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Humanist Center



Convinced that Twin Cities humanists needed a new opportunity to meet together and deepen their understanding of their common commitments, several created the Humanist Center. Sponsored by three organizations, we have arranged six Sunday evening programs each year since 2001. With major speakers, major topics, times for both discussions and socializing, we hope to strengthen the community among present humanists and make humanism more viable for potential humanists.


While humanist roots stretch back to Greek and other ancient traditions, humanism moved to center stage of Western history with the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century and the democratic revolutions that were involved. Humans were encouraged to mature and flourish in this present world, guided by reason and compassion. Morality was only justified as it served human needs, as it embodied a mutually-understandable and supportable justice.


To achieve this new vision, many of our ancient religions had either to be transformed or transcended. This process is ongoing. And in the modern world village, no culture can escape its impact. No superhuman powers guarantee success, and many human powers resist the full implications of democracy and educated citizenries—extending freedoms and equal opportunities to all.


Some modern humanists see themselves as rebuilding religions rationally and anew, while others of us see religions as unreformable. These different assessments should be the occasion for creative internal dialogue—one of the aims of this Center. Reactionary fundamentalists rightly see humanism as their enemy, and we want our neighbors to have the educational and emotional resources to resist this form of anti-intellectualism. There are also, in some intellectual circles, new ideologies pushing cynicism about the possibilities of real social change and real human access to truths that liberate. There are, as well, political nationalisms that would abandon reasoning in favor of unthinking patriotisms.


Can the Humanist Center succeed in its goals? This depends upon you. How deeply and how intensively you commit yourself to extending our common humanist values of democracy, freedom, reason, compassion, and justice. The only minority in a humanist world should be that minority of those who have not yet been able to educate themselves into their full humanity.


The Humanist Center Steering Committee


Matt Stark, chair

Kendyl Gibbons, First Unitarian Society

Bill Karns, First Unitarian Society

Gene Martinez, First Unitarian Society

David Perry, Humanists of Minnesota

Robert Tapp, Humanist Institute


Humanist Center Mission Statement

Adopted June 28, 2001


The Humanist Center functions to propose to its participants

ethical and satisfying ways of life—within the natural world; the intellectual heritage; and the human communities of the present time.


The Center shall create an environment for dialogue among its participants that:


Cultivates relationships of mutual respect and care;

Stimulates informed and critical thinking;

Encourages the expression of ideas, aspirations, and questions;

Challenges convention, prejudice, irrationality, and popular opinion;

Promotes problem-solving through reason, science, and empirical evidence;

Sets forth in positive terms various dimensions of non-theistic beliefs;

Appreciates the liberal, progressive impulse in all religious traditions and philosophies;

Nurtures responsible personal convictions and behaviors in the context of freedom;

Advocates justice in social relations and structures;

Explores the power of the artistic, emotional and reflective dimensions of experience;

Increases knowledge of the history and principles of the Humanist tradition;

Fosters positive attitudes of courage, generosity, and appreciation for life


To these ends the Humanist Center will present speakers on a wide variety of topics and issues of importance to Humanists, and offer to all a full opportunity for in-depth discussions of these presentations.


The Humanist Center functions in supportive cooperation with the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, the Humanists Of Minnesota, and the Humanist Institute.


Representative Humanist Statements



(formerly Friends of Religious Humanism


"Like most persons of this persuasion, I regard myself as a Religious Humanist not because of having been converted to a creed; a faith; not because of my having signed a membership card in a crusading fraternity of believers. The term Religious Humanism is more descriptive of a state of mind, of an attitude with respect to philosophy, religion, ethics, than it is a label for another 'ism.'"

