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CHRISTIANITY OASIS
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Humanism vs. Christianity

by Patrick Vosse

Appendix 1-4


Humanism vs. Christianity

by Patrick Vosse

Appendix 1-4



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Appendix 1 - Classification of Organisms
Appendix 2 - Genetics
Appendix 3 - The Humanist Manifesto
Appendix 4 - Statements from NEA's Tenth Yearbook (1932)




Appendix 1
Classification of Organisms
Taxonomy


Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification. The word comes from the Greek taxis (meaning order, or arrangement) and nomos (meaning law or science). Taxonomies, or taxonomic schemes, are composed of taxonomic units known as taxa (singular taxon), or kinds of things that are arranged frequently in a hierarchical structure. The modern system of biological classification was developed by the Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778).

All organisms are divided into 5 Kingdoms: Monera (bacteria), Protista (protozoa and algae), Fungi (fungi, yeasts and molds), Plantae (plants), and Animalia (animals). Within a kingdom, organisms are divided into Phyla; Phyla are divided into Classes, then Sub-class, Order, Sub-order, Family, Genus, and finally Species. As an example, humans are classified as follows:

  • Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
  • Phylum: Chordata (have a spinal chord)
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata (have vertebra – backbone)
  • Class: Mammalia (have mammary gland for suckling offspring)
  • Order: Primate
  • Family: Hominidae (have human characteristics such as upright walking, increased brain size, flattened face, smaller teeth and jaw compared to other primates)
  • Genus: Homo (Humans with erect carriage, speech, superior intelligence)
  • Species: sapiens sapiens (modern man)

At the time of Darwin and well into the 20th century, classification was based almost entirely on anatomical features. This was particularly true of fossils where classification could only be based upon the skeletal remains. However, this is not particularly accurate. For example, a Great Dane and a Chihuahua are the same species but if the only evidence available for examination were fragments of their bones, they would probably be classified as different species or even in a different genus.

Species

A species is defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are often used, such as based on similarity of DNA or morphology. Presence of specific locally adapted traits may further subdivide species into subspecies. A horse and a donkey are different species and can breed to produce a mule. However, mules are sterile and, therefore, the definition hold true for the horse and donkey. Modern textbooks follow Ernst Mayr's definition of a species as:

Groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations, which are reproductively isolated from other such groups.

This definition excludes various unusual or artificial mating such as:

  • Those, which occur only in captivity (when the animal's normal mating partners may not be available) or as a result of deliberate human action.
  • Animals which may be physically and physiologically capable of mating but do not normally do so in the wild, for various reasons.
  • Animals whose offspring are normally sterile.

This definition, however, only applies to organisms that reproduce sexually and does not include organisms such as bacteria.

Historian Louis Menand[1] commented regarding Darwin’s approach to species:

Once our attention is redirected to the individual, we need another way of making generalizations. We are no longer interested in the conformity of an individual to an ideal type; we are now interested in the relation of an individual to the other individuals with which it interacts. To generalize about groups of interacting individuals, we need to drop the language of types and essences, which is prescriptive (telling us what finches should be), and adopt the language of statistics and probability, which is predictive (telling us what the average finch, under specified conditions, is likely to do). Relations will be more important than categories; functions, which are variable, will be more important than purposes; transitions will be more important than boundaries; sequences will be more important than hierarchies. This shift results in a new approach to "species;" Darwin concluded that species are what they appear to be: ideas, which are provisionally useful for naming groups of interacting individuals. "I look at the term species", he wrote, "as one arbitrarily given for the sake of convenience to a set of individuals closely resembling each other ... It does not essentially differ from the word variety, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms. The term variety, again, in comparison with mere individual differences, is also applied arbitrarily, and for convenience sake".

In other words, Darwin modified the definition of species so that it would include minor adaptations on the individual level, rather than the group level, and this modification is admittedly arbitrary.

A more liberal form of species definition is essential to the argument for evolution, particularly when one is trying to classify an organism from a fragment of fossilized bone. Numerous fossils have been discovered that have anthropomorphic characteristics. These are clearly primates. However, primates include lemurs, monkey, great apes and man. Some of the fossils are more like apes than man and could (should?) be classified in a separate genus. However, using Darwin’s more arbitrary classification philosophy, the paleontologist that discovers the bone can name the organism. If that paleontologist happens to be an evolutionist (as all are) then he is likely to classify the organism in a way that supports evolution.

