Several Types of Criticism.

Author:Murn, Charles
Position:LETTERS - Letter to the editor
 
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Peter C. Grosvenor's review (J/F 2019) of John Gray's book, Seven Types of Atheism, fails to set the record straight. Gray's chapter on secular humanism doesn't begin to accurately describe its subject. For example, he describes "the central article of faith of modern humanism" as the "belief that humans are gradually improving." But as the interview with Steven Pinker in these pages (M/A 2018) showed, humanists don't "believe" humans are improving, we know it based on the vast evidence proving it. Further, humanists by no means think that progress is inevitable. Indeed, since the early days of modern American humanism, humanists have argued that those not following humanist principles are in danger of destroying the progress humanity has made.

More egregiously, the review fails to point out that Gray flatly misunderstands humanism. Gray says that the relativism of humanism means that there cannot be universal truth in ethics. As shown in my own book (The Best of the Humanist: Humanist Philosophy 1928-1973, reviewed in the same issue), modern humanism rejects the notion of truth in ethics. Gray's lapses get worse with Nietzche and Ayn Rand portrayed as the most influential humanists...

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