The Promise of Manifesto 2000
Humanist Manifesto 2000: A Call for a New Planetary Humanism,
published in Free Inquiry (Fall 1999), is
unique in that it advocates a new global ethic based on scientific naturalism, not on
ancient religious pieties. Humanist Manifesto 2000 emphasizes that we are
responsible for our own destiny, and that we can best solve our problems by rational
inquiry. It provides a strong defense of human rights. Of special significance is the
"Planetary Bill of Rights and Responsibilities": we have a responsibility to
humanity as a whole, to end poverty and disease, and to ensure peace and prosperity for
every member of the world community. The Manifesto recommends concrete reforms to
achieve these goals: a new planetary income tax, the regulation of global conglomerates,
open access to the media, population stability, environmental protection, an effective
security system, development of a system of World Law, and a new World Parliament. The Manifesto
urges us to rise above parochial ethnic nationalism and divisive multiculturalism and to
focus on our commitment to the survival of the human species on the planet. And it invites
people of goodwill, representing diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious traditions, to
work together in forging a new planetary humanism.
Humanist Manifesto 2000 has already received widespread attention throughout
the world. The Manifesto (or excerpts from it) have been translated into German,
Russian, Norwegian, Arabic, French, Spanish, Telugu, and other languages. The Associated Press did two feature stories about the Manifesto
that appeared in the media worldwide, from El Pais in Spain to Le Monde in France and the
Australian Broadcast Radio Network. Religious News Service, the Scripps-Howard News Service, American News Service, the French Press Agency, and
other wire services also did stories. Newspapers in the United States as diverse as the
Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Albany (New York) Times-Union,
and the Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer, among others, carried accounts of the Manifesto.
The journal Lingua Franca (October 1999), in its
cover story "Faith No More," did a highly complimentary article about the work
of the Campus Freethought Alliance, the Council for Secular Humanism, and Humanist
Manifesto 2000. The Washington Times ran a
surprisingly favorable story by Larry Witham on the Manifesto.
Humanist Manifesto 2000: A Call for a New Planetary Humanism is issued
at a time when powerful voices in the United States seem to be retreating to isolationism.
Perhaps this is symptomatic of the current distemper that has afflicted this great nation,
which is increasingly influenced by the entrenched forces of religious orthodoxy. The
media of communications are often more interested in entertainment than in informed
discussions of foreign affairs, and the Congress is overrun by corporate lobbyists with
large reservoirs of cash bidding for votes and influencing special-interest legislation.
We may ask, What is happening to the open, democratic, fair-minded, experimental American
dream and its constructive leadership role in the world?
We need to strive mightily to educate world public opinion and to develop a new
planetary consciousness. I am pleased to report that Professor Jean-Claude Pecker, a
representative of the International Humanist and Ethical
Union at UNESCO, recently delivered a major address before its General Conference
about Humanist Manifesto 2000. Copies of the Manifesto were
distributed to all delegates of UNESCO.
May I conclude with a vote of appreciation to the many humanists who contributed to my
drafting of Humanist Manifesto 2000: A Call for a New Planetary Humanism.
Manifesto 2000 COMMENDATIONS and COMMENTS
Humanist Manifesto 2000 is the finest statement of what is needed for the
future of the human race that I have read. Those who have prepared the statement are to be
It is depressing that the wealth of the developed world cannot in a better way be
shared with the poor countries, but also that even in the wealthy countries poverty is a
problem. Why is it that we accept that few have so much and the many so little, and not
the other way round? Corruption, greed, selfishness together with poverty lead to
criminality and violence. Lack of respect for human rights leads to civil and ethnic wars.
Unfortunately these are problems that science has no answer to. Fundamentally it may
require the impossible, a change of human nature. But something can be done-there must be
education in democracy, political and economic pressure brought by grass-roots movements
and also from single persons. In this context, the Manifesto is a very important
I am pretty much with you. Perhaps it is more a socio-political credo than philosophy.
The point, a major one, where I have serious difficulty is your unreserved endorsement of
a free enterprise economy, with no concern about the increasing cleavage between rich and
poor, a very unpleasant and dangerous feature of our society.
