"Our prayers have thus far constituted our flight away from reality. And yet when the mouse is cornered, even it will turn on its hind legs and raise and join its paws before its head, in a posture not unlike that of a man in holy supplication. As opposed to the Homo sapiens, however, this is how a mouse confronts an inescapable danger and fights to the last. I hope my prayers become at least as noble...not one of begging and whining for fate to be something other than that which it can only be, but one of turning in a holy defiance of my own fears and in a struggle to affirm fate...to affirm the reality of my condition." (Matt Berry in Post-Atheism, p. 125)
Our best guide to truth is a free and rational, honest inquiry; we should therefore not be bound by the dictates of arbitrary authority, comfortable superstition, stifling tradition, or suffocating orthodoxy. We should defer to no dogma--neither religious nor secular--and never be afraid to ask "How do you know?"
We should be concerned with the here and now, with solving human problems with the best resources of human minds and hearts. If there is to be meaning in our lives, we must supply it ourselves, relying on our own powers, observation, and compassion. It is irrational and ultimately harmful to hang our hopes on gods, the supernatural, and the hidden, which arise out of imagination and wishful thinking. It is pointless--and often dangerous--to push aside human intelligence to reach for some flimsy veil of alleged truths.
We must be committed to moral principles, which are derived from critical intelligence and human experience, and we must pursue positive ideals. We should therefore observe the common moral decencies: integrity, humanitarianism, truthfulness, trustworthiness, fairness, and responsibility. This means being tolerant of differences, and striving to overcome divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, creed, or class.
Constitutional democracy is usually the best known means for protecting the rights of people to form worldviews and live out their commitments in a free and mutually respectful way. Governments should promote open societies, ensure universal human rights, and be secular, having no bias against any religious or non-religious group.
We must strive to realize personal potential, maximize creative talents and artistic expression, and choose joy and hope over despair and guilt.
. . . Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error.
-- Thomas Jefferson (Notes on the State of Virginia, vol. 8, p. 400)