Three Thoughts on Rationalism

pink clouds spread across a pastel sky, smoke rising below from masaya volcano, lit from the last sunlight of the day

Three thoughts for today.


"The Rationalist Press Association, in its Prospectus, defines Rationalism 'as the mental attitude which unreservedly accepts the supremacy of reason and aims at establishing a system of philosophy and ethics verifiable by experience and independent of all arbitrary assumptions or authority.'"

--- Charles Watts, essay "The Meaning of Rationalism", 1905, (in An Anthology of Atheism & Rationalism, Gordon Stein, pg 22)


"We have outgrown the old mode of propaganda, and we recognize more than ever the influences of our environment. We are, in this particular, like trees: we expand and grow from within, but often the iron band of circumstances that surrounds us prevents our free growth and expansion. We, therefore, adopt the rational plan of imparting a knowledge of the facts of existence as revealed by science and philosophy, believing that, in proportion as truth is recognised and accepted, error will disappear. Rationalism is bound by no ancient creeds, hampered by no alleged sacred books, nor marred by dread of punishment in some other world for entertaining unpopular opinions in this. Our desire, as Rationalists, is to urge a sound motive for conduct, which is that "the welfare of the people is the supreme law," to obtain freedom for all in matters of opinion, to promote ethical culture irrespective of theological teachings, and to foster friendly co-operation in spite of divergency of thought."

--- Charles Watts, essay "The Meaning of Rationalism", 1905, (in An Anthology of Atheism & Rationalism, Gordon Stein, pg 25)


"...Truth, is a thing to be shouted from the housetops, not to be whispered over the walnuts and wine after the ladies have left; for only by plain and honest speech on this matter can liberty of thought be won. Each who speaks out makes easier speech for others, and none, however insignificant, has right of silence here. Nor is it unfair, I think that a minority should be challenged on its dissidency, and should be expected to state clearly and definitely the grounds of its disagreement with the majority."

--- Annie Besant, essay "Why I Do Not Believe In God" , 1887 (in An Anthology of Atheism & Rationalism, Gordon Stein, pg 30)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - tags: atheism books philosophy


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