Sad thing given the World Humanist Congress 2014 kicking off today is their chosen theme “Freedom of Speech”.
After a decade of humanists hammering (exercising their own freedom of speech against) the religious in the science vs religion wars, we find ourselves at a point where religious wars are recognised for what they are. “Wars of Religion” proclaims The Times front page banner headline – in response to US authorising strikes against IS(IS)(IL) in Iraq. (A good move.)
Yes freedom of speech is wonderful, like motherhood and apple pie, even if the practical subtleties of its responsibilities escape many of its adherents. The same day BHA hails “we win” in the other headline about the withdrawal of state funding from nurseries with extremist religious agendas (like creationism). The BHA appears to support batlles, so long as it wins them. Even A C Grayling, philosopher following in the footsteps of J S Mill, kicks off his own introduction to WNC2014 with “No one is born with religion”. No-one is born with science, or with speech either for that matter, so the anti-religion slogan is pretty fatuous. All education and development is based on the values of the cultural environment of the child. British values says the (British) minister, but human values in a free society for sure – sod all to do with science or religion – but all to do with a philosophical belief system called humanism.
I do wish WHC2014 every success, but ho hum. What a missed opportunity to major specifically on religion and war in terms of human values from the ground up. Timing is everything. Freedom (of speech) is the ubiquitous value in a free society.