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Secular Humanistic Judaism

TEN FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLES OF SECULAR HUMANISTIC JUDAISM

Secular Humanistic Jews share the following foundational principles and are committed to behaviour and practices that are consistent with these principles and worldview.

1. ON NATURE AND REALITY - Human beings are part of the evolving natural universe which we view through our senses and understand through rational thought. The universe exists on natural laws, independent of supernatural intervention. There is no evidence supporting any conscious life after death.

2. ON THE PURPOSE OR MEANING OF LIFE - Although there is no single over-arching purpose to life, self-actualization for every human being gives life purpose. Only the individual can create specific meaning in her/his life. Perpetuating life and improving its quality can add profound meaning to human life.

3. ON SPIRITUALITY - Spirituality is that which ennobles the human spirit. It is a sense of inner harmony achieved from feeling connected to nature and other humans or from apprehension of beauty both in nature and in the artistic and intellectual creations of human beings.

4. ON THE NATURE OF TRUTH - Uncertainty is a condition of life and our conceptions of truths evolve as our knowledge and understanding deepen. Truths can be discovered through reason via scientific method and empirical evidence, not through faith or by intuition alone. Truths are universal, not ethnic, and the value of ideas is judged by their truth, not their Jewishness.

5. ON ETHICS - Ethics is the study of what humans ought to be and evolves out of experience and understanding of the consequences of our actions. All actions ought to satisfy human needs primarily for survival, pleasure and dignity, the harmonization of which leads to happiness. We should glean from all available sources the ethical values that serve these needs.

6. ON MORAL AUTHORITY - Human beings are the arbiters of morality and have the power as well as the responsibility to be the masters of their own lives. This power can be exercised in a society where maximum personal freedom is granted but is balanced by societal needs.

7. ON SOCIAL ETHICS - As social animals, humans cannot be self-fulfilled in isolation. We have a moral obligation to be self-reliant and to ensure conditions which encourage self-determination and self-actualization for individuals and groups. This can best be achieved in an open and democratic society where individual rights and group rights are balanced. We value all social structures that promote well-being (e.g. friendship, family, community). The welfare of all people and our earth is of vital concern to us.

8. ON JEWISH PEOPLEHOOD - We are a unique, not a chosen people, among many unique peoples. We identify with the history, culture, and future of the Jewish people and are proud of our membership in it. We value the contribution of Jews and Judaism to the betterment of our world, and affirm the value of preserving Jewish identities.

9. ON JUDAISM - Judaism is the historical experience and cultural creation (civilization) of the Jewish people which has evolved, and will continue to evolve, based on the needs and influences of the times. Judaism consists of many traditions. Secular Humanistic Judaism is a logical result of the lessons of Jewish history, that taught us that we must be self-reliant.

10. ON JEWISH CONTINUITY - Jewish people, along with others, have contributed to the advancement of society. There is value in the perpetuation of Jewish culture and peoplehood. Unity is often found in diversity. Membership in the Jewish people should be open and inclusive. Only Jewish pluralism will guarantee the survival of the Jewish people.

-compiled by Eva Goldfinger, author of Basic Ideas of Secular Humanistic Judaism