Skip to comments.Humanist Manifesto I (Vanity)
Posted on 09/19/2003 5:39:10 PM PDT by narses
The Manifesto is a product of many minds. It was designed to represent a developing point of view, not a new creed. The individuals whose signatures appear would, had they been writing individual statements, have stated the propositions in differing terms. The importance of the document is that more than thirty men have come to general agreement on matters of final concern and that these men are undoubtedly representative of a large number who are forging a new philosophy out of the materials of the modern world.
Raymond B. Bragg (1933)
The time has come for widespread recognition of the radical changes in religious beliefs throughout the modern world. The time is past for mere revision of traditional attitudes. Science and economic change have disrupted the old beliefs. Religions the world over are under the necessity of coming to terms with new conditions created by a vastly increased knowledge and experience. In every field of human activity, the vital movement is now in the direction of a candid and explicit humanism. In order that religious humanism may be better understood we, the undersigned, desire to make certain affirmations which we believe the facts of our contemporary life demonstrate.
There is great danger of a final, and we believe fatal, identification of the word religion with doctrines and methods which have lost their significance and which are powerless to solve the problem of human living in the Twentieth Century. Religions have always been means for realizing the highest values of life. Their end has been accomplished through the interpretation of the total environing situation (theology or world view), the sense of values resulting therefrom (goal or ideal), and the technique (cult), established for realizing the satisfactory life. A change in any of these factors results in alteration of the outward forms of religion. This fact explains the changefulness of religions through the centuries. But through all changes religion itself remains constant in its quest for abiding values, an inseparable feature of human life.
Today man's larger understanding of the universe, his scientific achievements, and deeper appreciation of brotherhood, have created a situation which requires a new statement of the means and purposes of religion. Such a vital, fearless, and frank religion capable of furnishing adequate social goals and personal satisfactions may appear to many people as a complete break with the past. While this age does owe a vast debt to the traditional religions, it is none the less obvious that any religion that can hope to be a synthesizing and dynamic force for today must be shaped for the needs of this age. To establish such a religion is a major necessity of the present. It is a responsibility which rests upon this generation. We therefore affirm the following:
FIRST: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.
SECOND: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.
THIRD: Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.
FOURTH: Humanism recognizes that man's religious culture and civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural environment and with his social heritage. The individual born into a particular culture is largely molded by that culture.
FIFTH: Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values. Obviously humanism does not deny the possibility of realities as yet undiscovered, but it does insist that the way to determine the existence and value of any and all realities is by means of intelligent inquiry and by the assessment of their relations to human needs. Religion must formulate its hopes and plans in the light of the scientific spirit and method.
SIXTH: We are convinced that the time has passed for theism, deism, modernism, and the several varieties of "new thought".
SEVENTH: Religion consists of those actions, purposes, and experiences which are humanly significant. Nothing human is alien to the religious. It includes labor, art, science, philosophy, love, friendship, recreation all that is in its degree expressive of intelligently satisfying human living. The distinction between the sacred and the secular can no longer be maintained.
EIGHTH: Religious Humanism considers the complete realization of human personality to be the end of man's life and seeks its development and fulfillment in the here and now. This is the explanation of the humanist's social passion.
NINTH: In the place of the old attitudes involved in worship and prayer the humanist finds his religious emotions expressed in a heightened sense of personal life and in a cooperative effort to promote social well-being.
TENTH: It follows that there will be no uniquely religious emotions and attitudes of the kind hitherto associated with belief in the supernatural.
ELEVENTH: Man will learn to face the crises of life in terms of his knowledge of their naturalness and probability. Reasonable and manly attitudes will be fostered by education and supported by custom. We assume that humanism will take the path of social and mental hygiene and discourage sentimental and unreal hopes and wishful thinking.
TWELFTH: Believing that religion must work increasingly for joy in living, religious humanists aim to foster the creative in man and to encourage achievements that add to the satisfactions of life.
THIRTEENTH: Religious humanism maintains that all associations and institutions exist for the fulfillment of human life. The intelligent evaluation, transformation, control, and direction of such associations and institutions with a view to the enhancement of human life is the purpose and program of humanism. Certainly religious institutions, their ritualistic forms, ecclesiastical methods, and communal activities must be reconstituted as rapidly as experience allows, in order to function effectively in the modern world.
FOURTEENTH: The humanists are firmly convinced that existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society has shown itself to be inadequate and that a radical change in methods, controls, and motives must be instituted. A socialized and cooperative economic order must be established to the end that the equitable distribution of the means of life be possible. The goal of humanism is a free and universal society in which people voluntarily and intelligently cooperate for the common good. Humanists demand a shared life in a shared world.
FIFTEENTH AND LAST: We assert that humanism will: (a) affirm life rather than deny it; (b) seek to elicit the possibilities of life, not flee from them; and (c) endeavor to establish the conditions of a satisfactory life for all, not merely for the few. By this positive morale and intention humanism will be guided, and from this perspective and alignment the techniques and efforts of humanism will flow.
