Humanism and Funerals

Humanism and Humanist Philosophy

There’s nothing special about Humanists or Humanism. It isn’t preachy like a religion and it’s not a set of beliefs that are set in historical stone or a special book.

It’s simply that when people think logically about life and examine the evidence provided by mainstream science of how the world works and came into existence, they come to similar conclusions. It’s not a new thing, people have been doing that for thousands of years; the term ‘humanism’ has been used for people who think about evidence based ideas for only a hundred or so years.

Full Moon - Mark Taylor

Full Moon – Mark Taylor

When you look at the evidence that science provides, there is no need for a master plan and supernatural ‘creator’. That doesn’t make the world a less beautiful place, we can still experience and appreciate the joy and wonder that the world provides and marvel at the variety and complexity that has evolved.

The other part of humanism comes from recognising that life is finite – we only get one go at it. There is no evidence that anything happens to us when we die, other than purely natural processes: natural rather than supernatural!

If we only get one go at it, it is important that we make the best of it that we can. Most humanists feel that the best way for us to get the most out of life, is to ensure that everyone else does too. We live in a society and for that society to work well and benefit everyone, we must care for everyone in society; family, town, country, world. It’s so much easier if we all get along together.

We also live in an environment that is shared by all, so we are responsible for looking after and caring for that environment – we’ve only got one life and we’ve only got one world to live it in.

Sharing and caring for everyone and everything around us helps us to achieve that. It is the way that society has developed over thousands of years. A simple way of expressing that is; ‘treat everyone in the way that we would like to be treated.’ When we treat people well, they are more likely to treat us well. It is a strategy that usually works!

Not everything can be explained by science, but science is a process and knowledge increases. Philosophy and the Sciences are continually developing, improving our understanding of the world everyday. Sometimes, the changes seem to contradict things we thought we knew before, but that’s how knowledge develops and we should never be afraid to changes our views. It turns out that the world isn’t flat – who could have predicted that?

We only have to look at the improvements in understanding and technology that have taken place within our lifetimes to see the progress of knowledge. My grandfather was born before aeroplanes and, at school was taught that ‘man would never fly’. In the 1950s he was one of the first people to own a television, although he never got the opportunity to fly. He lived through some amazing changes and so do we.

Hopefully, we will never understand everything! Learning new things everyday is exciting and enjoyable.

There isn’t another life that follows on from this one, but nevertheless, each of us lives on, in the memories of those we leave behind and in the families that we create. This comes through in so many of the funeral ceremonies that I take.

Without necessarily calling themselves Humanists, most people live their lives in ways that follow similar principles.

I am not opposed to religion, it is something that has always existed, probably since before history was recorded. It is likely to continue to exist for a lot of reasons. Many people are comforted by the thought of a defined purpose and destination to their lives that continues after death. Religion also can create some wonderful communities where people get together and support each other, and often the community around them.

Snowy Path through the Woods - Mark Taylor

One path through the woods – there are others too – Mark Taylor

Unfortunately, religion can have less benevolent effects on society. It has been used by people in authority for thousands of years as a way of influencing society. Religious leaders often exert great political power – not always used for the good of society. You must make your own judgements about those things.

My personal understanding of the world has been shaped by Humanist philosophy. It supports a rational explanation of everything around us, based on the understanding of mainstream science as it develops. Everyone is unique and everyone is special. Everyone’s life is special and should be celebrated as such. Everyone should be remembered and this is the starting point of any ceremony.

Through my working life, mostly but not exclusively spent in education, I have met many different people and I know that each person and each family is unique. That specialness that should come through in the ceremony that marks the final point in a person’s life. These are the ceremonies that I do my best to create.


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Ask me for advice or assistance

I am always happy to answer any questions you may have about ceremonies or arrangements – even if you do not want me to take a ceremony, I will be pleased to help and advise. I don’t mind what you want to ask me about – I have been asked some strange and interesting questions over the years and I always do my best to answer them. Please contact me by telephone or email.

Mobile: 07779 187384

Home: 01543 264602


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