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Religion and Humanism

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Old Main, USU


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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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Here is a short but provocative article on TS Eliot and the relationship between religion and humanism.

While I am sure my friends in SHAFT will disagree, I don’t think humanism can survive without religion.  But what is interesting here is Eliot’s claim that religion cannot survive without humanism.  

(On the first claim, of course in order to decide what humanism needs we first need an adequate anthropology – that is, we need to know what a human is.  The folks over at SHAFT are probably all materialists, so we already don’t agree there.  I want a humanism that is worthy of the human person as a whole).

For those interested in reading more on religious humanism, I would direct you to John Paul the Great (JPII).  His personalism is a fine example of authentic humanism, and it is philosophically informed (you may recall that JPII first ‘job’ was as a philosophy professor).



  1. Doug says:

    John Paul II? Wait, I thought you were an Episcopalian! :)


  2. Mike says:

    That was a great FT article, the best thing I’ve read there in years.

    “In religious debate, believers get the enemies they deserve. When salt loses its savor, only the insipid will bother to reply, or even to notice.”

    Though I don’t think I agree with Oakes on what constitutes saltiness. I imagine he thinks it’s orthodoxy. I think it’s the imitation of Christ. The discussion there (including Nietzsche) is unbalanced toward overvaluing intellectualism; it’s still a good discussion. I also still think some of the best criticism of Christianity comes from within and that the internal criticism can make substantial progress. The psyche builds a wall toward outsiders and outsiders are less likely to understand what the religious language means.


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