Friday, February 6, 2015

"Stinking spirituality"?

In his blog "Why Evolution Is True," Jerry Coyne, professor of evolutionary genetics at the University of Chicago, writes this response

to David Brooks' column "Building Better Secularists."

Coyne writes:

My response to the call for an "enchanted secularism" is this:
Dear Mr. Brooks,
We're doing great, thank you.  We don't need more stinking spirituality: the awe and emotions we feel now before things like science, music, art—and cats!—are just fine. And a good meal with friends and wine, combined with some activities that help others, go a long way toward establishing our sense of community.


The secularists of America

I understand the vehemence of Coyne's anger at Brooks, but I don't think Brooks is worth it.  As I said in my previous post, I don't respect Brooks enough to be angry with him.  I can only reflect on where he's coming from and why.

Coyne says that "awe and emotions... before things like science, music, art--and cats!" are spirituality enough for him.

I agree completely.  Awe before the night sky, the sunset, Mozart's Requiem--these are primal human experiences, whether or not one takes them a step further as the beginning of spiritual connection to God.  A baby's birth and grief over our own actions or over death are additional experiences that touch our core.

Apparently Brooks' talk of emotion as a means to moral action and his idea of "enchanted secularism" are offensive to a plain-and-simple atheist or agnostic.

Perhaps the core issue here is respect.  All the secularists are asking for is respect, and Brooks cannot give that without admonishing and embellishing.

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