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Floris van den Berg Director, Center for Inquiry Low Countries Lecture to the Ethical Society, 19 January

2009 florisvandenberg@dds.nl The full version of this talk is available at htt! ""verli#htin$shu%anisten&'eb(lo$&nl I: Beyond the New Atheism It is ti%e to take u! the !ro)e#t of the ra*i#al Enli$hten%ent an* tr+ to liberate hu%ankin* of i$noran#e, unreason an* su!erstition, so%e of 'hi#h have been institutionali,e* as reli$ions& It is ti%e ( it al'a+s 'as ( to sto! treatin$ reli$ion 'ith res!e#t, as if it is so%ethin$ !re#ious& -atients are !re#ious, not their illnesses& In re#ent +ears a !lethora of books about an* a$ainst reli$ion have been !ublishe*, #alle* the Ne' Atheis%& Ho'ever, the %ost i%!ortant .uestion about reli$ion is ne$le#te* in !ubli# *is#ourse, even in the 'ave of books about an* a$ainst reli$ion Ho' to $et ri* of reli$ion/ If reli$ion has been *ia$nose* as so%ethin$ ba* ( 'hi#h is the #ase ( then it is ti%e to %ove for'ar* an* fin* liberal 'a+s to be#o%e free fro% reli$ion& The Ne' Atheis% books, %ost notabl+ Ri#har* Da'kins0 The od !elusion, Daniel Dennett0s "rea#ing the S$ell, 1hristo!her Hit#hens0 od is not reat an* 2a% Harris0 The End of %aith have *ia$nose* reli$ion, in#lu*in$ #onte%!orar+ reli$ion, as an illness& It is over'hel%in$l+ #lear that the truth #lai%s of reli$ion are either false or %eanin$less& Not one sin$le ar$u%ent for a trans#en*ental bein$ or real% has stoo* the test of #riti#al in.uir+& It is ti%e to fin* a #ure& 3+ talk is a hel! to fin* strate$ies to liberate hu%ankin* of reli$ion& I a% !ro!osin$ a stron$ se#ularis%& II: oral and !"istemological Atheism There are t'o %a)or reasons 'h+ the *isa!!earan#e of reli$ion 'oul* %ake the 'orl* a better !la#e& In the first !la#e, reli$ion is false& Reli$ious #lai%s about the nature of realit+ #an an* are an obsta#le to free 4s#ientifi#5 in.uir+& This #oul* be #alle* e!iste%olo$i#al atheis%& The se#on* ob)e#tion to reli$ion is %oral& I a% !ri%aril+ a %oral atheist& 3oral atheis% is #on#erne* 'ith reli$ion be#ause reli$ion often is an obsta#le for in*ivi*ual free*o%, #hoi#e an* self( *eter%ination& If reli$ion 'ere relativel+ inno#ent, like the belief in fl+in$ sau#ers, I !ersonall+ 'oul* not be %u#h intereste* in it& If reli$ion ( thou$h false ( ha* !ositive influen#e on in*ivi*ual libert+, so#ial )usti#e, sustainabilit+ an* ani%al 'elfare ( I 'oul* not bother to #riti#i,e an* s#rutini,e reli$ious beliefs too %u#h& As it is, I a% not #onvin#e* of the blessin$s of reli$ion& Reli$ion see%s to be a %ali$nant virus, 'hi#h on balan#e #auses %ore har% than $oo*& All books of the Ne' Atheis% lin$er on the evil as!e#ts of reli$ion& Reli$ion is not the root of all evil, but of %u#h hu%an(%a*e evil an* %iser+& Reli$ion #an reinfor#e evil& III: #eligion, Culture 6 $raditions A!olo$ists of reli$ion 'ill res!on* to a##usations of the evils of 4their5 reli$ion 'ith 74%+5 reli$ion is $oo*8 those 'ho have *one evil *ee*s in the na%e of reli$ion are not real believers0& Ho'ever, for an outsi*er, there is no *ifferen#e bet'een a real an* a fake believer& If so%eone sa+s 7I a% a 3usli%"1hristian et#&0, then I believe hir& The #riterion for belief is the believer hirself #lai%in$ to be a believer& An+ other *efinition of 'hat belief is, is likel+ to run a$roun* in *ebates bet'een believers& For a %oral atheist, it is %oralit+ that %atters %ost, not 'hether or not it is reli$ion& An+ #ultural !ra#ti#e shoul* be %orall+ evaluate* b+ so%e stan*ar*s like 9& are there an+ vi#ti%s 4#an +ou 'ant to tra*e !la#es/5 :& *oes it #ontribute to the 'ellbein$ of in*ivi*uals/ an* ;& is it true/ These #riteria 'ill rule out a $reat %an+ #ultural !ra#ti#es& 3an+ #ultures *o not res!e#t in*ivi*ual ri$hts, es!e#iall+ the ri$hts of 'o%en& I%: No &uarantee for 'to"ia A #ure for AID2 %akes the 'orl* a better !la#e be#ause it 'oul* save %an+ !eo!le fro% sufferin$ an* *+in$& Ho'ever, this #ure *oes not $uarantee health, be#ause there are %an+ %ore threats to a !erson0s health than AID2 alone& 2till, a #ure for AID2 is a %oral $oo*& A #ure for reli$ion %akes the 'orl* a better !la#e8 it saves %an+ !eo!le fro% evil an* i$noran#e& Ho'ever, this *oes not $uarantee sanit+, be#ause there are %an+ %ore threats to sanit+ an* %oralit+ than reli$ion alone& 2till, a #ure for reli$ion is a %oral $oo*&

HOW TO GET RID OF RELIGION, AND WHY

< (ome (trategies 9& )revention of #eligious Indoctrination 7-revention is the best #ure0, is a folk 'is*o%& 3an+ illnesses in the 'estern 'orl* are easil+ !reventable illnesses, 'hi#h are #ause* b+ unhealth+ life st+les& I ar$ue that reli$ion is also an unhealth+ life st+le, for +ourself, +our fa%il+ an* others& The best 'a+ to $et ri* of reli$ion is to sto! i%!osin$ faith=belief"reli$ion on #hil*ren& Not onl+ shoul* !eo!le be free to #hoose or #han$e reli$ion, #hil*ren shoul* be free fro% reli$ion& 7>Faith base* e*u#ation? involves the in*o#trination of intelle#tuall+ *efenseless #hil*ren, an* that is a for% of #hil* abuse&0 I a% a se#ular hu%anist, 'ho takes in*ivi*ual libert+ as a #ore value& That li%its the ran$e of %eans that #an be use* for the #ure for reli$ion& A totalitarian *i#tator, like 2talin, 'ho, for #o%!letel+ *ifferent reasons, 'ante* to $et ri* of reli$ion, use* totalitarian %eans ( violen#e an* su!!ression ( to abolish an* aban*on reli$ion& @ust like liberal *e%o#ra#ies #annot an* shoul* not use illiberal %eans in the 7'ar on terror0, there shoul* not be illiberal %etho*s use* to *is!ense of reli$ion& What %atters %ost is the in*ivi*ual& 3ost !eo!le 'ill !robabl+ fro'n 'hen the+ rea* the !hrase 7ho' to $et ri* of reli$ion0, be#ause it has be#o%e #o%%on to $rant reli$ion s!e#ial !rivile$es, like infusin$ #hil*ren0s %in*s 'ith nonsense& In*ivi*ual libert+ is the #ore value of the 4ra*i#al5 Enli$hten%ent, of liberalis%, free thou$ht an* se#ular hu%anis%& An* if in*ivi*ual libert+ is the #ore value, then 'h+ shoul* !arents, or an+ other $uar*ian, have the ri$ht to i%!ose nonsense, i$noran#e an* seAual taboos on a #hil* an* have the ri$ht to 'ithhol* 4s#ientifi#5 kno'le*$e about the 'orl*/ A free flo' of infor%ation, 'ithout #ensorshi!, is a ne#essar+ !rere.uisite for both in*ivi*ualis% an* an o!en so#iet+& 2#hools shoul* tea#h about reli$ions& What is tau$ht about reli$ion shoul* be s#ien#e(base*& 2o, if #hil*ren ask the tea#her 'hether or not $o* eAists, the tea#her shoul* $ive the s#ientifi# ans'er 7There is no evi*en#e 'hatsoever for the eAisten#e of $o* or $o*s0& In se#on*ar+ e*u#ation attention %i$ht be $iven to theories about the fun#tions an* ori$in of reli$ion& To eA#lu*e reli$ion as reli$ion fro% the s#hools is not