PZ Myers has a thought-provoking article over at The American Street today, which, coupled with Robert M. Jeffers' ruminations about Wittgenstein, which he wrote in response to my ruminations about pop science, were...um...
Jeez, causality is harder to elucidate than I thought!
Anyway, Wittgenstein once said something more or less like this: "I'm not a religious man, but I can't help seeing every problem in religious terms." That's true of pretty much all of us, I think. For one thing, our language is religiously charged, never more so than when we describe dropping napalm on children, or the immorality of pre-emptive war, or similar atrocities. Remove religious concepts from language, and you impoverish your ability to speak, precisely when it's most necessary to speak. I find this interesting.
Here's how Myers' piece ends:
"[S]ecular" is not inferior to "religious", but is actually a higher kind of value, better because of its universality.Now, I enjoy arguing epistemological points, so I might take issue, here and there, with what can be known or demonstrated at a given point, and what implications this has for the distinction between religious and secular thought. Still, Myers is quite correct; the moral community must be as inclusive as possible, but religion very often attempts to limit moral consideration to a "deserving" few, usually on the basis of some depressingly rational set of tribalist assumptions. This is wrong, because morality is responsibility - or obligation, as Simone Weil puts it - that one feels without "reason." The more universal are the duties which it imposes, the more unreasonable it is, in the worldly sense.
Of course, no one's ethical values actually are universal. But we have an obligation to make them as universal as we can, as Myers notes, unreasonably and correctly.