Believing in Humanity

Photo by Irene Nobrega (Flickr)

I've been endlessly told to let God take matters into His hands and to let him shape my future. Apparently, I should attribute success to his boundless goodness and accept failure as his unquestionable choice.

However, I've always liked to believe that an individual, and by extension humanity, could achieve much with factors such as ambition, intellect and willpower. We're capable of the most glorious and the most terrifying deeds. I believe that humanity deserves to be given credit for its endless resources.

Does believing in a deity obligate one to eliminate humanity’s credit?

Humanism and the Modern World

Humanism refers to making human concerns predominant. We may be a tiny splash in the universe, but our desires and motivations still matter in this microscopic ecosystem of ours. Our abilities and responsibilities cannot be neglected, as they enable us to shape our lives. It's a philosophy which sympathizes with humanity as a whole and believes in its potential. Modern humanism is often associated with secularism, as it rejects supernatural explanations and the morality of religious doctrines. However, we seem to forget that humanism originally has dual origin, both religious and secular.

In this modern day, are religion and humanism mutually exclusive?

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Note that I'm using general definitions here. We could very well use more specific terms and refer to all the subcategories of humanism, but we’d never get to the end of it. This is a general overlook, a mere fragment of the whole discussion.

Religion Seems Incompatible with Humanism

From a humanist perspective, you fathom your own future by working in order to achieve your goals. If you can just invoke an all-powerful deity and kindly ask him to alter your life path, this defies the whole purpose of putting your abilities at use. Believing that a divinity has more impact than you can seems to display a lack of belief in your capability. To some extent, it means you consider yourself a mere spectator in your own life.

Is religion sympathetic towards humanity itself, or towards a group of select individuals which follow its doctrines? It creates an elite, just like Judaism has placed its followers above all others and referred to them as Yahweh's chosen people. It seems to reward one's loyalty rather than acknowledge humanity's worth.

Humanism and Spirituality aren't Always Mutually Exclusive

Despite the above characteristics, I don't think that somebody who believes in a deity necessarily puts humanity second. A spiritual individual could very well consider God a guide or a well-meaning companion without obligatorily believing that this deity is the only one who has access to their life's control key. Somebody who doesn't adhere to organized religion could very well avoid putting a particular religious group on a pedestal. Curiosity about humanity doesn't necessitate particular beliefs and human needs, desires and capability.

In conclusion, while some fundamental aspects of religion seem to defy the idea of modern humanism, believing in a deity and in humanity aren't always mutually exclusive. Especially if we're referring to spirituality and not organized religion.

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