Our Manifesto is Humanist at heart, so we call it a Humanifesto.

"Che" Newton

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.

-Andre Gide
The End of Religion

We all know that the history of religion on Earth has been a long and bloody one. Although the world’s myriad creeds have provided much: a system of morality, social connectedness, great literature and a way to make sense of a confusing world, we think that religion in the traditional sense has had its day. Imagined divisions only perpetuate actual divisions. And our modern, interconnected world will no longer tolerate this.

Many new religions and systems of spirituality claim that all religions are one and that we need to get out from under the insignificant dogma that religious organizations squabble over. Yet if we take the dogma and differing opinions out of religion, the only belief we are left with is “There is a powerful mystery to the universe.” And that is a statement so obvious that the staunchest atheist would not deny it.

And so, we must utterly abandon all outdated forms of religion. Those who deny this are like cartoon characters who run off a mountain and don’t look down because they know that as soon as they do, they will fall to the bottom. The consequence, however is unsettling: How will we act? What will we believe? Won’t we be alone in the universe if we forsake the idea of God? Won’t our lives become meaningless?

Turning Back to the Light

We won’t be alone in the universe, because we have each other. And we won’t suffer a lack of meaning because to discover and create meaning is exactly what humans do—just witness our endless unfolding of culture and art and humor and technology. Arthur C. Clarke wrote, “It may well be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him.” The upward surge of progress that has been the hallmark of mankind only reinforces this whimsical notion. Furthermore, if we accept Clarke’s idea, and we begin to worship progress, our individual and group improvement will act as a true sacrament towards uncovering the mysteries of our world.

And so, what kind of belief system can we pull from the ashes of our moribund religions? Science, of course, has almost completely taken over much of the role of religion, and to great effect. Many, however, have complained that science is too cold, to inhuman to act as a substitute for religion. They often use examples such as the atomic bomb in claiming that “science has no soul.” But scientists don’t drop bombs--war is the province of ideologues, not idea-testers. In fact, social scientists have been trying for decades to make sense of man’s soul, although it has proved an elusive elixir to deconstruct. Most first-year Psychology students are left in utter bewilderment as they try to wade through the tangled brush of theories that populate this fledgling science of humanity.

However, there are emerging sciences that have begun to make sense of man’s inner life: complexity theory, evolutionary psychology and chaos theory have all proven stunningly informative and insightful regarding the makeup of the mind. Still, there is a very long way to go before any unified and reliable understanding of consciousness and emotions is available.

Yet even if science someday accomplishes any of this, the response of many honest, hard-working human beings will understandably be, “So what?” The amount of time and effort it takes to understand any science, even superficially, is far more than most people want to invest. It’s so much easier just to accept a few simple truths and get on with the day to day tedium of life. A few easy rules. A way to explain away the giant black uncertainty lurking just outside our cosmic doorstep. And so, many of us return to religion or some facsimile of it. But even if we exchange reincarnation for the Christian afterlife or karma for grace, or crystals for crucifixes, we are still slaves to an invented, unmoving idea. And this goes against the very grain of progress. Following this path we emerge weakened instead of stronger, divided instead of unified and ultimately confused instead of enlightened.

Practical Enlightenment

So how does one find existential comfort in a world in which the opium of religion can no longer play a part? We can do so through the only thing that all religions have in common: the practice of disciplined meditation, and the act of involvement with our communities. The former teaches us to focus the mind and master the emotions while the latter links us together so that none of us are ever alone, and also so that we may act creatively in the world. And in doing this, we slowly forge our own belief system, free of any others. To be truly human is to be truly free and the only way we can be free is to cut our own path through the jungles of confusion.

And so the Temple of Earth aims to act as an encouragement for this. By exalting only the very essence of religion and focusing on it, we believe that those who choose to follow this path can improve the quality of their daily lives and launch themselves onwards towards greater and more sublime truths than traditional religions could ever provide.

In ordaining an individual as minister of The Temple of Earth we encourage the newly ordained to act as a representative of the singular creed of the Temple: namely, the role of every human is to better themselves every day. And what it is our responsibility to decide for ourselves what is “better.” The implication here is important: we should be proud that we are improving ourselves and yet at the same time be humble because we have so far to go. Also, the path is an individual one, so no two humans should ever be compared. No one is better than anyone else because we all have our own “crosses to bear.” It is a test of our will how far each of us go, despite our burdens. And yet, if we can set aside time to humbly help others with their own struggles, it will be all the better for everyone. Above all, a minister of The Temple of Earth must not make claims about “the great beyond” unless they are trying to be poetic. God can be at best only a metaphor for greatness.

The great Russian novelist Fydor Dostoyevski famously wrote “if one were to prove to me that Christ stands outside of truth, and if indeed truth were to lie outside of Christ, I would prefer to remain with Christ rather than with truth.” With all due regard for Dostoyevski’s genius, this is exactly the attitude we endeavor to avoid. We believe one must remain always with truth, even if—as another famous Russian put it—the opium of illusion makes life temporarily more pleasant. The real world is always far more amazing and rewarding than the imagined ones promised by religion can ever claim to be.

Honoring the principles of progress, we intend our manifesto to evolve. If you want to contribute or make suggestions, please email us!
c 1998-2005 Temple of Earth