The following is from the American Humanist Association:
HUMANISM AND ITS ASPIRATIONS
Humanist Manifesto III, a successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933*
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.
This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:
Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.
Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.
Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.
Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.
Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.
Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.
Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.
Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.
This pretty much sums up my philosophy and motivation in life, and I think most decent people – including theists, who’d likely take issue with only some nuances concerning faith – more or less lives according to these guidelines. I find that humanism isn’t well-known among most people, at least as far as my own personal experience has taught me. I consider one of my objectives in life is to change that: I want to proliferate and teach humanist values to others in my generation, and perhaps some day even to future generations (I’ve mulled over being a teacher or advocate for sometime).
But I don’t want to limit myself to blog posts and academic writings on the subject – I want to embody. I want to live up to the ideals outlined in this manifesto, and through my actions, conduct, and interactions with others, I hope to show the importance and viability of a humanist outlook on life. As a secular person (I am agnostic, albeit one who tries his best to get along well with religious folks), I’m often at a pains to prove that I have as much moral and ethical fortitude as any one else. I’m tired of hearing this dated canard about non-religious people being amoral, or of regularly confronting stereotypes about “Godless” people being amoral, nihilistic, and cynical.
I want to prove that you don’t need religion to be a good person, let alone a happy one. I’m not any less of a person because I’m faithless. I’m not secular because I’m trying to be counter-cultural, spiteful to the divine, or bitter about life. I’ve tried my best to find faith, and simply cannot sincerely bring myself to do so. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about others, or that I’m some miserable wreck that cannot enjoy life to the fullest. I’m every bit as committed to serving my community, improving this world, and contributing to the well-being of all living things as my religious counterparts – and I’m going to prove it, not only to make a point on behalf of humanism, but simply because I want to, as any upstanding human being would.