Note: We make this manifesto, and its sequel,
available to our visitors for educational purposes. These documents contain many
of the principles which proponents of abortion ultimately find useful.
Humanist Manifesto 1 (1933)
Humanist Manifesto 2 (1973, 40
Humanist Manifesto I
The Manifesto is a product of many minds. It was designed to represent a
developing point of view, not a new creed. The individuals whose signatures
appear would, had they been writing individual statements, have 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 B. 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
word 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 religions
through 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
: Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing
and not created.
: Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he
has emerged as a result of a continuous process.
: Holding an organic view of life, humanists find that the
traditional dualism of mind and body must be rejected.
: 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.
: 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.
: We are convinced that the time has passed for theism,
deism, modernism, and the several varieties of "new thought".
: Religion consists 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 degree expressive of intelligently satisfying
human living. The distinction between the sacred and the secular can no longer
: 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
: 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
: It follows that there will be no uniquely religious
emotions and attitudes of the kind hitherto associated with belief in the
: 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.
: 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.
: 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
: 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.
J.A.C.Fagginger Auer, E. Burdette Backus, Harry Elmer Barnes,
L.M. Birkhead, Raymond B. Bragg, Edwin Arthur Burtt, Ernest Caldecott,
A.J. Carlson, John Dewey, Albert C. Dieffenbach, John H. Dietrich,
Bernard Fantus, William Floyd, F.H. Hankins, A. Eustace Haydon,
Llewellyn Jones, Robert Morss Lovett, Harold P. Marley, R. Lester Mondale,
Charles Francis Potter, John Herman Randall, Jr., Curtis W. Reese,
Oliver L. Reiser, Roy Wood Sellars, Clinton Lee Scott, Maynard Shipley,
W. Frank Swift, V.T. Thayer, Eldred C. Vanderlaan, Joseph Walker,
Jacob J. Weinstein, Frank S. C. Wicks, David Rhys Williams, Edwin H. Wilson.
Humanist Manifesto II
It is forty years since Humanist Manifesto I (1933) appeared. Events since
then make that earlier statement seem far too optimistic. Nazism has shown the
depths of brutality of which humanity is capable. Other totalitarian regimes
have suppressed human rights without ending poverty. Science has sometimes
brought evil as well as good. Recent decades have shown that inhuman wars can be
made in the name of peace. The beginnings of police states, even in democratic
societies, widespread government espionage, and other abuses of power by
military, political, and industrial elites, and the continuance of unyielding
racism, all present a different and difficult social outlook. In various
societies, the demands of women and minority groups for equal rights effectively
challenge our generation.
As we approach the twenty-first century, however, an affirmative and hopeful
vision is needed. Faith, commensurate with advancing knowledge, is also
necessary. In the choice between despair and hope, humanists respond in this
Humanist Manifesto II with a positive declaration for times of uncertainty.
As in 1933, humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially faith
in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to live and care for persons, to hear and
understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an
unproved and outmoded faith. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still
appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter.
Reasonable minds look to other means for survival.
Those who sign Humanist Manifesto II disclaim that they are setting forth a
binding credo; their individual views would be stated in widely varying ways.
This statement is, however, reaching for vision in a time that needs direction.
It is social analysis in an effort at consensus. New statements should be
developed to supersede this, but for today it is our conviction that humanism
offers an alternative that can serve present-day needs and guide humankind
toward the future.
-- Paul Kurtz and Edwin H. Wilson (1973)
The next century can be and should be the humanistic century. Dramatic
scientific, technological, and ever-accelerating social and political changes
crowd our awareness. We have virtually conquered the planet, explored the moon,
overcome the natural limits of travel and communication; we stand at the dawn of
a new age, ready to move farther into space and perhaps inhabit other planets.
Using technology wisely, we can control our environment, conquer poverty,
markedly reduce disease, extend our life-span, significantly modify our
behavior, alter the course of human evolution and cultural development, unlock
vast new powers, and provide humankind with unparalleled opportunity for
achieving an abundant and meaningful life.