atheisti# in*o#trination, as reli$ious a!olo$ists an* %ulti#ulturalists #o%%onl+ sa+& There is a fun*a%ental *ifferen#e bet'een an o!en e*u#ation an* a #lose* fra%e of %in*& What a!olo$ists an* %ulti#ulturalists fail to noti#e is that #riti#al in.uir+ eA#lu*es %an+ thin$s& The $oal of e*u#ation is not in*o#trination, but liberation8 kno'le*$e, not i$noran#e& Tea#hin$ s#ientifi# fa#ts 4'hi#h are fallible5 an* the s#ientifi# %etho* is not in*o#trination& Free*o% is not slaver+& True is not false& Evi*en#e base* kno'le*$e is not faith& *+ )olitical (ecularism: (e"aration of #eligion and (tate -oliti#al se#ularis%, or lai#is%, is about a se!aration of reli$ion an* state& Reli$ion is a !rivate %atter, like a hobb+& Reli$ion shoul* not be !rivile$e* in the !ubli# *o%ain, like taA eAe%!tion for reli$ious or$ani,ations& All eAistin$ !rivile$es shoul* be abolishe*, in#lu*in$ reli$ious s#hools& Reli$ion has histori#all+ !er%eate* la' an* $aine* !rivile$es& It is ti%e to un*o this in)usti#e& Essential for an o!en an* free so#iet+ is that its #iti,ens have as %u#h free*o% as is #o%!atible 'ith the free*o% of other in*ivi*uals& The state is neutral in %atters of reli$ion& Reli$ion is not a state %atter, nothin$ that ha!!ens bet'een 4'ell(infor%e*5 #onsentin$ a*ults 4'ho #ause no har% or *a%a$e to others or the environ%ent5 is a state %atter& -oliti#ians, 'hen in offi#e, shoul* not use reli$ious ar$u%ents& 2tate offi#ials in a !osition that re.uires a neutral !oint of vie' shoul* not be allo'e* to 'ear s+%bols of a reli$ion or an+ other $rou! or or$ani,ation 'hi#h *istorts their neutralit+ 4so, also no button of one0s favourite so##er #lub5& For eAa%!le, la' offi#ers an* )u*$es shoul* not be allo'e* to 'ear a #ross or a ne#kla#e, nor %a+ the+ 'ear a hea*s#arf, +ar%ulke or turban& Also, a reli$ious bear* 4a bear* 'hi#h is onl+ $ro'n in reli$ious $rou!s5 shoul* not be allo'e* for those !ubli# offi#ials& In a %ulti(reli$ious so#iet+ ( as is the #ase in %ost 'estern so#ieties ( all in*ivi*uals, in#lu*in$ reli$ious !eo!le, benefit fro% a se#ular state an* $overn%ent, be#ause believers are free to *o as the+ !lease, 'ithin the boun*s of the 4se#ulari,e*5 la'& In an o!en so#iet+ all in*ivi*uals are e.ual believers an* non believers alike& ,: oral (ecularism: A )lea for oral !s"eranto When !eo!le *is#uss ethi#al !roble%s no reli$ious ar$u%ents shoul* be use*, be#ause it is a !riori i%!ossible to rea#h #onsensus if !eo!le *o not share the sa%e 4reli$ious5 vo#abular+& For eAa%!le, in a *ebate about abortion, onl+ ar$u%ents that *o not refer to reli$ion shoul* be use*& If !eo!le use the sa%e se#ular *is#ourse it is !ossible to rea#h #onsensus or at least a$ree%ent& 3oral Es!eranto is not onl+ a %eans for #o%%uni#ation bet'een believers an* non(believers& Believers fro% *ifferent reli$ions 'oul*

benefit as 'ell if the+ refraine* fro% usin$ reli$ious ar$u%ents an* s!oke in the %oral *is#ourse of Es!eranto& A %oral an* !oliti#al theor+ shoul* be se#ular an* not rel+ on reli$ion& Atheis%, or at least an eA#lusion of reli$ion fro% the %oral *o%ain, is a !rere.uisite for ethi#s& Ethi#al theories, 'hi#h *e!en* on $o* or other kin* of trans#en*entalis%, are not true, an* often i%%oral, 'hen anal+,e* fro% the !ers!e#tive of their vi#ti%s& 2e#ularis%, a stri#t se!aration of #hur#h an* state, is a ne#essit+ for liberal !oliti#al !hiloso!h+, 'hi#h takes as #ore value the free*o% of ea#h in*ivi*ual #iti,en an* the free flo' of infor%ation& The !oliti#al ar$u%ent a$ainst ethi#s base* on reli$ion is that 'ithout the use of re!ression an* violen#e there is no 'a+ there 'ill ever be #onsensus about 'hi#h $o* an* 'hat reli$ion is ri$ht&

