Humans at the center of the universe

Dad made an interesting suggestion this afternoon when I was talking with him. He suggested that calling oneself a humanist might tend to indicate that one assumes that human beings are at the center of existence. This might imply that those who are committed to environmental justice and ecological repair might prefer to call themselves naturalists (as in, a religious naturalist or theological naturalist).

Dad put it much better than that, but I think I’ve managed to communicate his basic idea. And I think he’s identified some of my discomfort with the term “humanism” — I don’t want to be associated with a theological label that puts humans at the center of the universe, because in my opinion a big part of the problem with Western culture is that it makes humans more important than any other kind of life form, an attitude that has gotten us into global climate change, denial of global climate change, release of toxics into the environment, etc.

What do you think? Does humanism put humans at the center of the universe? Is that a bad thing? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’d particularly love to hear from someone who strongly identifies with both humanism and deep ecology, mostly because from my point of view those two positions would be mutually exclusive.