American Educator, Professor of Religion and Gerontology at USC
The secular or freethinking humanist looks into the self for guidance; response to need comes from deep human feelings of compassion, concern for others, and a desire to help. The freethinker is not motivated by a divine command to act, but rather by personal humanistic response to pain, loneliness, hunger, and homelessness. Benevolent actions are not accompanied by a need to convert or indoctrinate, but rather flow from deep human wellsprings of empathy and a desire to improve the condition of the world.
Throughout human history, progress has come through the men and women who dared to challenge the precepts and dogmas that curtailed freedoms. Freethinking (which includes skepticism, rationalism, unbelief, atheism, agnosticism, humanism and so forth) has made great and lasting contributions to human freedom, human rights, and human equality.
The answer to [our social problems] lies in democratic free thought where ideas may be generated, challenged, and accepted or rejected on the basis of scientific examination and verification, and evaluated on the basis of the highest human values that emerge from the developing society.
Each generation leaves its own mark on the sands of time. It is always a tragedy when a new generation accepts as final what has been done in the past, thus denying itself the right to explore and develop new paths, new insights, and new responses to life and living.
As a professional educator, I have long been troubled by the many students who enter university without ever having been educationally challenged to engage in critical thinking - in fact, they seem afraid to do so.
As we have seen over and over again, whenever church and state enter into partnership, human freedom is restricted, intellectual growth is stifled, and education is formalized and routinized to exclude and smother innovation and creativity.