group devotional songs) like a parrot or listen to the 'Pravachans' (sermons) delivered by gurus (ministers).
On the other hand you are constrained to forego the above cited benefits of religious belief (Protection, Immortality & Ultimate Justice) and this is unpleasant for people with insecurities. In addition you will have to also sacrifice the social comforts like identification with a community and sense of belonging to a religious group. This is also quite unpleasant specially for the extroverts amongst us. Scientism cannot provide any of these comforts.
So it's a double whammy, a situation where two unpleasant things happen simultaneously.