me

My name is Warren Sutton.  I live in Bendigo in the state of Victoria in Australia.  I currently work at Bendigo Senior Secondary College.

what i believe

I am a Humanist!

Well I think I am, or sort of. However, the reality is that I didn’t even know what this term meant until recently (May 2010), but I was thinking it was high time I made it clear to myself and others what I do believe in. Prior to this I might have gone with calling myself an agnostic or an atheist. I’d even have been comfortable with calling myself a Buddhist, albeit a fairly ordinary one. Why not add in a bit of Christianity as well, after all, most of my religious education was learnt at a Uniting church school. The real point, and after some consideration, is that in the end these names, these religions, these beliefs are categories. As with every other person on the planet I fit into no single category perfectly. I have my own unique beliefs and values which align pretty well with being a……. humanist. I am, however, always open to change. I do believe in what is commonly referred to as the golden rule or in other words doing to others what you would have them do to you.

I’m not against the idea of a god, but I doubt he’s some old guy sitting in a big seat making judgments on us all. To that extent I doubt the concept of a deity. On the other hand I don’t totally doubt the supernatural or, at the very least, the existence of things or events beyond our present capacity to understand. I don’t necessarily reject the concept of a unifying force the likes of which were represented in the Star Wars movies, and which somewhat humorously saw Jedi being recorded as a religion in various censuses around the world post 2000 by a not insignificant group of people. If god equals such a unifying force I could even be thought to believe in such a god. Put me in a life threatening or dangerous situation and I’m sure I’d try praying to someone/something for help. The idea of karma and of many other religious beliefs hold some appeal to my way of thinking. I like parts of the Buddhist religion, especially the concept that you need not believe in anything unless you can prove it to be true. In my opinion one of the greatest strengths of Buddhism is the right to be allowed to think logically and scientifically about all aspects of the religion. This right is clearly also at the core of being a humanist. I hold the belief that we are each given a brain and we should utilise it to think clearly about issues of importance and we should not blindly believe in anything which we cannot question, analyze and prove to ourself to be true.

While many humanists might also be atheists, I’d consider myself more an agnostic than an atheist in that I am not against religious thinking, but I don’t think that such beliefs should override scientific or logical thinking. I send my son to a Catholic school in the belief that Christianity has moral guiding principles which I generally agree with. I’ll encourage him to think logically and scientifically about what he learns and will hope that he can form his own opinions and beliefs which I can be proud of. For my part, I believe in doing the right things and following what is essentially the golden rule as mentioned above.

Importantly I also believe that all human beings should work together to manage the ecosystems of the planet so as all subsequent humans can enjoy the highest possible quality of life.  This means we must use science to best understand the planet and act on that science.  I am no expert on such matters but I do understand the simple fact that humans require very specific conditions under which they can survive and that the only planet humans know about which can sustain us is this earth we now live on.  Humans require very specific conditions of temperature, gases, sunlight, etc. in which they can survive. For most of the earth’s existence these conditions have not been suitable but currently they are and we should all be thankful for that!  I believe that while there are many things beyond the control of humans (i.e. a large meteorite hitting earth) there are many other factors we do have control over. We need to control these the best we can so that future humans do not suffer due to our short-term selfish needs.

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