-+ A )olicy of Determent .+++/ i%a$ine if 'e i*entifie* #hil*ren fro% birth as young s&o#ers or drin#ing children be#ause their !arents s%oke* or *rank= Govern%ent shoul* have the sa%e attitu*e to'ar*s reli$ion as it has 4re#entl+5 in re$ar* to s%okin$ $overn%ent allo's the !rivate use of toba##o for a*ults, but infor%s s%okers that it is ba* for their health, an* $overn%ent !rote#ts se#on*ar+ s%okers so far as !ossible b+ bannin$ s%okin$ in !ubli# 4in*oor5 areas& TaAes *eter !eo!le fro% bu+in$ toba##o& The analo$+ 'ith toba##o is !artial in*ivi*uals shoul* be allo'e* to 'ear an* !ubli#l+ eA!ose 4s+%bols of5 their reli$ion, be#ause this is !art of the ri$ht of the free*o% of eA!ression, an* be#ause this *oes not har% others& Of #ourse !eo!le shoul* not be for#e* to 'ear an+thin$ a$ainst their 'ish 4unifor%s an* s!e#ial re.uire%ents of #ourse eA#e!te* ( a sur$eon is not free to #hoose not to 'ear a h+$ieni# outfit5& Hea*s#arves shoul* be forbi**en in !ri%ar+ an* se#on*ar+ s#hools, be#ause #hil*ren shoul* be free fro% reli$ion 4at least at s#hool5, an* shoul* be free an* 'ell infor%e* to #hoose a reli$ion, or none at all, 'hen the+ are a*ults& 1hil*ren shoul* not belon$ to a reli$ion, an* there shoul* not be reli$ious #ere%onies or rituals involvin$ #hil*ren, like #ir#u%#ision, ba!tis%, or #ate#his%& Wearin$ a burka ( an+ outfit that %akes a !erson unre#o$ni,able in !ubli# s!a#e, shoul* not be allo'e*, be#ause it is a threat to !ubli# safet+& A !ara*oA of liberalis% is that it is i%!ossible to i%!ose free*o% u!on others& -eo!le shoul* be free to be unfree ( 'ithin li%its thou$h, in*ivi*uals have the ri$ht to o!t out& It is not allo'e* to sub%it +ourself as a slave +ou are allo'e* to !la+ as a slave for so%e ti%e, but !eo!le #annot forfeit their ri$ht to es#a!e& Ever+one #an voluntaril+ enter #o%%unes or se#ts 'here there is little !ersonal free*o%& This is all allo'e*& But in*ivi*uals al'a+s have the ri$ht to ste! out an* leave& Free*o% is absolute an* not #on*itional& The liberal state, therefore, shoul* not tolerate intoleran#e an* be on the si*e of those in*ivi*uals 'ho are bein$ #oer#e* into *oin$ or not *oin$ so%ethin$ a$ainst their 'ill& A liberal state #an an* shoul* tr+ to #reate the best !ossible institutions an* #ultural #li%ate to foster in*ivi*ual free*o%, autono%+ an* 'ell(bein$& If 'ell(infor%e* 'o%en freel+ *e#i*e to 'ear a hea*s#arf, this shoul* be allo'e*& But of #ourse $overn%ent shoul* be sus!i#ious as to 'hether this is a real free #hoi#e an* kee! attention fo#use* on this issue& The state shoul* be stri#tl+ se#ular an* neutral& It is not the role of the state to tr+ to $et ri* of reli$ion& Lai#is% an* a !oli#+ of *eter%ent are as far as the $overn%ent shoul* $o& But it is the role of !ubli# intelle#tuals, s#ientists, hu%anist, free thinkers an* their or$ani,ations to tr+ to $et ri* of reli$ion& 0+ Coming 1ut -eo!le shoul* s!eak out about bein$ an atheist& Non(believers, non(theists, atheists, rationalists, ske!ti#s an* freethinkers have ke!t .uiet for too lon$& While reli$ious believers s!eak out lou* an* !rou* about their belief8 nonbelievers have been !olite an* .uiet in their *efense& Outs!oken atheists like Da'kins, Dennett, Harris an* Hit#hens are a##use* of hittin$ reli$ion too har*& But that is the 'orl* turne* u!si*e *o'n reli$ion %akes #lai%s about realit+, !res#ribes so#ial an* ethi#al rules an* evan$eli,es these i*eas an* i*eals& For #enturies reli$ion ha* su#h a stron$ $ri! on so#ial life that it 'as i%!ossible to be an outs!oken atheist, !erha!s 2!ino,a, Hu%e an* Cant 'ere atheists in a %ore or less see(throu$h *is$uise& 2till, even to*a+ it is !ra#ti#all+ i%!ossible for an outs!oken atheist to run for offi#e in the D2A&

Of #ourse, the onl+ reason to #all oneself an atheist is be#ause there are theists& Atheists *o not sa+ out of the blue 7$o* *oes not eAist0, but atheists #lai% that none of the ar$u%ents for the eAisten#e of $o*4s5, is true& Atheis% is !art of the s#ientifi# outlook, 'hi#h is #alle* naturalis%& Atheists are not as 'ell or$ani,e* as believers& 3ost believers take their beliefs %ore seriousl+ 4as !art of their i*entit+5 than atheists their atheis%& Of #ourse atheis% is !art of %+ i*entit+& But I #annot sa+ I a% !rou* to be an atheist& I a% e%barrasse* that there are believers& A% I !rou* to be a non(believer of the Lo#h Ness %onster, or a% I !rou* to be a *enier of the eAisten#e of DFOs or the viabilit+ of astrolo$+/ I think not& B+ s!eakin$ out, atheists shoul* sho' that atheists are nor%al, an* that believers are stran$e, 'eir* or even %entall+ ill& 2: $he #ole of )u3lic Intellectuals De3un4ing and Critici5ing #eligion -hiloso!h+ be$ins 'here reli$ion en*s, )ust as b+ analo$+ #he%istr+ be$ins 'here al#he%+ runs out, an* astrono%+ takes the !la#e of astrolo$+& 3oralit+ starts 'here reli$ion en*s& As lon$ as there are !eo!le %akin$ nonsensi#al or false truth #lai%s it is ne#essar+ to #riti#i,e the%& The ar$u%ents a$ainst reli$ion are not ne', but still there are %an+ !eo!le out there 'ho have not, or #annot, un*erstan* the fla's of their truth #lai%s& If atheists kee! .uiet be#ause the+ are bore* of seein$ the sa%e stu!i* ar$u%ents over an* over a$ain, believers 'ill $ain influen#e an* follo'ers& Reli$ion is a !ersistent virus that lin$ers on& Atheists 'ho #riti#i,e the Ne' Atheis% authors %iss the !oint of these books& These books are not %eant for outs!oken atheists 4thou$h !ara*oAi#all+ %an+ atheists have rea* Ne' Atheis% books5& These books are also not %eant to !ersua*e fervent believers& These books are %eant for those !eo!le 'ho have not $iven %u#h thou$ht to reli$ion an* 'ant to %ake u! their %in*s8 or believers 'ho have an o!en %in*& If one takes these books seriousl+, it is lo$i#all+ i%!ossible to re%ain a believer& That, ho'ever, *oes ha!!en, be#ause %an+ believers are so i%%une to rational s#rutin+ of their beliefs an* !ra#ti#es that rational ar$u%ents *o not #ount& But even the %ost ar*uous believers *o have so%e ru*i%ents of rational behaviour& 3ost believers use %o*e% te#hnolo$+, 'hi#h is base* on s#ien#e an* rationalis%& Believers have so%eho' %ana$e* to #o%!art%entali,e their %in*s& Liberal believers )ust have a s%aller 7reli$ion #o%!art%ent0 than fun*a%entalists, or none at all& -ubli# intelle#tuals shoul* #ontinuousl+ an* !olitel+ #a%!ai$n a$ainst reli$ion& No %ore flirtin$ 