The Manifesto excellently-calmly, clearly, soberly-expressed exactly my views
on many issues, and it is most cheering to find that here is an organization devoted to
fostering these views. You have my wholehearted support.
Very well done!
I fully endorse the aims of this Manifesto. The new century will be the
Century of Humanism or it will be nothing.
I would be pleased to sign your superb document Humanist Manifesto 2000. I
hope it receives the international exposure it so richly deserves.
I of course support your organization completely as it is the only one that I believe
has any hope of bringing sense into an exceedingly disturbing twenty-first century. I
would like to communicate directly with your Web site people because the Internet promises
to provide, for the first time, the possibility of effectively coordinating the efforts of
the large number of highly dispersed people with a common cause. It could catalyze the
creation of a truly powerful force for the propagation of humanitarian principles.
Humanist Manifesto 2000 is profoundly enriched with new vision and optimism
for the creation of an international environment necessary for the realization of human
potential at a planetary scale.The Manifesto has shown concerns about the
environmental pollution generated from present consumption patterns, population growth,
and the wrong use of science and technology. Manifesto 2000 should give more
exposition to this issue. Humanists should clearly establish that a healthy planetary
ecosystem is a pre-requisite for the realization of a planetary humanism, and therefore
articulate that human consumption patterns of the resources, population growth, and the
technological orientation must remain within the carrying capacity of the planetary
ecosystem. It is apparent that it is not Nature but culture that needs to be directed,
subdued, and controlled for the survival of Homo sapiens.There is considerable concern
shown in some quarters about the globalization process, particularly in developing
countries where the vast majority of human beings live. Globalization, as seen by its
critics, is a process of re-colonialization of the developing world's economy by powerful
transnational corporations (TNCs). The powerful international financial and trading
institutions such as World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Trade
Organization (WTO) implement the policy instruments (both economic and trade policies)
that are designed to ultimately serve the interest of TNCs. The consequences of such
globalization is the concentration of world capital and resources in the hands of the TNCs
and the greater concentration of miseries and poverty in developing countries that
severely constrain human development and the actualization of potential. Since this is
going to be a dominant issue in the twenty-first century, the Manifesto should
suggest some mechanisms to contain and humanize the operations of TNCs and international
financial and trading institutions. Humanists should exert moral pressure on the world
community for the sincere implementation of the commitments made at the Copenhagen Summit
on Social Development.
There is much that I do not agree with in this document, but I do accept the overall
I am in full agreement with the spirit of the document, and I hold its main purpose and
outlook to be true. How can any true humanist deny the importance of a commitment to
justice and progress on a global scale? I support the movement toward a strong global
family, each member benefitting from technological and other advances.However, as a
humanistic theologian, I want to conceive of religious thought and theology in ways that
do not make them the sole domain of theists. That is to say, as a humanist, I believe
theology can be conceived and done in ways that enhance the humanist vision outlined in
the Manifesto. This is certainly what I attempt to do in my work. Except for
statements that limit the potential of "religious" thought and
"theology" by restricting them to narrow definitions and interests provided by
theists, I agree with the spirit of this document and I embrace its call for justice and
healthy life options for the global family.
Manifesto 2000 is a charter of vision and hope for humanity. Let people
everywhere study it, improve its content, and make it an agenda for the twenty-first
Excellent coverage of humanist, pragmatist, Enlightenment perspective. But insufficient
recognition of historical framework, which in its many forms (from inwardness and
spirituality to statism) defines the modern paradigm.
I think Humanist Manifesto 2000 is superb. It contains every noble, radical, doomed, impossible dream I ever supported. Of course, you realize that it will be embraced by just a few, for these reasons:
Even though many of its goals seem like lost causes today, nobody can predict future
cultural tides, and maybe the twenty-first century will bring a shift toward intelligent
human cooperation and tolerance.I don't think that corporate ownership and advertisers
warp the news to any significant degree. (The Gazette accepts cigarette ads, and denounces
the tobacco industry furiously.) Public preference largely decides which media are
dominant, and which are marginal. People read and hear the messages that attract them.
