Knowledge and belief

‘Rationalism is an attitude of readiness to listen to contrary arguments and to learn from experience. . . of admitting that “I may be wrong and you may be right and, by an effort, we may get nearer the truth”.’

Karl Popper, philosopher and former patron of the BHA (1902 – 1994)

What should I believe? How can I know what is true? Can you ever have too many questions? Find out why humanists believe our curiosity is one of the things that makes human beings special and the importance humanists place on evidence when deciding what to believe.

What makes us special?
Suitable for: 5-7, 7-11

Lesson Plans

What makes us special?

In this lesson students will investigate what makes human beings special. They will discover why humanists value human beings’ ability to ask questions and find answers. They will explore how our questions and the desire to answer them can help us to understand ourselves and the world, and transform the world for the better. They will go on to explore their own questions, assess what makes a question interesting, and think about how they can know whether they have been given the right answer to a question. Finally they will take a look at what else, as well as our curiosity, humanists think makes us special, and use what they have learned to create an artwork. Download


What makes us special?



Interesting questions?

Which questions are difficult? Which questions are interesting? Are more difficult questions, more interesting? Download

Happy Human outline

Decorate a Happy Human with questions or with what makes human beings special. Download

Other activities

Three activities to get students thinking about good questions. Download



(Age 5+) Why are questions important to humanists? Watch

How do humanists decide what to believe?
Suitable for: 11-14, 7-11

Lesson Plans

How do humanists decide what to believe?

In this lesson students will explore different reasons to believe things and how those beliefs can sometimes be mistaken. They will discover how humanists try to rely on reason and evidence to help them decide what to believe. Through playing a card game they will evaluate what counts as good evidence to believe something and discuss how humanists might respond to particular claims.     Download


How do humanists decide what to believe?



The Murder Trial

Acting as the jury on a murder trial, students will assess the evidence provided by different witnesses. Download

Beliefs and evidence

A card game to explore what evidence counts as good evidence for different beliefs. Download

Humanist responses: belief

Fill in the speech bubbles with how humanists might respond to various beliefs. Download

Humanist responses: belief blank

A sheet of blank speech bubbles for students to write different beliefs and comment on them. Download

Other Resources

Lawrence Krauss on science and the origins of the universe

Physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss gives a scientist's perspective on questions about science and the origins of the universe. Watch

External Resources

Karl Popper and Falsification

Karl Popper and FalsificationA BBC animation on the scientific method and the importance of our claims being capable of being falsified

The Big Bang

Big BangA BBC animation on the Big Bang and what happened before it

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