There was a link to the definition from Webster’s that the Council for Secular Humanism highlights at the top of their “What is Secular Humanism?” page (ellipses theirs):
Secular. “Pertaining to the world or things not spiritual or sacred.”
Humanism. “Any system of thought or action concerned with the interests or ideals of people … the intellectual and cultural movement … characterized by an emphasis on human interests rather than … religion.”
Holy False Dichotomy, Batman!
I would never accuse religion of not being concerned with the interests or ideals of people (except probably Cthulhu-placation). What we’re really accusing them of is being wrong about what is in the interest of people. The people who are totally unconcerned about human interests are nihilists, and I’m all for ganging up with religious people to beat up on them.
You don’t need an airtight, comprehensive philosophy to be allowed to complain about other people’s ideas. We can dismiss the child-beating philosophy of Michael Pearl without having an answer to the First Mover problem because it looks savage and cruel, and the Pearl clan hasn’t come up with a good reason why we should override our anti-infant-beating intuitions. But if we’re arguing with more sophisticated interlocutors, we need to be able to say more than “We like humans! And things that are good for humans!”
Secular humanism is comprehensive, touching every aspect of life including issues of values, meaning, and identity. Thus it is broader than atheism, which concerns only the nonexistence of god or the supernatural. Important as that may be, there’s a lot more to life … and secular humanism addresses it.
Secular humanism is philosophically naturalistic. It holds that nature (the world of everyday physical experience) is all there is, and that reliable knowledge is best obtained when we query nature using the scientific method. Naturalism asserts that supernatural entities like God do not exist, and warns us that knowledge gained without appeal to the natural world and without impartial review by multiple observers is unreliable…. Secular humanists see themselves as undesigned, unintended beings who arose through evolution, possessing unique attributes of self-awareness and moral agency.
Secular humanists hold that ethics is consequential, to be judged by results. This is in contrast to so-called command ethics, in which right and wrong are defined in advance and attributed to divine authority. “No god will save us,” declared Humanist Manifesto II (1973), “we must save ourselves.” Secular humanists seek to develop and improve their ethical principles by examining the results they yield in the lives of real men and women.
Being a consequentialist isn’t a get-out-of-metaphysics-free card.
I have very little patience for people who waive aside philosophizing and say, “I’m just practical. I just act according to expected outcomes.” For one thing, they tend to spend less time studying bias and probability than necessary to forestall charges of negligence. But, more to the point, preferring certain outcomes to others still requires an answer to the question: What is a human and what ends fulfill its nature?