Rationalist International: An Introduction

What is Rationalism?

Rationalism is an attitude that accepts the primacy of reason and aims at establishing a system of philosophy and ethics verifiable by experience, independent of all arbitrary assumptions of authority.

Rationalists argue for a rational approach to human problems, suggest reasoned alternatives to religious dogmas, defend freedom of thought and civil liberties and strive for the secularization of politics, society and educational system. Rationalists counter superstition, aim to promote an open and just society, endorse scientific method and also recognize the importance of emotions and imagination.

A brief history of Rationalist International

Rationalist International is a forum for rationalist ideas and positions of world-wide concern. It aims at representing the rationalist view where public opinion is formed and making the voice of reason heard and considered, where decisions are taken which will shape our future.

Rationalist International was founded in December 1995 during the First International Rationalist Conference at New Delhi. Lorentz Stavrum, then president of the Human Etisk Forbund of Norway inaugurated the International Alliance Against Fundamentalism (that was the original name of Rationalist International) in the presence of an international audience with delegates from 28 countries. Sanal Edamaruku, Secretary General of Indian Rationalist Association was the founder and became the president of the alliance.

Initially focussing on the campaign against fundamentalism, the Alliance soon broadened its base and turned a vanguard of the rationalist movement. Its Board of Directors therefore decided to change its name into Rationalist International.

In January 2000, Rationalist International organized the Second International Conference at Trivandrum, Kerala in which prominent rationalist thinkers from different parts of the world opened the discussion about the Rationalist Agenda for the new century.