As a parent, it's my responsibility to equip my child to do this - to grieve when grief is necessary and to realize that life is still profoundly beautiful and worth living despite the fact that we inevitably lose one another and that life ends, and we don't know what happens after death.
Religion provides the only story that is fundamentally consoling in the face of the worst possible experiences - the death of a parent, for instance. In fact, many religions take away the problem entirely, because their adherents ostensibly believe that they're going to be reunited with everyone they love, and death is an illusion.
Nothing guarantees that reasonable people will agree about everything, of course, but the unreasonable are certain to be divided by their dogmas. It is time we recognized that this spirit of mutual inquiry, which is the foundation of all real science, is the very antithesis of religious faith.
It is time that scientists and other public intellectuals observed that the contest between faith and reason is zero-sum.
While religious tolerance is surely better than religious war, tolerance is not without its liabilities. Our fear of provoking religious hatred has rendered us incapable of criticizing ideas that are now patently absurd and increasingly maladaptive.
We are now in the 21st century: all books, including the Koran, should be fair game for flushing down the toilet without fear of violent reprisal.
Positive social emotions like compassion and empathy are generally good for us, and we want to encourage them. But do we know how to most reliably raise children to care about the suffering of other people? I'm not sure we do.
Morality must relate, at some level, to the well-being of conscious creatures. If there are more and less effective ways for us to seek happiness and to avoid misery in this world - and there clearly are - then there are right and wrong answers to questions of morality.
The science of morality is about maximizing psychological and social health. It's really no more inflammatory than that.
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