Could one of these people be telling your story?
Geoff and Marion’s Story
A personal path to humanism? Well, both Marion and I have difficulty in defining an ethical stance about this. It’s always been a hazy sort of evolution as one ages. It gets reinforced whenever we attend church rites, particularly death services. It’s the embarrassing toe curling nonsense spoken by otherwise intelligent people, who otherwise would be regarded as ‘one of us’ and yet, we don’t offend by walking out but go along with the ritual even joining in with the hymns (of which we know many). Because, it may help a bereaved friend. And yet, and yet.
One morning I was railing on about the latest Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4. The speaker broadcast his view that the difference between the scientist and the priest is that ” … whilst the scientist uses lots of little truths to tell one big lie, the priest uses ots of little lies to tell one big truth”. I was shocked, and I could not understand why the BBC could allow such a comment to go unchallenged on the national airways, and why no alternative non-religious view as allowed. Then my son tole me he had joined the British Humanist Association whilst at university. I had never heard of the BHA before, but when I checked out their website, I suddenly realized that this was the organisation for me. i learned that it’s OK to be an atheist – there are millions of us – and the BHA fights for equal rights in law, in education, in ceremonies, in pastoral services and political representation. It also fights discrimination and religious privilege in so many walks of society – including the BBC. I have found my Humanist family of brothers and sisters, and my life has been enriched beyond measure.
I was brought up a Roman Catholic. As a child I loved being religious but by the time I was a teenager, I started to question things. I was 13 when I asked my priest during ‘Confession’ (i.e. telling the priest my “sins”) why I couldn’t just speak to God directly. I remember him getting quite stroppy with me, and after that, I refused to go. By the age of 18, I was questioning all of it, and by then my brother had stopped going to Church and openly called himself an Atheist. I still believed in God but was very confused and wanted to step back from going to Mass every Sunday. It caused some family arguments, but it was how I truly felt, and I would have been dishonest saying anything else. I finally became a Humanist nearly 5 years ago when I realised on reading/checking the BHA website that it was for me. I am proud and pleased to say that I am a Humanist and my partner has joined too.
Having been brought up a Methodist, as a teenager in the 1960s I was invited to take church membership. Somehow this did not feel right for me and, alone out of my peer group, I declined.
I remember being puzzled about the notion of deity. Asking such questions as, “If God exists who created God?” I received answers such as, “God himself” or, “Certain mysteries we will never understand.” Dissatisfied by the prevailing orthodoxy, I went off to university describing myself as an agnostic.
The years went by. I married and had children of my own, enduring some disapproval from relatives when we decided against baptism of the new arrivals. I was shocked and saddened when a neighbour, not a regular churchgoer, arranged this ceremony for her baby son, “just in case”.
As I grew older, I read more, travelled more and had exposure to the creation myths of other cultures. As more scientific discoveries were made about our universe and our origins, I moved off the agnostic fence and decided in my early 60s that I had to be honest and declare my atheism.
However, I have a profound belief in fairness, justice and compassion. This led me to Humanism – a movement which respects individuals as human beings but also promotes rational thought and a moral society.