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Galaxy NGC4314 - Hubble Space Telescope, 1998, G F Benedict (University of Texas) and NASA
Central Humanism puts you at the hub of your universe and gives you responsibility for your humanity
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CENTRAL HUMANISM HUB

...keeping a human perspective on life...


truth, integrity, realism, humanity, responsibility, compassion, secularism, a free & open society, moral absolutism, common sense and reason, pursuit of peace, survival & advancement of civilization, honest & focused government, a broad, secular education for all children, creation of a social climate that promotes trust, progression of major global concerns such as population control, environment/sustainability, fighting poverty, corruption & corporation greed

with extensive “footnotes” on a wide range of subjects

  "As long as people believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities"
(Voltaire)

It's time to dump superstition and political correctness and face up to reality

Internal links:
Contents
Summary of aims
Skip Introduction
Criticism of religion only
Conclusions & Reservations
”Footnotes”
(NB: the "Footnotes" section of this article is longer than the core section!)

Initial draft posted 10/12/2002. Last updated 26/02/2010


INTRODUCTION

“Just because it’s done doesn’t mean it should be done.” (Cinderella - Walt Disney movie)

The following pages present an informal account of the ethical philosophy of "Central Humanism". Here you will find, amongst other things, support for a certain view of the chief principles which, in the author's view, should guide our lives and the life of modern society, in particular Australian society. You will also find censure of various currently fashionable principles that should not guide our lives.

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Let's be quite clear at the outset: the fundamental issue for planet Earth, without a shadow of doubt, is the human population explosion. Reproduction is the root of all evil. People who produce many children are not only ensuring a dismal future for their own offspring, but for everybody else's too. And the fundamental issues for the citizens of any relatively wealthy, liberated nation are (in broad terms) health and security. In fact, these are arguably the chief concerns of every normal person on this planet. In the near future (10-50 years?) their importance is likely to increase dramatically as the effects of global warming set in, regional over-population hits critical limits and our leaders find themselves battling to contain the ensuing socio-economic disruption. Healthwise, getting superbugs under control will very soon become a dominant challenge, while the security of our shores will always be threatened by new techniques in warfare and the rising tide of raving lunatics and crime. Regardless of physical realities, however, there’s a high risk of sudden economic catastrophe at any time in the near future, due to the instability of the financial fairyland on which the world has become dependent. This would inevitably lead to social instability if not total anarchy in many countries. Compared with these concerns, much of what follows might seem academic, if not redundant.

 

Background - Secular Humanism

"It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this." (Bertrand Russell)

There are three very important differences between the precepts contained in humanist manifestos and the central beliefs of every religion. Firstly, the precepts of humanism are all meaningful while many of the doctrines of religion are meaningless or nonsensical. Secondly, the precepts of humanism are intended to be logically consistent with one another, as well as with obvious truths about the real world, while many of the doctrines that characterise any given religion (in so far as they have any meaning at all) are either inconsistent with one another or with obvious facts of reality. Thirdly, the ideas of humanism are open-ended and freely held, while those of religion are closed, dogmatic and authoritarian. Another difference (of practice rather than doctrine) is that nearly all religions require their adherents to indulge in various degrees of seemingly useless ritualistic behaviour, while humanism makes no such demands.

Furthermore humanism, in so far as it is sceptical and atheistic, is not a system of beliefs at all, but a resolve to eliminate all groundless beliefs from one’s thinking. The atheist in the humanist is simply one of the manifestations of a sincere, enquiring frame of mind.

 

Central Humanism - some differences from mainstream humanism

"Central Humanism" is a convenience label, serving no other purpose than to signify the broad "philosophy" outlined in these pages. It does not name any organisation or discrete group of people, nor does it stand for any neat definition or fixed set of affirmations. Central Humanism is supposed to combine a love of truth, nature and humanity with a common-sense approach to ethics, but of course not everyone will see it that way.

The bedrock of Central Humanism is meaningfulness (in everything we speak and write). A statement that is meaningless can be neither true nor false, so it would be pointless arguing about it. Meaningfulness is a pre-requisite for rational thought: since meaningless or nonsensical names and descriptions don't convey any consistent concept, there's little sense in asking whether the entities supposedly denoted by them actually exist.

One of the in-house objectives of Central Humanism is to develop a sound philosophical basis for its agenda. A necessary prelude to this endeavour would be to clarify the differences between truth, myth and nonsense - because if we seek a sensible philosophy of life we must at least be rid of the last two. Our leading principle of thought and communication should be: let’s do our best to call a spade a spade and keep the goblins out. This principle calls for common sense, self-integrity and directness of thought and speech, but excludes the more radical belief of many humanists and rationalists that true knowledge can only be acquired systematically, using scientific method and logical analysis (see #6, paragraph 3). Nor is humanism in general free from deep-seated, pernicious and self-defeating prejudices, many of them originating in Christianity. The reluctance of many humanists to take on board inconvenient truths is totally at odds with their professed rationalism.

While upholding most of the fundamental values of secular humanism, Central Humanism differs from the mainstream in several important respects, which are highlighted in the following notes. Perhaps the main difference is that it perceives humanism more subjectively - as dealing with life from a human standpoint - rather than as an aggrandizement of humanity or simply as an attempt to eradicate religion from public life. It places more emphasis on the human qualities of individuals, including their competence to live according to respectable criteria of truth and reality, and it shows a deeper concern for non-human life and for the future of the planet. Other differences include its commitment to the search for absolute values, its rejection of  "the scientific method" as the the only legitimate route to knowledge, its distinction between the rejection of religion and supernaturalism and the possibility that consciousness rather than physical reality is the primary essence of the cosmos, its insistence that many popular morally provocative terms are meaningless, a stronger opposition to religious observance (which it considers to be profoundly immoral) and the various notions of "centralisation" from which the philosophy gets its name. In general, it regards mainstream humanism as representing an unduly narrow system of values, and still unable to sever its last ties with religion.

Moreover in one important respect Central Humanism departs radically from other forms of the humanist philosophy, namely in its contention, which it holds to be a remarkably obvious and undeniable truth, that people are not all equally human, in any socially, morally, or intellectually relevant sense - indeed in any sense at all other than certain aspects of genetic make-up and the resultant physical attributes (those which are used to define the species). This observation and its consequences might lead some to conclude that Central Humanism is not a humanist philosophy at all and should go by some other name. In that case perhaps they should reconsider what it means to be a human being, as distinct from, say, a rat or an automaton; and why they respect the values they do; and whether they would prefer the fabric of society to be woven from unassailable truths or to depend precariously on illusion, myths and absurdities. Hopefully these questions will often arise whilst reading the following pages.

In this way of thinking, nothing is taken to be self-evident. But if self-evident truths were possible, the following might well be included among them:

Variety is the spice of life.  All things can be compared.  In the real world, nothing is equal to anything.
Some things are better than others.  And all this applies to people too.

[Note: Variety should not be equated either with chaos or with cultural diversity, if culture means inheriting your parents' hang-ups and superstitions - because for the inheritors this implies restricted access to life's diversity as well as to life's truths.]

The intention of these notes is to outline general principles and to clarify (or disown) various moral concepts rather than to discuss specific issues. However, certain issues do get limited airing because they serve to exemplify a general principle or a way of thinking. Because Central Humanism casts a broader net than most humanist agendas, there are a number of topics covered here that often receive little attention from other humanist organisations. Due to world-wide natural and societal changes, many former non-issues are becoming issues, and many of these are becoming significant moral issues. On the other hand, some former moral issues are running to the end of their life, either because solutions have been achieved or because of broadening attitudes. Compared to some other humanist sites, in these pages you might find differences in emphasis and opinion on topics such as gay rights, animal rights, religious rights, various kinds of discrimination, water conservation, carbon emissions, vegetarianism, drugs usage and so on.

Finally, the reader must be persuaded into believing/doing two impossible things:  (1) Art critics need not be artists:  those most qualified to criticise are often the ones who have made the most mess with their brushes.  (2) Please do not read or quote any of these notes out of fair context.

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