'ith reli$ion, but e%bra#in$ the i*eals of the Enli$hten%ent& Flirtin$ 'ith reli$ion is a *anse %a#abre& 6: )ositive Atheism, Individualism and (ecular 7umanism 2e#ular hu%anis% re)e#ts su!ernatural a##ounts of realit+8 but it seeks to o!ti%i,e the fullness of hu%an life in a naturalisti# universe& It is not true that #riti#i,in$ reli$ion is 7onl+ ne$ative0 an* not #onstru#tive& No one 'ill sa+ of a *o#tor that s"he is not bein$ #onstru#tive be#ause s"he fo#uses on the ne$ative& A *o#tor tries to #ure illnesses an* in)uries& 3e*i#al s#ien#e *evelo!s better treat%ent an* %e*i#ine& Like'ise !ubli# intelle#tuals shoul* tr+ to #ure i$noran#e, unreason an* reli$ion in !ubli# *is#ourse& Atheis% #an be %ore than liberatin$ !eo!le fro% the fetters of reli$ion& -ositive atheis%, in*ivi*ualis% an* 4se#ular5 hu%anis% have a !ositive outlook an* !hiloso!h+& In*ivi*ualis% takes as the #ore value of ethi#s the in*ivi*ual ea#h an* ever+ in*ivi*ual is of e.ual value& In*ivi*ualis% is not unbri*le* e$ois% nor vul$ar he*onis%& In*ivi*ualis% takes seriousl+ the nee*s, *esires an* life !lan of in*ivi*uals, insofar as the+ are #o%!atible 'ith that of other in*ivi*uals& 8: Interdisci"linary #esearch )rogrammes on the Cure for #eligion In a#a*e%ia, theolo$+ ( not to be #onfuse* 'ith the s#ientifi# stu*+ of reli$ion ( a!olo$i,es for reli$ion& Theolo$+ $ives reli$ion a s#ientifi# air& In one 'a+ or another theolo$ians are tr+in$ to re#on#ile s#ien#e an* 4their5 reli$ion& Theolo$+ takes the eAisten#e of a $o* or 7so%ethin$0 for $rante*& Theolo$+ is an e%barrass%ent to s#ien#e an* a#a*e%ia& Ri#har* 2'inbu%e, for eAa%!le, the theolo$ian an* Fello' of the British A#a*e%+, ar$ues that the holo#aust is $o*0s hel! for !eo!le to be $oo*= Instea* of theolo$+, there shoul* be inter*is#i!linar+ resear#h institutes, 'hi#h stu*+ reli$ion in or*er to 'ork to'ar*s its evanes#en#e& Like %e*i#al institutes that *o resear#h in or*er to fin* #ures for illnesses, or like $en*er stu*ies, 'hi#h stu*+ $en*errelate* to!i#s in or*er to over#o%e *is#ri%ination an* sub%ission&

Anthro!olo$ists also have a ten*en#+ not to be too #riti#al about the *ifferent belief s+ste%s the+ stu*+& Anthro!olo$ist @a%es Lett is one 'ho *oes an* 'ho ar$ues that the .uestion 7But is it true/0 shoul* be *are* to be aske* It see%s to %e that the obli$ation to eA!ose reli$ious beliefs as nonsensi#al is an ethi#al one in#u%bent u!on ever+ anthro!olo$i#al s#ientist for the si%!le reason that the essential ethos of s#ien#e lies in an un'averin$ *e*i#ation to truth >&&&? In s#ien#e there is no roo% for #o%!ro%ise in the #o%%it%ent to #an*our& 2#ientists #annot allo' the%selves to be !ro!a$an*ists or a!olo$ists toutin$ #onvenient or #o%fortin$ %+ths >&&&? When anthro!olo$ists fail to !ubli#l+ !ro#lai% the falsit+ of reli$ious beliefs, the+ fail to live u! to their ethi#al res!onsibilities in these re$ar*s& Dnite* Nations Dniversit+, 'hi#h #on#entrates on resear#h on $lobal !roble%s, 'oul* be a lo$i#al !la#e for this kin* of resear#h& Hu%anist resear#h #enters like the 1enter for In.uir+ Transnational an* Dtre#ht Dniversit+ of Hu%anisti#s #oul* also #ontribute to this kin* of inter*is#i!linar+ resear#h& 9+ Cultivating Nonreligious )ractices for Body and ind: Arts, ("orts 6 (ocial Life If an+one is lookin$ for the )o+ of 'orkin$ 'ith others to'ar* a #o%%on $oal, let hi% )oin one of the %an+ or$ani,ations *evote* to hel!in$ refu$ees, the !oor, the si#k an* the unfortunate& Takin$ #are of the bo*+, as in %an+ eastern reli$ious !ra#ti#es, see%s a !ro%isin$ 'a+ to enri#h hu%anist !ra#ti#es& Yo$a an* 4Een5 %e*itation see% eA#ellent 'a+s to in#or!orate in a hu%anist 'a+ of life& Trans#en*ental an* s!iritual lan$ua$e 'ill have to be aban*one* ho'ever& Work(out, #a!oeira, tan$o, runnin$, #+#lin$, ro'in$, %ountaineerin$ et# all #an be !art of livin$ the $oo* life in a hu%anisti# 'a+& In or*er to be hu%anisti# #are shoul* be taken that there are no 4future5 vi#ti%s *ue to +our life st+le& A hu%anisti# life st+le #an be eAuberant, but shoul* be sustainable as 'ell& Ra#in$, for eAa%!le, *oesn0t see% to fit in this s#he%e& In or*er to enri#h +our eA!erien#e +ou #oul* *o so%e #os%o!olitan #herr+ !i#kin$ takin$ fro% *ifferent #ultures thin$s +ou like& Ho'ever, this shoul* take !la#e 'ithin the naturalisti# fra%e'ork& E&$&, I like Een 4@a!an5, +o$a 4In*ia5, Arabian"Isla%i# tile *e#orations 4Afri#a5, %int tea 43oro##o5, )as%ine tea 41hina5& Wellness #entres, s!as an* sauna see% to fit a hu%anisti# tra*ition to take #are of the bo*+ an* en)o+ the $oo* life& 2aunas, nu*e bea#hes an* nu*ist #a%!in$ 'here !eo!le of both seAes are nake* %ust be the ni$ht%are of %an+ fun*a%entalists& I%a$ine a !ubli# %iAe* sauna in 2au*i Arabia, E$+!t, -olan*& The %ore !ubli# 4%iAe*5 saunas an* !ubli# nu*it+, the less reli$ion& A free an* o!en so#iet+ is about toleratin$ as %u#h free*o% as is #onsistent 'ith the free*o% of others& This in#lu*es toleratin$ thin$s that +ou %a+ abhor !ersonall+& 2o#iolo$ist Ruut <eenhoven 'ho stu*ies #on*itions of ha!!iness #on#lu*es that ha!!iness is in#rease* b+ %ore in*ivi*ual free*o%& It is !ossible to live a $oo* life 'ithout reli$ion& The eAuberan#e of life #an be eA!erien#e* an* a!!re#iate* 'ithout reli$ion& :;: Inclusive versus !<clusive Identity: $ransnational Cosmo"olitanism .+++ = %an+ of the #onfli#ts an* barbarities in the 'orl* are sustaine* throu$h the illusion of a uni.ue an* #hoi#e(less i*entit+& In s!ite of hi$h(s!irite* slo$ans su#h as 0the brotherhoo* of %an0, an* 7love th+ nei$hbour as th+self0, reli$ion stren$thens eA#lusive i*entit+ b+ e%!hasi,in$ bein$, for eAa%!le, a 1atholi#, +ou %ake it #lear that +ou are not a -rotestant, a @e' or a 3usli%& I*entit+ is like a hobb+ taken too seriousl+& When +ou love !la+in$ bri*$e, it is un#o%%on to intro*u#e +ourself as bein$ a7Bri*$e0& Lovin$ bri*$e is not a !art of the self(*e#lare* i*entit+ of %ost hu%an bein$s& Nationalit+, reli$ion an* so%e 4nonliberal5 i*eolo$ies 4like #o%%unis%5 are& The best %e*i#ine a$ainst fun*a%entalis%, be it reli$ious or nationalisti#, is not to take an+thin$ too seriousl+, like sin$lin$ out one s!e#ifi# label as +our %ost i%!ortant i*entit+ an* ne$le#tin$ or *en+in$ other %e%bershi!s& A fun*a%entalist 'ill sa+ 7I a% a FFF= ==0& That FFF is involve* in *e#i*in$ %ost or all as!e#ts of his life& Re%e%ber that +ou #oul* be 'ron$& All o!inions are fallible& Reli$ious believers believe their beliefs to be absolutel+ true, be+on* *oubt& Even if the+ have *oubts, believers #onsi*er it a virtue to su!!ress their *oubts an* #ontinue believin$ an* to have faith& Believers #onsi*er faith a virtue&

