Why should you desire to compel others; why should you seek to have power— that evil, bitter, mocking thing, which has been from of old, as it is today, the sorrow and curse of the world—over your fellow-men and fellow-women? Why should you desire to take from any man or woman their own will and intelligence, their free choice, their own self-guidance, their inalienable rights over themselves; why should you desire to make of them mere tools and instruments for your own advantage and interest; why should you desire to compel them to serve and follow your opinions instead of their own; why should you deny in them the soul—that suffers so deeply from all constraint—and treat them as a sheet of blank paper upon which you may write your own will and desires, of whatever kind they may happen to be? Who gave you the right, from where do you pretend to have received it, to degrade other men and women from their own true rank as human beings, taking from them their will, their conscience, and intelligence—in a word, all the best and highest part of their nature—turning them into mere empty worthless shells, mere shadows of the true man and women, mere counters in the game you are mad enough to play, and just because you are more numerous or stronger than they, to treat them as if they belonged not to themselves, but to you? Can you believe that good will ever come by morally and spiritually degrading your fellow-men? What happy and safe and permanent form of society can you hope to build on this pitiful plan of subjecting others, or being yourselves subjected by them?

~ Auberon Herbert

The humanitarian philosophies that have been developed (sometimes under some religious banner and invariably in the face of religious opposition) are human inventions, as the name implies - and our species deserves the credit. I am a devout atheist - nothing else makes any sense to me and I must admit to being bewildered by those, who in the face of what appears so obvious, still believe in a mystical creator. However I can see that the promise of infinite immortality is a more palatable proposition than the absolute certainty of finite mortality which those of us who are subject to free thought (as opposed to free will) have to look forward to and many may not have the strength of character to accept it.Thus I am a supporter of Amnesty International, a humanist and an atheist. I believe in a secular, democratic society in which women and men have total equality, and individuals can pursue their lives as they wish, free of constraints - religious or otherwise. I feel that the difficult ethical and social problems which invariably arise must be solved, as best they can, by discussion and am opposed to the crude simplistic application of dogmatic rules invented in past millennia and ascribed to a plethora of mystical creators - or the latest invention; a single creator masquerading under a plethora of pseudonyms. Organisations which seek political influence by co-ordinated effort disturb me and thus I believe religious and related pressure groups which operate in this way are acting antidemocratically and should play no part in politics. I also have problems with those who preach racist and related ideologies which seem almost indistinguishable from nationalism, patriotism and religious conviction.

~ Harry W. Kroto