Every group from the ACLU to the KKK is free to publish its views-and the size of any
publication's audience depends on how many are drawn to it. The Internet has greatly
expanded everyone's right to spread his or her message.
Strength to your arm!
I endorse the Humanist Manifesto 2000, with an important reservation. Its
ethical provisions are unquestioningly speciesist (see the moral philosophic writings of
Peter Singer, who did not coin the term but has been mainly responsible for its
promulgation). The Manifesto assumes, without discussion or question, that the
only beings worthy of ethical consideration are members of the species Homo sapiens. I
find this unevolutionary, and have spelled out the argument in my contribution to The
Great Ape Project. What if a relict population of Homo erectus were discovered tomorrow?
Would humanist ethics embrace them as human? Almost certainly the answer is yes. How about
Australopithecus? Probably. If not, at very least the issue would be vigorously debated
and the reasons for exclusion would have to be clearly spelled out.Then how about
chimpanzees, whose brains are approximately the same size as Australopithecus; has any
thought been given to whether they might count as human for at least some of humanism's
purposes? I suspect that the question has not been seriously considered. And if it be
retorted that a newly discovered Australopithecus specimen would not count as human for
humanistic purposes, we are faced with the question of where, in the lineage, the line
would be drawn. Was there a first individual who would have counted as human, born to a
couple who would not? This is the kind of dilemma that faces Roman Catholics who insist
that, at some point in evolutionary history, God injected an immortal soul. We should
outgrow this and recognize that discriminatory lines can themselves be unethical.
Especially when we remember racism and slavery.My argument is open to a shallow reductio
ad absurdum reply. Where do you draw the line? Are we then to accord human rights to
earthworms? To dandelions? But the problem lies with the desire to draw lines, not with
the desire to broaden the range of those beings granted humanistic ethical consideration.
I think we should give up assuming that there are necessarily lines to be drawn. In
evolution-in life, in the real world-there are gradients. Gradients of intelligence,
gradients of capacity to suffer, gradients of moral responsibility for suffering.
Consideration of children and the mentally deficient has already established the principle
that responsibility is a gradient. Why not, then, a gradient of entitlement to humanistic
ethical consideration?If the reason for treating humans humanely is that they can suffer,
then let us look at the sliding scale of suffering of which other species are capable. And
if that opens up a can of worms within Homo sapiens-if, say, some individual people seem
to deserve more moral consideration than others-that is something we should face up to
too. No doubt it will raise all sorts of difficulties. But they will not obviously be
greater than the difficulties we at present face in our humanistic discrimination in favor
of one species.I recognize that these matters are too radical to be dealt with
cosmetically in the existing Manifesto. Accordingly, I sign it, in the hope that
humanists will soon turn their attention to the speciesism that is inherent in their
ethics and even, perhaps, in their very name.
Amid the cacophony of doomsayers, it is inspiring that the humanist movement should
have the intellectual courage to put such a visionary Manifesto forward. I can
think of no more worthwhile program for people of goodwill to devote their lives to
I'm now much limited in time and energy due to Post Polio, and am also overwhelmed with
many projects. I agree with the overall thrust and positive outlook of the document, and
would like to add my personal endorsement to it.You may be interested to know that St.
Martin's Press is due to publish this month Greetings, Carbon-based Bipeds!, a collection
of my best nonfiction essays over the past 60 years. I deal with many of the issues in
your Manifesto in several essays included in it.
It is a masterful work of philosophy and reason. I don't agree with it word for word,
but I didn't write it. Something like this is not written by a committee. A committee
wrote the Bible and we know the mess they made of that. Something as far reaching and as
clear and well-argued as this document needs to be written by a scholar who knows what he
or she is talking about and knows how to express it. Paul Kurtz should be congratulated
for his work on this.
I have read the Manifesto with great sympathy and admiration for the work of
the Editorial Committee. Please mark me an enthusiastic signer.
Humanist Manifesto 2000 is an inspiring document and I am happy to support it.
