Humanism Manifesto & Philosophy. Humanism.
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Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. It advocates the extension of participatory democracy and the expansion of the open society, standing for human rights and social justice. Free of supernaturalism, it recognizes human beings as part of nature and holds that values – be they religious, ethical, social, or political – have their source in human nature, experience, and culture. Humanism thus derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.
Definition from The Humanist, a publication of the American Humanist Association
Of course, this is an attack on traditional theism: if the universe is eternal, there is no need for a Creator or a First Cause; there is no empirical evidence for a Necessary Being, nor does the universe reveal any teleological plan.
This repudiation of any doctrine of the “special creation of humans” affirms belief in the theory of evolution, in which humanists considered “a well-established theory” although they admitted some of the details needed to be worked out.
The intent is to deny any belief in personal immortality. Humanists held to the belief that consciousness is a function of the brain; when the brain is destroyed, consciousness is also, so it is impossible for consciousness to continue beyond the death of the organism.
When social situations change, religion evolves accordingly.
This thesis denies the doctrine that God has revealed his will to humans and that good is what God commands and evil is disobedience to his will. On the contrary, humans create values and they must create a world in which people live by values. If good predominates in the world, it is because people have created good, and if evil predominates, people have also created it. Virtue is its own reward, for we are not good to please God or to gain heaven.
The humanists believed that new interpretations of Christianity had moved so far away from the original faith, in order to save it, that misunderstanding and deception had crept in. To avoid this problem, they advocated discarding the old faith entirely and developing a new one based on a naturalistic understanding of the universe and the place of humans within it.
This statement simply denies a dichotomy between the secular and the religious.
In contrast to the Christian churches, which often interpret their missions as saving people for a future life in heaven, humanists sought to create a world in which all individuals could develop and live the best lives they are capable of living.
Theses nine and ten were taken together and said their importance lies in altering the framework and outward character of religion. They propose a shift from supernaturalism to naturalism, from heaven to earth.
The remaining theses state social concerns
Those who signed the Manifesto (total of 34 signers):
To the humanists, the Jewish-Christian past was evidence of the evolutionary character of religion; it was not a norm for guiding the present, which should be guided by contemporary norms.
Humanist Manifesto III
“Even UUs who identify with Christianity or Buddhism essentially endorse much or all of the humanist position …”
“That’s why it’s important to have a statement like this, so people can see how the statement is foundational for a lot of liberal religion.”
“We hope Humanism and its Aspirations will be a tool to aid Humanists who to convey Humanism’s positive message and counter prevailing misunderstandings.”