My collection of (mostly) quotations and links (mostly) about skepticism, science, philosophical naturalism, freethought and humanism. Mostly. With occasional music. (Formerly “Un bon mot ne prove rein”.)
This one’s not Congress-related. 192 years ago today, the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley died off the coast of Lerici. In addition to his prowess as a lyric poet, Shelley had strong humanist convictions which informed his life, his work, and his moral choices.
With only 27 days until the World Humanist Congress, we asked Stephen Fry why he supported its theme of freedom of thought and free expression.
And here’s the full quote from Stephen:
'For years mankind has been told what to think and what to believe by shamans, priests and ideologues. There is an alternative: free thought, trusting our ability to find out, investigate, question, and test according to repeatable, reliable evidence. This is sometimes called empiricism, a mode of enquiry that flourished especially in Britain from the 17th century onwards, giving rise to the Industrial Revolution, but also to the fundamental breakthroughs in physics made by such as Faraday, Thompson and Maxwell which in turn directly inspired Einstein.
Who would have thought that this free thinking element of empiricism might be under threat now? It is sneered at (ignorantly) as ‘relativism’, and it is suggested that in order to behave properly you need a divine being to instruct you through dictated texts or omnipresent snooping. They also suggest that whether empirical or purely rational, scientific and moral free thinking take the wonder of the universe. How wrong they are!
As one of the great figures of the enlightenment Immanuel Kant put it: “Two things awe me most: the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.”’