-- Lester Mondale (from Religious Humanism: A Testimonial)


"I have been enthusiastic about our Religious-Humanist Fellowship because it presages an enlargement of humanism, a creatively different emphasis in humanism...life's dimensions and puzzles, for their happy resolution, demand rationality, but not bellicosity, required is an imaginative psychology as well as an analytical logic, an inward look as well as an extraversion...to hold eternity in an hour and to see the world in a grain of sand are valid human endeavors...it is an honest and valid emotional appeal to still undefined values of tomorrow as they stand in tension with the values which have egregiously failed our today. For motivational insight maybe we need a Prometheus. Or in remembering another mythmaker, maybe we need to see things as a little child."

-- Robert Hoagland (from A New Dimension of Humanism)


"Humanism is a celebration and a promise; it celebrates the integrity of human reason, responsibility and compassion, and it promises a satisfying lifestyle that can be counted on. No more deprecation of the human condition; rather, an opportunity to remain true to ourselves by having both feet in this world and responding to the challenges of existence with excitement and pragmatic service to others. Humanism is religion come of age; at long last we humans can live dignified lives, finite creatures though we may be. At long last, men, women and children can find ultimate fulfillment through bringing out the best in humanity for the sake of humanity."

-- Beverley Earles


"...YES: Humanism can be religious; indeed, the most meaningful and livable kind of humanism is itself a religious way of understanding and living life. It offers a view of people and their place in the universe that is a religious philosophy...overarching and undergirding it all, there can be a haunting sense of wonder which never leaves one for whom life itself is a mystery and miracle. Where did we come from, why are we here, where are we going with all the effort, frustration, the grief, the joy? To be caught up in this sense of wider relatedness, to sense our being connected in live ways with all the world and everyone in it, is the heart dimension of religion, whatever its name."

-- Peter Samson (from Can Humanism Be Religious?)



American Ethical Union


Always act so as to elicit the best in others, and thereby in yourself.

Felix Adler


Eight Commitments of Ethical Culture

1. Ethics is central.

The most central human issue in our lives involves creating a more humane environment.

2. Ethics begins with choice.

Creating a more humane environment begins by affirming the need to make significant choices in our lives.

3. We choose to treat each other as ends, not merely means.

To enable us to be whole, in a fragmented world, we choose to treat each other as unique individuals having intrinsic worth.

4. We seek to act with integrity.

Treating one another as ends requires that we learn to act with integrity. This includes keeping commitments, and being more open, honest, caring, and responsive.

5. We are committed to educate ourselves.

Personal progress is possible, both in wisdom and in social life. Learning how to build ethical relationships and cultivate a humane community is a life-long endeavor.

6. Self-reflection and our social nature require us to shape a more humane world.

Spiritual life is rooted in self-reflection, but can only come to full flower in community. This is because people are social, needing both primary relationships and larger supportive groups to become fully human. Our social nature requires that we reach beyond ourselves to decrease suffering and increase creativity in the world.

7. Democratic process is essential to our task.

The democratic process is essential to a humane social order because it respects the worth of persons and elicits and allows a greater expression of human capacities. Democratic process also implies a commitment to shared responsibility and authority.

8. Life itself inspires religious response.

Although awareness of impending death intensifies the human quest for meaning, and lends perspective to all our achievements, the mystery of life itself, the need to belong, to feel connected to the universe, and the desire for celebration and joy, are primary factors motivating human "religious" response.


American Humanist Association


Humanism is a way of living, thinking, and acting that allows every individual to actualize his or her highest aspirations and successfully achieve a happy and fulfilling life. Humanists take responsibility for their own morals and their own lives, and for the lives of their communities and the world in which we live. Humanists emphasize reason and scientific inquiry, individual freedom and responsibility, human values and compassion, and the need for tolerance and cooperation. Humanists reject supernatural, authoritarian, and anti-democratic beliefs and doctrines.


Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. It advocates the extension of participatory democracy and the expansion of the open society, standing for human rights and social justice. Free of supernaturalism, it recognizes human beings as a part of nature and holds that values—be they religious, ethical, social, or political—have their source in human experience and culture. Humanism thus derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions, and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.


