Scientific temper and Secularism: Toward a new planetary ethics

Online Thinker, Pune: Paul Kurtz is an eminent humanist – rationalist intellectual. He is the chairman and founder of the International Think Tank Center for Inquiry. His field of specialty is Philosophy of Religion and has authored around 47 books. Prof. Paul Kurtz has also participated and lectured on different issues in various universities of the world including Harvard, Oxford, London, Paris, etc.

Kurtz presentation held on 11/09/2008. He focused mainly on science and the public appreciation and understanding of science and scientific temper. Dr. Paul talked on scientific naturalism, naturalistic methodology, and ethical naturalism.

Kurtz considered political science as a behavioral science. He spoke of non-reductive materialism, non-theism, evolution, methods of science, critical thinking, and secular humanism ethics. Then, he discussed about critiques of the paranormal: Gurus, UFOs (unidentified flying objects), astrology, etc. Paul said that our research and studies so far has not determined the truth of such things.

Prof. Paul Kurtz debated over the scientific examination of religion, argument from revelation about Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc. He talked about those who claim of being extraordinary in such fields. He said that human being has any right to question any religion. In this regard, he said that people should develop a critical thinking while reading religious books. They should use logic and reason to examine the matters.

Dr. Kurtz favored separation of religion and state. He also argued about the secularization of values beyond religion: Can one be good without being religious? He talked about ethic of secular humanism, autonomy of individual freedom, enlightened self-interest, and reason, without repression from state.

Prof. Paul also talked about our responsibility to others – empathy and altruism, as well as, about moral education for children, use of science to improve human condition, and testing values and principles by their consequences. Kurtz said that around 50,000 years ago people migrated from Africa to Asia and so on. We all are same; we must have a universal commitment to humanity as a whole, no matter of race, religion, caste. We should increase the sum of human happiness as far as we can. We should protect our earth and preserve it for our unborn generations.

Department of Politics, University of Pune (September 2008).

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