My confession from the previous post not withstanding, it is time for a few links.
If you’ve corresponded with me at any point from the last century onward, you’ve likely noticed a link to something called “pantheism” in my signature. I’ve no idea how many people have clicked through, but I thought it was an easy way to potentially share something that has been important to me since even before I knew there was a word to express it. I didn’t want to force anyone to read about it, and I certainly wasn’t aiming to proselytize. The same goes for what follows, and I guess everything on the blog as a whole.
Perhaps it’s just my human mind emphasizing what I choose to be interested in, but I cannot help but be hopeful when I note that pantheist and secular humanist ideals have been getting a lot of press within the last few weeks. Why? Though Judge John Jones’ decision regarding the place of intelligent design within the American classroom is almost a year old, global conflict has ensured that media are still focused on religious fundamentalism both at home and abroad. More than this, though, religious moderates and “unquestioning agnostics”¹ are increasingly coming under criticism from a group who argues in favour of other things with which I agree. Wired’s cover story this month is about just these same “New Atheists.”
The Wired article specifically, and the increased press in general, is in no small part attributable to the release of Richard Dawkins’ latest book, The God Delusion. Though Dawkins was also interviewed for the Atoms & Eden series that I linked to in an earlier post, I passed on pointing out his article specifically. Again, I didn’t want to offend, I guess. While Shermer (whom I did link to) has still accomplished a great deal in dispelling the evils of pseudoscience, Dawkins is much less, erm… polite in working towards much the same ends. Rather than suggesting pantheism/secular humanism as but one valid choice from a wide spectrum², Dawkins argues it as the necessarily the only alternative if we are to act in the best interests of all. For a very good summary of many of his points, I recommend his essay “Why There Almost Certainly is No God.”
I feel the need to close this post with some sort of definitive statement regarding my own beliefs, but I’m afraid I can’t. I’m still thinkin’ about this stuff.
To be sure, there is a difference between stating “religion is the root cause of humanity’s problems” and “action must be taken against religion in order to benefit humanity,” but how great that difference is, I’m not yet certain. If one is able to embrace the first statement and agree with Dawkins, what does that mean? What naturally follows? How does one then do in order to serve the best interests of all?
1. Can someone smarter than me tell me if I can use that term to refer to those without faith who don’t really wonder it?
2. I’m not suggesting that this is Shermer’s approach, though whether Shermer places more emphasis on the battle for evolution, rather than war for science over religion, is perhaps open to discussion.