Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Zuckerman Unbound

Living the Secular Life by Phil Zuckerman, reviewed by Susan Jacoby.
Adults unaffiliated with any religion now make up nearly a fifth of the American population, but only about 30 percent of this group chose to identify themselves as atheists or agnostics in a 2012 study by the Pew Research Center. The rest described themselves as “nothing in particular,” giving rise to the media label “Nones.”
While slightly more than half of Americans say they would be less likely to vote for an atheist for president, the comparable figure in 2007 was closer to two-thirds. It is not inconceivable that the negative American image of atheists is beginning to change in a fashion that might one day resemble the dramatic shift in opinion about gay rights 
For now, though, many atheists find it impossible to eschew a slightly defensive tone, calibrated to show that they are as virtuous as anyone else. Zuckerman, whose previous works include “Society Without God: What the Least Religious Nations Can Tell Us About Contentment” (2008), is no exception. He extols a secular morality grounded in the “empathetic reciprocity embedded in the Golden Rule, accepting the inevitability of our eventual death, navigating life with a sober pragmatism grounded in this world...” (continues)

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