Humanists tend to have strong opinions. Here are six questions on random topics. For each one, select the answer that is closest to your own view, even if you don’t entirely agree with it.
A) I see nothing much wrong in eating meat and I enjoy doing so though I am opposed to gratuitous cruelty against animals and would support moves towards more humane farming methods.
B) It is impossible for humans to use animals for meat or other products without causing suffering to the animals, damage to the environment and wastage of energy. Therefore, we shouldn’t do it.
C) People have the right to eat meat if they want to but I choose not to myself for ethical reasons. It is perfectly possible to eat a healthy, balanced diet without having to kill animals.
A) If premeditated killing in peace time is wrong then it is wrong for everyone, including the state. Apart from death, there is no greater punishment than loss of liberty so imprisonment is an appropriate punishment for the most serious crimes. Fines or community service may be more suitable for lesser crimes.
B) Punishment serves no useful purpose. When dealing with offenders, rehabilitation should be the primary objective and there is much evidence to suggest that imprisonment does nothing towards this end. The only useful purpose of imprisonment is to contain those who are a danger to others.
C) Imprisonment, fines and community service all have their place: the punishment should fit the crime. There are certainly a few crimes – and the mass murder of innocent civilians is one of them – that deserve the death penalty.
A) ‘Spiritual’ is a word with strong religious connotations. It is meaningless to me and I don’t think it has a rightful place in the vocabulary of humanism.
B) Although I don’t believe in anything supernatural, I think of myself as a very spiritual person. For me, the word spiritual’ is about the human spirit – one of things that distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom.
C) The word ‘spiritual’ is used by different people in different ways and I don’t see why it should be the preserve of the religious. Though I am unlikely to use it myself, I understand what non-religious people mean by it and why they feel there is no satisfactory alternative.
A) I am opposed to religion in any shape or form and if I come across religious beliefs being promoted where they are not wanted I will challenge them. This is not to say that I have anything against religious people: as long as they keep their religion to themselves and don’t wave it in other people’s faces or expect tax payers to fund it, we can get along just fine.
B) Although I am not religious myself, I recognise its importance to people and I don’t think this is going to change any time soon. I support a pluralist society that allows freedom of expression for all people whatever their religion or belief system. Religion has a legitimate place in the public sphere but it should not have a privileged one.
C) I am largely indifferent to religion, which I think should be a private matter. I recognise that for many people it brings comfort and inspiration. People are free to believe whatever floats their boat as long as they do nothing to annoy or hurt others. Religion has no place in public life.
A) I’m not bothered about them myself and don’t really know why non-religious people would want to have them. The state should divest itself of religious trappings and offer no favour either to religious or humanist weddings: only civil weddings should have legal status. If it were up to me I wouldn’t have a funeral ceremony.
B) I’m not a great one for ceremonies but I understand why some people feel they serve a useful purpose. Allowing religous marriage ceremonies legal status but refusing to grant the same to humanist ceremonies is discriminatory and wrong.
C) Ceremonies are just as important for non-religious people as anyone else. They are central to all traditions and cultures and fulfil a very human need, reflecting people’s deepest beliefs and the beauty of their relationships.
A) The principles of justice, equality, democracy and universal respect for others are intrinsic to liberal values. The most appropriate political party for most humanists to join is a liberal one.
B) There is a large overlap between humanist and socialist principles. Left of centre political parties are where humanists are likely to find their most comfortable home.
C) True conservatives, on the basis of their ideological stances, are more likely to reject religion and superstition and to embrace the concepts of empathy and understanding for their fellow human beings.
All or mostly As: Many humanists think like you do.
All or mostly Bs: Many humanists think like you do.
All or mostly Cs: Many humanists think like you do.
A mixture of As, Bs and Cs: Many humanists think like you do.
We are not suggesting there are ‘Type A, B or C’ humanists. Although the opinions in the quiz have all been expressed by humanists, they were allocated a letter totally at random.
A broad spectrum of opinions are to be found in any group of humanists and some opinions held by humanists are also held by people of religious faith. The opinions in the quiz are not necessarily a comprehensive selection of all possible views that can be held by humanists on each given topic. Humanists are freethinkers who make up their mind according to the evidence available and who judge each situation on its individual merits according to standards of reason and humanity. We are at liberty to disagree with each other and where consensus can’t be reached, democracy must prevail!