Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism

Concerning the origin and historical diversity of life on earth, secular humanists accept the fact of evolution as the essential framework of modern biology. Physico-chemical development paved the way for the origin of life about four billion years ago. Subsequent organic evolution is now documented by empirical evidence from geology, paleontology, biogeography, anthropology and genetics as well as comparative studies in taxonomy, biochemistry, embryology, anatomy and physiology. The ages of rock strata, with their fossils and artifacts in the geological column, are determined by radiometric dating techniques. Grounded in science and reason, evolution has descriptive and explanatory powers free from supernatural claims and dogmatic religious beliefs. Concerning models, mechanisms and interpretations, the present Neodarwinian synthesis in biological evolution is always subject to modification and expansion in light of new discoveries in science and widening perspectives in philosophy.

Defending the constitutional separation of church and state, secular humanists deplore the efforts of biblical fundamentalists or so-called scientific creationists to invade science classrooms and pressure textbook publishers with their religious myth and political agenda. We reject the teaching of religious fundamentalism as a viable alternative to organic evolution in science texts and biology classes. In fact, all religious beliefs and practices have evolved throughout human socio-cultural development. Clearly, a strict and literal interpretation of Genesis is merely a religious account for the origin of life that is not subject to testing by evidence, experience and experimentation. Consequently, biblical creationism is an ongoing and serious threat to science education, responsible research, critical thought and free inquiry. Authority and revelation are not reliable substitutes for the scientific method and logical procedure. In short, rigorous scrutiny shows evolutionary science and scriptural literalism, with its appeals to miraculous causes, to be opposing explanations for the appearance of all life forms on this planet.

Furthermore, secular humanists boldly accept the far-reaching consequences of evolution and extinction for understanding and appreciating the place our species occupies within earth history and this dynamic universe. The human animal is a product of, dependent upon, and totally within organic evolution. Comparative DNA studies show that humankind shares a common ancestry with the three great apes (orangutan, chimpanzee and gorilla). Fossil hominid evidence recently found in central East Africa documents the emergence of our species over the past four million years. No doubt, future discoveries will shed additional light on the origin and history of humankind from ape-like ancestors.

Religious beliefs in a personal god, human immortality, and a divine destiny for our species are inadmissible as scientific statements. And questions concerning metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and values are best answered in terms of science, reason and human experience within a humanist framework and a naturalist worldview.

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