As a result, many humanoid fossils have been classified as genus Homo and this implies that they are scientifically determined to be evolutionary links in the evolution of man. In fact, a more objective classification would probably place them in an entirely different genus.


Appendix 2
Genetics


The science of genetics started with the work of Gregor Mendel. In 1866, he published his work on pea plants describing what came to be known as Mendelian Inheritance. In 1900, his work, which had previously been ignored, was rediscovered. By 1915, the basic principles of Mendelian genetics had been applied to a wide variety of organisms , most notably the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Led by Thomas Hunt Morgan and his fellow "drosophilists", geneticists developed the Mendelian-chromosome theory of heredity, which was widely accepted by 1925.

Biologists then turned to investigations of the physical nature of the gene. Experiments in the 1940s and early 1950s indicated that DNA was the portion of chromosomes that held genes. Genetic information is transmitted to offspring by DNA. DNA is comprised of four proteins (bases) that are arranged in a particular sequence. This sequence acts like a code and is unique for each individual. A specific sequence that identifies a particular characteristic is called a gene. Long strands of DNA composed of genes are called chromosomes.

A focus on new model organisms such as viruses and bacteria, along with the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA in 1953, marked the transition to the era of molecular genetics. Chemists developed techniques for sequencing both nucleic acids and proteins and others worked out the details of the genetic code. The regulation of gene expression was a major research topic in the 1960s; by the 1970s, gene expression could be controlled and manipulated through genetic engineering. In the last decades of the 20th century, many biologists focused on large-scale genetics projects, sequencing entire genomes.

Particular characteristics of an organism are inherited from its parents. For example, eye color is an inherited characteristic, which individuals can inherit from one of their parents. Inherited traits are controlled by genes and the complete set of genes within an organism's genome is called its genotype.

The complete set of observable traits that make up the structure and behavior of an organism is called its phenotype. These traits come from the interaction of its genotype with the environment. As a result, not every aspect of an organism's phenotype is inherited. For example, individuals inherit the ability for their skin to tan when exposed to sunlight. However, the tanned skin is not passed on to offspring , only the capacity for tanning. However, there is variation among individuals in their response to sunlight and this is an inherited characteristic.

A specific location on a chromosome is called a locus. If the sequence of bases at a locus is different between individuals of the same species these are called alleles. Mutation is a change in the DNA sequence at a locus resulting in a new allele.

Mutation

Chromosome Mutations involve changes to the genes that make up the specific chromosome. There are two basic types of chromosome mutation, deletion of a gene and duplication of a gene. In gene deletion, genes are detached and removed from the chromosome. These genes are lost forever. Often chromosomes with deleted genes result in deficiencies and can be fatal. An example of gene deletion is given in the Figure 16A[2], below. The top sequence (1) is the original gene sequence in the chromosome. In (2) genes labeled "D", "E", "F", and "G" are detached and removed from the chromosome. These genes are lost forever. The result if this mutation is the gene sequence shown in (3). Often chromosomes with deleted genes result in deficiencies and can be fatal.

In gene duplication, genes are duplicated and added to the chromosome, resulting in the new chromosome with the additional duplicate genes. Duplicate genes are usually harmless. An example of gene duplication is given in the Figure 5B, below.


gene mutation
Figure 16. Chromosome mutation and four types of gene mutation

The top sequence (1) is the original gene sequence in the chromosome. In (2), two genes "C" and "D" are duplicated and added to the chromosome, resulting in the new chromosome with the additional duplicate genes (3). Duplicate genes are usually harmless.

Genetic Mutations involve changes in the gene sequence. There are three basic categories of genetic mutations, inversion of genes, translocation of genes, and alteration of DNA sequence. An example of gene inversion is given in the Figure 16.

The top sequence (1) shows the original sequence of genes in the chromosome. In (2), genes "D", "E", and "F" are reversed or inverted in there order, resulting in the new chromosome (3). Depending on the genes involved, the result can be fatal or advantageous. Translocation of genes occurs when genes break away from their original chromosome and attach to the neighboring chromosome. Usually the result is fatal. An example of gene translocation is given in the Figure 5D, below. The top sequence (1) shows two adjacent chromosomes. In (2), the genes "J" and "K" break away from their original chromosome and attach to the neighboring chromosome. Usually the result is fatal. The above are examples of genetic mutation at the chromosome level.

