Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quote for the Day

To love justice, to long for the right, to love mercy, to pity the suffering, to assist the weak, to forget wrongs and remember benefits -- to love the truth, to be sincere, to utter honest words, to love liberty, to wage relentless war against slavery in all its forms, to love wife and child and friend, to make a happy home, to love the beautiful; in art, in nature, to cultivate the mind, to be familiar with the mighty thoughts that genius has expressed, the noble deeds of all the world, to cultivate courage and cheerfulness, to make others happy, to fill life with the splendor of generous acts, the warmth of loving words, to discard error, to destroy prejudice, to receive new truths with gladness, to cultivate hope, to see the calm beyond the storm, the dawn beyond the night, to do the best that can be done and then to be resigned -- this is the religion of reason, the creed of science. This satisfies the brain and heart.

--Robert G. Ingersoll, The Foundations of Faith 

7 comments:

Rhology said...

Did Ingersoll explain how we can know what the "right" is?
Why we should fight slavery?
What love is?
He seems to be talking like a Christian, and then at the very end, he suddenly catches himself and reminds everyone (himself included, seemingly) that he's an atheist. The consistency is not impressive. Why would anyone believe sthg that not even its most famous proponents apparently can't even get close to living out consistently?

Tommy Holland said...

How to know what is right and wrong is a complex issue, one that won't be resolved with easy answers and soundbites. While this single paragraph holds no clue what Ingersoll thought was the best method to determine what the right thing to do is, many of his lectures and writings do explore further how to discover and live the moral life.

In the late nineteenth-century America, when Ingersoll wrote his major works, slavery was still an unresolved issue in many minds. I would guess that Ingersoll argued against slavery due to the fact that it denies human dignity and freedom to the slave, and there were many Christians who argued and fought against American slavery for the same reason. That Christian fought against Christian over slavery is a sign that not even affirmed faith in a deity will give us answers over what is the right thing to do.

Rhology said...

I would then ask Ingersoll whence comes human dignity and why anyone should care if a human is free, if atheism is true.
And just b/c some Christians were on the wrong side of the issue, it does not logically follow that therefore "affirmed faith in a deity" doesn't give us the answer. You have to be careful about these non-sequiturs. Perhaps some Christians were simply mistaken and/or allowed other considerations to override what their revealed doctrine was telling them.

Tommy Holland said...

By definition, atheism has nothing to say about the dignity of humanity. It only addresses the belief in god and the supernatural. A person can be an atheist and feel that humanity has no dignity, slavery is acceptable, etc. Ingersoll was an atheist (he actually was called The Great Agnostic) *and* he was a humanist. It's my understanding that Ingersoll's humanism informed his stance against slavery.

Rhology said...

If you take another look at what I asked, I didn't say "on atheism, whence comes human dignity?" b/c I've run into this kind of non-response before. Atheism certainly IS a worldview, but if you want to play tackle-the-greased-atheist, fine by me.

If naturalism is true, whence comes human dignity? Why SHOULD I grant "basic human dignity" to anyone?

Tommy Holland. said...

I'm not trying to play the greased pig. When you said, "why anyone should care if a human is free, if atheism is true" I answered with respect to the link between atheism and human dignity, of which I find little to none.

Secular humanism, on the other hand, has much more to say about the value of a human. As for me personally, I grant basic human dignity to everyone for the simple reason that I am a human myself. I want others to grant basic human dignity to me. As a human, I also have empathy and can understand when my actions needlessly hurt others.

As for why Ingersoll afforded his fellow man dignity and respect, I'm afraid you would have to ask him yourself via his writings and lectures, which are numerous.

Rhology said...

But there are plenty of people in the world who DON'T grant that other people have human rights. Who is to say that they are wrong and you are right?

That's just one of the problems with your position, many of which I lay out here.

You're better off either abandoning secular humanism altogether or abandoning any idea of objective human rights. Can't have both. That's one of the reasons I'm a Christian.