Unitarian Universalist Principles and Enlightenment Humanism

John Richard Felton

To appraise consequences, we need to develop criteria by which we can evaluate those consequences.  What is the nature of the good in human relationships?  What kind of constitution should govern the way individuals relate to one another in society?  We UUs have provided answers to these questions by adopting seven principles by which we endeavor to judge the propriety of alternative courses of conduct.  As to the source of these principles, our tradition nominally draws upon the direct experience of mystery and wonder, the words and deeds of prophetic women and men, wisdom from the world’s religions, Jewish and Christian teachings, humanist teachings, and earth centered traditions.  It is my thesis that, whatever may be the contribution of these sources to our individual theolo­gies, only humanist teachings, whose origins we associate with the Enlightenment, have constituted a significant source of our collective ethical principles.

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