Can humanism seize the opportunity inherent in the rise of the “nones”? Are we humanists well-positioned to become dominant players in the worldview market? It turns out that our self-conception is actually blocking our path to popular success. Religions exploit a pair of facts about the human animal: (1) We have a powerful need to understand our lives as mattering and (2) We’d sooner delude ourselves than not matter. Unfortunately, religions peddle “mattering maps” that disorient us with respect to what really matters.
Humanism, on the other hand, is an attempt to get our self-deluding species to take an honest look at what matters—to advocate for shared, evidence-based maps of the mattering landscape. This interpretation provides, at long last, a positive, non-reactive way of understanding what humanism is about: we’re not so much against religion as we are for honest mattering. Reframing humanism in this way simplifies and clarifies our outlook, and could position us for unprecedented growth.
Dr. Norman teaches philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University, writes about the philosophical foundations of humanism, and is a sought-after public speaker. He studies the nature of wisdom, the logic of inquiry, and the evolutionary origins of human reasoning. His work has appeared in Free Inquiry, History and Theory, Humanist Network News, and Philosophical Quarterly. His model of the “reason-giving game” inspired the wildly popular educational computer game Socrates Jones: Pro Philosopher.