Changing How the World Thinks

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New Gods

Is belief an essential part of human nature?

Editorial 43

Evidence and reason are supposedly the basis of our beliefs. Yet religion continues to flourish, and new gods conquer even the most rational minds. Is some form of belief an essential part of human nature? Or can we banish faith forever?

This issue of IAI News is all about religion and morality. Our first head-to-head of 2016 pits philosopher of religion Stephen Law against Anglican theologian John Milbank. Bringing one of the oldest debates in the history of ideas right up to date, Law declares that philosophy should side with science in the fight against religion. Not so, says Milbank, who argues that there is more to reality than can be seen from the lab and the armchair. Strong words are exchanged on both sides.

Meanwhile, philosophers Naomi Goulder and Tom Sorell question morality from two very different angles. Sorell asks whether human rationality gives us a monopoly on morals, while Goulder questions whether even humans can truly rationalise morality. If God is dead, she asks, then how can we still justify morality?

Elsewhere, astrophysicist Michael Rowan-Robertson questions his discipline’s obsession with black holes and philosopher Steve Fuller interrogates that ancient philosophical dictum, Nosce te ipsum, in the light of transhumanism.

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