Philosophical arguments/rants of this nature are caused by the human race’s incessant need to categorize and label everything. In truth, ‘environmentalist’ would indeed be a better label than ‘Humanist’ if we find ourselves forced to assign a label, since in reality, humans are just one small part of the entire environmental system as a whole. Yet ‘environmentalism’ is not only within the domain of atheists & humanists, it contains Christians, jews, voodoo worshippers, Wiccans, and many others. So what can we do? Maybe look at the basis for each of these labels and see where we stand?
‘Atheism’ is the non-belief in a deity or group of deities, whereas religion proposes belief in a deity or deities as well as leadership at a philosophical level that includes a structure for behaviour and society. Humanism also promotes a structure for behaviour and society. This author’s argument that “the tenets of humanism do not represent a radical departure from those of any major religion” is very true! However, in this case, also very misplaced. In essence, the major tenets of Humanism step in where Atheism ends.
It is without a doubt that the human race has evolved to a point where it can think rationally beyond the here and now and at a higher order than simply “must feed, hungy now”. Because of this, (most) humans are able to understand that for a species as intelligent, industrious, populous, and potentially destructive as we have become, a set of ‘guidelines’ that ensure a peaceful co-existence are highly desirable.
Atheism by itself does not provide that system of values and ethics by which society should conduct itself. It simply proposes that there is no higher power that is responsible for everything (or at least that there is no evidence pointing to that, depending on how deeply your belief runs). In contrast, Humanism encompasses a much more philosophical viewpoint that includes an ethical framework that is not inherent within Atheism, yet complements it very nicely.
As the title states, Humanism is a framework for humans, not the entire planet. Because Humanism places humans in the center of importance, it is not a perfect philosophy, but it is one that is generally for the good of all and is the best available for those who are ‘non-religious’ or ‘non-believers’ until everyone begins to think of humanity more as a partner than as a master within this planet’s systems. Also, Humanism is not necessarily anti-religious. Some ‘fundamentalist’ atheists sometimes forget that not everyone who is an atheist or humanist is or ever cares to be a geneticist or biologist.
So, for anyone to argue against the need for a set of governance rules in any type of advanced civilization is illogical, and contrasting atheism to humanism in this manner is no different than arguing that an apple is not an orange.