Alteration of the DNA sequence within a gene is also possible. There are four major categories of alteration of DNS sequence within the gene, deletion, insertion, inversion, and substitution. These are similar to the examples given above but the sequence modifications or omissions of molecules occur within the gene itself. Mutations occur very rarely and are usually not observable because they are recessive. It is estimated that mutations occur less than 10-12 (1 in a trillion) per generation. When they are observed, they tend to have negative results. Mutations can be caused by X-rays, ultraviolet light, or various environmental stresses such as chemicals.

Variation

Variation is the foundation of modern evolutionary synthesis. Variation can occur from mutations, migration between populations, and the rearrangement of genes through sexual reproduction.

A mutation can change the allele in the organism and the modified gene can be passed on to offspring and thereby enter the population in general. If the mutant gene is recessive it may remain in the population and emerge only occasionally or it may eventually be lost if the original gene dominates the population. However, the mutant gene, if it does not have a significant negative result, may be dominate in the population and eventually replace the original gene. As long as the mutant gene remains in the population, it is a variant. If the gene replaces the original gene and the original gene disappears, the variant becomes the norm and is no longer a variant.

A good example of migration between populations would be the United States where large numbers of people from different countries representing all the races of humanity reside together. What was originally a predominately European population is gradually becoming a racial mixture. This is called Gene Flow.

Variation can also occur through sexual reproduction. Human cells contain paired chromosomes. The gamete (egg and sperm) consist of only a single member of the chromosome pair. When the gametes combine at the time the egg is fertilized, new pairs of chromosomes are formed, half from the mother and half from the father. This recombination results in new alleles and new characteristics.

Variation within a population is important for survival of the species. For example, within a group of individuals, some will have a high resistance to a particular disease and some will have a low resistance to the disease. If that disease strikes the population, those with low resistance will succumb leaving those with a high resistance to survive and pass on the gene that provides high resistance. This phenomenon has been observed throughout nature in such instances as bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics and insect populations becoming resistant to insecticides.

While this process is well documented, only variations within a species have been observed such as in hybridization. Hybrids can be crosses between species (inter-specific) such as horse and donkey. The resulting offspring will be sterile and the hybrid cannot be sustained. Hybrid between variations within a species (intra-specific) can be sustained. Selective breeding of livestock to produce a specific characteristic is an example of intra-specific hybridization.

Genetic Drift

Genetic drift occurs when the circumstances result in a change of frequency of certain characteristics within a population. Typically, in a large population, a particular characteristic will be passed on to following generations in a random fashion and variation will be statistically maintained.

For example, the height of men will be randomly distributed about a mean height. Assume, however, that a group of tall men leave the general population and become isolated from it. The isolated group will also pass on the height gene in a random fashion, but because the men have inherited the characteristic for being tall, they will pass on that gene to their offspring and the next generation will be randomly distributed about a taller average than the original general population.


Appendix 3
The Humanist Manifesto


Humanist Manifesto 1

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 from (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.

(Signed)

J.A.C. Fagginger Auer—Parkman Professor of Church History and Theology, Harvard University; Professor of Church History, Tufts College.
E. Burdette Backus—Unitarian Minister.
Harry Elmer Barnes—General Editorial Department, ScrippsHoward Newspapers.
L.M. Birkhead—The Liberal Center, Kansas City, Missouri.
Raymond B. Bragg—Secretary, Western Unitarian Conference.
Edwin Arthur Burtt—Professor of Philosophy, Sage School of Philosophy, Cornell University.
Ernest Caldecott—Minister, First Unitarian Church, Los Angeles, California.
A.J. Carlson—Professor of Physiology, University of Chicago.
John Dewey—Columbia University.
Albert C. Dieffenbach—Formerly Editor of The Christian Register.
John H. Dietrich—Minister, First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis.
Bernard Fantus—Professor of Therapeutics, College of Medicine, University of Illinois.
William Floyd—Editor of The Arbitrator, New York City.
F.H. Hankins—Professor of Economics and Sociology, Smith College.
A. Eustace Haydon—Professor of History of Religions, University of Chicago.
Llewellyn Jones—Literary critic and author.
Robert Morss Lovett—Editor, The New Republic; Professor of English, University of Chicago.
Harold P Marley—Minister, The Fellowship of Liberal Religion, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
R. Lester Mondale—Minister, Unitarian Church, Evanston, Illinois.
Charles Francis Potter—Leader and Founder, the First Humanist Society of New York, Inc.
John Herman Randall, Jr.—Department of Philosophy, Columbia University.
Curtis W. Reese—Dean, Abraham Lincoln Center, Chicago.
Oliver L. Reiser—Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh.
Roy Wood Sellars—Professor of Philosophy, University of Michigan.
Clinton Lee Scott—Minister, Universalist Church, Peoria, Illinois.
Maynard Shipley—President, The Science League of America.
W. Frank Swift—Director, Boston Ethical Society.
V.T. Thayer—Educational Director, Ethical Culture Schools.
Eldred C. Vanderlaan—Leader of the Free Fellowship, Berkeley, California.
Joseph Walker—Attorney, Boston, Massachusetts.
Jacob J. Weinstein—Rabbi; Advisor to Jewish Students, Columbia University.
Frank S.C. Wicks—All Souls Unitarian Church, Indianapolis.
David Rhys Williams—Minister, Unitarian Church, Rochester, New York.
Edwin H. Wilson—Managing Editor, The New Humanist, Chicago, Illinois; Minister, Third Unitarian Church, Chicago, Illinois.

