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Sep 7, 2011

The Affirmations of Humanism:
A Statement of Principles

    * We are committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.
    * We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.
    * We believe that scientific discovery and technology can contribute to the betterment of human life.
    * We believe in an open and pluralistic society and that democracy is the best guarantee of protecting human rights from authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.
    * We are committed to the principle of the separation of church and state.
    * We cultivate the arts of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.
    * We are concerned with securing justice and fairness in society and with eliminating discrimination and intolerance.
    * We believe in supporting the disadvantaged and the handicapped so that they will be able to help themselves.
    * We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.
    * We want to protect and enhance the earth, to preserve it for future generations, and to avoid inflicting needless suffering on other species.
    * We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.
    * We believe in the cultivation of moral excellence.
    * We respect the right to privacy. Mature adults should be allowed to fulfill their aspirations, to express their sexual preferences, to exercise reproductive freedom, to have access to comprehensive and informed health-care, and to die with dignity.
    * We believe in the common moral decencies: altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness, responsibility. Humanist ethics is amenable to critical, rational guidance. There are normative standards that we discover together. Moral principles are tested by their consequences.
    * We are deeply concerned with the moral education of our children. We want to nourish reason and compassion.
    * We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.
    * We are citizens of the universe and are excited by discoveries still to be made in the cosmos.
    * We are skeptical of untested claims to knowledge, and we are open to novel ideas and seek new departures in our thinking.
    * We affirm humanism as a realistic alternative to theologies of despair and ideologies of violence and as a source of rich personal significance and genuine satisfaction in the service to others.
    * We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.
    * We believe in the fullest realization of the best and noblest that we are capable of as human beings.

(I did not write this)

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Posted: Sep 7, 2011 4:49pm
Sep 7, 2007
I, too, have struggled to balance my need to eat meat with my love of animals.
I don't know if I am in a position to educate anyone about being a vegetarian but I would be happy to share my beliefs, which are nature and science-based. Humans are anatomically designed to be omnivorous. Our teeth and intestines are adapted for digesting both meat and plant material. Based on my observation of other primates and human societies living a ''rimitive” lifestyle, I think our natural diet would be mostly vegetarian supplemented only occasionally with meat. At the top of the food chain, animals survive by eating other animals. That is part of the natural cycle. When humans anthropomorphize, applying human emotions and behavioral standards to other animals, their conclusions are bound to be confused and confusing. It must be the other way around, and humans must learn from nature, because humans do not own nature, they are part of it. Animals do not appear to view, understand or fear death the way we do. ( I think we could take a lesson from them there). Although many animals --dogs, cats, primates, elephants, and horses-- seem capable of grief, it has been my observation that many other animals --chickens, cows and deer-- do not notice or care when one of their brethren dies (outside of the parent/offspring relationship, which could be strictly instinctual). I saw a great documentary on the Discovery Channel about this. A herd of deer was being culled, and a buck was shot by a gun with a silencer on it. A doe standing nearby looked up, walked over and sniffed the body, then peacefully returned to grazing. This behavior was certainly different from what I might expect after watching the Bambi movie. Baby chickens will gleefully peck one another to death without any apparent pangs of guilt. On the other hand, some species of ants will walk miles to collect and bury their dead. Go figure.
Nature is amoral. There is no right or wrong, only adaptive or non-adaptive, tending to perpetuate or not to perpetuate the species; to either preserve or disturb the balance of the biological system. I have chosen to restrict the amount of meat in my diet because the meat industry is so hard on the planet, and have stopped eating any fish or seafood because the oceans are being depleted by humans.
A stickier question is whether it is wrong to eat our companion animals. The thought of it makes me sick, but I can’t really judge people for eating cats, dogs and horses when I eat cows and chickens. Reverting to the nature model, it would seem to make more sense to eat animals that convert plant matter to protein than to eat carnivores, and not to eat animals that guard our grain stores from rodents, or protect and help us. Given the choice, I would stop people from eating any of the more sentient animals, but I can’t give a rational explanation for it yet.

I believe that most animals are capable of suffering, so I am against factory farms and any other activity that causes animals to suffer, such as rodeos and bullfights. I think most rational people would agree that it is wrong to cause suffering. I can’t back this one up with facts or science, other than to say that humans have evolved a capacity for empathy and compassion and I think it has and will ultimately contribute to their survival.
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Posted: Sep 7, 2007 9:11am
Jun 19, 2006
In any contest between power and patience, bet on patience.


Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets. To plant a pine, one need only own a shovel.
-- Aldo Leopold

People who will not sustain trees will soon live in a world which cannot sustain people.
-- Bryce Nelson

One generation plants the Trees; another gets the shade.
Keep a green Tree in your heart, and perhaps a singing bird will come.
-- Chinese proverb

A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.
-- Elton Trueblood (1900-1994)

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.
-- John Muir

I think that I shall never see, a billboard lovely as a tree. Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I'll never see a tree at all.
-- Ogden Nash, Song of the Open Road, 1933

Trees outstrip most people in the extent and depth of their work for the public good.
-- Sara Ebenreck, American Forests

Every oak tree started out as a couple of nuts who decided to stand their ground.
-- Unknown

It is easier to stay out than get out --Mark Twain

Those who are willing to sacrifice essential liberties for a little order, will lose both and deserve neither.

I do not believe that the same god who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended for us to forgo their use --Galileo Galilei

How rich will we be when we have converted all our forests, all our soil, all our water resources, and our minerals into cash? --Ding Darling

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.--Aldo Leopold

Everything in excess is opposed to nature.--Hippocrates

We are destroying the things we need for the things we want.--Julia Butterfly Hill

A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.--Carl Sagan

The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly leads me to suspect that my own is also.--Mark Twain

Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature's inexorable imperative.--H.G. Wells

No one has the right to feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.--Dorothy Day

Enough sunlight falls on the earth in one day to meet the world's energy needs for one year.
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Posted: Jun 19, 2006 8:50am


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Karen S.
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