Religion: Humanists, 1952

Phidippides: "What do they call themselves?"

Strepsiades: "I do not know exactly, but they are deep thinkers and most admirable people."

—"The Clouds" of Aristophanes

At the dawn of the Renaissance, a Humanist was a scholarly Christian interested in reviving classical philosophy and literature. Since then the title has undergone a sea change. People who call themselves "humanists" nowadays generally have a vague but smiling faith in human progress, an awed respect for natural science and psychology, and a strong conviction that man can get along in this world without God.

Lately some humanists have felt an urge to formalize their beliefs. Last week, in...

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