secular humanism


: humanism (see humanism sense 3) viewed especially as relying on reason, logic, and naturalism (see naturalism sense 2) as opposed to religious dogma and supernaturalism (see supernaturalism sense 2)
Some items on the spiritual person's shopping list are easily supplied by secular humanism. Easiest of all are two that people often find intuitively the most perplexing: how can there be meaning in life and moral values in a world without gods?Julian Baggini
Secular humanism was the seeking of a middle way between dogmatic belief in God and militant atheism.Anthony T. Kronman
… as the author states, his secular humanism offers a cosmic outlook on the universe and our place in it …Genevieve Stuttaford
secular humanist noun
plural secular humanists
… as a secular humanist she has a moral and ethical belief system that is very similar to those found in many of the great religions. She just doesn't believe in gods, the supernatural, or an afterlife. She is, instead, guided by reason, science, logic and a desire to find a common ground and love, between all people. Claire Knight
[Tim] Madigan says secular humanists can criticize dogma and statements of faith while retaining working relations and friendships with people of many different religious beliefs. Michael McAteer
secular humanist adjective
secular humanist groups
… ethical quandaries faced by those of us who try to maintain a delicate balance between our secular humanist values and our scholarly duties … Jason Gersh

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web By the 1980s, as Mr. Schmidt brings his story to a close, the Religious Right was portraying secular humanism as a threat to the nation’s hopes for morality and decency. D.g. Hart, WSJ, 21 Jan. 2022 Jones, unable to answer, ultimately turned to secular humanism. Claire Messud, Harper's Magazine, 23 Nov. 2021 Two errors lurked in that sentence and its presumption — that secular humanism is a religion, and that the Southern Baptists’ religion is a religion. Garry Wills, New York Times, 26 Apr. 2018 This passionate defense of the Enlightenment ideals of scientific rationalism and secular humanism argues that human progress is a measurable fact and that the current moment is the best ever. Olivia De Recat, The New Yorker, 14 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'secular humanism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1895, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of secular humanism was in 1895

Dictionary Entries Near secular humanism

Cite this Entry

“Secular humanism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?