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home : letters : letters June 24, 2016

1/30/2013 7:48:00 PM

To the editor:

It appears Dr. Molenaar and I see a different number of stars in the universe... perhaps by a factor of 10 million. Even though this disagreement will be resolved respectfully enough, a contention may linger regarding how such discoveries should affect our lives. If religion is granted exclusive rights to define ethics, such discoveries may mean little. Pastor Shaw demonstrated that point as he carried his case forward - claiming that one religion, Christianity in particular, should dictate both ethics and knowledge.

Pastor Shaw made that claim by employing a quirky tactic of simply presupposing Christianity is granted exclusive claims to both. This seems like circular reasoning taken to an absurd degree... and ought to be rejected for that reason alone - not to mention the numerous others.

Pastor Shaw propped-up this presumption with a distracting attempt to discredit naturalism, erecting the straw man that naturalism is flawed because it doesn't address "good." That seems rather silly to me... naturalism is not an ethics system. Naturalism is a system for discovering reliable truths about humanity and the universe. Naturalism is descriptive, not prescriptive - it explains what "is," not what "ought" to be. But naturalism DOES assert, to the pastor's possible discomfort, that belief in gods, ghosts, immaterial souls and spirits is all completely unnecessary to secure valuable tenets including freedom, human rights, morality, knowledge, reason, empathy, and creativity.

For realizing we are fully natural creatures is profoundly positive - increasing a sense of connection to the world and others, fostering tolerance, compassion, and giving us greater control over our circumstances. And yes, we even benefit by understanding the true size of the universe... that our sun is one in a hundred sextillion stars... like one grain of sand among the sand in all the beaches on earth. We can cast off illusions and see our true place in the cosmos, astonished at the vast and complex natural world, and be grateful.

And we can be inspired... motivated to create our individual meaning in this grand, "blink-of-an-eye" journey through space and time.

Ken Kressin

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