The Victoria Secular Humanist Association Declaration of Principles

Humanism aims at the fullest development of every human being AND 

  • declare that individual and social problems be resolved by means of human reason, intelligent effort, critical thinking joined with compassion, and empathy for all living beings.
  • declares that human beings are completely a part of nature, and that our survival is dependent upon a healthy planet which provides us and all other forms of life with a life-supporting environment.
  • strives towards the broadest application of democratic principles in all human relationships.
  • advocates the use of the scientific method as a guide to distinguish between fact and fiction, and wishes to see technology used creatively not destructively.
  • affirms the dignity of humanity and the right of the individual to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others.
  • acknowledges interdependence, the need for mutual respect, and believes in the community of feeling between all people and the interrelationship of all living things.
  • calls for continuous improvement of society so that no person be deprived of the basic necessities of life and for institutions and conditions that will provide every person with opportunities to develop their full human potential.
  • calls for the development, support and refinement of fundamental human freedoms such as freedom of speech and expression, freedom of conscience, freedom of association, of electing representative governments, of separation of state and religion, equality of opportunity and justice regardless of colour, creed, ethnic origin, language, gender or sexual orientation.
  • calls for peaceful resolutions of conflicts between individuals, communities, nations or blocs.
  • humanist ethics accepts no outside absolute standards; encourages development of the positive potentialities in human nature; and approves conduct based on a sense of responsibility to oneself and others.
  • affirms that freedom from religion is as much a basic right as freedom of religion.

The International Humanists and Ethical Union

Amsterdam Declaration 2002

Humanism is the outcome of a long tradition of free thought that has inspired many of the world’s great thinkers and creative artists and gave rise to science itself.

The fundamentals of modern Humanism are as follows:

1. Humanism is ethical. It affirms the worth, dignity and autonomy of the individual and the right of every human being to the greatest possible freedom compatible with the rights of others. Humanists have a duty of care to all of humanity including future generations. Humanists believe that morality is an intrinsic part of human nature based on understanding and a concern for others, needing no external sanction.

2. Humanism is rational. It seeks to use science creatively, not destructively. Humanists believe that the solutions to the world’s problems lie in human thought and action rather than divine intervention. Humanism advocates the application of the methods of science and free inquiry to the problems of human welfare. But Humanists also believe that the application of science and technology must be tempered by human values. Science gives us the means but human values must propose the ends.

3. Humanism supports democracy and human rights. Humanism aims at the fullest possible development of every human being. It holds that democracy and human development are matters of right. The principles of democracy and human rights can be applied to many human relationships and are not restricted to methods of government.

4. Humanism insists that personal liberty must be combined with social responsibility. Humanism ventures to build a world on the idea of the free person responsible to society, and recognises our dependence on and responsibility for the natural world. Humanism is undogmatic, imposing no creed upon its adherents. It is thus committed to education free from indoctrination.

5. Humanism is a response to the widespread demand for an alternative to dogmatic religion. The world’s major religions claim to be based on revelations fixed for all time, and many seek to impose their world-views on all of humanity. Humanism recognises that reliable knowledge of the world and ourselves arises through a continuing process of observation, evaluation and revision.

6. Humanism values artistic creativity and imagination and recognises the transforming power of art. Humanism affirms the importance of literature, music, and the visual and performing arts for personal development and fulfilment.

7. Humanism is a lifestance aiming at the maximum possible fulfilment through the cultivation of ethical and creative living and offers an ethical and rational means of addressing the challenges of our times. Humanism can be a way of life for everyone everywhere.

Our primary task is to make human beings aware in the simplest terms of what Humanism can mean to them and what it commits them to. By utilising free inquiry, the power of science and creative imagination for the furtherance of peace and in the service of compassion, we have confidence that we have the means to solve the problems that confront us all. We call upon all who share this conviction to associate themselves with us in this endeavour.

IHEU Congress 2002