Council for Secular Humanism


* 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.


British Humanist Association


Humanism is an approach to life based on reason and our common humanity, recognising that moral values are properly founded on human nature and experience alone.


Humanists do not believe in god or heaven, but in the power of science, reason and human experience to make sense of our lives. Humanism represents the positive affirmation of our humanity based on a rational belief and behaviour which includes the views that this life and this world are all we can truly know, that there are no supernatural beings or forces and no sacred beings or texts and that our values and morality must come from within ourselves and our experience, rather than from above.


Humanists hold that the most important factor in all our thoughts and actions is our shared membership of the human race, and that it is up to us to make the best of our time together here.


Humanism is not synonymous with atheism or agnosticism. Atheism comes from the Greek 'without god'—and so an atheist is one who denies or disbelieves the existence of a god. Agnosticism is from the Greek 'without knowledge'—and an agnostic is one who believes that as nothing can be known of god beyond the available evidence, then one 'cannot know' if a god exists. Humanism steps a little further than this. Neither atheism or agnosticism say anything about values, about morals or how to treat other people or how to find meaning in life.


Humanism is an approach to life based on reason and our common humanity, recognising that moral values are properly founded on human nature and experience alone.


Humanist values and visions:


* human dignity and the rights of all

* human joy, love and shared happiness

* free enquiry and open mindedness

* human creativity and inventiveness

* the reduction of human suffering and cruelty

* an open, just and caring society

* we see no plausible reason for belief in any supernatural being

* we view human life as a natural part of evolution

* we can lead a full and useful life without religion

* we only live once and must do all we can to make the best of that life

human morality is founded on human nature and experience, not on religious teachings


International Humanist and Ethical Union

Minimum Statement on Humanism


IHEU member organisations have resolved that:


Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.


IHEU 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.




First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis

The First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, established in 1881 and affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association of North America, is an ethical and liberal religious community dedicated to promoting the ongoing search for truth and to affirming the inherent worth of the individual.


We understand reality through human experience, enlightened reason, scientific method, and the democratic process, and we find the central source of power and goodness within the human heart, mind, and spirit. Individually and collectively, we assume responsibility for our future, our community, our children, and our interdependent world.


Our growth and actions as thoughtful, compassionate, and ethical human beings advance our humanist vision of a world of peace and love, dignity and equality, freedom and justice.


Humanist Institute

Humanism has an important contribution to make to the modern world. But in order to give reality to humanist ideals and practices, humanism must be effectively organized. Organization demands leadership. To provide for the training of new humanist leadership and to provide for the continuing training of existing humanist leadership is the role of The Humanist Institute.


The Humanist Institute is committed to leadership education. Humanist leadership is defined pluralistically and inclusively. Thus, the Institute includes community/congregation/chapter-based leadership, regional and national organizational leadership, specialized leadership roles as spokespersons, educators and counselors, and leadership within the various serving professions.


The Institute is an independent program that works with existing humanist organizations. It provides a unique opportunity to bring together a diverse faculty and student body representing those who interpret nontheistic and naturalistic humanism in secular, religious, and life-stance terms.


Finally, through its faculty, alumni/ae, and student body, the Institute will develop programs for exploring humanist ideas and practices. Research and publications will be an essential element of the Institute's program, including the Faculty Colloquium, Humanism Today, and weekend conferences and workshops




Humanists of Minnesota

Our bylaws state that we base our philosophy on a writing by Fred Edwords, “The Humanist Philosophy in Perspectives.” These principles of the Humanist philosophy of life are based on human strengths, such as reason and critical intelligence, as opposed to faith or higher authority. Our group also accepts the principles of the Humanist Manifesto II and the Secular Humanist Declaration.



