I’m not a humanist, I’m a nonhumanist

With all the patrician talk about who were the original occupiers of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, I was planning to write a post about the nonhuman animals being the only inhabitants for millions of years until about 12,000 or 13,000 years ago.

But Marc Bender beat me to it, with the following comment:

“…humans are not indigenous to the Americas. The original inhabitants of the wildlife refuge are, of course, the wildlife.”

Likewise, I was going to inaugurate the word, “nonhumanist” to classify those of us whose ethical values incorporate nonhuman needs and interests. But when I looked it up, I found that “nonhumanistic” is already in use (in reference to those who are Not humanistic).

Meanwhile, that same search produced this related article:

Why I Am Not a Humanist

by Luke Muehlhauser on November 11, 2009 in Ethics,General Atheism

humanismSome people think atheism is synonymous with humanism. If you’re an atheist, you must be a humanist.

Not so. I am an atheist but not a humanist.


Let’s look at at what humanism is. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, humanism is “a rationalistic system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters.”

I can already distance myself from this position, but before I say why, let’s get more specific.

The “standard” positions of humanists are summarized in the latest (2003) Humanist Manifesto, which states:

  1. Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis.
  2. Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change.
  3. Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience.
  4. Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals.
  5. Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships.
  6. Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness.

It’s #3 that bothers me. I do not believe that moral values are derived from human desires. I believe moral values are derived from desires, period. To focus on human desires and ignore all other desires in the universe is blatant speciesism.

But can’t I just sign on with humanism, understanding there’s one qualification to be made on point #3?

No, for speciesism is central to humanism. Heck, it’s in the name of the thing. Humanity is the whole point of humanism. Now that is good progress beyond religious ethics, but it’s not progress far enough.

I count humanists as my brothers as sisters. We’re fighting for the same things. Mostly.

But if this post persuades you to cancel membership in a humanist association, please don’t quit activism altogether. Please join another organization that will help you live out your moral values.

That way, we can all work together to make this world a better place, for all of us.


– See more at: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=4630#sthash.zfGe8n2A.dpuf


14 thoughts on “I’m not a humanist, I’m a nonhumanist

  1. I don’t like #3 either; and #2 is wrong also. We are not the result of unguided evolutionary change – we’ve guided our own evolution for quite some time now, to the detriment of everything else on the planet. I don’t know that we are any longer a part of nature – but maybe now the antithesis of it.

  2. I think the original lives everywhere were the wildlife, at least until the hominids came along to ruin things.

    Since the words above end in “ist,” I’ll consider myself a misanthropist.

    I think Romanian writer Emil Cioran had it right: “The multiplication of our kind borders on the obscene, the duty to love them on the preposterous.”

    It’s not surprising that animal activists would be disgusted with humanity in general from knowing what we do to the rest of creation. Just watching YouTube videos from Vietnam of struggling and terrified pigs being hit repeatedly with sledge hammers, seeing bulls gasping their last in the rings of Spain, or hearing about Jason Scott in Florida, who ran over 9 ducklings with his lawn mower because “they were in my path so I just kept mowing.”

    We have to remind ourselves that there are good people out there like the firemen who save animals and apply oxygen, those who pull struggling animals from icy lakes, and others who stop and pick up the frightened and injured from the side of the road.

    Coming full circle on ducks: There was one Edward Gardner, an animal lover, who attempted to shepherd a group of ducks across an interstate, was hit by a car, and killed His friends did not seem to be surprised. Greater love, etc.

    • Yes, there are many good people out there. I feel bad for those who do have pangs of conscience about human behavior, but who ignore their conscience because the majority are telling them it is irrational to think that way, that the killing of animals is beneficial to humans. So while there are many good people out there, the non-good and the people who don’t question or put their complete faith in the status quo seem to be in the majority. 😦

      • Or maybe I should rephrase and say that I don’t think there are enough good people out there to offset the bad, ignorant, apathetic and selfish out there, or those who cannot extend their so-called empathy to those outside their own kind? That isn’t true empathy imo, but an incomplete empathy.

        I’ve held up traffice to shepherd ducks and geese across streets safely, much to the annoyance of drivers, which doesn’t faze me one iota. I get thumbs up too.