Copyright © 1933 by The New Humanist and 1973 by the American Humanist Association

Humanist Manifesto 2

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. However, 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.

Religion

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.

Ethics

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.

The Individual

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.

Democratic Society

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 Decalogue’s, 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.

World Community

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.

Humanist Manefesto 3

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.

This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:

Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.

Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.

Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.

Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.

Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.

Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.

Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.

Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.

* Humanist Manifesto is a trademark of the American Humanist Association
—© 2003 American Humanist Association


Appendix 4
Statements from The National Education Association's Tenth Yearbook (1932)


  1. "... Relativity must replace absolutism in the realm of morals as well as in the spheres of physics and biology."
  2. "... If the individual is to be happy in the contemporary order, he must be open-minded with respect to new values and new arrangements."
  3. "... Loyalty to the family must be merged into loyalty to the community, loyalty to the community into loyalty to the nation, and loyalty to the nation into loyalty to mankind. The citizen of the future must be a citizen of the world."
  4. "... Also, within the limits of a particular society, individualistic and competitive impulses must be subordinated increasingly to social and cooperative tendencies."
  5. "... Interdependence rather than independence is the rule of life."
  6. "... Under the condition of freedom and plenty generated by industrial society, the youth of the country are abandoning the severe sex taboos of the past; the sanctity of the marriage relationship is being challenged; the dogmas and ceremonies of the church are losing their power."
  7. "... Until we have a more equitable distribution of property and income in this country, great numbers of families will remain totally unfit agencies of character education."
  8. "... The church seems never to have been able to win either the masses or the statesmen of the Western nations to the Christian way of life. "... The position of the church today is one of confusion and uncertainty. It has lost much of the authority with which it at one time was clothed. "... Only when it employs the outworn dogmas of the past and appeals to certain of the traditional prejudices of the people does it appear to have confidence in its own pronouncements."
  9. "... This analysis shows a need for statements of objectives which ... stimulate the creation of new moralities in accord with our changing society."
  10. "... The center of attention is not to be some traits to be expressed, some rules of conduct, some ideal of truth or beauty. The center of attention is to be the situation."
  11. "... The old structure passes. Religion, morality, business, family, school, and state change."
  12. "... Emotional conditioning does determine a great deal of one's attitudes toward persons, things, and ideas, and is responsible for a large part of one's outlook on life. Conditioning is therefore a process which may be employed by the teacher or parent to build up attitudes in the child and predispose him to the actions by which these attitudes are expressed."
  13. "... It is probable that the chauvinistic teaching of much of the history of the home country is responsible for a good share of the international friction and conflict."
  14. "... Education must be redirected if it is to become the chief means whereby society will attempt to remake itself."
  15. "... School life will begin with the nursery school and extend to include adult education in various forms. "... It may come to be, in this changing world, that society will come quickly to support and control a program of education extending, for the individual, from the cradle to the grave."
  16. "Presumable the person which has specialized in child psychology and other sciences is better prepared to engineer a group of boys and girls in certain socialized activities than is the lay parent ..."

[1] Louis Menand (2001) The Metaphysical Club New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 123-124
[2] From a Wikipedia article on genetics.


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