The Humanist philosophy isn’t just expressed in academic journals or talked about in monthly meetings. There is a creative expression we can see in various films and TV shows. To be “Humanism”, religion is either nonexistent or not important to the overall story; people subscribe to and work within the social contract and those that don’t, don’t profit from non-participation; human problems are solved by humans using reason and logic and not magical thinking; and humanist movies and shows are optimistic about humanity even if the settings and plots don’t start out as optimistic.
One new TV show that carries on the Humanist tradition is “Terra Nova” on FOX. In the show, humans from a dying planet of the future find a fracture in time and space and travel back 85 million years to start over. The premise of time travel is magical (for now) but the reasons for going back and the main plot going forward is Humanism. I’ve only seen the pilot and it looks good. Now if religion does show up as it probably will, the show will still promote Humanism if the religion is not important to the series which it shouldn’t be.
Humanist Network News put out by the American Humanist Association put out a list of “Seven Great Humanist Films”:
In this week’s issue, we tackle movies—which films best capture our humanist hearts? We narrow the list down to seven great humanist movies that address themes such as love, compassion, intellect, and religion.
They included films like The Shawshank Redemption, The Crucible, and one of my favorites The Invention of Lying.
One film not on their list that I recommend to all my atheist and Humanist friends is The Handmaid’s Tale from 1990. The religious right have taken over and at the same time severe pollution has made many women infertile. Natasha Richardson plays a woman able to have children who forced to be a sex slave for one of the government leaders. It is a very scary movie for us freethought types especially the scene where medical people who had performed abortions are executed.
Here is a homemade trailer for the film that gives some idea what it is about: