From radical ideas to common sense: Humanists UK explores Humanist Heritage in brand new new animation

28 November, 2023

Humanists UK has launched its brand new animation Humanist history: from radical ideas to common sense. The video is now available on the Humanist Heritage website. It explores two millennia of humanist thinking, from its ancient global roots, tracing humanist ideas through periods like the Renaissance, through to thinkers like Charles Darwin, and even covers the early history of Humanists UK itself.

Humanist history: from radical ideas to common sense

The animation traces the evolution of humanist thought and the impact of humanist action, emphasising the ancient roots of this non-religious approach.

The narrative spans Roman Britain, where religious and non-religious schools of thought coexisted, through challenging centuries when expressing humanist ideas was perilous due to the dominance of Christianity. The Renaissance and Enlightenment eras ushered in a period where human reason was celebrated for discovering natural laws, establishing human rights, and driving societal progress. 

By the Victorian age, scientific discoveries led to increased scepticism toward traditional religious ideas, giving rise to movements based on rational thinking, social change, and equality. The late 19th century saw a surge in UK individuals embracing humanist beliefs, leading to the formation of various humanist community organisations. 

Today, humanist values have become ‘common sense’ for the majority of the UK population, with over half identifying as non-religious. Humanists UK remains dedicated to global campaigns promoting freedom of belief and fostering a tolerant world guided by rational thinking and kindness.

Humanist Heritage Coordinator Madeleine Goodall said:

‘For as long as there have been human beings there has been humanist thinking. Although this animation focuses, like the Humanist Heritage project, on UK history, we also wanted to show the truly global roots of this ancient way of living – rooted in reason and empathy, and working for the wider good of the world.

With our brand new animation Humanist history: from radical ideas to common sense, we’ve worked tirelessly to condense a rich, storied history – that spans millennia – for new and curious audiences.’


About Humanist Heritage 

This video was created as part of the Humanist Heritage project. In 2021, Humanists UK celebrated its 125th anniversary with a renewed focus on its history. The Humanist Heritage website is a rich web resource that uncovers the untold story of humanism in the UK – a story of people, groups, objects, places, movements, publications, and ideas. Since starting work on this animation, Humanist Heritage has been awarded generous support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Read more about the history of humanism in the UK on Humanist Heritage.

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK’s Humanist Heritage Coordinator Madeleine Goodall at

About Humanists UK

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 120,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

About our education work

Understanding Humanism is Humanists UK’s education service. It aims to introduce young people to humanism as an example of a non-religious worldview.  It provides teachers with the resources necessary to teach accurate, high-quality lessons about humanism, and assists them with the development of their own subject knowledge. The Understanding Humanism website offers information and services, including free school speakers who can work with teachers to broaden students’ understanding. Visit Understanding Humanism at

Animation credits

Art direction: xmx Luo
Storyboard & Design: Galuh Wiyarti, Ilaria Antolini, xmx Luo
Animation: xmx Luo , Ilaria Antolini
Voiceover: Hannah Peel
Music: Evolve Audio FX