Join the Reason Project

Under the inspiration of Sam Harris, a nonprofit organization called The Reason Project has been formed under the trusteeship of Sam, his wife Annaka, and Jai Lakshman.  The website can be accessed here, and the aims are these:

The Reason Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society. Drawing on the talents of the most prominent and creative thinkers across a wide range of disciplines, The Reason Project seeks to encourage critical thinking and wise public policy through a variety of interrelated projects. The foundation will convene conferences, produce films, sponsor scientific studies and opinion polls, publish original research, award grants to other charitable organizations, and offer material support to religious dissidents and public intellectuals — all with the purpose of eroding the influence of dogmatism, superstition, and bigotry in our world.

While the foundation is devoted to fostering critical thinking generally, we believe that religious ideas require a special focus. Both science and the arts are built upon cultures of vigorous self-criticism; religious discourse is not. As a result, unwarranted religious beliefs still reign unchallenged in almost every society on earth—dividing humanity from itself, inflaming conflict, preventing wise public policy, and diverting scarce resources. One of the primary goals of The Reason Project is to change this increasingly unhealthy status quo.

We are always looking for creative ways to involve the community in our efforts. If you would like to contribute to the work of The Reason Project, please fill out a volunteer application. We encourage you to consider the work of The Reason Project your own.

There is a nice advisory board, including luminaries like Sam, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Steve Pinker, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and one non-luminary, moi.   Our goal is not to constanty attack or wipe out religion, but to spread rationality (granted, the spread of one is inimical to the existence of the other).  But have a look at the website and do volunteer or join up if you’re interested.  There are some cool projects listed, and more in the offing.

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8 Comments

  1. Posted May 21, 2009 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Philip Ball isn’t impressed:

    http://philipball.blogspot.com/

    The Reason Project put his balanced and fairly reasonable article in Nature straight into the ‘Hall of Shame’ section. Reason all the way, except when it’s something we disagree with.

  2. Anthony McCarthy
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Both science and the arts are built upon cultures of vigorous self-criticism; religious discourse is not.

    Talk about someone who hasn’t got the slightest familiarity with the literature of their opponents. Religious discourse lacks vigorous self-criticism. Could rank as the biggest lie I’ve read yet today, though I haven’t heard what Dick Cheney is up to.

    I’m disappointed. I thought this blog might be more than this, but it’s just more of the same.

    Sam Harris? The man who thinks nuking tens of millions in a day might be a morally justifiable position? Jesus Christ.

    • Posted May 21, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      In this blog’s defence I have to say that there’s usually a lot of interesting stuff on here. I’m afraid, like Pharyngula one just has to put up with a lot of religion bashing in and around the science. Having said that, there were centuries of nothing but natural theology before the 20th century so perhaps it’s right and proper that there should be lots of natural a-theology these days. Besides where’s the fun in always reading stuff you agree with?.

      • Posted May 21, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        I suppose I should point out (and I’m often guilty of forgetting this) that this blog is written by a guy who has had to put up with hordes of creationists claiming that the groundbreaking work of himself and his colleagues is completely fraudulent and part of some kind of ‘atheist conspiracy’, for the past 3 decades or longer. I could understand someone being pissed off with religion after that especially if it looked like moderates were completely impotent in the face of fundamentalism.

  3. Posted May 21, 2009 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    “and one non-luminary, moi.”

    Please, you’re too modest, Jerry. You could easily compete with those other luminaries. Your contribution to rationalism is definitely NOT petty.

    Greetings from Holland

  4. Anthony McCarthy
    Posted May 22, 2009 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    I could understand someone being pissed off with religion after that especially if it looked like moderates were completely impotent in the face of fundamentalism.

    L.K., well, I’ve been arguing with creationists for a bit longer than you so I can sympathize to an extent. But the tactic of blindly attacking all of religion and, by more than mere implication, the honesty, intelligence or rationality of ALL religious believers, many of whom have no problem, whatsoever, with evolution and keeping only science within science class rooms, has been a failure.

    I think anyone who looks at people insisting on a maintaining course of action based in bigotry instead of the more complex reality of what religion consists of, expecting different results than the failure they have had to date, could be forgiven for doubting their sincerity. I used to think the motive for it was for the integrity of science teaching in the public schools, I decreasingly do now. It’s a school yard exercise in competitive bigotry and clique formation.

    I guess keeping the ID industry out of public school science will depend on people who are interested in that.

  5. Anthony McCarthy
    Posted May 26, 2009 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Oh, I guess pointing out the internal criticism of religion in Isaiah and Galatians was taken down. Well, it did get a bit strongly worded.

    But, really, go look at what it says about the Temple and animal sacrifices in Isaiah and what Paul says about Peter and James in Galatians, basic, and very strongly worded internal criticism of religion, and yet fully accepted within the cannons the basic scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. Does it get more internal that that?

  6. Robert Johnstone
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Without religion what would benchmark would we use to compare science with? Many well known scientists, who were extremely religious, have made it their life’s work seeking answers – this has actually accelerated progress.


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