The Humanist Manifesto

The first Humanist Manifesto, written in 1933, documented in summary form the humanist philosophy. Since then it has been updated twice, in 1973 and 1999. The latter version, labeled The Humanist Manifesto 2000: A Call for a New Planetary Humanism, retains the basic features of the 1933 original, which is presented below as extracted from the Internet. It represents the marching orders for the dominant forces in society today.

“The Manifesto is a product of many minds. It was designed to present a developing point of view, not a new creed. The individuals whose signatures appear would, had they been writing individual statements, stated the propositions in differing terms. The importance of the document is that more than thirty men have come to general agreement on matters of final concern and that these men are undoubtedly representative of a large number who are forging a new philosophy out of the materials of the modern world.

– Raymond P. Bragg (1933)

“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 life demonstrate.

“There is great danger of a final, and we believe fatal, identification of the world 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 therefrom (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 religion throughout 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 continuous process.

“THIRD: Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.

“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: Religions consist 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 decree 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 humanists 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 wishful thinking.

“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 of life.

“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.”

This pompous, grandiose polemic, when one finally finishes wading through this muck of florid, self-important phraseology, means the following: first, that humanism is truly a religion, but one that gives God the boot; religion stays, but without the spiritual or supernatural elements. The new god is science, to which the humanist has contributed self-contradictory, unscientific presuppositions masquerading as science; second, that if there is any god out there, it is man himself, a product of mindless evolution; third, that we reside in a fully materialistic universe, in which any spiritual component, particularly the soul, simply doesn’t exist; fourth, that Scripture is void of the supernatural, being simply a collection of mythical and cultural elements associated with a particular society’s origins and memorable events and that, to quote the late Carl Sagan, “The [material] cosmos is all that is, or was, or ever will be”; fifth, that humanism is an all-encompassing worldview; sixth, that the objective of religion is to support the happiness and self-satisfaction of individuals – a selfish, self-indulgent notion in direct opposition to Scripture; seventh, that humanism is politically aligned with socialism, perhaps even communism; eighth, humanism as a religion must quickly replace the superstitious, outmoded and counterproductive God-oriented religions; and ninth, that the adherents to humanism must, in the process of overthrowing the old religions, remove from society the stubborn, bitter, illogical, and obsolete elements of society who insist upon adhering to the old religions in violation of reason and common sense.

The humanist intent to educate Christianity out of existence is typified by John Dunphy’s article entitled “A New Religion for a New Age” in the January/February 1983 edition of Humanist. In his commentary on page 26, he wrote:

“I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level – preschool day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new – the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, survivor of the Russian gulags, fervent Christian and watchman on the wall to the western nations, attempted to warn us about the evils of the humanistic mindset. In June, 1978, he said this about humanism:

“In the West the idea of freedom stems from the humanistic idea that man does not bear any evil in himself. Life’s defects are supposedly caused by a misguided social system. As a result, crime is now more prevalent in Western nations than in the lawless Soviet society.”

Solszhenitsyn then traces the cause of this moral decline to a rejection of Christianity along with its notion of responsibility.

[to be continued]


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