Monday, March 28, 2005

Worth Repeating

James Wolcott lists the "statement of principles" from the Free Inquiry website. I think they are worth repeating. They match my sentiments, more or less, though I resist putting myself in the "Secular Humanist" pigeonhole. I can and do resonate with their principles on the whole. This whole recent affair around the "Culture of Life" and bullshit that it is propogating has served to remind me why I have drifted so far from the religion of my childhood. It has become embarrassing. I can remember when it wasn't so and it is a little saddening to know that so many people today have taken what is fundamentally a humanist and very Zen teaching of Jesus and twisted it into a hateful and intolerant disease.

Anyhow here they are:
* Our best guide to truth is free and rational inquiry; we should therefore not be bound by the dictates of arbitrary authority, comfortable superstition, stifling tradition, or suffocating orthodoxy. We should defer to no dogma - neither religious nor secular - and never be afraid to ask "How do you know?"
* We should be concerned with the here and now, with solving human problems with the best resources of human minds and hearts. If there is to be meaning in our lives, we must supply it ourselves, relying on our own powers, observation, and compassion. It is irrational and ultimately harmful to hang our hopes on gods, the supernatural, and the hidden, which arise out of imagination and wishful thinking. It is pointless - and often dangerous - to push aside human intelligence to reach for some flimsy veil of alleged truths.
* We must be committed to moral principles, which are derived from critical intelligence and human experience, and we must pursue positive ideals. We should therefore observe the common moral decencies: integrity, humanitarianism, truthfulness, trustworthiness, fairness, and responsibility. This means caring for one another, being tolerant of differences, and striving to overcome divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, creed, or class.
* Constitutional democracy is the best known means for protecting the rights of all people to form worldviews and live out their commitments in a free and mutually respectful way. Governments should promote open societies, ensure universal human rights, and be secular, having no bias against any religious or non-religious group.
* We should strive to bring about a genuine world community and nourish an appreciation for global ethics and our planetary interdependence.
* Secular humanism aims to bring out the best in people so that all can achieve fullness in life. Thus we must strive to realize personal potential, maximize creative talents and artistic expression, and choose joy and hope over despair, guilt, and sin.

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