http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/opinion/sunday/molly-worthen-wanted-a-theology-of-atheism.html?_r=0: Wanted: A Theology of Atheism
I’d come for Sunday Assembly, a godless alternative to church founded in London in 2013. A cheerful woman with a name tag stood and promised a crowd of about 40 people “all the fun parts of church but without any religion, and with fun pop songs.” The band led us in secular “hymns” like “Walking on Sunshine” and “Lean on Me.” The day’s guest preacher, a Ph.D. candidate from Duke, described his research on bonobos and the biological roots of our species’ instinct to help one another — the “seeds of a nature that is good,” he told us.
Secular humanism appears to be a self-negating form of scientism rendered religious, and this situation will cripple the new atheist brand from the start.
I think it is a fallacy to use darwinism and neuroscience to discourse on ethics. The results are in all cases inferior. Compared to the ‘higher muddle’ of the religious brand.
The key issue to a secular humanist morality was born with Kant, whose trainwreck on the subject contains the seeds for the future. But neuroscience fans are simply incapable of anything intelligent here. And the bonobos ar irelevant, mostly.
The ethical behavior of man may have some very generalized roots in hominid/ape/chimp research but the core of human morality is something else, like language, perhaps. And it may have some aspects that evolved slowly, but the overall suspicion is that the core of human ethical behavior evolved very quickly.
The problem is that noone can produce an empirical depiction of human morality. The immense number of studies that have tried simply founder in pseudoscience.
To this, we should add the caution that man’s ethical behavior is not all this is reputed to be. It is an anomalous, ad hoc, mass of complex inherited and environmental influences, and has resisted systematic description. One neglected clue is the influence of self-consciousness on the key ‘sudden insights’ into morality. Because of the latter a number of gurus have suggested that the key is a higher consciousness. But this has created a new confusion: the Nietzschean amoralist who is ‘conscious’ and, consciously a devil in action. Sorry, another misfire, from the buddhas, no less.
But the issue is open to an emergency fix: descriptive anthropology at the start to map the field, Kantian abstract fundamentals: not necessarily the final stage of ‘practical reason’, and development of self-consciousness in action to keep the mind in tune with a larger field of awareness.
The point here, also, is that a ‘dialectical’ weighing of options is inevitable given the complexity of experience which resists codification.
Rank scientism is actually far worse than religious mythology here, and it is a puzzle as to why so many intelligent scientists can get no further.
This is only a ‘fix’!