Gerhard Reuter


Theses for an Intercultural Humanism

(Draft, 10 Aug. 2009)

  1. Man is a part of nature. This natural environment has undergone a diverse development since the separation of the planet Earth from the sun and will continue to do so from the present until the end of the solar system, which, astronomical calculations tell us, will eventually occur.
  2. One example is provided by soil scientist Walter L. Kubiena’s theory of soil development. The various factors causing and contributing to the individual stages of development involve inherent characteristics of the environment (climate, bedrock, vegetation, mankind, etc.) and changes therein, which are largely recognized and understood. There are also various phenomena that are not yet understood, such as banded illuvial horizons, which are definitely worth investigation.
  3. Galileo’s criticism of the biblical story of creation, which was based on the findings of Copernicus, had to be accepted eventually despite prolonged and steadfast resistance on the part of the Roman Catholic Church. And Darwin’s theory of evolution is more believable than the absurd accounts of some unnamed author of the Old Testament book of Genesis.
  4. One must accept the fact that mutations are the fundamental motor of evolution. It is not yet known just what triggers mutations, just as the mechanism behind the transition from inanimate natural objects to living organisms, from flora and fauna to man remains a mystery. We should aspire to explaining this mystery.
  5. Most of the organs and abilities that man requires to adapt to his environment were already developed within the animal world , e.g., all sensory organs, numerous brain functions such as the ability to react and to communicate, to remember, to evaluate experiences, as well as the preliminary stages of trusting and doubting.
  6. It does not seem realistic to attribute these material developments to a spiritual creator. The numerous different perceptions of God(s) that exist in human cultures are logically attributable to the human capacity for invention, which is anchored in the brain. This is evidenced by the very fact that there exists such variation, ranging from polytheism to monotheism, and that any given manifestation thereof is dependent upon the level of development of the respective culture.
  7. The idea of there being an almighty, kindly creator of all things, to whom people must subordinate themselves so that they might enter heaven, cannot be reconciled with the idea of there being a devil. Why would the Almighty have created the latter, or at least not stopped his activities? Furthermore, the unwarranted suffering and death of countless people due to natural disasters and wars is not compatible with the idea of an almighty, kindly God.
  8. The idea that a God occupies himself with the often complex problems of an individual praying to him while, at the same time, millions of other individuals are praying to him with the same expectations seems absurd. The fact that praying can often be beneficial to an individual can be explained as an auto-suggestive effect – an effect that can be attained by other means as well.
  9. The moral and ethical system resulting from the biblical Ten Commandments has been of inestimable value for the social development and preservation of humanity. Both the acceptance and the effectiveness of this moral system have been based upon a fear of God. Humanistic societies will be faced with the task of finding and propagating an effective new version of this moral system. And one might also consider adopting further moral precepts from other religions as well.
  10. An urgent, and at the same time relatively simple, task for humanistic societies will be to exert an influence on the ever-increasing number of non-religious people in order to win them for a confessing humanism and to counteract possible loss of morals. It is important, in this regard, to emphasise mentally stimulating aspects of humanistic thinking.
  11. A further task should be to establish contacts with like-minded people both in one’s own language area and in other cultures in order to achieve a unified, global, intercultural worldview and moral outlook on the basis of common efforts. This is the only way to achieve world peace. which is essential to the survival of our species.
  12. It would be a positive step to establish the discipline of “Humanology” (as both a teaching and a research discipline) at universities so as to strengthen and further develop the ideas of intercultural humanism. The main focus of research should be, in addition to the history of humanism, the collecting and recording of humanist principles in the various cultures and the search for ways to unify them. A further pressing task of the university discipline of Humanology is to develop learning materials and to train teachers for the urgently needed humanistic instruction in primary and secondary schools.
  13. For the adoption of a non-religious intercultural humanism to become accepted as a lasting worldview, it would seem advantageous not to simply ignore religious holidays and various religious rites but rather to refashion them to whatever extent possible. This could also occur in humanistic societies prior to any statutory provisions. It should however take place on an intercultural basis to the greatest extent possible.
  14. Relations between individuals and communities or societies embodying a non-religious intercultural humanism and people and societies with a different orientation should be conducted peacefully and, if at all possible amiably . The philosophical debate with religions should be carried out in an objective manner, and never from a hostile perspective.