A Human Statement

Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” – James 4:4

My faith is whatever makes me feel good about being alive. If your religion doesn’t make you feel good to be alive, what the hell is the point of it?” – Tom Robbins

PREAMBLE

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, humans of Earth find themselves living in a period of historic transition. Luckily, every era is, by definition, a period of historic transition. While there are undeniably moments of cultural revolution and dramatic societal upheaval, this overall acceleration is a mathematical feature of civilization. Culture changes exponentially. In addition to any newfound discoveries, as more knowledge and information is accumulated by human beings, more knowledge and information is created about any preexisting knowledge and information, ad infinitum. This would be true of any one culture in isolation, and is especially true of our global culture. Culture evolves.

Currently, western culture is inarguably the predominant culture of the global civilization, but it is by no means the only one and it was not always so. Both Judaism and Christianity are eastern philosophies that have expanded westward and absorbed various beliefs and practices in the process. Western culture has certainly existed long before any Christian theology was formed and thus may potentially outlast it.

Despite this acceleration however, it is itself revisionist history to assert that the modern era is a massive revision of what it means to be a human being, in this or any other culture. Historically, the subset of humans with the most power and privilege has possessed the ability, however factually wrong and morally misguided, to define what it means to be a human being. A select few have always been the gatekeepers of personhood. Humans kept as slaves, women, children and countless others have traditionally been defined as less than human. The entire thrust of western culture is literally a broadening of that definition. If nothing else, the line between person and nonperson has been moving for millennia.

We propose that merely posing the question of what it means to be a human being is a central and sufficient aspect of being human. Once you are conscious enough to seek an answer, you are well enough on your way. As such, the definition of humanity is fluid.

We are persuaded by reason, because while it is an imprecise tool, for thousands of years it has dutifully served humans in the pursuit of truths we may never fully grasp. We do this while also acknowledging that blind faith in reason is not only foolish, but a contradiction in terms. Thus equipped with reason, we recognize that any god or gods who would create the universe and populate it with beings endowed with the ability to observe and marvel upon it, in the expectation that we would ignore these gifts, would not only be cruel and capricious, but unworthy of worship as it is commonly understood. If the gods gave us the powers to discern and judge, it would be patently sacrilegious not to use them.

Since no human being alive today has any substantial credible claim to have or have had direct communication with any god or other demiurgic being, all knowledge of such beings is mediated through other humans long since dead. As such, regardless of the existence of any gods, it is incumbent on any present day human, as previously defined, to assess for themselves how much trust to place in any past human, whether ancestor or parent. Further, it is equally incumbent on any living human to individually determine what plan these gods may or may not have for them and whether or not they agree to adhere to any such plan.

Despite any perceived authority, blind obedience to the beliefs of others, stumbling along the same path, presents a great challenge to the future existence of the human race.

Due to this lack of direct knowledge, it is hypocritical, and an argument in bad faith, to impose strict gender boundaries on humans and yet muddle them when it comes to more supernatural beings. We find it revealing that any Christian document devoted primarily to how important it is to adhere to biological sexual parameters, ascribes the church a metaphorical gender of female, while referring to the triune Christian god as male. Either these are metaphors worth exploration and discussion or they are presented as literal truths.

We demand that if a strict logic is to be applied to the sexualities of human beings, that this logic must then extend to beings in whose image we are supposedly created. Historically speaking, monotheism is a recent aberration. Christian scripture does not explicitly teach that there is but one god, but rather that the god worshiped by Christians forbids the worship of any other gods. Additionally, nowhere in observed history is there any record of a gendered creature which can then accurately be referred to as male without a corresponding female creature. Asexual reproduction, as well as hermaphrodites, of course exist, but these organisms are not then referred to as having either binary gender. A solitary and monotheistic god, despite any tripart nature, does not require a gender. Genders only exist in the framework of sexual reproduction. If the Judeo/Christian/Islamic god has a gender and it is male, it is necessarily in compliment to at least one other gender, which we label as female. Either your singular god has no gender, or, granting that it does, it is either the product of sexual reproduction or a potential participant in it. Otherwise, to refer to a monotheistic god by any gender, is at best inaccurate, and at worst, insulting and blasphemous.

We reject the notion that any human owes total allegiance to anything simply by virtue of existing. The path of knowing oneself is in part defined by determining to whom or what and to what degree one owes any allegiance. Regardless of what any prophet throughout history claims, we affirm that it is still the privilege of each individual to assess the truth of any such claim.

If, we grant we are the children of the gods, then the only debt we may owe these beings that have created us, is the same debt a child owes its parents. In other words, substantial, but not inexhaustible. Respect and deference are not the same as slavery and subjugation. We further give credence to the idea that parents hope for their children to surpass them in some way, however small, that progress is not only possible but desirable. To consciously create life and not wish better for it seems counter to the very notion of life itself.

We can therefore only conclude that the pathway to full and lasting joy is not only long and arduous, but as varied as the beings that find themselves on it. It is in this pursuit that we offer the following assertions and denials.