The future is, however, filled with dangers. In learning to apply the
scientific method to nature and human life, we have opened the door to
ecological damage, over-population, dehumanizing institutions, totalitarian
repression, and nuclear and bio-chemical disaster. Faced with apocalyptic
prophecies and doomsday scenarios, many flee in despair from reason and embrace
irrational cults and theologies of withdrawal and retreat.
Traditional moral codes and newer irrational cults both fail to meet the
pressing needs of today and tomorrow. False "theologies of hope" and messianic
ideologies, substituting new dogmas for old, cannot cope with existing world
realities. They separate rather than unite peoples.
Humanity, to survive, requires bold and daring measures. We need to extend
the uses of scientific method, not renounce them, to fuse reason with compassion
in order to build constructive social and moral values. Confronted by many
possible futures, we must decide which to pursue. The ultimate goal should be
the fulfillment of the potential for growth in each human personality -- not for
the favored few, but for all of humankind. Only a shared world and global
measures will suffice.
A humanist outlook will tap the creativity of each human being and provide
the vision and courage for us to work together. This outlook emphasizes the role
human beings can play in their own spheres of action. The decades ahead call for
dedicated, clear-minded men and women able to marshal the will, intelligence,
and cooperative skills for shaping a desirable future. Humanism can provide the
purpose and inspiration that so many seek; it can give personal meaning and
significance to human life.
Many kinds of humanism exist in the contemporary world. The varieties and
emphases of naturalistic humanism include "scientific," "ethical," "democratic,"
"religious," and "Marxist" humanism. Free thought, atheism, agnosticism,
skepticism, deism, rationalism, ethical culture, and liberal religion all claim
to be heir to the humanist tradition. Humanism traces its roots from ancient
China, classical Greece and Rome, through the Renaissance and the Enlightenment,
to the scientific revolution of the modern world. But views that merely reject
theism are not equivalent to humanism. They lack commitment to the positive
belief in the possibilities of human progress and to the values central to it.
Many within religious groups, believing in the future of humanism, now claim
humanist credentials. Humanism is an ethical process through which we all can
move, above and beyond the divisive particulars, heroic personalities, dogmatic
creeds, and ritual customs of past religions or their mere negation.
We affirm a set of common principles that can serve as a basis for united
action -- positive principles relevant to the present human condition. They are
a design for a secular society on a planetary scale.
For these reasons, we submit this new Humanist Manifesto for the future of
humankind; for us, it is a vision of hope, a direction for satisfying survival.
: In the best sense, religion may inspire dedication to the
highest ethical ideals. The cultivation of moral devotion and creative
imagination is an expression of genuine "spiritual" experience and aspiration.
We believe, however, that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions
that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience
do a disservice to the human species. Any account of nature should pass the
tests of scientific evidence; in our judgment, the dogmas and myths of
traditional religions do not do so. Even at this late date in human history,
certain elementary facts based upon the critical use of scientific reason have
to be restated. We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a
supernatural; it is either meaningless or irrelevant to the question of
survival and fulfillment of the human race. As nontheists, we begin with
humans not God, nature not deity. Nature may indeed be broader and deeper than
we now know; any new discoveries, however, will but enlarge our knowledge of
Some humanists believe we should reinterpret traditional religions and
reinvest them with meanings appropriate to the current situation. Such
redefinitions, however, often perpetuate old dependencies and escapisms; they
easily become obscurantist, impeding the free use of the intellect. We need,
instead, radically new human purposes and goals.
We appreciate the need to preserve the best ethical teachings in the
religious traditions of humankind, many of which we share in common. But we
reject those features of traditional religious morality that deny humans a
full appreciation of their own potentialities and responsibilities.
Traditional religions often offer solace to humans, but, as often, they
inhibit humans from helping themselves or experiencing their full
potentialities. Such institutions, creeds, and rituals often impede the will
to serve others. Too often traditional faiths encourage dependence rather than
independence, obedience rather than affirmation, fear rather than courage.
