Andrew Cohen on What is Enlightenment?

Who’s Enlightenment?

According to the publishers of What is Enlightenment magazine, the enlightenment movement is about “finding new ways to think and new answers to the difficult questions that are the challenge of our moment in history.  Those answers,” publishers argue, “can only be found by looking freshly at the emerging reality around us, without relying on older solutions that were sufficient for simpler problems.”  But just what are those new solutions, and what reality are they addressing?

Andrew Cohen, fonder of What is Enlightenment, Insists that his study into what he calls, “evolutionary spirituality,” is a science-based method of reaching what we on ETFF consider to be progressive social change.  We agree with Mr. Cohen on the goal, but it seems to us that he is disingenuous about his claim that his movement is scientific.

This program will be a discussion with Mr. Cohen on methods of enlightenment – naturalistic vs. supernaturalistic.

Hector Avalos on Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence

People who represent the religious Left – such as Jim Wallis of Sojourners, and Michael Lerner of Tikkun – have advocated for what they feel are the inherently progressive teachings of Christianity and Judaism.  If this is so, that would mean that fundamentalists have gotten religion wrong.  But what if it’s the religious Left who has it wrong?  What if violence is built directly into the Abrahamic religions?

Biblical scholar Hector Avalos will talk to this issue as we discuss his new book, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence.  Avalos is the founder and Director of the U.S. Latino Studies Program at ISU, and the Executive Director of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, a part of the Council for Secular Humanism.

A former fundamentalist preacher born in Mexico, he became the first Mexican American to obtain a Ph.D. in Biblical and Near Eastern Studies from the Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.

Erik J. Wielenberg on Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe

Suppose there is no God.  This supposition implies that human life is meaningless, that there are no moral obligations and hence people can do whatever they want, and that the notions of virtue and vice, right and wrong, and good and evil have no place in the universe.  Erik Wielenberg believes this view to be utterly erroneous and, in this thought-provoking book, he explains the reasons why.  He argues that, even if God does not exist, human life can still have meaning, humans do have moral obligations, and human virtue is still possible.  Wielenberg offers readers a cogent explanation of the ethical implications of naturalism – a view that denies the existence of the supernatural in human life.  In his view virtue exists in a godless universe but it is significantly different from virtue in a Christian universe, and he develops naturalistic accounts of humility, charity, and hope.  The overarching theme of Virtue and Value in a Godless Universe is what ethics might look like without God.

David Gerrold on Star Trek, Science Fiction, and Secular Humanism

“Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today – but the core of science fiction, its essence, has become crucial to our salvation if we are to be saved at all.” – Isaac Asimov

Perhaps more than any other kind of genre fiction, Science Fiction has been the one most connected to the naturalistic worldview and humanism since the 19th Century.  Professor H. Bruce Franklin – historian and author – as written about how 19th century and post-WWII Science fiction was one of the most radical forms of literature the west has ever produced.

DAVID GERROLD started writing professionally in 1967.  His first sale was “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode of Star Trek.  Within five years, he had published seven novels, two books about television production, three anthologies, and a short story collection.  He was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards six times in four years.  Since 1967, he has published more than forty books including The Man Who Folded Himself, When HARLIE Was One, and the four books in The War Against The Chtorr.  Gerrold has had columns in six different magazines and two websites, including Starlog, Profiles, and Galaxy Online. In 1995, he won the Hugo and Nebula for The Martian Child, an autobiographical tale of his son’s adoption.