Croft Press / David / Religion

Religious Humanist Reading List

David Wallace Croft

2006 Dec 05 Tue


Reason and Reverence: Religious Humanism for the 21st Century by William R. Murry (2006)

The author describes the essence of Religious Humanism and provides a brief history. He then criticizes its perceived shortcomings and proposes a step in the direction of Religious Naturalism which he labels "humanistic religious naturalism". For an online introduction, please see his Winter 2006 "UU World" magazine article Reason and reverence.

I would recommend this book for thoughtful discussion amongst readers who have already been introduced to Religious Humanism through other works. This book is not yet available from but it can be ordered from the UUA Bookstore.

In the Absence of God: Religious Humanism as Spiritual Journey: with special reference to Julian Huxley by John H. Morgan (2006)

The title suggests that it covers Religious Humanism with an emphasis on Julian Huxley when in fact it is about Julian Huxley with an emphasis on his own formulation of Religious Humanism. If you have already read some of the original writings of Julian Huxley and you liked what you read, you will enjoy this book.

For an extended review, please see my blog entry.

American Religious Humanism by Mason Olds (2006)

This book by Mason Olds documents the origins of my religion. It was first published in 1977 as Religious Humanism in America: Dietrich, Reese, and Potter. The 1996 revision added the history of the movement following World War II. You can order a copy of the 2006 revision from the HUUmanists.

Making the Manifesto: The Birth of Religious Humanism by William F. Schulz (2002)
The Genesis of a Humanist Manifesto by Edwin H. Wilson (1995)
The Humanist Way: An Introduction to Ethical Humanist Religion by Edward L. Ericson (1988)


Timely and Timeless: The Wisdom of E. Burdette Backus, edited by Edd Doerr (1998)

The more I read this, the more I warm to Backus as possibly my favorite Religious Humanist preacher. This collection of sermons includes some of his addresses from his 1940's radio show.

The Way of Ethical Humanism by Gerald A. Larue (1989)

Since I've started studying Humanism, I've become a big fan of Gerald A. Larue. His other works include "Freethought Across the Centuries", my favorite, and the "Way of Positive Humanism".

Like his "The Way of Positive Humanism", "The Way of Ethical Humanism" is a collection of his Ethical Culture Society platform addresses (sermons). I read one of his addresses in this book at a Humanist service when we decided to postpone the main presentation.

I recommend this book for anyone exploring Humanism as a religion.

The Way of Positive Humanism by Gerald A. Larue (1989)
Evolutionary Humanism by Julian Huxley (1964)
New Bottles for New Wine by Julian Huxley (1957)

Non-Religious Humanist

The Sacred Depths of Nature by Ursula Goodenough (2000)

As this book helped define Religious Naturalism, I recommend it as an introduction to the subject. As Religious Naturalism and Religious Humanism are about as close as you can get, many Religious Humanists will enjoy reading books on this topic as well.

The New Religious Humanists by Gregory Wolfe (1997)

I bought this book thinking that it would cover the subject of Religious Humanism. After reading the introduction, however, I feel as though the author has deliberately set about to confuse the term. At first I thought that the author might have been simply ignorant of the historical use of the term "Religious Humanism" as defined in documents such as the 1933 "Humanist Manifesto I". With statements like "religious humanists [...] go about their work without much taste for manifestos", however, I do not believe that ignorance can be blamed. Readers will be disappointed to find that this is a work on liberal theism, not Religious Humanism.

Humanism and Beyond by Robert Lee Johnson (1977)

When I borrowed "Humanism and Beyond" from a Unitarian library, I had hoped that it was on the subject of Religious Humanism based on chapter titles such as "Humanism: The Real Religion of Modern Man" and "The Transcendence of Humanism". I stopped reading it, however, as it became apparent to me that this was a Christian critique of Secular Humanism as a substitute for religion.

I read as far as half-way through the book as I was interested in the author's summary of the history of Humanism in chapters such as "Varieties of Humanism" and "The Strength of Humanism". I found this worthwhile although I disagreed with the author's bias. For example, when the author criticized the subjectivism of Humanist ethics, I concluded that he was unfamiliar with the works of atheist philosophers such as Ayn Rand and Julian Huxley.

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