LIFE

We affirm that as we currently understand it, life is a unique feature of the Earth. Depending on your individual understanding, this may or may not be an expression of an even broader value or universal principle.

We deny that human beings are in any way exempt from the continuous chain of life on Earth for billions of years. While it can be reasonably argued that in our awareness of this chain, further responsibilities are accrued by humans, these duties are for each individual to assess and for each society to enforce.

We affirm that life proceeds apace regardless of the interference or whims of human beings. Life existed well before our arrival and will persist despite our best attempts to subdue or exert dominion over it. But, it is again, up to each individual to determine what debt that incurs and to each society to determine how to collect on that debt.

SEXUAL IDENTITY

We affirm that biologically occurring differences between male and female animals, including humans, reflect an underlying principle of diversity inherent in the mechanism of evolution. Such diversity is equally pragmatic and efficient.

We affirm that the biological differences between female and male human reproductive structures are integral to the continuation of the human race. It is then up to each individual human to assign their own moral value to this truth.

We affirm that variety in sexual identity and preference is a further expression of the principle of diversity upon which life has flourished for billions of years.

We affirm that to stand against diversity is to stand against life itself.

SEXUAL ACTIVITY

We deny that expressing any sexuality, in a consensual framework, in any way intrudes or impedes on the rights or freedoms of any other human. Put bluntly, mind your own fucking business.

We affirm that sexual intimacy is, by definition, as holy as any human activity could ever be, and that prescribing or limiting the worship of others is both an affront to religious liberty and an act of religious warfare to be recognized as such.

While acknowledging the power of the metaphor of sexual intercourse as literally “making” or creating love out of nothing, we deny that there is but one way to do so. We conclude that, due to our particular biology, sexual intimacy, in all its forms, is an expression of the principle of life, and sexual reproduction is one of many ways to honor this principle.

FAMILY

We affirm that consensual monogamy and long-term pair-bond parenting among humans long predates any god that is currently popularly worshiped. Further, we assert that homosexuality, transgenderism and non-binary sexual expression long predate any and all human conceptions of marriage.

While affirming these truths, we also deny the naturalistic fallacy. If we assume that everything that is, ought to be, or that the longer a tradition has existed the more unquestionable it becomes, we relinquish all agency inherent to humanity and any ability to learn or progress. Among the qualities of humans that might be defined as divine, the ability to question is paramount. Thus, we affirm that the persistence of human traditions will never be sufficient justification in blindly following or prolonging them.

We affirm that the purpose of human institutions is to enhance the lives of those that participate in them and that whenever or wherever they cease to do so, they must be reevaluated. No matter how ancient, no institution is immune from scrutiny. As culture evolves, so must its structures.

We deny that there is any universal definition of marriage that is not wholly a product of the culture in which it appears. We reject the particular notion of marriage as the transfer of property or land from one male to another, while simultaneously asserting the right of any individuals to marry as they see fit whether the society they find themselves in permits or recognizes it.

We further deny that the fundamental unit of society is a marriage, by definition, it must be a person. The next meaningful unit is still not a marriage, but a family.

We strongly affirm, despite its self evidence, that no one, not your society, not other members of your family, not even your god can dictate who your family includes.

We observe that to love is inherently an act of bravery and an expression of the principle of life.

We conclude that if a society cannot withstand the expression of love of any of its participants, it is not a society worth maintaining.

MORALITY

We assert that morality is subject to reason and can be experienced in at least two ways: how you assume everyone else wants you to behave, or how you yourself would like to be treated. We universally express a preference for the latter.

We affirm that to force any moral value on another is, in itself, immoral. While morality can be taught by people and enforced by societies, history is proof that it can never be imposed without exacting a greater moral cost.

We affirm that the only sexual immorality is one that occurs without consent. This ranges from sexual intercourse to sexual identity. To impose a sexual identity upon someone, whether a stranger or your own child, without their consent, is immoral.

Regardless of how it may threaten or make you uncomfortable, we deny that an enduring preference for others to share your sexual morality in any way compels them to.

PROGRESS

In conclusion, we realize that fear, particularly of death, is a driving feature of conscious existence, but not a justification for the subjugation of other equally conscious beings. That, by necessity, to be alive means to embody an equal love of life and fear of death. That, in many instances, sexual expression embodies love of life and that no one dies having had enough love.

We regret that the occasion for this statement is a rebuttal to a shortsighted and futile attempt to limit the human spirit, but even more so that it is needed at all.

We acknowledge that all of us were created by forces outside of our control while affirming that the gift and curse of consciousness grants us the ability, however difficult to master, to work counter to any drive or desire as it stands in opposition to any value we may hold.

We recognize that, if we are lucky, humanity is in its adolescence and not its obsolescence.

We resolve to leave the world better than we found it.

FRIENDS OF THE WORLD

Ricardo R. Sotomayor
Human