Tag Archives: humanism

Enlightenment pessimist John Gray v. Enlightenment optimist A.C. Grayling

John Gray is a very, very tart-tongued skeptic of Enlightenment triumphalism of the Bertrand Russell variety, and he recently wrote a rather biting essay attacking A.C. Grayling for taking up, in the 21st century, Russell’s supposedly naive mantle: Russell fell victim … Continue reading

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Why, if you’re a humanist, Renaissance art is important to contemplate

Stefano Zuffi, in his new book How to Read Italian Renaissance Painting  (Abrams 2010), explains: Wheras artists in the Middle Ages were not consciously ‘medieval’, artists in Italy between 1400 and 1600 very deliberately worked to bring about renewal. . . . … Continue reading

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Imagine getting dressed up to attend a science lecture every Sunday morning

Karl Giberson recently made an observation that startled me: Most people think more highly of their religion than their science. Imagine trying to get 100 million Americans to dress up for a science lecture every Sunday morning — and then … Continue reading

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Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the Secular and Humanist West

As a thoroughly secular (and unrepentent) humanist, I nevertheless feel that there is some truth in what Alexander Solzhenitsyn had to say about humanism and the Enlightenment. Below are excerpts from a speech that Solzhenitsyn gave at Harvard in 1978. The … Continue reading

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David Hart and Nietzsche v. the New Atheists

I don’t like the snarky and dismissive tone of David Hart’s recent critique of atheism, but I think that, in his essay, he nevertheless hits his mark here and there. He prefers, for example, the sobriety of Nietzsche to the comfy … Continue reading

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One of the best books that you’ve never heard of

Inspired by Jerry Coyne’s call for a spring book reading list here, I’d like to offer to readers here the best book that you’ve probably never heard of: Hazel Barnes’s Humanistic Existentialism: The Literature of Possibility  (University of Nebraska Press 1959), … Continue reading

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Sam Harris cuts through the fog of Nietzsche’s fact-value distinction

In a powerful attack on Nietzsche’s fact-value distinction and the oft-repeated canard that it is dangerous to derive an “ought” from an “is,” in the video below Sam Harris argues that, in fact, we know perfectly well what things make for human flourishing, … Continue reading

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Do fundamentalists own the Bible?

No. No more than Republicans own the American flag. And this is something that annoys me about the post-9-11 New Atheists: they are happy to cede biblical interpretation to fundamentalists. It is as if, in Japan and China, there was … Continue reading

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Biologist Anthony Cashmore thinks belief in free will is akin to belief in “magic” and we have “free will genes” actively deceiving us into believing that we have free will!

Yikes. An exceptionally clear discussion of biologist Anthony Cashmore’s ideas about free will is at physorg.com today. Here’s Cashmore’s basic thesis: In a recent study, Cashmore has argued that a belief in free will is akin to religious beliefs, since neither … Continue reading

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Can You Be a Scientifically Educated and Buddha Aware Person, and Still Believe in the Self and in Free Will?

I know this goes against the prevailing winds of both science and Buddhism, but what would it be like to hold a naive view of the self and free will? In other words, what if you were to think that, … Continue reading

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Quote for a Sunday

Bryan Appleyard on contemporary religion and this modern world: Andrew Brown reports on the rise of Calvinism in China. I don’t think that was in the secular-progressive game plan. It gives a timely endorsement to this book review by John … Continue reading

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Geoffry Robinson Tells the Story of How He Hid Salmon Rushdie

At the Daily Beast, Geoffery Robertson tells how he hid Salmon Rushdie from the Ayatollah Khomeni here.

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President Obama, at the NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST (!), Puts in a Few GOOD WORDS for HUMANISTS, ATHEISTS, and NON-CHRISTIANS!

President Obama’s reflections on religion and irreligion in public life, spoken this morning at a PRAYER BREAKFAST (!), is more than refreshing. To an audience who might be expected to be addressed differently, Obama spoke the truth. He made it clear that humanists … Continue reading

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IRAQ GOES SECULAR? By Bitter Experience with Religious Sectarian Politics, Have the Iraqis Learned to Love RICHARD DAWKINS?

Well, not exactly. But the thesis of New York Times’s Baghdad reporter, Mudhafer al-Husaini, is that the Iraqi elections were a vindication of SECULAR (as opposed to religious) politics: The initial results showed good gains for secular parties and Prime … Continue reading

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NY Times Graph: The Trendline for Religious Unbelief is UP

PZ Myers today posted this interesting graph on religious belief in the United States (from the NY Times):  

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“We Have Found a Witch, May We Burn Her?”: A Monty Python Retort to Sarah Palin’s Witch Hunting Exorcist Supporter, Thomas Muthee

Given Sarah Palin’s link to Thomas Muthee (see here), a Kenyan witch hunter and exorcist, and all the irrationality that witch hunting and exorcism in the 21st century entails, this seemed like a fitting retort:

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