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
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)
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.
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
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 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
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
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.
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
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
Chemists developed techniques for sequencing both
nucleic acids and proteins and others worked out the details of the
The regulation of
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
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
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.
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,
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.
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
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
the foundation of modern evolutionary synthesis. Variation
can occur from mutations, migration between
populations, and the rearrangement of genes through sexual
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
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 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
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.
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
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
Third: Holding an organic view of life,
humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be
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
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
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.
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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Statements from The National Education Association's Tenth Yearbook (1932)
must replace absolutism in the realm of morals as well as in the spheres of
physics and biology."
"... If the
individual is to be happy in the contemporary order, he must be open-minded
with respect to new values and new arrangements."
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."
within the limits of a particular society, individualistic and competitive
impulses must be subordinated increasingly to social and cooperative
"... Interdependence rather than independence is the rule of life."
"... 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."
"... 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
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."
analysis shows a need for statements of objectives which ... stimulate the
creation of new
moralities in accord with our changing society."
"... 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
"... The old
structure passes. Religion, morality, business, family, school, and state
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."
"... 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
must be redirected if it is to become the chief means whereby society will
attempt to remake itself."
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
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 ..."
Louis Menand (2001) The Metaphysical Club New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 123-124
From a Wikipedia article on genetics.