Journeys to Humanism: The Joy of Rejoining the Human Race The Humanist

Journeys to Humanism,’s regular series, features real stories from humanists in our community. From heartwarming narratives of growth, to more difficult journeys, our readers open up about their experiences coming to humanism.

Scott Stahlecker
Brush Prairie, WA, USA

My fascination with religion began in Jr. High School. I was bouncing along on a city bus traveling into the hills of Waimalu, Hawaii to visit a school mate. As the bus creaked to a halt at one of its stops, I glanced out the window towards a plantation-styled church with a humble steeple. I felt transfixed. This was the first moment I recall experiencing the sensation of spiritual wonder.

In those days, my parents attended a neighborhood Lutheran church. Its liturgical rituals fascinated me, so I volunteered to be an altar boy who donned a silky black robe and lit the candles before the weekly sermon.

Several years later, I experienced what Christian’s call a miraculous event.

I was eighteen, this time riding a Greyhound bus heading towards California to be a professional skater. Before leaving home in Tucson, I’d secured a job at a skate park there, but had nowhere to lodge when I arrived. So, I slept under a picnic table near work for several months. Eventually, I bought a used trailer and parked it in a nearby RV park.

Life was good, living a young man’s dream. I had my own place, made a little cash skating, and befriended skaters and photographers who later became legends of the sport. In fact, life was so grand I invited two pals from Tucson to join the fun.

The miracle came in the incarnation of a man who shined shoes at a nearby carwash. My friends found employment at the carwash, and on slow days they’d listen to the man spouting prophecies from the books of Daniel and Revelation.

The man turned out to be a Seventh-Day Adventist. Like the prophet Daniel, I should have seen the writing on the wall. After a few months of Bible studies he’d convinced all three of us to forsake the world and flee the California decadences.

Long story short . . . within a year my friends and I were baptized. We even traveled to Texas to study for the ministry! Upon graduating with a BA in religion, I became an associate pastor in Iowa, but left the ministry within just a few months. I floundered as an agnostic for over a decade while challenging every biblical teaching I’d been taught. Finally, in 2004, I confessed the inevitable, that I’d become a freethinking humanist.

Why did I leave religion?

Honestly, it’s tough to condense the thirty-year transformation into writing. Initially, questioning my faith wasn’t easy. As the years went by, however, I overcame any lingering doubts that I’d made the wrong decision. But to quickly summarize:

I left to rejoin the human race; to share in its struggles and contribute to its triumphs.

When I let the shoeshine man convince me and my friends to accept Christianity, it was akin to forfeiting my life. I stopped skating. I cooled my creative passions. I expunged myself from “worldly” pleasures. Since I was taught the Bible had all the answers, I dumbed down my intellect by ignoring scientific facts. Worst of all, I stopped associating with family members and friends who didn’t share my faith.

Simply put, my life hinged on the impetus that Jesus was coming at any moment. Nothing else mattered.

You see, contrary to the notion that the Abrahamic religions offer humanity hope, they instead offer an extremely pessimistic philosophy about life. Which is, that humanity is sinful; it can do nothing to save itself, and that the earth is cursed. Once the human spirit is broken in this way,  it’s almost impossible to set oneself free.

Humanism, by comparison, is diametrically opposed to such defeatism.

Each one of us has the capacity to live morally-based, meaningful lives. We may be imperfect, yet overall, we are a good, compassionate and intelligent species.

We can build a better world, and despite all the apocalyptic naysayers we are building a better world. Ills like poverty, wars, and malnutrition are all on the decline. While our capacity to alleviate human suffering through advances in the sciences and medicine are on the rise.

The earth isn’t cursed. It may seem brutal at times, but it’s filled with marvels that leave us enraptured in aesthetic wonder. The evidence is convincing that our planet has been spinning around in our celestial home for about 4.5 billion years, and projected to be around for another 7.5 billion.

Now, that’s good news!

We all have our own stories of how we came to be humanists, and we want to hear yours! Fill out the form here to be featured in this series.

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“We may be imperfect, yet overall, we are a good, compassionate and intelligent species.”
The post Journeys to Humanism: The Joy of Rejoining the Human Race appeared first on