Although there is no shortage of recent books arguing against religion, few offer a positive alternative--how anyone might live a fulfilling life without the support of religious beliefs. Read more...
Although there is no shortage of recent books arguing against religion, few offer a positive alternative--how anyone might live a fulfilling life without the support of religious beliefs. This enlightening book fills the gap. Philip Kitcher constructs an original and persuasive secular perspective, one that answers human needs, recognizes the objectivity of values, and provides for the universal desire for meaningfulness.
Kitcher thoughtfully and sensitively considers how secularism can respond to the worries and challenges that all people confront, including the issue of mortality. He investigates how secular lives compare with those of people who adopt religious doctrines as literal truth, as well as those who embrace less literalistic versions of religion. Whereas religious belief has been important in past times, Kitcher concludes that evolution away from religion is now essential. He envisions the successors to religious life, where the senses of identity and community traditionally fostered by religion will instead draw on a broader range of cultural items--those provided by poets, filmmakers, musicians, artists, scientists, and others. With clarity and deep insight, Kitcher reveals the power of secular humanism to encourage fulfilling human lives built on ethical truth.
- ISBN-13: 9780300203431
- ISBN-10: 0300203438
- Publisher: Yale University Press
- Publish Date: October 2014
- Page Count: 175
- Dimensions: 8.76 x 5.75 x 0.79 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds
Series: Terry Lectures (Hardcover) #41
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-10-06
- Reviewer: Staff
Yale's annual Terry Lectures have yielded another elegant book that addresses contemporary concerns. Kitcher's well-organized presentation ranges widely in drawing together sources from literature, philosophy, and the sciences to respectfully make a persuasive case that a secular outlook on life can produce value, meaning, and solace, all functions that religion has traditionally filled. He reasons sans broadsides, finding that religion is not so much violent or evil—as many of today's atheists argue—as it is improbable and, more important, unnecessary. He is a kind critic of religion, conceding that "refined religion," the highest form of belief and practice, has at least the advantage of being better organized to act for human improvement, since there are as yet no numerous or vast bodies of secular humanists doing disaster relief. (Give it time, he suggests.) Kitcher's real strength is his sensitivity to human suffering and mortality, and the ways in which those concerns must be addressed by a robust secular ethic. (Oct.)