Nonreligious people may use one or more of these terms to describe their worldview. Dictionary definitions are drawn from Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary.
The view that the truth or falsehood of claims about the existence of a god or a supernatural order cannot be known. The term was coined in 1869 by the English biologist Thomas H. Huxley. Sometimes misunderstood as a less dogmatic alternative to atheism, agnosticism is best understood as a position on the possibility of knowledge, not a position that God or the supernatural does or does not exist.
“From Gr. atheos, without a god: a (priv.) and theos (god).” An atheist does not hold a belief in the existence of a deity or, by extension, any supernatural order. Atheism is sometimes popularly supposed to demand active denial of God’s existence, but in fact the mere absence of belief in God or the supernatural is enough to identify someone as an atheist.
- “2. Any system of thought or action concerned with the interest and ideals of people.
- “4. … the intellectual and cultural movement … characterized by an emphasis on human interests rather than on the natural world or religion.”
- Any of a broad range of worldviews that attach primary importance to human beings and their flourishing instead of the demands of a presumed supernatural order.
The mid-twentieth century scholar Robert Worth Frank defined secularism as “a variety of utilitarian social ethic which seeks human improvement without reference to religion and exclusively by means of human reason, science, and social organization.” A dictionary definition is somewhat narrower: “indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations.”
A type of humanism that stresses its independence from religion and an objective view of morality, secular humanism is a comprehensive nonreligious life stance that incorporates a naturalistic philosophy, a cosmic outlook rooted in science, and a consequentialist ethical system.