So stand the theses of religious humanism. Though we consider the religious forms and ideas of our fathers no longer adequate, the quest for the good life is still the central task for mankind. Man is at last becoming aware that he alone is responsible for the realization of the world of his dreams, that he has within himself the power for its achievement. He must set intelligence and will to the task.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: There were 34 signers of this document, including Anton J. Carlson, John Dewey, John H. Dietrich, R. Lester Mondale, Charles Francis Potter, Curtis W. Reese, and Edwin H. Wilson.]
Copyright © 1973 by the American Humanist Association
Permission to reproduce this material in toto in electronic or printout form is hereby granted free of charge by the copyright holder. Free permission to reprint the essay is granted to nonprofit Humanist and Freethought publications. All others must secure advance permission of the author through the American Humanist Association, which can be contacted at the address at the end of this file.
It is forty years since Humanist Manifesto I (1933) appeared. Events since then make that earlier statement seem far too optimistic. Nazism has shown the depths of brutality of which humanity is capable. Other totalitarian regimes have suppressed human rights without ending poverty. Science has sometimes brought evil as well as good. Recent decades have shown that inhuman wars can be made in the name of peace. The beginnings of police states, even in democratic societies, widespread government espionage, and other abuses of power by military, political, and industrial elites, and the continuance of unyielding racism, all present a different and difficult social outlook. In various societies, the demands of women and minority groups for equal rights effectively challenge our generation.
As we approach the twenty-first century, however, an affirmative and hopeful vision is needed. Faith, commensurate with advancing knowledge, is also necessary. In the choice between despair and hope, humanists respond in this Humanist Manifesto II with a positive declaration for times of uncertainty.
As in 1933, humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to live and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter. Reasonable minds look to other means for survival.
Those who sign Humanist Manifesto II disclaim that they are setting forth a binding credo; their individual views would be stated in widely varying ways. This statement is, however, reaching for vision in a time that needs direction. It is social analysis in an effort at consensus. New statements should be developed to supersede this, but for today it is our conviction that humanism offers an alternative that can serve present-day needs and guide humankind toward the future.
Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson (1973)
The next century can be and should be the humanistic century. Dramatic scientific, technological, and ever-accelerating social and political changes crowd our awareness. We have virtually conquered the planet, explored the moon, overcome the natural limits of travel and communication; we stand at the dawn of a new age, ready to move farther into space and perhaps inhabit other planets. Using technology wisely, we can control our environment, conquer poverty, markedly reduce disease, extend our life-span, significantly modify our behavior, alter the course of human evolution and cultural development, unlock vast new powers, and provide humankind with unparalleled opportunity for achieving an abundant and meaningful life.
The future is, however, filled with dangers. In learning to apply the scientific method to nature and human life, we have opened the door to ecological damage, over-population, dehumanizing institutions, totalitarian repression, and nuclear and bio-chemical disaster. Faced with apocalyptic prophesies and doomsday scenarios, many flee in despair from reason and embrace irrational cults and theologies of withdrawal and retreat.
Traditional moral codes and newer irrational cults both fail to meet the pressing needs of today and tomorrow. False "theologies of hope" and messianic ideologies, substituting new dogmas for old, cannot cope with existing world realities. They separate rather than unite peoples.
Humanity, to survive, requires bold and daring measures. We need to extend the uses of scientific method, not renounce them, to fuse reason with compassion in order to build constructive social and moral values. Confronted by many possible futures, we must decide which to pursue. The ultimate goal should be the fulfillment of the potential for growth in each human personality not for the favored few, but for all of humankind. Only a shared world and global measures will suffice.
A humanist outlook will tap the creativity of each human being and provide the vision and courage for us to work together. This outlook emphasizes the role human beings can play in their own spheres of action. The decades ahead call for dedicated, clear-minded men and women able to marshal the will, intelligence, and cooperative skills for shaping a desirable future. Humanism can provide the purpose and inspiration that so many seek; it can give personal meaning and significance to human life.
Many kinds of humanism exist in the contemporary world. The varieties and emphases of naturalistic humanism include "scientific," "ethical," "democratic," "religious," and "Marxist" humanism. Free thought, atheism, agnosticism, skepticism, deism, rationalism, ethical culture, and liberal religion all claim to be heir to the humanist tradition. Humanism traces its roots from ancient China, classical Greece and Rome, through the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, to the scientific revolution of the modern world. But views that merely reject theism are not equivalent to humanism. They lack commitment to the positive belief in the possibilities of human progress and to the values central to it. Many within religious groups, believing in the future of humanism, now claim humanist credentials. Humanism is an ethical process through which we all can move, above and beyond the divisive particulars, heroic personalities, dogmatic creeds, and ritual customs of past religions or their mere negation.
We affirm a set of common principles that can serve as a basis for united action positive principles relevant to the present human condition. They are a design for a secular society on a planetary scale.
