HUMANIST MANIFESTO I was originally published in 1933 in the NEW HUMANIST (VOL. VI, #3 MAY/JUN, 1933: Yellow Springs, Ohio), the main publication of the American Humanist Association. Co-author John Dewey, the noted philosopher and educator, called for a synthesizing of all religions and a “socialized and cooperative economic order.” Humanism was “codified” by 34 of its leaders in 1933. Although many other versions of humanism have appeared before and since, here are some excerpts from the original Humanist Manifesto I:
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. 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 humanist 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. FINAL PARAGRAPH: 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.
Humanism: A Belief with no Purpose or Objective Values
Humanism holds that the universe exists for no purpose. We are the result of a blind and random process that does not necessitate any kind of meaning. Humanism differs from the more extreme philosophy of nihilism, in that life can have a meaning if we assign a meaning to it. Life is only worth living if we ourselves make it worthwhile and enjoyable. Humanism maintains that no objective or universal values exist. A person may be moral if he or she creates a system of values and lives according them. A humanist would maintain that no one is obligated to be moral. Therefore, humanism fails to provide moral objections to immoral behavior. Obviously, if no moral absolutes exist, you can’t demonstrate that anything is wrong or evil. Thus, in a humanist society, no one can really judge or condemn the choices or actions of others.
Humanism: Life Without Real Meaning
Humanism is fostered by the teaching of evolutionary science, materialism and moral relativism in our popular media and public school system. We’ve removed God from the equations. Without God, we lose any transcendent purpose for the universe in which we live. Without God, we lose any transcendent purpose to give meaning to our individual lives. We are nothing more than bugs struggling with survival until we die. All the achievements, the sacrifices, the good and beautiful acts of some people, the ugly and dark acts of others, are ultimately futile efforts of life. Without God, we lose any possibility for life after death. When you remove the hope of heaven, you remove the ultimate value and purpose of life. What difference would it really make whether we lived like a Billy Graham or an Osama Bin Laden? Everyone’s fate would be the same anyway. This is the ultimate outlook of those who base their belief system on humanism. Eat, drink and be merry – for tomorrow we die. Rather bleak, we think. Investigate for yourself.
The following are excerpts taken from Secular Humanism and the Schools: “The Issue Whose Time Has Come by Onalee McGraw, Ph.D. (Critical Issues, Series 2, The Heritage Foundation: Washington, D.C., 1976): The basis of humanist belief is that there is no Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of life. Humanists believe that man is his own god. They believe that moral values are relative, devised according to the needs of particular people, and that ethics are likewise situational.”
Humanists reject Judeo-Christian moral and ethical laws, such as those contained in the Ten Commandments, calling them “dogmatic,” “outmoded,” “authoritarian,” and a hindrance to human progress. In humanism, self-fulfillment, happiness, love, and justice are found by each man individually, without reference to any divine source. In the Judeo-Christian ethic, there is and can be no real self-fulfillment, happiness, love, or justice on earth that can be found which does not ultimately issue from Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer.
Several main differences between the humanist ethic and the Judeo-Christian ethic become clear upon reading the Humanist Manifestos I and II (1933 and 1973) and comparing them to the tenets of the Judeo-Christian ethic contained in the Old and New Testaments….
At issue is the basic concept concerning the nature of man and the “rules” by which men govern themselves individually, in society, and in government. In the Judeo-Christian ethic, man’s ultimate deliverance and salvation—his finding a means of living together on this planet, in peace, harmony, justice, and love—is through God’s given “rules.”
For the humanist, man’s greatness, his coming of age, his total fulfillment is found when he no longer needs the idea of God. Man gets rid of God, not just to do what he wills but to regain possession of human greatness. Is Humanistic Education unconstitutional? Inasmuch as humanistic curriculum programs and “values clarification” and “moral education” teaching strategies are based upon materialistic values found only in man’s nature itself, they reject the spiritual and moral tradition of theistic faith and religion. Thus, many parents who subscribe to Judeo-Christian belief oppose humanistic education in the tax-supported schools on grounds that such programs promote and advocate the religion of secular humanism in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The U.S. Supreme Court cited Secular Humanism as a religion in the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins (367 U.S. 488). Roy Torcaso, the appellant, a practicing Humanist in Maryland, had refused to declare his belief in Almighty God, as then required by State law in order for him to be commissioned as a notary public. The Court held that the requirement for such an oath “invades appellant’s freedom of belief and religion.” The Court declared in Torcaso that the “no establishment” clause of the First Amendment reached far more than churches of theistic faiths, that it is not the business of government or its agents to probe beliefs, and that therefore its inquiry is concluded by the fact of the profession of belief.
The Court stated: “We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.” The Court has also stated “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.” The Torcaso and Abington cases defined secular humanism as a religion and prohibited the government from establishing a religion of secularism by affirmatively opposing hostility to theistic religion, values, and beliefs.