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Taking It Home, Workshop 18: Humanism — Just Us... And Everything Else

In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program

The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone. — Humanist Manifesto III

UU Humanists believe that religion is too important to be based on unprovable beliefs such as a belief in God. They wish to base the meaning of their lives on something that they can be sure of, that is here with us, that gives us meaning and purpose. — Rev. Christine Robinson

Humanism refers to the affirmation of the worth and dignity of every person, a commitment to human betterment, and the necessity for human beings to take responsibility for themselves and the world. — Rev. William R. Murry

I believe in God, but I spell it nature. — Frank Lloyd Wright

IN TODAY'S WORKSHOP... we explored Humanism, a philosophy—and for some, a religion—that says humankind has the ability and the sole responsibility to strive to fulfill our highest ideals. We identified Humanistic tenets and explored their presence in Unitarian Universalism, our wider culture, and our own lives. We saw how religious Humanism can be expressed, by learning about a UU congregation that identifies as Humanist. We learned how deeply Humanism grounds a Unitarian Universalist faith, even for those of us who do believe in a divine energy or higher power that transcends the human heart, spirit, and mind.


What basic tenets of Humanism seem like common sense to you? What humanist beliefs were you taught as a child? Do you remember particular incidents when growing up where your family, faith community or school reinforced humanist tenets? Which did you encounter only later in life?


  • The American Humanist Association suggests books by the following authors as likely to contain humanist themes: Louisa May Alcott (Unitarian), Edgar Allen Poe, George Orwell, Beatrix Potter (Unitarian), Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, H.P. Lovecraft, Dr. Seuss, Charles Dickens, and Kurt Vonnegut (Unitarian Universalist).
  • Another author from the list is British author Phillip Pullman. Pullman's trilogy, His Dark Materials, is a complex fantasy tale about a battle between conservative religious authorities and humanists determined to create "heaven on earth."
  • Movies suggested by the American Humanist Association include Huckleberry Finn (various versions), Happy Feet (dir. George Miller, 2006), Toy Story (dir. John Lasseter, 1995), and Contact (dir. Robert Zemeckis, 1997) Have you seen any of these movies? What is humanist about these stories?

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Last updated on Monday, September 16, 2013.

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