For these reasons, we submit this new Humanist Manifesto for the future of humankind; for us, it is a vision of hope, a direction for satisfying survival.
FIRST: In the best sense, religion may inspire dedication to the highest ethical ideals. The cultivation of moral devotion and creative imagination is an expression of genuine "spiritual" experience and aspiration.
We believe, however, that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species. Any account of nature should pass the tests of scientific evidence; in our judgment, the dogmas and myths of traditional religions do not do so. Even at this late date in human history, certain elementary facts based upon the critical use of scientific reason have to be restated. We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural; it is either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of survival and fulfillment of the human race. As nontheists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity. Nature may indeed be broader and deeper than we now know; any new discoveries, however, will but enlarge our knowledge of the natural.
Some humanists believe we should reinterpret traditional religions and reinvest them with meanings appropriate to the current situation. Such redefinitions, however, often perpetuate old dependencies and escapisms; they easily become obscurantist, impeding the free use of the intellect. We need, instead, radically new human purposes and goals.
We appreciate the need to preserve the best ethical teachings in the religious traditions of humankind, many of which we share in common. But we reject those features of traditional religious morality that deny humans a full appreciation of their own potentialities and responsibilities. Traditional religions often offer solace to humans, but, as often, they inhibit humans from helping themselves or experiencing their full potentialities. Such institutions, creeds, and rituals often impede the will to serve others. Too often traditional faiths encourage dependence rather than independence, obedience rather than affirmation, fear rather than courage. More recently they have generated concerned social action, with many signs of relevance appearing in the wake of the "God Is Dead" theologies. But we can discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. While there is much that we do not know, humans are responsible for what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.
SECOND: Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful. They distract humans from present concerns, from self-actualization, and from rectifying social injustices. Modern science discredits such historic concepts as the "ghost in the machine" and the "separable soul." Rather, science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces. As far as we know, the total personality is a function of the biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context. There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body. We continue to exist in our progeny and in the way that our lives have influenced others in our culture.
Traditional religions are surely not the only obstacles to human progress. Other ideologies also impede human advance. Some forms of political doctrine, for instance, function religiously, reflecting the worst features of orthodoxy and authoritarianism, especially when they sacrifice individuals on the altar of Utopian promises. Purely economic and political viewpoints, whether capitalist or communist, often function as religious and ideological dogma. Although humans undoubtedly need economic and political goals, they also need creative values by which to live.
THIRD: We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest. To deny this distorts the whole basis of life. Human life has meaning because we create and develop our futures. Happiness and the creative realization of human needs and desires, individually and in shared enjoyment, are continuous themes of humanism. We strive for the good life, here and now. The goal is to pursue life's enrichment despite debasing forces of vulgarization, commercialization, and dehumanization.
FOURTH: Reason and intelligence are the most effective instruments that humankind possesses. There is no substitute: neither faith nor passion suffices in itself. The controlled use of scientific methods, which have transformed the natural and social sciences since the Renaissance, must be extended further in the solution of human problems. But reason must be tempered by humility, since no group has a monopoly of wisdom or virtue. Nor is there any guarantee that all problems can be solved or all questions answered. Yet critical intelligence, infused by a sense of human caring, is the best method that humanity has for resolving problems. Reason should be balanced with compassion and empathy and the whole person fulfilled. Thus, we are not advocating the use of scientific intelligence independent of or in opposition to emotion, for we believe in the cultivation of feeling and love. As science pushes back the boundary of the known, humankind's sense of wonder is continually renewed, and art, poetry, and music find their places, along with religion and ethics.
FIFTH: The preciousness and dignity of the individual person is a central humanist value. Individuals should be encouraged to realize their own creative talents and desires. We reject all religious, ideological, or moral codes that denigrate the individual, suppress freedom, dull intellect, dehumanize personality. We believe in maximum individual autonomy consonant with social responsibility. Although science can account for the causes of behavior, the possibilities of individual freedom of choice exist in human life and should be increased.
SIXTH: In the area of sexuality, we believe that intolerant attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures, unduly repress sexual conduct. The right to birth control, abortion, and divorce should be recognized. While we do not approve of exploitive, denigrating forms of sexual expression, neither do we wish to prohibit, by law or social sanction, sexual behavior between consenting adults. The many varieties of sexual exploration should not in themselves be considered "evil." Without countenancing mindless permissiveness or unbridled promiscuity, a civilized society should be a tolerant one. Short of harming others or compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express their sexual proclivities and pursue their lifestyles as they desire. We wish to cultivate the development of a responsible attitude toward sexuality, in which humans are not exploited as sexual objects, and in which intimacy, sensitivity, respect, and honesty in interpersonal relations are encouraged. Moral education for children and adults is an important way of developing awareness and sexual maturity.
