The Essence of Humanism
Hardie states up front that his book is "a kind of primer in humanistic thought for the benefit of others, who, like [himself], are not profound scholars of philosophy or religion." This is a major strength of the book. It is an engaging, no-nonsense, matter-of-fact look at humanism. Hardie makes a clear case for humanism, contrasting it with atheism, agnosticism, and skepticism. He proceeds with a clear consideration of the humanistic path through vital considerations of life and death; controversial issues such as abortion, sexuality, and morality; then science, reason, and belief; and finally spirituality, evolution, ceremony, politics, education, gender issues, and, "fun and games." In each case, he documents his treatise with sources for additional reading, describing briefly the many people who have written about humanism over the centuries. His chapter on sin and morality discusses them in both religious and secular contexts. After having given the reader a detailed list of famous apostates (prominent people who have renounced religious belief), Hardie looks concisely at a variety of the world's theistic and non-theistic religious and mystic systems, comparing them with humanism. The book is written to allow humanists to identify with a common mindset and relates that mindset to secular reason and the scientific method for addressing "the problems which confront us in everyday life." At the same time, he treats the mythology associated with the world's religions in such as way that the humanist reader comes away without needing to slam religious fellow humans in order to feel worthwhile and validated.