Humanism 101

Humanism originated in ancient Greece more than two thousand years ago. This philosophy looked to human beings rather than gods to solve human problems.

Democritus (460-351 BCE), a progressive thinker, atomic theorist and Greek philosopher asserted that human beings can set higher standards of personal integrity and social responsibility by guiding their lives by the principles of reason, logic, science, law, and ethics, rather than by invoking any supernatural sanctions. Over the centuries, there have been several interpretations of Humanism.

By the 20th century, Humanism primarily meant SECULAR Humanism, i.e. that human beings can lead meaningful and moral lives without religious doctrines or texts. The Humanist philosophy advocates using rational and scientific approaches to addressing the wide range of issues important to us all and promotes respect, compassion, fairness and equality.

  • That we can live full, meaningful lives, without religious doctrines, by relying on our capacities for rationality, honesty, cooperation, fairness, and respect for each other.
  • That we use democratic principles, logic, and scientific inquiry to find realistic solutions to problems.
  • That we foster good ethics, virtues and critical thinking in our children to help them grow to be decent, responsible and active members of society.
  • That we protect and improve the Earth for future generations by supporting scientific breakthroughs in medicine and technology and by not inflicting needless suffering on other species.
  • That separation of religion and state is upheld in all levels of government to ensure equality and fairness for all.

1.  Proclaim the natural dignity and inherent equality of all human beings in all places and in all circumstances
From the Super Golden Rule of humanist morality it follows that people should have the right to human dignity and equality and this should be the fundamental principle governing relationships between people and nations.  

2. Respect the life and property of others at all times
No person, in any capacity has the right to deprive another of their life or possessions.

3. Practice tolerance and open-mindedness towards the choices and life styles of others
Personal freedoms do not have to be compromised in favour of social and general conformity as long as they don’t threaten, in a substantial way, the functioning and survival of society.  Individuals have a fundamental right to develop their own thoughts, philosophies, beliefs and opinions.

4. Share with those who are less fortunate and help those who are in need
To sympathize with the plight of others is the core of the humanistic morality of empathy and reciprocity.

5. Use neither lies, nor temporal doctrine, nor spiritual power to dominate and exploit others. Proclaim the principle of equality and opportunity for all
Exploitation of the uninformed can lead to various other abuses which denies equality.

6.  Rely on reason and science to understand the Universe and to solve life's problems, avoiding superstitions, which numb the mind and are an obstacle to thinking for oneself
True individual freedom and contentment are reached when each individual is able to think independently, without the crutch of absolutist religious dogmas.

7. Conserve and improve the Earth’s natural environment - land, soil, water, air and space - as humankind’s common heritage
New ways to live in harmony with the environment and each other need to be discovered before the burgeoning population of this planet overwhelms it’s sustainability.

8. Resolve differences and conflicts cooperatively, without resorting to violence or to wars
Before humankind destroys the environment, it has the capacity for self destruction, if a new universal morality is not soon adopted.  Wars must be avoided and outlawed.

9. Organise public affairs according to individual freedom and responsibility, through political and economic democracy.
All power comes from the people and no one - neither secular nor religious - can usurp the right to govern without the express consent of the people under constitutional democracy.

10. Develop one’s intelligence and talents through education and effort, in order to reach fulfillment and happiness for the betterment of humanity and of future generations
The right to education is a fundamental humanist right, and no child, wherever he or she lives, should be deprived of access to education and training, for financial or other reasons.

Based on the book 'The Code of Global Ethics' by R. Tremblay

 

A downloadable pdf version is available below.

Ten Point Humanist Manifesto [117 kb]