SEVENTH: To enhance freedom and dignity the individual must experience a full range of civil liberties in all societies. This includes freedom of speech and the press, political democracy, the legal right of opposition to governmental policies, fair judicial process, religious liberty, freedom of association, and artistic, scientific, and cultural freedom. It also includes a recognition of an individual's right to die with dignity, euthanasia, and the right to suicide. We oppose the increasing invasion of privacy, by whatever means, in both totalitarian and democratic societies. We would safeguard, extend, and implement the principles of human freedom evolved from the Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights, the Rights of Man, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
EIGHTH: We are committed to an open and democratic society. We must extend participatory democracy in its true sense to the economy, the school, the family, the workplace, and voluntary associations. Decision-making must be decentralized to include widespread involvement of people at all levels social, political, and economic. All persons should have a voice in developing the values and goals that determine their lives. Institutions should be responsive to expressed desires and needs. The conditions of work, education, devotion, and play should be humanized. Alienating forces should be modified or eradicated and bureaucratic structures should be held to a minimum. People are more important than decalogues, rules, proscriptions, or regulations.
NINTH: The separation of church and state and the separation of ideology and state are imperatives. The state should encourage maximum freedom for different moral, political, religious, and social values in society. It should not favor any particular religious bodies through the use of public monies, nor espouse a single ideology and function thereby as an instrument of propaganda or oppression, particularly against dissenters.
TENTH: Humane societies should evaluate economic systems not by rhetoric or ideology, but by whether or not they increase economic well-being for all individuals and groups, minimize poverty and hardship, increase the sum of human satisfaction, and enhance the quality of life. Hence the door is open to alternative economic systems. We need to democratize the economy and judge it by its responsiveness to human needs, testing results in terms of the common good.
ELEVENTH: The principle of moral equality must be furthered through elimination of all discrimination based upon race, religion, sex, age, or national origin. This means equality of opportunity and recognition of talent and merit. Individuals should be encouraged to contribute to their own betterment. If unable, then society should provide means to satisfy their basic economic, health, and cultural needs, including, wherever resources make possible, a minimum guaranteed annual income. We are concerned for the welfare of the aged, the infirm, the disadvantaged, and also for the outcasts the mentally retarded, abandoned, or abused children, the handicapped, prisoners, and addicts for all who are neglected or ignored by society. Practicing humanists should make it their vocation to humanize personal relations.
We believe in the right to universal education. Everyone has a right to the cultural opportunity to fulfill his or her unique capacities and talents. The schools should foster satisfying and productive living. They should be open at all levels to any and all; the achievement of excellence should be encouraged. Innovative and experimental forms of education are to be welcomed. The energy and idealism of the young deserve to be appreciated and channeled to constructive purposes.
We deplore racial, religious, ethnic, or class antagonisms. Although we believe in cultural diversity and encourage racial and ethnic pride, we reject separations which promote alienation and set people and groups against each other; we envision an integrated community where people have a maximum opportunity for free and voluntary association.
We are critical of sexism or sexual chauvinism male or female. We believe in equal rights for both women and men to fulfill their unique careers and potentialities as they see fit, free of invidious discrimination.
TWELFTH: We deplore the division of humankind on nationalistic grounds. We have reached a turning point in human history where the best option is to transcend the limits of national sovereignty and to move toward the building of a world community in which all sectors of the human family can participate. Thus we look to the development of a system of world law and a world order based upon transnational federal government. This would appreciate cultural pluralism and diversity. It would not exclude pride in national origins and accomplishments nor the handling of regional problems on a regional basis. Human progress, however, can no longer be achieved by focusing on one section of the world, Western or Eastern, developed or underdeveloped. For the first time in human history, no part of humankind can be isolated from any other. Each person's future is in some way linked to all. We thus reaffirm a commitment to the building of world community, at the same time recognizing that this commits us to some hard choices.
THIRTEENTH: This world community must renounce the resort to violence and force as a method of solving international disputes. We believe in the peaceful adjudication of differences by international courts and by the development of the arts of negotiation and compromise. War is obsolete. So is the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. It is a planetary imperative to reduce the level of military expenditures and turn these savings to peaceful and people-oriented uses.
FOURTEENTH: The world community must engage in cooperative planning concerning the use of rapidly depleting resources. The planet earth must be considered a single ecosystem. Ecological damage, resource depletion, and excessive population growth must be checked by international concord. The cultivation and conservation of nature is a moral value; we should perceive ourselves as integral to the sources of our being in nature. We must free our world from needless pollution and waste, responsibly guarding and creating wealth, both natural and human. Exploitation of natural resources, uncurbed by social conscience, must end.
FIFTEENTH: The problems of economic growth and development can no longer be resolved by one nation alone; they are worldwide in scope. It is the moral obligation of the developed nations to provide through an international authority that safeguards human rights massive technical, agricultural, medical, and economic assistance, including birth control techniques, to the developing portions of the globe. World poverty must cease. Hence extreme disproportions in wealth, income, and economic growth should be reduced on a worldwide basis.