More recently they have generated concerned social action, with many signs of
relevance appearing in the wake of the "God Is Dead" theologies. But we can
discover no divine purpose or providence for the human species. While there is
much that we do not know, humans are responsible for what we are or will
become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.
: Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal
damnation are both illusory and harmful. They distract humans from present
concerns, from self-actualization, and from rectifying social injustices.
Modern science discredits such historic concepts as the "ghost in the machine"
and the "separable soul." Rather, science affirms that the human species is an
emergence from natural evolutionary forces. As far as we know, the total
personality is a function of the biological organism transacting in a social
and cultural context. There is no credible evidence that life survives the
death of the body. We continue to exist in our progeny and in the way that our
lives have influenced others in our culture.
Traditional religions are surely not the only obstacles to human progress.
Other ideologies also impede human advance. Some forms of political doctrine,
for instance, function religiously, reflecting the worst features of orthodoxy
and authoritarianism, especially when they sacrifice individuals on the altar
of Utopian promises. Purely economic and political viewpoints, whether
capitalist or communist, often function as religious and ideological dogma.
Although humans undoubtedly need economic and political goals, they also need
creative values by which to live.
: We affirm that moral values derive their source from human
experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational needing no theological or
ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest. To deny this
distorts the whole basis of life. Human life has meaning because we create and
develop our futures. Happiness and the creative realization of human needs and
desires, individually and in shared enjoyment, are continuous themes of
humanism. We strive for the good life, here and now. The goal is to pursue
life's enrichment despite debasing forces of vulgarization, commercialization,
: Reason and intelligence are the most effective instruments
that humankind possesses. There is no substitute: neither faith nor passion
suffices in itself. The controlled use of scientific methods, which have
transformed the natural and social sciences since the Renaissance, must be
extended further in the solution of human problems. But reason must be
tempered by humility, since no group has a monopoly of wisdom or virtue. Nor
is there any guarantee that all problems can be solved or all questions
answered. Yet critical intelligence, infused by a sense of human caring, is
the best method that humanity has for resolving problems. Reason should be
balanced with compassion and empathy and the whole person fulfilled. Thus, we
are not advocating the use of scientific intelligence independent of or in
opposition to emotion, for we believe in the cultivation of feeling and love.
As science pushes back the boundary of the known, humankind's sense of wonder
is continually renewed, and art, poetry, and music find their places, along
with religion and ethics.
: The preciousness and dignity of the individual person is a
central humanist value. Individuals should be encouraged to realize their own
creative talents and desires. We reject all religious, ideological, or moral
codes that denigrate the individual, suppress freedom, dull intellect,
dehumanize personality. We believe in maximum individual autonomy consonant
with social responsibility. Although science can account for the causes of
behavior, the possibilities of individual freedom of choice exist in human
life and should be increased.
: In the area of sexuality, we believe that intolerant
attitudes, often cultivated by orthodox religions and puritanical cultures,
unduly repress sexual conduct. The right to birth control, abortion, and
divorce should be recognized. While we do not approve of exploitive,
denigrating forms of sexual expression, neither do we wish to prohibit, by law
or social sanction, sexual behavior between consenting adults. The many
varieties of sexual exploration should not in themselves be considered "evil."
Without countenancing mindless permissiveness or unbridled promiscuity, a
civilized society should be a tolerant one. Short of harming others or
compelling them to do likewise, individuals should be permitted to express
their sexual proclivities and pursue their life-styles as they desire. We wish
to cultivate the development of a responsible attitude toward sexuality, in
which humans are not exploited as sexual objects, and in which intimacy,
sensitivity, respect, and honesty in interpersonal relations are encouraged.
Moral education for children and adults is an important way of developing
awareness and sexual maturity.