A #riterion for #ivili,ation is a health+ #abaret #ulture, 'hi#h ri*i#ules, satiri,es an* #riti#i,es so#iet+ an* beliefs& In totalitarian so#ieties or theo#ra#ies there is nothin$ to lau$h at& In those so#ieties !oliti#s is bloo*+ serious& There is no -at 1on*ell in 2au*i Arabia or 2u*an& Or i%a$ine the %ovie 'eligulous, Bill 3aher0s hilarious #riti.ue of reli$ion, bein$ %a*e in Iran&

::: )artial %ersus Ad>#ound #ationality Reason not'ithstan*in$, the trans#en*ental te%!tations of the !aranor%al and religion re%ain stron$& Reason has %u#h less !o!ular a!!eal than unreason& Freethinkers shoul* start a %arketin$ #a%!ai$n for reason. That is 'hat the Enli$hten%ent 'as all about a %arketin$ #a%!ai$n for reason, #ontra the authorit+ of the #hur#h an* aristo#ra#+& In so%e 'a+s this #a%!ai$n for reason has su##ee*e*, an* in $eneral the livin$ #on*itions for !eo!le in Western so#iet+ have i%!rove* tre%en*ousl+& Western #ulture is heavil+ influen#e* b+ s#ien#e an* reason& But, #ontrar+ to the ho!es of so%e Enli$hten%ent !hiloso!hes an* their !resent(*a+ a*%irers, reli$ion an* unreason re%ain in eAisten#e even to*a+& Cognitive Dissonance It is har* to $ras! the blatant in#oheren#e of %an+ believers 'ho sus!en* their rationalit+ in so%e *o%ains of life& Nobo*+ 'oul* survive lon$ 'ithout at least the !artial a!!li#ation of reason in their life& No one, not even !ious believers or *iehar* fun*a%entalists, #ross a bus+ street b+ #losin$ their e+es, trustin$ on faith& 3an+ fun*a%entalists, that is, those 'ho take their irrationalit+ seriousl+, use %o*e% te#hnolo$+, like #ell !hones an* the Internet, to further their #ause& The+ see% to have #o%!art%entali,e* their brain into rational an* irrational !arts& This is 'hat !s+#holo$ists #all #o$nitive *issonan#e& The+ use reason to su!!ort unreason& Freethinkers(on the other han*, use reason to #riti#i,e unreason& Freethinkers tr+ to use reason in all their en*eavours an* tr+ not to #o%!art%entali,e their brains& Of #ourse, it is not al'a+s !ossible to %ake o!ti%al rational #hoi#es& Rationalit+ is boun*e* b+ li%ite* infor%ation, ti%e an* #al#ulatin$ te#hni.ues& Rationalit+ is an i*eal to strive for& Behaviour an* o!inions #an al'a+s be #orre#te* b+ 4ne'5 ar$u%ents an* #riti.ue& De#isions an* beliefs are fallible, an* #riti#al in.uirers reali,e this& All(roun* rationalit+ #oul* %ean 'e 'ill have to #han$e our 'a+ of livin$ *ra%ati#all+ in the li$ht of reason& A*o!tin$ a rational !oint of vie' not onl+ has #o$nitive #onse.uen#es, like the va!ori,ation of $o*, it 'ill have to have #onse.uen#es on ho' 'e are to live as 'ell& A*o!tin$ reason as our $ui*in$ li$ht has #onse.uen#es for our %oral #on*u#t& -eter 2in$er re%arks 7On#e 'e start reasonin$, 'e %a+ be #o%!elle* to follo' a #hain of ar$u%ent to a #on#lusion that 'e *i* not anti#i!ate& Reason !rovi*es us 'ith the #a!a#it+ to re#o$ni,e that ea#h of us is si%!l+ one bein$ a%on$ others, all of 'ho% have 'ants an* nee*s that %atter to the%, as our nee*s an* 'ants %atter to us&0 The li$ht of reason is a %oral a!!eal8 it is the en* of blin* obe*ien#e, the en* of s!e#ie#is%, the en* of %oral eA#lusiveness, the en* of %oral ostri#his%, an* the en* of reli$ion& Free from #eligion 3an+ evils, 'hi#h tor%ent hu%ans, are %an %a*e& Let0s tr+ to $et ri* of the%& Let0s %ake the 'orl* a better !la#e& Let0s $et ri* of reli$ion& I%a$ine no reli$ion&&&

Ethical 'ecord, %ebruary 2009