SIXTEENTH: Technology is a vital key to human progress and development. We deplore any neo-romantic efforts to condemn indiscriminately all technology and science or to counsel retreat from its further extension and use for the good of humankind. We would resist any moves to censor basic scientific research on moral, political, or social grounds. Technology must, however, be carefully judged by the consequences of its use; harmful and destructive changes should be avoided. We are particularly disturbed when technology and bureaucracy control, manipulate, or modify human beings without their consent. Technological feasibility does not imply social or cultural desirability.
SEVENTEENTH: We must expand communication and transportation across frontiers. Travel restrictions must cease. The world must be open to diverse political, ideological, and moral viewpoints and evolve a worldwide system of television and radio for information and education. We thus call for full international cooperation in culture, science, the arts, and technology across ideological borders. We must learn to live openly together or we shall perish together.
IN CLOSING: The world cannot wait for a reconciliation of competing political or economic systems to solve its problems. These are the times for men and women of goodwill to further the building of a peaceful and prosperous world. We urge that parochial loyalties and inflexible moral and religious ideologies be transcended. We urge recognition of the common humanity of all people. We further urge the use of reason and compassion to produce the kind of world we want a world in which peace, prosperity, freedom, and happiness are widely shared. Let us not abandon that vision in despair or cowardice. We are responsible for what we are or will be. Let us work together for a humane world by means commensurate with humane ends. Destructive ideological differences among communism, capitalism, socialism, conservatism, liberalism, and radicalism should be overcome. Let us call for an end to terror and hatred. We will survive and prosper only in a world of shared humane values. We can initiate new directions for humankind; ancient rivalries can be superseded by broad-based cooperative efforts. The commitment to tolerance, understanding, and peaceful negotiation does not necessitate acquiescence to the status quo nor the damming up of dynamic and revolutionary forces. The true revolution is occurring and can continue in countless nonviolent adjustments. But this entails the willingness to step forward onto new and expanding plateaus. At the present juncture of history, commitment to all humankind is the highest commitment of which we are capable; it transcends the narrow allegiances of church, state, party, class, or race in moving toward a wider vision of human potentiality. What more daring a goal for humankind than for each person to become, in ideal as well as practice, a citizen of a world community. It is a classical vision; we can now give it new vitality. Humanism thus interpreted is a moral force that has time on its side. We believe that humankind has the potential, intelligence, goodwill, and cooperative skill to implement this commitment in the decades ahead.
We, the undersigned, while not necessarily endorsing every detail of the above, pledge our general support to Humanist Manifesto II for the future of humankind. These affirmations are not a final credo or dogma but an expression of a living and growing faith. We invite others in all lands to join us in further developing and working for these goals.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Thousands of names have been added to the list of signatories which followed the original Humanist Manifesto II, published in the September/October 1973 issue of The Humanist magazine by the American Humanist Association. You may become a signer yourself by contacting the AHA at the address below.]
Copyright © 1973 by the American Humanist Association
Permission to reproduce this material in toto in electronic or printout form is hereby granted free of charge by the copyright holder. Free permission to reprint the essay is granted to nonprofit Humanist and Freethought publications. All others must secure advance permission of the author through the American Humanist Association, which can be contacted at the address at the end of this file.
(If you want on or off this list please freepmail me.)
The following is posted in response to the original article on this thread, which you might want to at least scan.
|When the last Puritan has disappeared from the earth, the man of science will take his place as a killjoy, and we shall be given all the same old advice but for different reasons.
Inside the front cover of any Free Inquiry1 magazine, are listed twenty-one brief paragraphs outlining Humanism. The statement is called, "The Affirmations of Humanism: a Statement of Principles." A brief examination of these, "principles," reveals that Humanism is actually anti-reason, anti-human, and collectivist. Despite their claim to rational skepticism, Humanism is a dangerous obfuscation of the truth and impediment to clear reason.
We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.
A clear and explicit lie is not very dangerous, a dangerous lie is a subtle one, a lie mixed with the truth in such a way that it obscures the deceit. We may give Humanists the benefit of the doubt. They may not intend to deceive, but vague generalities and combining disparate concepts is not the method of intellectual honesty. For example, "understanding the universe," is about as vague is one can be, and, "solving of human problems," which is equally vague, has no stated logical connection to "understanding the universe."
But it sounds good. Who could be against the application of reason and science to problems or to understanding? No one could, of course, and that is why this is so subtle. It seems to be saying humanists are just promoting reason and science. What they are actually promoting is only suggested here with the door-opening phrase, "solving of human problems," but will be made more explicit later.
What are "human problems," after all? Is that the purpose of reason and science, to solve problems? And why "problems?" Why are reason and science only to be used for this negative purpose? How about using the them to fulfill human aspirations, to accomplish human ambitions, to achieve human happiness.
Ah, we have fallen into the trap. Without even noticing, we begin to use their language of vagueness. Instead of individual aspirations, individual ambitions, individual happiness, it is collectivized, obscuring the fact that aspirations, ambitions, happiness, and even problems pertain only to individual human beings, not to some vague collection of humans called humanity.