: To enhance freedom and dignity the individual must
experience a full range of civil liberties in all societies. This includes
freedom of speech and the press, political democracy, the legal right of
opposition to governmental policies, fair judicial process, religious liberty,
freedom of association, and artistic, scientific, and cultural freedom. It
also includes a recognition of an individual's right to die with dignity,
euthanasia, and the right to suicide. We oppose the increasing invasion of
privacy, by whatever means, in both totalitarian and democratic societies. We
would safeguard, extend, and implement the principles of human freedom evolved
from the Magna Carta to the Bill of Rights, the Rights of Man, and the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
: We are committed to an open and democratic society. We
must extend participatory democracy in its true sense to the economy, the
school, the family, the workplace, and voluntary associations. Decision-making
must be decentralized to include widespread involvement of people at all
levels -- social, political, and economic. All persons should have a voice in
developing the values and goals that determine their lives. Institutions
should be responsive to expressed desires and needs. The conditions of work,
education, devotion, and play should be humanized. Alienating forces should be
modified or eradicated and bureaucratic structures should be held to a
minimum. People are more important than decalogues, rules, proscriptions, or
: The separation of church and state and the separation of
ideology and state are imperatives. The state should encourage maximum freedom
for different moral, political, religious, and social values in society. It
should not favor any particular religious bodies through the use of public
monies, nor espouse a single ideology and function thereby as an instrument of
propaganda or oppression, particularly against dissenters.
: Humane societies should evaluate economic systems not by
rhetoric or ideology, but by whether or not they increase economic well-being
for all individuals and groups, minimize poverty and hardship, increase the
sum of human satisfaction, and enhance the quality of life. Hence the door is
open to alternative economic systems. We need to democratize the economy and
judge it by its responsiveness to human needs, testing results in terms of the
: The principle of moral equality must be furthered
through elimination of all discrimination based upon race, religion, sex, age,
or national origin. This means equality of opportunity and recognition of
talent and merit. Individuals should be encouraged to contribute to their own
betterment. If unable, then society should provide means to satisfy their
basic economic, health, and cultural needs, including, wherever resources make
possible, a minimum guaranteed annual income. We are concerned for the welfare
of the aged, the infirm, the disadvantaged, and also for the outcasts -- the
mentally retarded, abandoned, or abused children, the handicapped, prisoners,
and addicts -- for all who are neglected or ignored by society. Practicing
humanists should make it their vocation to humanize personal relations.
We believe in the right to universal education. Everyone has a right to the
cultural opportunity to fulfill his or her unique capacities and talents. The
schools should foster satisfying and productive living. They should be open at
all levels to any and all; the achievement of excellence should be encouraged.
Innovative and experimental forms of education are to be welcomed. The energy
and idealism of the young deserve to be appreciated and channeled to
We deplore racial, religious, ethnic, or class antagonisms. Although we
believe in cultural diversity and encourage racial and ethnic pride, we reject
separations which promote alienation and set people and groups against each
other; we envision an integrated community where people have a maximum
opportunity for free and voluntary association.
We are critical of sexism or sexual chauvinism -- male or female. We
believe in equal rights for both women and men to fulfill their unique careers
and potentialities as they see fit, free of invidious discrimination.
: We deplore the division of humankind on nationalistic
grounds. We have reached a turning point in human history where the best
option is to transcend the limits of national sovereignty and to move toward
the building of a world community in which all sectors of the human family can
participate. Thus we look to the development of a system of world law and a
world order based upon transnational federal government. This would appreciate
cultural pluralism and diversity. It would not exclude pride in national
origins and accomplishments nor the handling of regional problems on a
regional basis. Human progress, however, can no longer be achieved by focusing
on one section of the world, Western or Eastern, developed or underdeveloped.
For the first time in human history, no part of humankind can be isolated from
any other. Each person's future is in some way linked to all. We thus reaffirm
a commitment to the building of world community, at the same time recognizing
that this commits us to some hard choices.
: This world community must renounce the resort to
violence and force as a method of solving international disputes. We believe
in the peaceful adjudication of differences by international courts and by the
development of the arts of negotiation and compromise. War is obsolete. So is
the use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. It is a planetary
imperative to reduce the level of military expenditures and turn these savings
to peaceful and people-oriented uses.
