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Darwinism and the complexity of morality and religion

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Philosopher Philip Kitcher, speaking at Cambridge. What do you think of his proposed partnership between nonliteral religions and genuine secular humanism?



  1. Huenemann says:

    See also Daniel Dennett’s longer talk:


  2. Travis says:

    Such an alliance is a noble endeavor, and I commend Kitcher for this proposal. However, it seems to me (and I’m a secular non-believer) that there are liabilities with allying with entire religions or “forms of religion”. The fact is, there are aspects of moderate religions that are wonderful and benign, but there are also aspects that are divisive and repressive; so why accept the whole bag (entire religions or forms of religion) when we can be selective about what we accept? This problem—that allying with religions will mean allying not only with the good, but also with the bad of those religions—would seem to be operative even with very elastic and “non-literal” religions (forms of Buddhism and Hinduism perhaps). The problem is that faith claims will sometimes conflict with science, secular politics and moral reason. To the extent that a given form of religion bases its beliefs on dogma or authority, it will be more or less bound to be on a collision course with secular humanist values. This might sound extreme, but unless science, reason, and open inquiry and criticism are given precedence over dogma in any given religious discourse, I don’t see how such conflict is avoidable.

    It seems more practical to treat different religious ideas, behaviors and practices on individual cases. With this method, secular humanists can support those Catholics, for example, who provide aid in the Congo, and not be obligated to support (or even seem associated with, from outsiders’ perspectives) those Catholics who, say, shelter pedophiles.


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