Only individual's have problems, and only those individuals who have objectives or goals. A person without aspirations, without ambitions, and with no particular objectives, has no problems. There are no obstacles in the way of those who do not care to accomplish anything or go anywhere. But it is not the problems of the ambitious and creative that humanists are concerned with, as we shall see.
We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.
There certainly is an anti-intellectual movement today, which ought to be deplored, but this statement is not directed at that. This statement is directed at religion, especially Christianity, but also all other forms "faith-based" ideologies. There is no justification for embracing any concept, view, or teaching which has no rational basis, and all such concepts are rightly called superstition and ought to be deplored, but the objection of the humanists is disingenuous. While castigating religionists for their superstitions, they blithely admit their own irrational conviction that man certainly needs salvation. What man needs to be saved from is not stated, but certainly is implied by the affirmation that the place to look for it is in nature. Nature? Yes, nature, everything that lies outside human intelligence and creativity.
We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.
This expression, "we believe," is used eight times in this "affirmation," and each time it is emphasized, just as in the statement above. If by, "we believe," they only meant, "this is what we hold to be true based on our best rational judgement," it would be fine, but a statement, "we affirm," or "we hold," would sound more like an assertion of truth than a statement of "faith."
That human beings have benefited from the discoveries of science and the products of technology is undeniable, but it is not "human life," but human individuals. This "human life" concept is another collectivist slogan that views humanity is a unit with a value of its own, higher and more important than individual human beings.
Another problem with this kind of vague statement is the question of what is meant by science. There is so much, today, that is called science but is no more scientific than the inventions of Wylie Coyote, and much of "science" itself has become filled with irrationality.
We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.
What is an open society, as opposed to a closed one, and what is a pluralistic society? What about a free society? Freedom, I guess does not matter, so long as a society is open and pluralistic, and if you should happen to have a free society that is not open or pluralistic, then I guess freedom ought to be sacrificed for the more important values of openness and pluralism.
And this wonderful contradiction is only possible to those who really have no idea what freedom is, "democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from ... repressive majorities". But that is exactly what a democracy is, rule by a repressive majority.
We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.
They are all for government interference and control of schools, businesses, and private property, however. The government has no business in controlling or interfering in any of these things. If Humanists were really principled, they would be for the separation of education, economy, and property, as well as the church, from the state. Those who emphasize separation of church and state while ignoring government interference in all other aspects of human life, are really statists who are suspicious of anyone who has ideas contrary to their own.
We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.
Whenever good compromises with evil, the good looses; whenever right compromises with wrong, the right looses; whenever truth compromises with falsehood, truth looses. The, "art of negotiation," is a con man's art of fooling the decent and honest into believing the intended evil is not as evil as it seems and the intended harm is really from good intentions.
If you know what is right, and want to do what is right, you do not need anyone else's understanding. If they do not have the moral courage to do what they believe is right without your understanding, that is their problem. What they really mean by understanding is, "just go along with those who want to take your freedoms away."
We quote Ayn Rand:
|There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The one who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who solves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between good and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In the transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube....
When men reduce their virtues to the approximate, then evil acquires the force of an absolute, when loyalty to an unyielding purpose is dropped by the virtuous, it's picked by scoundrels--and you get the indecent spectacle of a cringing, bargaining, traitorous good and a self-righteously uncompromising evil.2
We are tempted to say, who cares what you are concerned with, and would, except that this is part of a declaration of supposed "principles." But these are not principles, they are a mash of contradictions.
The world is not fair. Reality is not fair. Nature is not fair. But they are all just, except when men interfere and attempt to force fairness where there is none. When one person applies the abilities they are born with to productive effort and earns a lot of money, and another squanders all their opportunities and abilities and ends in poverty, this may be unfair. The situation can only be made "fair" by committing the gross injustice of confiscating the wealth of the productive and giving to the unproductive.
What is the good of tolerance that does not tolerate individual freedom and choice. If individuals are not allowed to discriminate, to decide who they will hire and not hire, who they will honor or not honor, who they will support or not support, even if their choices are irrational or mistaken, there is no tolerance. Those who oppose discrimination oppose individual judgement, that is, the freedom to think, judge, and choose.
We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.
The words, "disadvantaged," and, "handicapped," are used for just about anything anyone wants to use as an excuse to demand unearned benefits or privileges. Everyone is "handicapped," and everyone suffers "disadvantages." The only difference between those who claim, "handicaps" and those who do not, is those who already help themselves are not considered handicapped, and those who wallow in their faults and hold up their sores as a claim on others are considered worthy of "help."
Show me anyone with a handicap of any kind, and I will show you someone with exactly the same condition who asks no one for help and would be insulted if it were offered to them.
We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.
