Select Committee on BBC Charter Review Minutes of Evidence

Annex I


  Humanism is an approach to life based on humanity and reason. For humanists it fulfils much the same function as a religion does for its believers.

  Humanists recognise that it is simply human nature to have moral values but that when we make moral particular judgements we need to interpret those widely shared values by the use of knowledge, reason and experience. Faced with a difficult decision, we consider and assess the available evidence and the likely outcomes of alternative actions. We do not refer to any dogma, sacred text or fashionable but unsubstantiated theory.

  Humanists find the best available explanations of life and the universe in the naturalistic and provisional answers provided by scientific enquiry and the use of reason. We think it folly to turn to other sources—such as religion or superstition—for answers to unanswered questions. Humanists are therefore atheists or agnostics—but Humanism is a philosophy in its own right, not just a negative response to religion.

  Humanists believe that this is the only life we have and we see it as our responsibility to make life as good as possible, not only for ourselves but for everyone—including future generations. We strongly support individual human rights and freedoms—but believe equally in the importance of individual responsibility, social co-operation and mutual respect. We endorse the idea of an open society in which, despite fundamentally different beliefs and lifestyles people of good will live co-operatively together, with shared institutions, laws and government that are deliberately kept neutral as between different belief groups.

  As Humanists we create meaning and purpose for ourselves by adopting worthwhile goals and endeavouring to live our lives to the full. We feel awe at the immensity of the universe and the intricate nature of its workings, we find inspiration in the richness of the natural world, in music, the arts, the achievements of the past and the possibilities of the future, we find fulfilment in worthwhile activity, in physical recreation and endeavour and in the pleasures of human interaction, affection and love.

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