This one-hour video, put up yesterday, shows Philosopher Anthony Grayling “speaking on ‘Humanism’ at The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Student Societies 2014 Convention.”
I haven’t yet heard the whole thing, but there’s a bit starting at 19:08 that describes his visit to Kentucky’s Creation Museum. That might be a good place to start, since the earlier parts of the video describe what humanism is, something that most of us know. Grayling describes the Museum, and this has been reported widely (see here, for instance), as a “human rights crime”:
“I kid you not. My gast was flabbered the minute I set my foot across the threshold of that place. They have these sort of electronic vegetarian Tyrannosaurus rex playing with the children of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.”
“The really dismaying thing about it was the troops and troops and troops of small schoolchildren being taken through and presented with all this as fact. That seems to me to be a human rights crime,” he added.
Well, that’s a bit extreme, but I do see it as a reprehensible form of lying to children (but when has that been a crime, except in the public school science classroom)? I still, however, wish there were a way to prevent parents, or authorities like Ken Ham, from inculcating impressionable children with religion. Laws won’t work anywhere, so what can we do?
Grayling goes on to discuss value (which he sees as nil) of debating religious people. He sees it ineffective at changing those people’s minds, but is useful for addressing those on the fence, who might be unaware of the “rich humanist tradition. To quote the well-coiffed philosopher:
“Jonathan Swift said, ‘There is no reasoning a person out of a position they weren’t reasoned into,’ and this is the case with religion, because of course the vast majority of religious people are religious because of their early experience, they were indoctrinated as children.”
“The whole point in debating people with a real investment in a religious outlook is you are not going to change their minds,” he said. “You’re not really talking to them, because you’re not going to make a difference to them, but you might make a difference to people who are uncertain, people who are reflecting, people who are wavering on the brink.”
Well, that’s pretty accurate but not completely. I’ve met many people, and there are many readers here, who have been reasoned out of religion. Dan Barker, John Loftus, and Jerry DeWitt are three. There are indeed some people who, though immersed in faith, have a tiny seed of doubt that can blossom into full nonbelief.