I believe, not just in science and reason, not just in modern rational empiricism and skepticism, in the value of critical thinking, not just in the pursuit of objective knowledge, but in the full range of our human history, achievements and experience in our recent emergence onto the cosmic stage, our philosophy, our music, our arts, and I believe…
- …in a natural, physical, objectively existing real world such that we can test our ideas against it, and make genuine progress in knowing and understanding this world and ourselves as beings within it.
- …in the progressive and demonstrable accomplishments of my species, of all human civilizations over time, and especially the Enlightenment values that inspired my country’s founding, the intellectual accomplishments of those who came after, and those who will follow, in spite of the fundamentalist anti-intellectual populism that has infected my country’s culture and politics since its beginning.
- …that as Carl Sagan once put it, we humans are capable of greatness, and that to fulfill this we can and must rid ourselves of our false and divisive tribal conceits, and overcome the dangerous evolutionary baggage we’ve accumulated in our history as a species.
- …that religion, despite my unbelief in its supernatural claims and its frequent pretensions to truth by faith alone or with reason as the mere handmaiden of faith, is a potent force and needs to be examined and dealt with carefully in both critiquing and opposing its conservative fundamentalism and working with its more liberal elements for the common good of all.
- …that unfounded doctrines, dogmas, and blind belief systems based not on objective evidence, but on the authoritarian notion of absolute Truth are without merit, and are of no real value in the pursuit of human flourishing, particularly messianic apocalyptic mythologies…
- …that human flourishing is best accomplished by an equitable and educated secular society, where all have the same rights, privileges and responsibilities, including the rights to marriage, fair voting laws, economic opportunity, of belief and non-belief, of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, none of these things limited by gender, race, creed, class, sexual preference, or any ideology.
- …that your right to swing your fist ends where where the tip of someone else’s nose begins, that you have the right to hold intolerant views if you wish but not to express them by infringing on the rights of those you may dislike because of those views, nor the rights of others to criticize you for your views.
- …that nobody exclusively owns words like truth, reason, rationality, knowledge, or fact, but that these are human things, belonging to anyone who genuinely seeks them, who values them as worthy pursuits in themselves and to the detriment of the entwined dragons of fear and ignorance.
- …that science, even if it cannot solve all of our problems in all areas of human existence, can almost surely inform us in those areas where it applies and the knowledge it offers may be put to effective use.
Are any of these beliefs mistaken? They could be, but I’ve yet to see an objective demonstration that they are, and I’ve no interest in clinging to what proves to be mistaken — dogma doesn’t interest me, as it does me nor anyone else much good. No principle is infallible, though I’ve chosen a way of examining the world which has proven very reliable, empowering, liberating, and very unlikely to be shown otherwise.