Humanism can be more loving than Christianity
I just finished reading a great history of Humanism, “Humanly Possible, Seven Hundred Years
of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope” by Sarah Bakewell. The history of humanism and
the names associated with Humanism, from Erasmus to Bertrand Russell was the main theme of
the book. Nevertheless, often for me, it is the side themes that make me think and ponder.
Why do people act toward others with love and compassion? Is it because we, as religious
people, believe there will be a reckoning and our deeds will be weighed on a scale? Do we hope
our good deeds of love, mercy and compassion, tip the scale in our favor? Do we behave in
specific ways to receive a reward at the end of our lives?
Although the book does not harp on this issue, they present an argument that some humanists are
atheist and find love and compassion as the correct or right way to live, without some father
figure in the sky. “Our moral lives should be rooted in the mutual connection between people. It
is fellow feelings, not being watched and judged according to the divine standards, that grounds
our ethics.” (Pg14) Do you need God watching over you in order to do what is right?
If Christians or any religious person acts with motives to please God and get a heavenly reward, I
think we have missed Jesus’ teaching. Acting in certain ways in hope of getting an eternal
reward, is not love, its being self-centered. The Humanists have something to teach all of us.
We love people because they are like us, not because we want to get into heaven.
Today we need to respect people for who they are. That is true for all people regardless of race,
religion, nationality, or sex. We are all trying to make it in this world. Compassion and love
flows from seeing in others dreams and hopes that we each value as well.
When I read about people supporting, book banning, cancel culture, gerrymandering, redlining,
anti-Semitism, or anti LGBTQ, I see why humanism is so needed. Humanists as well as SOME
followers of Jesus, work to overcome prejudice, hatred, and violence toward all people. I wish I
could write, ALL CHRISTIANS.
In the month of July, the month we celebrate freedom from foreign rule, may we also celebrate
the freedom to love and offer compassion, simply because it is the right thing to do!