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What Have I Learned? 
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Post What Have I Learned?
I plan to assemble some of the things I have learned from Joshi to post here. The real meaning of "Agnosticism" and the 1820 attempt to force god into our constitution are two that come immediately to mind. In the mean time, does anyone else have specific concepts or facts that you have learned by reading this book?




Thu Mar 27, 2003 4:33 pm
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Post Re: What Have I Learned?
Here are some notable quotes from the book that I found notable:

(pp20, 21)
        I myself am not comfortable with the notion of secularists congregating in groups, except perhaps for defensive purposes: the last thing a secularist should wish to do is to act like a religion, with its rigid hierarchies, its suppression of divergent opinion, and, above all, its ruthless attempts (now mercifully inhibited by laws) to outlaw "heresy" by brute force. Opinions must be changed, one at a time if necessary, but if there are those who wish to persist in religious belief, they should certainly be allowed to do so. The intellectual world is already largely secular, and there is now no going back to irrational piety; whether the great mass of people ever gain sufficient intelligence and courage to follow is a distinctly secondary matter.        --S. T. Joshi

(pp31)
...and that because we are often obliged, by the pressure of events, to act on very bad evidence, it does not follow that it is proper to act on such evidence when the pressure is absent.
                --Thomas Henry Huxley 1889

(pp57)
As Joseph McCabe well points out in his Existence of God: a law of nature is not a formula drawn up by a legislator, but a mere summary of the observed facts



Fri Mar 28, 2003 12:38 am
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Post Re: What Have I Learned?
Jeremy

I liked the idea you mentioned in the chat room about asking people what article/essay they enjoyed the most. So far I'm hooked on the one by Lovecraft.

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:36 pm



Wed Apr 09, 2003 12:38 am
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Post Re: What Have I Learned?
I'm impressed by the bravery of many of the writers. One example is Chapter 13 "Evangelical Teaching" by George Eliot. I'm sure it took a lot of guts to write such blistering commentary on a leading fundamentalist of the time, exactly 100 years before I was born.




Sat Apr 26, 2003 8:36 am
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Post Re: What Have I Learned?
Thomas Huxley's explanation of agnosticism was a real eye-opener for me. I have been inclined to disparage agnosticism. I still have little use for agnosticism in a common modern meaning, which is "there might be a god or there might not. Both positions are equally tenable". Both positions are not equally tenable; there is no evidence for 'god' and much evidence against; it is not intellectually honest to put aside such wild claims with "maybe, maybe not". Huxley, on the other hand, describes a way of learning about the world. To be Huxlian agnostic means to investigate the knowable and ignore the unknowable; and for modern man, with the information we have at our disposal, leads naturally to atheism.

I was not aware that such clear skepticism was around at the time of Lucretius.

I didn't know that Clarence Darrow was an atheist, and outspoken about it, too. I'm happy to learn that effective atheists are not all biologists. I was also unaware of the topic of Darrow's essay, the Lord's Day Movement; its demise is a victory for rationalism and atheism, and we need all the wins we can get these days.

The fact that the ten commandments clearly endorse slavery had never registered with me until I read Gore Vidal's treatise. Richard Dawkins makes a strong case elsewhere that modern christians' claim of the bible as a source of morality cannot be true (there is some standard being used to pick and choose which parts to follow and which to leave out), but Vidal clarified just how blatantly immoral the "bad book" (as he calls it) really is.

Last but not least, Robert Inegersoll's "GOD IN THE CONSTITUTION" brought the incompatibility of christian religion and constitutional democracy into clear focus.




Sat Apr 26, 2003 11:26 am
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