This Manifesto furnishes a beacon in the darkness of our present age and, if
followed, could lead to a human resurrection and the birth of a newer and better humanity.
It also forms the basis for a working philosophy for the twenty-first century, and if
merged with what Goodenough and others call "religious naturalism" could provide
humanity with a newer and better vision of what they hope to attain and become.The Manifesto
provides, perhaps, some tentative answers to the age-old questions: Who are we? Why are we
here? What are our lives for? What have we become? and Where should we be going? Methods
and techniques for arranging and obtaining assent and agreement on these goals for mankind
must be invented and implemented before we can climb out of the medieval mire and by using
this Manifesto as a blueprint, begin to build a social world that is not only
superior but one that is truly "fit" for "human" beings. Now that the
"call" has been made, what can we do to ensure that it will be answered? This is
the challenge before us!
Congratulations! This Manifesto reflects completely my own ideas, wishes,
fears, and hope. I really hope it will find a way in our world of today.Let's put our
shoulders under this project and try to cope with the problems of the world. We humanists
have a task to do!
The Manifesto is overall excellent-the concluding optimism in particular.
However, I do not feel that humanist concerns about the free market are adequately
expressed. Certainly, the free market is, undoubtedly, the best basis for economic
affairs. But it must be constrained, if society and individuals are to get the best out of
it. The word supplemented (introductory paragraph) is not good enough, and "may
need" is not strong enough. Likewise on p. 17 "Sixth" is inadequate: it
recognizes the necessity of regulation, but immediately reduces it. And
"Seventh" is seriously inadequate. And elsewhere. The ideal of a
"constrained market economy" is very important, and should be properly brought
In philosophy I do defend the is-ought gap. However, we need reason to discover means
to ends. As for ultimate ends I (like David Hume) appeal to feelings of benevolence and
sympathy. I defend utilitarian ethics. So ultimately I am not a rights person. Still I
would defend certain legal and customary rights. So I am not really unhappy with your
rhetoric of rights.
The Manifesto is thorough, well documented, stresses both the positive and
negative aspect of human societies, and creates a hope for the future. The section on
"The Need for New Planetary Institutions" is for me the most important part of
the Manifesto. My reservation and my concern is about the omission to mention and
stress the biological basis of human behavior and of human history. It seems to me that
the future of humanity depends to a great extent on our understanding human nature which
is formed partly by our genome and partly by what we call "culture." The
realization of the risk of massive catastrophes by the population explosion, the
disintegration of the environment and wars with means of mass destruction, the perception
of the negative aspect of human societies, and our studying human nature might lead up to
the design of a new humanism and new global ethics. This might sound utopian but for me it
is the only hope for the prevention of massive catastrophes and for the creation of an
environment on the planet Earth, supportive of peace and progress for all human beings.
I cannot share your optimism. Born at the beginning of the war 1914-1918, my first
memories are of a cousin showing me a hole made through him by a bullet. Then the
influenza outbreak. Then after a short interlude the Great Depression. Then there was
Hitler, in the best-educated country, and the Second World War. Now with the most
philistine of prime ministers who has done great damage to our universities, which he
wants substantially to turn into advanced technical colleges. I am by no means an
I wish to add the following matter under the sections on children. Children should be
free to opt for any religion or nonreligion when they attain adulthood. Parents should not
automatically impose their religion on children. Religion is essentially faith-based and
as such beyond the understanding of children. Children should be taught about religions in
schools but should not be preached to with a view to mend them from birth.Children should
not be treated as the property right of parents. The Convention of Child Rights should be
recognized and implemented by parents. (The U.N. Convention of Child Rights was adopted in
1989 and ratified by virtually all nations except the U.S.A. and Somalia).Child abuse by
religions should be vigorously opposed. Circumcision of boys, genital mutilation of girls,
the dedicating of children to church services as altar boys and nuns and priests, Lamas
(Tibetian Buddhists), Swamis among Hindus, Devadasis and Jogins (servants of Gods among
Hindus), compulsory memorization of the Koran's 5,000 suras in Arabic by Muslim children
irrespective of nation and literacy, the recruiting of children into wars in the name of
holy fights like Jihad (Islamic slogan of Muslims), Dharmayudh (Hindus), and similar
atrocities against children should be opposed.Children should not be labeled under any
religion in school registers and censuses. The search for truth and the quest for
knowledge should be the basic values encouraged among children. Blind faith and
superstitions will hinder their curiosity and their questioning temperament. Through
religion, parents and priests are preaching fear among children, which should be avoided
under all circumstances.
