Re: Preface to What is Good?
While reading the preface, I was struck by the following:
But it has to be acknowledged that much recent philosophical writing is for specialist readers only, a fact that is in one way a great pity, but that in another is an inevitable result of the endeavour to gain increments of understanding of ourselves, our world and our thought by work of uncompromising analytical care -which has the inevitable tendency of multiplying fine distinctions,complicated theories,and an impenetrable (from the outside) jargon in which to discuss them.
Religion makes itself accessible to the average person. One does not have to spend years reading about theories in order to join a religion. Religions are willing to spoon feed people who want to join. It offers ready made answers that a person doesn't have to think about.
On the other hand, when one chooses to reject the canned answers to life's difficult questions that religions provide, the person must find those answers elsewhere. This usually involves a lot of work in the form of researching possibilities and self-reflection. There is no one right place to look for answers, unlike Christianity, which has an official manual.
In the philosophy classes I have taken, there has always been at least one person who doesn't want to do any thinking. That person always says, "Why should we discuss this? We're not going to agree anyway." The person has no desire to take a critical look at his own beliefs, and doesn't even understand why anyone would want to expend so much energy examining questions that can be so easily answered by accepting the answers taught by the Christian church.
Can humanism ever hope to become more popular than religion without a canned manual of life's questions and answers? It will never have one, because humanism is continually changing because of the self-examination of humanists. Another disadvantage that it has is that most humanists seem to have a live and let live philosophy. Everyone I know that is not a Christian would never try to change someone else's religion; they believe it is a personal choice that each person should make for themselves. Christians, on the other hand, have a mandate to convert other people. Maybe Dawkins has the right idea.