: The world community must engage in cooperative
planning concerning the use of rapidly depleting resources. The planet earth
must be considered a single ecosystem. Ecological damage, resource depletion,
and excessive population growth must be checked by international concord. The
cultivation and conservation of nature is a moral value; we should perceive
ourselves as integral to the sources of our being in nature. We must free our
world from needless pollution and waste, responsibly guarding and creating
wealth, both natural and human. Exploitation of natural resources, uncurbed by
social conscience, must end.
: The problems of economic growth and development can no
longer be resolved by one nation alone; they are worldwide in scope. It is the
moral obligation of the developed nations to provide -- through an
international authority that safeguards human rights -- massive technical,
agricultural, medical, and economic assistance, including birth control
techniques, to the developing portions of the globe. World poverty must cease.
Hence extreme disproportions in wealth, income, and economic growth should be
reduced on a worldwide basis.
: Technology is a vital key to human progress and
development. We deplore any neo-romantic efforts to condemn indiscriminately
all technology and science or to counsel retreat from its further extension
and use for the good of humankind. We would resist any moves to censor basic
scientific research on moral, political, or social grounds. Technology must,
however, be carefully judged by the consequences of its use; harmful and
destructive changes should be avoided. We are particularly disturbed when
technology and bureaucracy control, manipulate, or modify human beings without
their consent. Technological feasibility does not imply social or cultural
: We must expand communication and transportation
across frontiers. Travel restrictions must cease. The world must be open to
diverse political, ideological, and moral viewpoints and evolve a worldwide
system of television and radio for information and education. We thus call for
full international cooperation in culture, science, the arts, and technology
across ideological borders. We must learn to live openly together or we shall
Humanity As a Whole
: The world cannot wait for a reconciliation of
competing political or economic systems to solve its problems. These are the
times for men and women of goodwill to further the building of a peaceful and
prosperous world. We urge that parochial loyalties and inflexible moral and
religious ideologies be transcended. We urge recognition of the common
humanity of all people. We further urge the use of reason and compassion to
produce the kind of world we want -- a world in which peace, prosperity,
freedom, and happiness are widely shared. Let us not abandon that vision in
despair or cowardice. We are responsible for what we are or will be. Let us
work together for a humane world by means commensurate with humane ends.
Destructive ideological differences among communism, capitalism, socialism,
conservatism, liberalism, and radicalism should be overcome. Let us call for
an end to terror and hatred. We will survive and prosper only in a world of
shared humane values. We can initiate new directions for humankind; ancient
rivalries can be superseded by broad-based cooperative efforts. The commitment
to tolerance, understanding, and peaceful negotiation does not necessitate
acquiescence to the status quo nor the damming up of dynamic and revolutionary
forces. The true revolution is occurring and can continue in countless
nonviolent adjustments. But this entails the willingness to step forward onto
new and expanding plateaus. At the present juncture of history, commitment to
all humankind is the highest commitment of which we are capable; it transcends
the narrow allegiances of church, state, party, class, or race in moving
toward a wider vision of human potentiality. What more daring a goal for
humankind than for each person to become, in ideal as well as practice, a
citizen of a world community. It is a classical vision; we can now give it new
vitality. Humanism thus interpreted is a moral force that has time on its
side. We believe that humankind has the potential, intelligence, goodwill, and
cooperative skill to implement this commitment in the decades ahead.
We, the undersigned, while not necessarily endorsing every detail of the
above, pledge our general support to Humanist Manifesto II for the future of
humankind. These affirmations are not a final credo or dogma but an expression
of a living and growing faith. We invite others in all lands to join us in
further developing and working for these goals.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Thousands of names have been added to the list of signatories
which followed the original Humanist Manifesto II, published in the
September/October 1973 issue of The Humanist magazine by the American Humanist
Copyright © 1973 by the American Humanist Association
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is hereby granted free of charge by the copyright holder. Free permission to
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For more information on Humanism and the AHA, please contact --
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