Thursday, March 22, 2012

A quote from Andy Norman

I don’t believe in God, but I think it’s a tactical mistake to, by definition, exclude theists from our ranks. What do we want to say to the billions of people who subscribe to humanist principles (like 1-6 above), but still cling to belief in God? ‘Sorry, but you must ditch your imaginary friend before you can join us?’ What do we accomplish by such exclusion? The first thing we do, whether we intend to or not, is erect a barrier to constructive dialogue. But humanism is, above all, a commitment to such dialogue. Real dialogue works a kind of magic, but only when participants set aside tribal loyalties and reason together openly, honestly and, dare I say it, in good faith. We want reason-giving dialogue to work its magic on them, of course, but the price is openness to the possibility that the exchange might change us as well. That’s the way dialogue works; it’s a two-way street. Framing humanism in a way that excludes theists in advance comes across as fearful of what they might teach us. Here’s an idea: let’s embrace our commitment to fearless inquiry and truly ‘walk the talk.’ In this context, that means avoiding a self-conception that creates artificial barriers to collaborative inquiry.

--Andy Norman