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Ten Offers

An unbiased analysis of the "sacred texts" of the "high religions" leads to the conclusion that they are far below the minimum ethical standard of any moderately civilized society. Historically this is understandable: After all, how could the people who wrote the "Holy Scriptures" many, many centuries ago have formulated fundamental rights that could only be developed at a much later stage of cultural evolution? In the "Manifesto of Evolutionary Humanism" the "Ten Commandments of the Bible" were therefore matched with the "Ten Offers of Evolutionary Humanism".

These ten "offers" were decreed by no god, nor were they carved in stone. It is up to every individual to examine these considerations rationally and without fear, to accept them, modify them, or to ignore them completely.

The Ten Offers of Evolutionary Humanism

1. Serve neither foreign nor familiar "gods" (which, on close inspection, are nothing more than naïve constructions of the primate brain), but rather the great ideal of ethics to lessen the suffering in the world. Those who claimed to be standing closest to their "god" were often those who stood especially far from the well-being and pain of real people. Do not get involved with that tragedy. To possess science, philosophy and art means not to need religion!

2. Behave fairly to your neighbour and also to those farthest away! You will not be able to love everyone but you should respect that every person – even those you do not care for! – has the right to implement their own ideas about "good living (and dying) in the here and now" as long as these do not conflict with the equal rights of others.

3. Have no fear of authorities, but rather the courage to reason for yourself! Keep in mind that the strength of an argument is completely independent of who is making it. The truth of a statement depends only on whether it is logically consistent and corresponds to our real experience of the world. If today someone argues with "god on his side” this should generate not awe but roars of laughter.

4. You shall not lie, cheat, steal or kill – unless, in an emergency, there is no other way of asserting the ideals of humanity! Those who, under the Nazi dictatorship, did not lie, but rather willingly divulged the hiding places of Jewish families to the Gestapo, behaved in a highly unethical manner – in contrast to those who wanted to assassinate Hitler in order to save millions of people’s lives. Ethical behaviour means not blindly following a set of moral commandments or prohibitions; instead, it requires us, in the particular situation, to weigh up the positive and negative consequences of a decision.

5. Free yourself from the bad habit of moralizing! There is no such thing in the world as "good" and "evil" but merely people with differing interests, needs and learning experiences. Contribute to ameliorating the catastrophic conditions under which people today are wasting away, and you will be amazed at the friendly, creative and lovable side that the apparent "beast" Homo sapiens can show.

6. Do not immunize yourself against criticism! Honest criticism is a gift that you should not reject. Through such criticism you stand to lose only your errors, which you should cast aside today rather than tomorrow. Have pity on those who are unable to accept criticism, and who out of deep fear have to present themselves as "infallible" and their dogmas as "holy" (untouchable). They should no longer be taken seriously in a modern society.

7. Do not be too confident! That which appears certain to us today can be out of date tomorrow! But even doubt should be doubted! Although our knowledge is permanently limited and tentative, you should stand by those things of which you are convinced. But in doing so, be open for better arguments, because only in that way will you succeed in mastering the narrow path beyond dogmatism and "anything goes".

8. Overcome any tendency towards tradition blindness by informing yourself in depth from all sides before making a decision! As a human, you have at your disposal an extraordinarily adaptive brain – do not let it go to waste! Be careful to apply the same rational principles in questions of ethics and ideology that you need to operate a smartphone or a computer. A species that can split the atom and communicate via satellite has to be mature enough to do this.

9. Enjoy your life because it is highly probable that it will be the only one you have! Be aware of your own, and of all our finiteness, do not repress it but rather "seize the day" (Carpe diem)! It is precisely the finiteness of an individual life that makes it so unbelievably precious! Let no one persuade you that it is a disgrace to be happy! On the contrary: By enjoying the freedom you possess today you are honouring those who lost their lives fighting for it in the past!

10. Put your life in the service of a "greater cause", become a part of the tradition of those who desire(d) to make the world a better place in which to live. Such an attitude is not only ethically tenable, but also the best recipe for a fulfilled existence. It seems that altruists are the cleverer egoists, because the greatest fulfilment of our self-interest lies in achieving its extension to others. If you feel that you are part of the "heat-flow of human history”, that will make you happier than any imaginable possession. You will intuitively sense that you are not alive for nothing and that your life is not, and will not have been, in vain!

(From: "Manifesto of Evolutionary Humanism", Alibri Verlag, Aschaffenburg 2005, p.136-139)

The "Ten Offers" were also published in a print brochure (so far only available in German), which is frequently used in teaching ethics and religious education. If you would like to order the brochure in larger quantities, please use this web form.