Religion of Humanity  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Religion of Humanity (fr. Religion de l'Humanité) was a secular religion created by Auguste Comte, the founder of positivist philosophy. Adherents of this religion have built chapels of Humanity in France and Brazil.

Comte developed the religion of humanity for positivist societies in order to fulfil the cohesive function once held by traditional worship. In 1849, he proposed a calendar reform called the 'positivist calendar'. For close associate John Stuart Mill, it was possible to distinguish between a "good Comte" (the author of the Course in Positive Philosophy) and a "bad Comte" (the author of the secular-religious system). The system was unsuccessful but met with the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species to influence the proliferation of various Secular Humanist organizations in the 19th century, especially through the work of secularists such as George Holyoake and Richard Congreve. Although Comte's English followers, including George Eliot and Harriet Martineau, for the most part rejected the full gloomy panoply of his system, they liked the idea of a religion of humanity and his injunction to "vivre pour altrui" ("live for others", from which comes the word "altruism").

Religion of Humanity in Brazil

Comtean Positivism was relatively popular in Brazil. In 1881 Miguel Lemos and Raimundo Teixeira Mendes organized the "Positivist Church of Brazil." In 1897 the "Temple of Humanity" was created. The services at the Temple could go on for up to four hours and that, combined with a certain moral strictness, led to some decline during the Republican period. Nevertheless it had appeal with the military class as Benjamin Constant joined the group before breaking with it because he deemed Mendes and Lemos as too fanatical. Cândido Rondon conversion proved more solid as he remained an orthodox Positivist, and member of the faith, long after the church's importance waned. Although declined the church survives in present day Brazil.

Other example

Inspired by August Comte, John Stuart Mill also started a Religion of Humanity. There are more examples of Religion of Humanity started by positivists, and there are several authors who have given the epithet to the religion they support, whatever the religion. In India Baba Faqir Chand established Manavta Mandir (Temple of Humanity) to spread his religion of humanity with scientific attitude as explained by David C. Lane in a book 'The Unknowing Sage'. Comte influenced the thought of Victorian secularists George Holyoake (coiner of the term "secularism") and Richard Congreve.

See also

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