Self-identifying secular humanists everywhere, I have a question for you.
I’m interested in your perceptions of the status of your humanist opinions and commitments. Would you say such things as “I believe in humanity”, “I believe in human potential”, “I believe in compassion”, “I believe in reason”, “I believe in human empowerment”, “I believe humanity can solve our own problems without supernatural aid”, “I believe in progress”, “I believe human nature is basically good (or improvable)”, “I believe in goodness”, “I believe true meaning and purpose is found in this world”, “I believe we must make our own meaning”, or any similar such “believe in” declarations?
If so, what do you think you are doing in such statements? Are these statements of what you take to be facts? Are they scientific statements? Are they statements of hope? Are they statements of desire? Are they statements of your practical commitments but not facts? Are they justified beliefs superior in credibility to faith statements, even if not up to scientific standards? Are they a creed? Are they knowledge statements? Are they emotive statements meant to express your feelings? Are they speech acts aimed at expressing your identity in contrast to those who believe in supernatural solutions? Are they speech acts that aim to inspire yourself and others towards certain behaviors? Are they moral utterances–and if so, what do you take moral utterances to be? Are they political statements? Are they religious statements? Are they faith statements? (If they’re faith statements, what do you mean by a “faith statement” and how is your use of a faith statement similar, different, equal, superior, or inferior to a theistic alternative? Are you a critic of theistic faiths? If so why or how does your faith differ from that which you criticize in theists?)
If you wouldn’t use any such statements, please provide examples of what kinds of statements would you make to convey your humanist values and commitments, and what kinds of speech acts would you interpret yourself to be making?