By A C Grayling
In a chain of daring, unsparing polemics, A C Grayling exposes the harmful unreason he sees on the middle of spiritual religion and highlights the pressing desire we need to reject it in all its types, with no compromise. as an alternative he argues for a collection of values in response to cause, mirrored image, and sympathy, taking his cue from the nice moral culture of Western philosophy.
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Extra resources for Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness (Oberon Masters)
For over a century after Luther nailed his theses to Wittenberg’s church door, Europe was engulfed in ferocious religious strife, because the Church was losing its hitherto hegemonic grip and had no intention of doing so without a fight. Millions died, and Catholicism won some battles even as it lost 47 the war. We are witnessing a repeat today, this time with Islamism resisting the encroachment of a way of life that threatens it, and as other religious groups join them in a (strictly temporary, given the exclusivity of faith) alliance for the cause of religion in general.
They wish always to respect their fellow human beings, to like them, to honour their strivings and to sympathise with their feelings. They wish to begin every encounter, every relationship, with this attitude, for they keep in mind Emerson’s remark that we must give others what we give a painting; namely, the advantage of a good light. Most of their fellow human beings merit this, and respond likewise. Some forfeit it by what they wilfully do. But in all cases the humanists’ approach rests on the idea that what shapes people is the complex of facts about the interaction between human nature’s biological underpinnings and each individual’s social and historical circumstances.
Having the intellectual courage to live with this open-endedness and uncertainty, trusting to reason and experiment to gain us increments of understanding, having the absolute integrity to base one’s theories on rigorous and testable foundations, and being committed to changing one’s mind when shown to be wrong, are the marks of honest minds. In the past humanity was eager to clutch at legends, superstitions and leaps of credulity, to attain quick and simple closure on all that they did not know or understand, to make it seem to themselves that they did know and understand.