Evolving to Humanism
A journey of discovery by Roger Barnett
This book outraged the religious right-wingers who were particularly up in arms about it being serialised in the Sunday Mirror newspaper. But to me, it was a revelation. It was as though I was seeing myself and the rest of the animal kingdom truly, for the first time. For it described, in a very readable way, how humans are in fact primates and are closely related to other apes, such as chimpanzees and gorillas. This revealed to me, in a very personal way, how I fitted into nature and the natural world.
As I looked around the world, everything seemed to fit. All animal relationships were explained in logical detail.
The fact that the established Church was against this information made me look critically at their philosophy and views, which were obviously based on ancient superstition. I quickly realised that this alternative scientifically-based knowledge, was the actual truth. With this, my whole awareness changed. As I now knew that we are mammals
it made me look at my relationship with other mammals in a new light. I closely belonged to this family of animals. This revelation gave me a great deal of comfort. I finally knew who and what, I was!
As the years past, I learned more about us as a species of animal and became fascinated by our history and how we gradually evolved into modern humans. As these discoveries came to light, the religious fraternity once again put up barriers and denied the obvious evidence of these facts. These denials further hardened my attitude towards religion and its influence on human affairs. It was then that I first thought of myself as an atheist.
When I eventually discovered the theory of evolution, mainly by watching documentaries on TV, it was the icing on the cake. It explains not only the history of man, but of the whole of life on planet Earth! This was riveting stuff to my rapidly maturing mentality.
Over the years, I’ve made it my business to confront those who tried to influence me with their religious views when they discovered I was an atheist. I came to realise that the more intense their religious fervour and belief was, the more obnoxious and disagreeable they were as personalities. This has been my experience so far in my social contacts and seems to hold true as a rule.
Conversely, I found that I admired the thinking of the intellectuals and academics who defended and supported the atheistic point of view.
This brings me to the present day and my developing interest in Humanism. I’ve been aware of the Humanist movement for some years, but wasn’t sure what their actual philosophy of life is. Having met the members of this group and heard their views on how society should be changed into one with a secular outlook, free of superstition and cold religious dogma, I feel that I’ve found an intellectual and, dare I say it, spiritual home!
• Roger Barnett was born in 1950 in Macclesfield, Cheshire and lived there until 1980 when he moved to Aberdeen, to work offshore as a photographic technician. This is still his home. He writes:
I am now retired, so have plenty of free time to indulge in my passions of writing and photography. Atheism is a constant source of strength. When you know the truth about the world, there is a great feeling of satisfaction and comfort. I feel that I am a part of this planet and accept my place in the natural scheme of things.