Here is an excellent example of collectivist sophistry. Free people can have any loyalties they choose, even if they are ignorant ones. Now notice the kinds of things that are indiscriminately collected together under examples of "divisive parochial loyalties:" race (an unchosen condition), religion (a chosen practice), gender (an unchosen condition), nationality (a chosen identification), creed (does not say what kind, so includes any stated set of beliefs, even correct ones), class (what kinds of classes, honest versus dishonest? criminals versus victims? children verses adults?), sexual orientation (a chosen practice, but which? those which are carried on by adults in private? those perpetrated on others such as rape, molestation, pedophilia?), ethnicity (whatever that is). This is an attempt to eliminate values and principles by blurring clear distinctions.
And here is the collectivist clincher, "work together for the common good of humanity." This is the purest of socialist slogans you will find anywhere next to "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.
Besides the shear nonsense of this sentence, this is nothing but enviro-nazi, animal-rights propaganda. How are they going to "enhance" the earth. Are they going to make it heavier, give it more air, make it flatter, or what?
If all the claimed beliefs, concerns, and commitments of these leftists are put into action, there won't be any future generations to save the earth for. Now what is the mystic insight these "humanists" have by which they have determined people in the future are more valuable than people here and now. If the earth is going to be good to use by "future generations," why is it bad to be used by the current generation? Don't wait for a answer from them.
We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.
This may seem like a contradiction of their previous "principle," and would be, if they were consistent. Here is the real meaning here. The earth must be preserved for some as yet unknown future generations. The earth is not raw material that must be developed for our (human) good. People are the raw material that must be developed "to their fullest," not for their own individual good, but for the "good of humanity." In other words, it is wrong to exploit the earth, but right to exploit people, so long as it is for "mankind" or "humanity"and not for the individuals themselves.
We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.
This must have been written a few years ago. Four words must always appear in these socialist manifestos today, committment, excellence, exciting, and paradigm. Here is excellence, used as it always is, to suggest something "very good," without having to specify how it is good, or even whatever that mysterious good thing really is. Can a thing be moral, and "not excellent?" Can a thing be immoral and excellent? Does this sentence suggest something while saying nothing? You bet.
We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.
Here's another grab-bag of disparate concepts. It is like saying, we believe grandmothers should not be tortured and eating meat is a crime. Are you for this or against This? If you are against this because you see nothing wrong with eating meat, it will be presumed you are for torturing grandmothers.
Certainly mature adults must be allowed to do whatever they choose privately, even when many of those things are both stupid and self-destructive. But there is a glaring omission here. It is fine for people to be able to "express" any kind of preferences, but all actions, including "expressing one's self," have consequences. Everyone may be allowed to do or express themselves in anyway they freely choose so long as it is with their own money, with their own resources, on their own property, and only with those who choose to be part of whatever they are doing, and only so long as they alone bare full responsibility for the consequences of their chosen activities, and only so long as no one else is harmed or coerced in any way directly or indirectly as a result of their choices.
This all sounds like a plug for individual liberty, but smuggled in is another concept which is it's opposite, the idea that people should have access to something, whether they have earned it or payed for it or not. Certainly everyone ought to be able to choose any medical service available on the market, and no one should be prevented from using anything, even if it is harmful, if they can and are willing to pay for it. No one, however, must be required to provide anything, including medical service, to anyone, if they do not choose to. Does the freedom to express one's self only extend to those who have nothing of real value to offer to the world, while those who have something of real value, like medical expertise and ability, must not express their preference to not treat those who will not pay for their services?
We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.
Seldom is moral bankruptcy more poignantly expressed than here. The words, "we believe in the common moral decencies," which are then listed, beginning with the most evil of anti-moral concepts ever invented, altruism. This obscene contradiction is obfuscated by bundling true moral values (integrity, honesty, responsibility) with this immoral one, altruism. And why are honesty and truthfulness listed as separate "moral decencies?"
An outright hedonist crook would be preferable to anyone practicing the kind of moral values that are "amenable to critical rational guidance" which is "normative." Normative means "normal" that is, "generally acceptable to a society," which means, "by consensus," which means, "whatever is popular today and whatever one can get away with."
Moral values may be "tested by their consequences," but pragmatism is not what determines moral values, or how they are discovered. Moral values cannot be discovered by experiment. Moral values are determined by the nature of the beings that require moral values, that is, beings with a rational/volitional nature, and by the nature of the world in which they live. The means for discovering moral values is objective reasoning about what is required of rational beings to live and succeed and to enjoy their lives. Moral principles are as objective as scientific principles, and as inviolable as any laws of nature. They are no more "amenable" to criticism or opinion than gravity is.
We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.
We have already seen the kind of, "moral values," with which Humanists are, "deeply concerned," and the fact that they want to teach them to "our" children ought to be a concern of every parent. If the humanists want to teach their nonsense to their own children, that is their business, but, (read their literature) they want to teach everybody's children these amoral ideas.
Some of the metaphors in this "affirmation" are priceless. How does one "nourish" reason. Normally, you nourish something by feeding it, but it is doubtful what humanists are attempting to feed us and our children will nourish anything but a garden. For example, the attempt to mix feelings and reason.
