“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
“In this miasma of forgotten wars, torture and the war on terror, there are no easy answers, especially in the face of a very real terrorism. But I can live my questions. As a humanitarian, I can act from a feeling of shared vulnerability with the victims of preventable suffering. I have a responsibility to bear witness publicly to the plight of those I seek to assist and to insist on independent humanitarian action and respect for international humanitarian law. As a citizen, I can assume my responsibility for the public world - the world of politics - not as a spectator, but as a participant who engages and shapes it. The larger force that can push back against the wrong use of power can be the force of a citizen's politics that openly debates the right use of power and the reasoned pursuit of justice. Catherine Lu, a political philosopher and my friend, has described justice as a boundary over which we must not go, a bond of common humanity between us, a balance among people of equal worth and dignity. I fight not for a utopian ideal, but each day I make a choice, against nihilism and towards justice.”
An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-first Century