Our Principles

Our Principles reflect our rock-bottom beliefs about reality, our worldview.  

Principle #1. We create our future.

The future does not exist. Here's what I mean by that: the future is not set in stone; the future is not some ready-made place, like a hotel room, that we just check into. We create the future, by what we do, and by what we fail to do. It's not about "finding our way to the future"; it's about deciding what kind of future we want, and then paying the price in effort and assets to create that future. Whether we are talking about individual live or the life of an entire society, this principle holds true.

You can argue about notions of fate and inescapable destiny with someone else. As far as I am concerned, we create our own fates, we build our own destinies, and we must take responsibility for what happens within our society. 

Principle #2. Humanity is a race of Explorers and Builders.

People have tried to define what is unique about the human species for centuries. This is what matters to me: humanity is the species that explores and builds. It has happened countless times in human history: we move someplace far from where we started, and we build communities and families there. We do it across countries, across continents, and we've taken a tentative step towards doing it across planets. 

Sure, other organisms explore and build, but not remotely on the scale that humans do. Yes, ants travel great distances and build large colonies. Humans have been to the Moon and will colonize Mars. 

As a NASA video put it: "Exploration—it's what we do." That just as easily applies to humanity, as well—along with the idea that we build: families, communities, entire societies.

Exploring and building are what gives people a sense of forward momentum, as families, as nations, as an entire species. In an age where so many people feel without direction or purpose, this is a principle worth remembering. 

Exploring and building: we're happiest when we're living those lives.

Principle #3. Science establishes facts that we can all agree on.

You may believe in truth as established by intuition, tradition, divine revelation: it’s (still) a free country, so go right ahead.

But other people have no reason to trust your intuition. Others have different traditions. Others follow different divine revelations—or none at all. Like I said, it’s (still) a free country, so they are entirely free to do so.

But the one thing that we can all agree on, without violating our consciences, is real, solid, scientific fact. This is what can keep us from devolving into a myriad of mythologies and self-contained personal universes.

Yes:  the Big Bang, relativity, evolution of species (including humanity)—each is a theory. But a scientific theory is notjust ‘somebody’s idea.’ Evolution is a theory in the scientific sense: one way of making sense of a collection of facts. And each of the theories that I mentioned—the Big Bang, relativity, the evolution of species—are currently the best way that we have of making sense of the facts at hand. You want to argue with these theories, you do it on the basis of scientifically established facts, not tradition or personal belief.

For a nation to advance, it must advance on the basis of a firm grasp of the facts. That means it pays close attention to what science has to say. That includes facts about climate change, the efficacy of vaccinations, and, oh, gravity.

Principle #4: We are meant to strive for something beyond ourselves.

This might seem to be a violation of Principle #3, but it really isn’t. Careful analysis of human behavior, as done by Abraham Maslow in the 1960s, indicates that the highest human motivation is self-transcendence: striving to connect with or advance something that goes beyond one’s self-interest. 

For some, that something might be one’s family or loved ones. For others, the Divine—which can be conceived in many ways. For others, Art, Science, Reason, Peace, Humanity itself—each of which reaches beyond the self. For many people, more than one of these are things that they strive to connect with or advance.

Are there those who are only self-interested, or who are only interested in others in order to advance their personal interests? Of course there are. We call them the selfish, the narcissists, even the sociopaths. None of them is what a person should be.