  3. Come to think of it, I don’t like #1 either – over-reliance on the rational allows for behavior we might otherwise find unethical and immoral, leading to #3, and even 2. We should trust our instincts and gut reaction to something that we feel is wrong. Our unilateral, human-centric view doesn’t apply to the non-human inhabitants of the planet, who have just as much right to be here as we do, the right to live in freedom, and eat deer and elk (I just read a comment on another blog from a nitwit who justifies wolf killing because they had the audacity to kill elk, which as we all know has now been designated for humans only since the 20th century), despite the fact that humans want it for themselves, as an example! I am not an atheist, but I do hope there’s more out there than just us – what a disappointment if not!

  4. Great comments on being non-humanist, which unfortunately is not the norm, and I fear that with some 200,00 plus humans born every day, this will not ever be the norm.

    We will continue to witness terrible atrocities towards other beings; we will continue to annihilate each other, be racist towards other people, and species-ism will only get worse, as humans become more desperate, clawing to survive. Once eatable non-humans are wiped out, we will once again commonly practice Cannibalism, until the Life Support Systems of this earth die> From what I’ve been reading, this will not be too long: at least 40% of the phytoplankton already is destroyed, and the oceans are rapidly changing and dying.

    I often wonder if this species really orginated from this planet, as it never has seemed to have a “niche”— a sense of place in the overall scheme of things. Perhaps we were sent away from another, more intelligent race on another planet, because they knew something was terribly wrong with us?

    When I was studying psychology and sociology, it began to occur to me that there is something very, very wrong with Homo sapiens’ wiring. How else can we explain humans having no regard to the suffering of the Innocents?….running over other beings for the “fun of it,” or chaining bears so dogs can repeatedly be set up them every day of their horrendous lives, or hunting an African lion, causing it to suffer & bleed, before it was shot to death–all for Trophy, not to mention enslaving other animals for “food” or “fur” in concentration camps, and for “entertainment.”

    When I started reading John A. Livingston’s works, it became clearer to me that we are a sociopathic species, collectively killing this earth. I then understood more about us, and realized I wasn’t crazy thinking these things.

    I am grateful for those on this blog, and others who speak for the Voiceless, but we are small in comparison, to the hoards of humans (breeding quickly to 8-9+ Billion), who are clueless, or just ideologically brain-dead Humanists. Livingston was correct: it is Humanism that is at the core of all this destruction.


    • I came to the same conclusion earning two degrees in anthropology–couldn’t evolution have led to something better? Our journey of destruction through the earth has been compared to plague, to cancer, and to wild fire. It has been likened to a juggernaut that annihilated much of the megafauna and ravaged the environment. Yes, libraries, museums, concert halls, and medical centers testify to some of the good we have done and can do. But the enormity of the suffering, death, and destruction we have inflicted on each other, and particularly on animals, is horrific. Our failure to control our violent instincts makes a mockery of religion and confounds those who try to be optimistic about the future of this planet and all its inhabitants.

    • This article, written by someone who “is not a humanist” is rife with humanism, which is the norm for most humans, who have a very difficult time rejecting this ideology. John A. Livingston discusses the humanist ideology in a very scholarly manner, which often requires one to read a paragraph several times–that sometimes is enough to get it. I keep reading his books, and have not yet read all chapters. Livingston’s ” Rogue Primate” was written after his Reader: The Fallacy of Wildlife Conservation and One Cosmic Instant: A natural History of Human Arrogance. Unfortunately, Rogue Primate is not found in print at this time. His “Reader” is still in print, and well worth getting.

  5. Love love love. I am a third generation atheist and this particular generation of deconverts who must cling to Christian values by espousing Humanism drives me nuts and has pushed me away from atheists… even though I’m as out and anti-theist as they get.
    Hopefully this is generational accident and will be cleansed and laughed at in a decade or so.

  6. The trouble with Homo sapiens is that from a purely scientific perspective, we are no different from any invasive species, or parasite, or cancer. Yet Humanism, as the religion that it is, fails to see the most obvious of all scientific realities, the one closest to us, in an ultimate climax of sheer unfitness of the Homo genus. For what is 2 million years on earth… compared to all other species that will outlive us… but complete failure.

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