Monday, June 7, 2010

Russell Blackford: The Culture Wars

From Embiggen Books
Russell Blackford’s excellent talk at Embiggen Books a couple of weeks ago is now online for your viewing pleasure. Russell is an author, philosopher and literary critic. He is editor-in-chief of The Journal of Evolution and Technology, and co-editor (with Udo Schuklenk) of 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists. He blogs at Metamagician and the Hellfire Club, where he can be regularly engaged.

Russell’s talk focuses on why it is necessary to critique belief systems if we are to maintain the health of a secular society. Indeed some time is given to the notion that secularism has being given only lip-service recently under the current leadership of Kevin Rudd, following in the anti-secular footsteps of John Howard. He puts the continuing culture wars into an historical perspective delving deep into religious moralism and intolerance through the ages. He argues, now is a good time for atheists and others who are sceptical about religion’s claims to stand up publicly and express their disbelief.

1 comment:

  1. Lecture ends at 49:00, and then it's on to questions...

    He tried to answer the question: Should we advocate secularism? His main answer was...No, not as we have it today.

    Main points of discussion I found:

    History of secularism
    -why did it come about?
    ~~reigning ideologies banning other ideologies, and this becoming a co-factor in waging wars against one another. Something had to be done...

    -what was secularism's intended purpose?
    ~~an early form of secularism was just the renaming of gods, or adding gods to particular ideologies, this has a similar purpose to secularism:
    ~~stop the banning of non-reigning ideologies
    ~~he argues this with a nice example of early Christians fighting over the "orthodox" view on Christianity (Namely, trinity being of the same substance, or of a different {is it really 3 gods or 1?})  Secularism is needed to stop these wars.

    Secularism means different things for theists
    -freedom of religion
    ~~theists believe it means the freedom to be free from the state, and not allowing the state to limit religions (any of them, equally <-- This point about all religions being equal is more recent in history)
    -moral questions
    ~~theists believe they have moral authority over the state in letting us know how to live our lives or what to do.
    ~~obviously he opposes the above.

    We should advocate against the above form of secularism and advocate our own form:
    -the state is there to protect the things of this world
    ~~gays, prostitutes, atheists can be perfectly good citizens and we must therefore not impose on them. He says gay rights are equal, prostitution should be regulated, and atheists are citizens under this secularism.
    ~~This above contention is different from contemporary secularism... In today's secularism religion can advocate for or against these ideas AND have a sense of moral authority.

    -He argues we should not just accept this moral authority, and that we should approach carefully.
    ~~He gives an example that they dress their arguments as being secular, but that we should present disbelief against those ideas as well.

    (This list is not in chronological order)Finally, he says that the true secularism is one in which decisions are completely exclusive to religion and should not be based on religious ideas, without scrutiny.

    I know this list is incomplete, but... :) Your welcome.