"Compassion," George Bernard Shaw said, "is the fellow-feeling of the unsound," and the irrational, we might add. True compassion, that feeling of kinship and our natural emotional response to others, what they do, and what happens to them, is in response to our understanding of others and how we value them. The feelings tell us nothing about others, and the attempt to mix reason and feelings only cripples reason and reduces feelings to meaningless chaos.
If Humanists were really concerned with the education of children, they would seek to teach their children how to think clearly and reason correctly. If they did that, their children's feelings and compassions would take care of themselves.
We are engaged by the arts no less then by the sciences.
Whatever that means, it is certain no good will come of it, to either art or science. Both the arts and science require rigorous and ruthless adherence to rational principles, for which, so far, the humanists have demonstrated no particular fondness.
We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.
It is unlikely the universe is quite as excited about having Humanists as its citizens as the humanists are about being its citizens, and I suspect when more discoveries are "made in the cosmos," the Humanists are going to be disappointed. Knowledge of the physical universe is a strictly rational affair and new discoveries will always be ordered along rational lines. Whatever Humanists are expecting to be discovered, "in the cosmos," it is unlikely to conform to their many irrational views of it.
We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.
We must give the Humanists the benefit of the doubt here. There is no shortage of nonsense and quackery in the world by which millions are deceived and taken in. Skepticism in such cases is very good. Quite frankly, the humanists are quite good at spotting fakery and pseudo-science. We must also maintain a bit of skepticism about this position, however, because the same kind of language has historically been used against every significant advance in science and technology.
Nevertheless they claim to be, "open to novel ideas," which we hope only means they are willing to examine them objectively. This is left in doubt, however, by such ambiguous language as, "we ... seek new departures in our thinking." This is not the language of rationality, it is the language of a transcendentalist, "let your mind go free, like a boat without a rudder," bound for shipwreck.
We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others.
We are very near the end of this affirmation, and so far we are not told what Humanism is, only what humanists are committed to, what they believe, what they deplore, what they respect, and what they are concerned about, but not why. Humanism has no why, because there is no underlying philosophy behind humanism. Humanism does not embrace any philosophical principles, it is entirely a negative. It rejects religion and superstition, and, while claiming to embrace reason and science, these are not the alternative to superstition. Many religious people also embrace reason and science.
Here then is the clear statement of what humanism is, it is an alternative to other religions and ideologies, which it calls "theologies of despair and violence." Humanism offers itself as the alternative crutch for those who look to religion for, "personal significance" and, "genuine satisfaction." If you think Humanism offers you some significant practical difference from religion, a new insight for finding purpose and happiness in life, you are going to be very disappointed. Humanism is the same old tired altruistic gospel of, "you were born to serve others and you will find happiness only in throwing your life away in sacrificial service to them."
We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.
One hardly knows what to say about this. If the statement read, "we prefer," or "we promote," this might have some meaning that could be analyzed, but what can it possibly mean to say, "we believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair..." Does it mean they believe there is such a thing as optimism, but not that there is such a thing as pessimism? Do they doubt the existence of despair, dogma, and ignorance?
If we assume, which I think we must, that this is a list of things they believe are preferable, or believe ought to be promoted, it is just a list of nice generalities that could be interpreted to support anything, from the American Constitution to the Communist Manifesto. But some of these pairings of preferences are also obfuscations of truth. Is optimism about everything good? Is despair never correct? Learning is not the opposite of dogma, dogma must be learned too, before it can be embraced. Truth is not the opposite of ignorance, truth is the opposite of falsehood, which requires as much leaning in many cases as the truth. These are all false juxtapositions. Joy is the opposite of misery; what has that got to do with sin or guilt?
Tolerance is not the opposite of fear, it has nothing to do with fear. Some things should be feared, and they should not be tolerated. One should be afraid of what might hurt their children, and threats to one's children should not be tolerated. But many people are intolerant of things they have no fear of at all. Should everything and everybody be loved. Should we love our wives and love the one who threatens to beat and rape her. One cannot love anything unless they can hate what threatens what they love. What kind of love is it to love someone and to also love what will destroy the one we love. Compassion is not compassion unless it is selfish. Unselfish compassion is a fake.
And what can it mean to prefer beauty rather than ugliness? Who doesn't prefer beauty to ugliness. We know what it means, and it is not good. Beauty, to the humanist, is nature, ugliness is whatever is done to nature by the application of the human mind.
We wish they had put this first, then exercised it before writing the rest, "reason rather than blind faith or irrationality." Well, of course, and before nonsense too, which this all happens to be.
We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings.
Thus, we end with a meaningless bromide. Since the good is never defined, there is no way of knowing what is meant by the "best," and historically some of the worlds greatest horrors have resulted from those doing what they supposed was noble. It would be better for every individual to learn what is required for them to thoroughly enjoy their own lives, and to do it. It might not be "noble," but it would be moral, and all the world would benefit from it.
2. From For the New Intellectual reprint of "Galt's Speech" from Atlas Shrugged.
Tink nutin' ovit.
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