Humanists may be sceptical, but we are also optimistic. Since the Enlightenment, we have seen the gradual triumph of compassionate reason as human beings in most parts of the world have rejected slavery, torture, despotism, and cruelty to animals. Indeed it can be argued, as Stephen Pinker does in his most recent book, ‘The Angels of Our Better Nature’, that our era is less violent, less cruel and more peaceful than any previous period of human existence.
Above all, humanists celebrate life. Only in Scotland has the fifty-year decline in the rate of marriage been reversed. Why? Because more and more people are embracing humanist weddings, legal since 2005 and on course to become the second most popular form of marriage in a couple of years from now.
Even in death, we humanists celebrate life. Yes, we mourn and grieve for those we love, but we choose to focus on the miraculous reality of the life that has been lived, rather than an afterlife that we cannot imagine.
Having read this, you might want to ask yourself if you’re a humanist too. A couple of years ago, I created a little quiz for The Humanist Society of Scotland that will let you find out. Whatever the result, I hope you can agree, 'We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns' - we’re all the same under the skin!