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on 6 July 2016
This a must read for all atheists, humanists, secularists and anti-theists, who 'dislike' religion and think humans don't need religion in society or in their lives.....on any level.

This rips religious ideas of the concept of a 'supreme being' to shreds... and shows how utterly absurd it is, how our minds have been manipulated and controlled by the almightily powerful churches and their corrupt ideas for centuries...

Humans are far more adept at organising themselves and they need the freedom to do it... only Humanism offers that freedom... and it doesn't need to be justified... the justification to leave people alone and not religiousize them or their minds with corrupt ideas is the hallmark of a free mind and human race....

If we take a look around us the world over... religion is utterly destructive force for no good... there is nothing else on planet earth so utterly corrosive... and bad for our mental health... we need better ideas....

We're all humanists until we get corrupted. This book will show you why.
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on 12 October 2016
This is an enjoyable little book - and makes for easy reading! It looks at all the diurnal questions - the existence of God; the meaning of life; morality - and all those conundrums we wrestle with in our lives, but rarely find the answers to! Stephen Law takes a balanced view on the matters we generally find most difficult to pin down.
It's the sort of book you can read in a day or so (on the plane or or on the beach), and then quietly cogitate upon in your more thoughtful moments. Would that more 'philosophical' books were as comprehensible as this gentle analysis! But, as with all such subjects, there can never be the definitive answer - and so we go on searching!
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on 18 July 2017
The Very Short Introductions are a major educational resource. There are presently over 500 small books covering a very wide range of subjects. Although short, the Introductions are substantial in content. Everyone would benefit from reading these books to broaden their knowledge and understanding in diverse areas of life. Perseverance with some subjects may be required but be prepared to be surprised, enlightened and enriched.
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on 9 April 2018
I gave this five stars as I felt it gives a clear and concise explanation of humanism, contrasting it with religious ways of thinking and organising lives, giving historical context to the development of humanism based on similar philosophical thinking and presenting some philosophical exercises in an accessible manner, considering what makes a meaningful life and why people are generally good.
A lot of the book contrasts humanism with belief in God, or gods, but this is probably hard to avoid in a short introduction.
I liked it as a summary reference and would recommend it for those wishing to find out what humanism is in a clearly written, short book.
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on 8 May 2016
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on 19 November 2015
Fast delivery and interesting book.
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on 17 August 2015
Thank you.
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on 8 July 2015
A very clear concise explanation
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on 11 July 2016
It is in a serie. They are all wonderful short and good books.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 May 2014
Humanism: A Very Short Introduction by Stephen Law, Oxford University Press, 2011,
168 ff.

As might be expected the author, who is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College of the University of London, begins by explaining the term ‘humanism’ in the context of this book. On the one hand, humanism may mean simply putting the welfare of humans at the forefront of our philosophy of life: such humanists may very well also be theists or deists. A more restrictive view of humanism is that of the Renaissance that swept aside the view of the Church as authority on all matters, spiritual and temporal, to be replaced by Protagoras’ view that ‘Man is the measure of all things’. Law comments: ‘personally, I would rather see the world as it is, than as I might like it to be’. This statement echoes the words of Carl Sagan, another humanist: ‘It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring’.

This is the line followed by the author. Such humanists are unbelieving, or at least sceptical, of the existence of gods or an afterlife so are almost invariably atheists. Those beliefs that are, or need not be, part of humanist belief are laid out very clearly in the introductory chapter.
Law then goes on in Chapter 1 to explore the history of humanism, from the ideas of ancient China, India and Greece, through the Renaissance and Enlightenment, up to the views of 20th Century humanists like Bertrand Russell and Peter Singer. Chapters 2 and 3 then discuss arguments for and against the existence of God: these are good but I think Mackie’s book ‘The Miracle of Theism’ is more detailed and therefore more informative. There is an excellent discussion in the next chapter of humanism and morality and how belief in a god is unnecessary to inspire a moral life. Then in Chapter 5 we have what might be considered at first sight a surprising interpretation of secularism – not that every individual should be non-religious but that the State should uphold freedom of the individual to follow whatever beliefs they choose, without any coercion.

This leads on in the final chapters to a discussion of religious indoctrination of children, supporting the Dawkins view of the practice as child abuse, and how humanism, even in the absence of belief in God, can still lead to a moral society, and one that is by no means without purpose for the individuals in it. The book ends with short sections of References, Further Reading and an Index. This is an excellent introduction to the subject.

Some reviewers have criticised this book for its emphasis on attacking religion. But one of the goals of humanism is precisely to provide a basis for morality and to give life a purpose - without all the falsehoods of religion. I do not find the arguments here unhelpful in that regard.

Howard Jones is the author of The World as Spirit and Evolution of Consciousness
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