Colin Blakemore, FMedSci, Hon FRCP, Hon FSB, FRS, Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford, Patron of the BHA, and one of The Observer’s top 300 public intellectuals in 2011:
“Whatever you think about the irrationality of religious faith and the evils of discrimination and conflict that religions have inspired, you have to accept that at least some believers have done good in the world, on the basis of ethical principles derived from their faith. It’s really important for humanists to demonstrate that their position is not only rational, unprejudiced and intellectually defensible in ways that religion never can, but also that it embodies a strong ethical position. Often Humanism is criticised for lacking the kind of moral code that religions purport to provide. But this is entirely incorrect. The word Humanism expresses a shared commitment to other people. We have within ourselves a powerful code of conduct that does not depend on antique fables, or unquestioning belief in divine forces. Our moral principles and our altruism are all the more convincing if they come from our own minds, not from the imagined mind of an imaginary god.
An implication of this logic is that humanists should express in practical ways their rational moral principles, and not just rest on the laurels of intellectual argument. Humanists for a Better World has set ambitious goals to demonstrate concern for the immense challenges faced by the world and by the human species.”
More about Colin Blakemore here.
Mary Kaldor, Professor of Global Governance at the London School of Economics, and one of The Observer’s top 300 public intellectuals in 2011. Her recent publications include The Ultimate Weapon is No Weapon (2010, with Shannon Beebe). More about Mary Kaldor here.
Richard Norman, Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy, founder-member of the Humanist Philosophers and Vice-President of the BHA, whose books include Free and Equal and Ethics, Killing and War:
“Humanists believe in putting values into action. They volunteer for good causes, and they support organisations working for human rights, social justice, and the protection of the natural environment. But because we work through existing organisations and campaigns, rather than creating separate humanist ones, these commitments are not always visible. That’s why I support this network. It won’t duplicate the work of organisations such as Oxfam or Amnesty International or the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, but it will give humanist support for these causes more of a public face. I hope also that, through the exchange of news and information, it will strengthen that support and help us to work more effectively for a just and peaceful world to bequeath to future generations.”
Humanist support for action on global issues
“The oceans are already rising. Either we sink, separately, or swim, together.” (Colin Blakemore, distinguished scientist, supporter of the British Humanist Association and patron of Humanists for a Better World)“
“…we must not lose sight of the real problems facing the world today that science can help address — from religious extremism and population growth to the security nexus of energy, food and water supplies. And despite the misgivings of the skeptics who remain unconvinced of the fact of anthropogenic climate change, there is no longer any denying the worrying transformation of our planet that is taking place, for which ambitious global geo-engineering solutions may need to be found…” (Jim Al-Khalili, BHA President, “Where Science Is Going”, New York Times, October 2013)
Rapid and widespread changes in the world’s human population, coupled with unprecedented levels of consumption present profound challenges to human health and wellbeing, and the natural environment…” Royal Society “People and Planet” 2012 report (produced by working group chaired by Sir John Sulston FRS, Patron of Humanism)
“I cannot not choose. If I do not choose, that is still a choice.” (J-P Sartre in “Existentialism and Humanism”)
“What the world most needs at this moment is a means of convincing human beings to embrace the whole of the species as their moral community.” (Sam Harris)
“Peace is one of the fundamental criteria for the long term survival of the human species and should be a concern of all Humanists.” (International Humanist and Ethical Union)
“Seek the good in all things, harm no others, take responsibility, respect nature, do your utmost, be informed, be kind, be courageous: at least sincerely try.” (Philosopher and humanist A C Grayling in “The Good Book”, 2011)
“The only people who believe in infinite growth in a finite world are madmen and economists.” (Economist Kenneth Boulding)
“Making the real world better is better than trusting there’s a world that’s already better.” (Richard Bartle, Professor of Computer Game Design and Patron of Humanism)
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” (Anthropologist Margaret Mead)
And some of the ideas humanists should contest:
“God created the world and God will take out the world when it suits him. That’s all you need to know about climate change.” (Fred Upton, Chair of the US Commission on Energy and Commerce)
“God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.” (James Inhofe, US Senator)
“The Earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth.” (US Representative John Shimkus)