Put another way, these two lists are intended to constitute a minimum set of beliefs that we can use as a foundation for discussion of issues important to humanity. In other words, if we have got these right, and we can agree to their validity, then we should be able to have reasonable discussions about how to go about solving important problems facing our species. But if we can’t agree on these, then it is unlikely we will be able to agree on much else.
We make no claims that these principles and values are fixed and immutable; in fact, they are subject to change and improvement. And we do not uphold them because they were handed down from some higher authority; we believe them because we make a conscious choice to do so.
It is because of the foundational nature of these beliefs, their transparent authorship, and our openness to change, that we sometimes speak of The Society for Practical Utopians as a sort of “open-source religion.”
The Principles and Values should be:
Concise – We’d like these lists to be as short as possible, we’d like to state each belief in no more than a sentence or two, and we want the language to be relatively simple and clear, at least in terms of our basic intentions.
Foundational – We want these to be our most fundamental beliefs. Other beliefs will build on these, so we want a firm foundation. This means that, if another belief can be reasonably derived from one or more of these Principles and Values, then that other belief should not itself be on one of these lists.
Distinct – We want to minimize overlap between any of these principles and values.
Consistent – None of these principles and values should contradict each other.
Helpful – We want to be able to refer back to these in order to help us have more productive conversations about tough topics.
The Practopian Principles and Values intentionally avoid any mention of religion, God, or spirit, for several reasons.
People use these terms in so many different ways, to mean so many different things, that it would be difficult to offer any simple, useful generalizations concerning them.
Use of these terms is not necessary in order to succinctly state any of our foundational beliefs.
These terms are frequently used – either intentionally or accidentally – in a way that encourages humans to belief in some external agent or entity that is responsible for our fate, and we want to be careful to avoid shifting responsibility for our future off of our own shoulders.
We have no intention, however, to discount or demean or disavow any particular religious text, practice or belief – so long as these are viewed and used in ways that are compatible and consistent with our Principles and Values.
In fact, many elements of the Practopian Principles and Values can be found in various religious texts and teachings, and it is no part of our intent to diminish anyone’s appreciation for these other works.
Nowhere do we restrict this interest to any particular part of the world and so, by implication, and with conscious intent, our perspective is a global one.
While none of our principles and values explicitly state a concern for other species on our planet, our humanistic perspective is not intended to imply any disregard for the condition of other life forms on our planet nor, indeed, for the web of life of which humanity is only a part. In fact, we believe that humans would be rather foolish if we did not think that our happiness, and perhaps even our very survival, hinges on our ability to harmoniously coexist with the many other species with which we share this world.