I think that the Manifesto is excellent. I hope that the document will receive
all the attention and especially the implementation that it deserves.There is, however,
one point that perhaps could be included or at least explained: as you know, all human
beings are born with very undeveloped brains, and the first weeks or months after birth
are a crucial period during which sensory reception influences that expression or
repression of the genes, the growth of neurons, the number of synaptic connections, their
complexity and the establishment of a frame of reference, kept in the limbic system. At
this time, the baby possesses basic neurobiological functions, but it does not walk, talk,
have coordinated movements, abstract thinking, symbolic language, or other signs of mental
activity. The surrounding medium (usually the parents) will provide education,
information, experiences, prejudices, and other inputs without knowledge or consent of the
infant, shaping in this way its brain, its frame of reference, and its future
Lucid, logical, clear. A superb job.
Humanist Manifesto 2000 eloquently and forcefully states the goals and
practical steps to move toward peace on the planet.
I am not supportive of an international parliament-it is unrealistic. Not enough
attention is given to helping those with genetic disabilities and those affected by
environmental disasters. Not enough attention is given to removing the stigma from mental
illness. Not enough attention is given to the importance of openness in the applications
of science and medical treatments. Telling the truth as best one knows it is paramount.
Nevertheless I wish to sign the Manifesto.
Any citizen of any state has the right to apply directly to the International Court or
similar organizations in the case of elimination or disturbance of his or her human
In my opinion, the three organized religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are
three conglomerate and large businesses, one collecting money on Fridays, one on
Saturdays, and one on Sundays.
This is an amazingly comprehensive document, breathtakingly sweeping on its reach.
Although I myself would have liked a little more said about democracy and dissent, I'm
nevertheless quite taken with the whole statement. One particular caveat regarding the
commentary about postmodernism is altogether brief and cavalierly dismissive. It's too
widespread a sensibility to brush off with impatient contempt.
I agree with all essential points of the Manifesto, especially those stressing
the significance of scientific knowledge. I even would say more insistently that the
further development of science is the only hope for humankind to survive. I would also
suggest publishing a shorter version of the Manifesto.
Humanist Manifesto 2000 is the most comprehensive statement of where we are
and what we believe that has ever been presented. But it fails to call for more
application of available knowledge: biological knowledge, behavioral knowledge,
biocybernetic knowledge of adaptation in three categories, evolutional, physiological, and
cultural. The term Global Ethics is not good enough-Global Bioethics is called for. Global
Bioethics calls not for pessimism or optimism but realism.
The Manifesto states: "We should see to it that our planetary society
does not unleash weapons of mass destruction." In my opinion, we should be committed
to the destruction, and not merely to not unleashing, atomic weapons. Such a commitment
will be a great asset to our humanist movement.
I have never read anything that impressed me as much as your Humanist Manifesto
2000. It's a blueprint for an ideal world we can hope to see during the next
millennium. You have made me much more confident that it will happen and much sooner than
without your blueprint. I noted three places where you mention the importance of
population control. I regard that as a major problem facing the world today, and I would
like to see population control a major goal emphasized by the Council for Secular
Humanism. My own experience with the Church and its true believers has made me less and
less sanguine concerning future progress for humanism. It has even affected my desire to
look forward to my own future birthdays. Your Manifesto 2000 has helped improve
my attitude in that area.Although you and I won't be here to see the continuing evolution
of global humanism, at least your blueprint will light the way.
May we invite those readers who agree with the Manifesto to send in their endorsements. (Mailing address: Manifesto, P.O. Box 664, Amherst, NY 14226; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.) We wish the Manifesto in time to truly express the universal voice of humankind.