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By their works shall ye know them

Thanks to Lemniscate for the link.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/16/atheism-creationism-faith-doctrine

If one were asked to prescribe the fundamental condition for a good world, it would be: peace and freedom for all, where "freedom" means personal autonomy and mental liberation from prejudice, superstition, ignorance and fear. Cynics will no doubt think this a saccharine sentiment merely, if only on the grounds that it is unattainable and that one had better stick to the realities of a world in which the majority of people are trapped in economic and intellectual prisons made by history, perpetuated and promoted by demagogues and the greedy and powerful.

The cynics are of course right about the realities, but that does not mean one should shrug one's shoulders and capitulate. There is something one can do to fight back, by taking part in the battle that underlies it all: the battle (to put it in Voltaire's terms) between those who seek the truth and those who claim to have it.

On one side are those who inquire, examine, experiment, research, propose ideas and subject them to scrutiny, change their minds when shown to be wrong and live with uncertainty while placing reliance on the collective, self-critical, responsible and rigorous use of reason and observation to further the quest for knowledge.

On the other side are those who espouse a belief system or ideology which pre-packages all the answers, who have faith in it, who trust the authorities, priests and prophets, and who either think that the hows and whys of the universe are explained to satisfaction by their faith, or smugly embrace ignorance. Note that although the historical majority of these latter are the epigones of one or another religion, they also include the followers of such ideologies as Marxism and Stalinism – which are also all-embracing monolithic ownerships of the Great Truth to which everyone must sign up on pain of punishment, and on whose behalf their zealots are prepared to kill and die.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/16/atheism-creationism-faith-doctrine

TAGGED: MORALITY


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