Humanists believe that:

  • Morality is derived from human experience, knowledge and reason not from divine edict.
  • In common with other life forms, human beings have evolved through a process of natural selection.
  • Our life here is the only one we will ever have.
  • We can lead happy, creative, fulfilling and meaningful lives here on earth.
  • We must take responsibility for our conduct and be concerned for the welfare of life on this planet.

Modern Humanism dates from around the middle of the 20th Century but its antecedents go back to ancient times. Humanists often look back for inspiration to the 18th Century Age of Enlightenment and to figures such as Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecroft, Voltaire and Rousseau. However, the most seminal event in the development of modern Humanism was the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species and his idea of evolution that over time has in principle been substantiated by so much corroborative scientific evidence.

South Hampshire Humanists is a partner group of Humanists UK which among many other things campaigns for an open and equal society in which there are no special privileges for religious groups or organisations. It is also affiliated to the National Secular Society (NSS).

The British Social Attitudes Survey in 2019 found that around 50% of people in the UK hold humanist beliefs, 60% or more among younger people. The 2021 Census for England and Wales (despite the question being voluntary and methodologically flawed) saw 37% of the population selecting ‘No religion’ in response to the question ‘What is your religion?’ – an increase of 60% over the previous 2011 Census. Among the many distinguished supporters of Humanism are the scientists Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins and our own Norman Maclean; literary and media people such as Stephen Fry, Philip Pullman, the late Terry Pratchett and Simon Singh, and there’s an all-party humanist group in parliament. Shappi Khorsandi, the comedian and writer, became President of Humanists UK (then called the British Humanist Association) in January 2016 in succession to Professor Jim Al-Khalili the scientist (see above). Anatomist and author Professor Alice Roberts became President in 2019, with the current President Dr Adam Rutherford, geneticist and author, assuming the role in 2022.

See Humanists UK for full information and resources on Humanism with details of the many activities of Humanists UK, NSS for the National Secular Society.