Journals and Sponsoring Organizations


General Journals

American Rationalist The Rationalist Association

Free Inquiry Council on Secular Humanism

Humanism Today The Humanist Institute

Humanistic Judaism Society for Humanistic Judaism

Religious Humanism Unitarian Universalist HUUmanists

The Humanist American Humanist Association



Skeptical Journals

Skeptical Inquirer

The Zetetic

The Skeptic


Humanist and Freethought Websites


American Atheists http://www.atheists.org/


American Ethical Union: The Virtual Ethical http://www.aeu.org/


American Humanist Association http://www.americanhumanist.org/


Atheist Alliance http://www.atheistalliance.org/


Atheists for Human Rights http://www.atheistsforhumanrights.org


Campus Freethought Alliance http://www.campusfreethought.org


Coalition for Community of Reason http://www.communityofreason.org/


Council for Secular Humanism http://www.secularhumanism.org/ /


Freedom From Religion Foundation http://www.ffrf.org/ /


First Unitarian Society Minneapolis http://firstunitariansociety.org/


Humanist Institute http://humanistinstitute.org/


Humanists of Minnesota http://www.humanistviews.org/


HUUmanists http://www.huumanists.org/


Institute for Humanist Studies http://humaniststudies.org/ /


International Humanist and Ethical Union http://www.iheu.org/


Internet Infidels http://www.infidels.org/index.shtml


Internet Infidels news http://www.infidels.org/wire/index.shtml


Minnesota Atheists Online http://www.mnatheists.org/


Secular Coalition for America http://www.secular.org/


Secular Students http://www.secularstudents.org/ /


Society for Humanistic Judaism http://www.shj.org/ /


Unitarian Universalist Association http://www.uua.org/ /


University of Minnesota Atheists and http://www.umah.org/ /



Bob Tapp  March 2007

Books for expanding knowledge of humanism

Association, U. U. (1963). The Free Church in a Changing World. Boston, Unitarian Universalist Association.

Buffalo, Pemberton ;

Dawkins, R. (2006). The God delusion. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Co.

Dennett, D. C. (2006). Breaking the spell : religion as a natural phenomenon. New York, Viking.

Ehrman, B. D. (2005). Misquoting Jesus : the story behind who changed the Bible and why. New York, HarperSanFrancisco. (2007 paperback includes Plus section)

Harris, S. (2004). The end of faith : religion, terror, and the future of reason. New York, W.W. Norton & Co.

Harris, S. (2006). Letter to a Christian nation. New York, Knopf.

Knight, M. and J. Herrick (1995). Humanist anthology : from Confucius to Attenborough. Amherst, N.Y., Prometheus Books.

Kurtz, P. (1973). The humanist alternative : some definitions of humanism. London

Kurtz, P. (1983). In defense of secular humanism. Buffalo, N.Y., Prometheus Books.

Laymen's Foreign Missions Inquiry. Commission of Appraisal. and W. E. Hocking (1932). Re-thinking missions; a laymen's inquiry after one hundred years. New York, London,, Harper & Brothers.

Murry, W. R. (2007). Reason and reverence : religious humanism for the 21st century. Boston, MA, Skinner House Books.

Olds, M. and M. Olds (1996). American religious humanism. Minneapolis, MN, Fellowship of Religious Humanists.

Parke, D. B. (1957). The epic of Unitarianism; original writings from the history of liberal religion. Boston,, Starr King Press.

Prometheus Books.

Robinson, D. (1985). The Unitarians and the universalists. Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press.

Ross, W. (2001). The premise and the promise : the story of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Boston, Skinner House Books.

Schulz, W. F. (2002). Making the manifesto : the birth of religious humanism. Boston, MA, Skinner House Books.

Wilson, A. N. (1999). God's funeral. New York, W.W. Norton.

Wilson, E. H. and T. Maciocha (1995). The genesis of a humanist manifesto. Amherst, N.Y., Humanist Press.

Essential magazines/journals

Free Inquiry

Humanism Today

Religious Humanism


Skeptical Inquirer

The Humanist


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