Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Interview with Ronald Aronson

Ronald Aronson is interivewed here about his book Living Without God, which is about exactly that - and not arguing with religion. I want to be more like Aronson - as I said, we waste time debating evolution (and I'm guilty too) when really there are bigger questions - how to think about the world and how to live our lives. What you do in the absence of a religion, ideally, is not to form an atheist group - unless you have to to protect secular civil society and separation of church and state. By analogy, if you're not a football fan, on Superbowl Sunday, you don't go to an anti-Superbowl Party - you go kayaking. Even better, you volunteer somewhere, or do your taxes, or use the day for something productive. And fans of pro football don't try to arrest you for not knowing the Cowboys' leading rusher. It works out for everybody!

The second-best part of this interview is a stastic which I didn't know, which is that according to a Pew poll only 29% of Americans get their morality from religion. Maybe Donald Hank should read that report.

The best part is when he says "our lives can be as powerfully directed, as anyone who has the most powerful belief in God." Ironically enough, a phrase from Rick Warren (who Dan Dennett talks about here) has really resonated with me, and that's "purpose-driven life". Resonated with me? Yes, but more accurately than for Warren. Why did I get out of bed this moring, besides to pay my rent, and besides the obvious here-and-now things like a tasty breakfast and a trail run waiting at the end of the day? To propel my drug research projects forward and cure diseases and decrease the suffering in the world, that's why. What Mr. Warren doesn't know is that a mission is much more meaningful when it's up to you to choose it, and it's based on observable fact.

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