This section of the website contains materials that express ideas and points of view that are coincident with my personal world view and values. The following Humanist pieces provide an excellent foundation.
Secular Humanism is a comprehensive, nonreligious life stance incorporating:
A naturalistic philosophy
A cosmic outlook rooted in science, and
A consequentialist ethical system in which acts are judged not by their conformance to preselected norms but by their consequences for men and women in the world.
The following video was published July
30, 2012 by the British Humanists Association.
The Affirmation of Humanism: A Statement of Principles
By Paul Kurtz in Free Inquiry magazine.
We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.
We deplore efforts to denigrate intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.
We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.
We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.
We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.
We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.
We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance.
We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.
We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.
We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.
We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.
We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.
We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.
We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.
We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.
We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.
We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.
We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.
We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service of others.
We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.
We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings.
Secular Humanism: Core Ethical Principles
By Paul Kurtz in Free Inquiry magazine, February/March 2009, Page 6.
We are interested in cultivating the scientific outlook and are committed to the use of scientific methods, reason, and critical thinking in evaluating truth claims without reference to any transcendental source.
Our goal is to realize the good life: creativity, joy, and exuberance for every person. This means a maximization of individual freedom and autonomy, so long as the rights of others are not impinged.
We are aware of our responsibilities to others, the need for empathy and altruism, and the expression of goodwill.
We consider every person in the planetary community as equal in dignity and value.
We believe in the "right to privacy." This includes freedom of conscience and belief; sexual preference and lifestyle, reproductive rights, contraception, and abortion; euthanasia and death with dignity.
We believe in the civic virtues of democracy, the tolerance of individual diversity, allowing each person to make his or her own choices.
We are committed to the negotiation of differences by rational compromise and peaceful adjudication.
We believe in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the satisfaction of a person's basic needs; the right to work; the right to health care; the right of every child and adolescent to education; and the right of adults to cultural enrichment.
We are against discrimination based on gender, race, creed, or national origin, and we support equal opportunity for women, gays, transgender persons, and racial, religious, and ethical minorities.
We maintain that the principles of fairness and justice should apply in our dealings with other human beings.
Implicit in this is the right of every person to live in a peaceful, healthy, productive, and prosperous world.
We recognize the need to preserve the natural ecosystem and protect the biosphere and environment from destruction, coupled with the elimination, where possible, of disease and poverty.
The Beliefs and Values that Inspire and Justify Humanist Morality
The above sections provide a clear statement of moral and ethical principles that can guide the actions of humanists. But, why would humanists follow the principles? This is the question that Lawrence Rifkin addresses in his article "The Paragraph I Wish San Harris Would Write" that appeared in the February/March 2011 issue of "Free Inquiry" magazine. In the God-based moral landscape, God is the very source, foundation, and inspiration for morality. What beliefs and values provide humanists their emotional and intellectual foundation and inspiration for morality. Why do humanists act morally?
"We know that sentient creatures experience pleasure, suffering, and greater or lesser well-being. Therefore, we ought to act to make other lives better as well as our own." But why ought we to act morally? If God is the answer to why for God-based systems, what is the humanist answer? Rifkin proposes that "the ground and fundamental value of humanist ethics is caring, compassion, and love. These are visceral passions, a foundation from which more abstract concepts like freedom and fairness can grow. Caring, compassion, and love, for ourselves and for others, emerge from actual human experience and require no supernatural justification."
"Caring compassion, and love are all expressions of various types of deep emotional feelings for the well-being of others. The idea is to promote these as a foundation of naturalistic ethics and as a powerful secular motivating theme. Knowledge and love make for powerful partners in secular ethics."
"Humanist ethics is informed by science, naturalism, and consequences, and it is inspired by compassion, caring, and love. Science and reason tell us how the world is and how to make it better. But it is fundamental values such as caring, compassion, and love—not facts and reason by themselves—that actually motivate and inspire."
Nature. Beauty. Graditude.
Nature's beauty can be easily missed — but not through Louie Schwartzberg's lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day. (Filmed at TEDxSF, June 2011.)