Fundamentalists from all religious persuasions deny the possibility of morality without belief in God. Yet belief in God is no guarantee of moral virtue - as the recent televangelist scandals have shown. Are there ethical, non-religious choices that will work for a world in crisis? Paul Kurtz, America's leading secular humanist philosopher, affirms that it is possible to live the good life and be morally responsible, without belief in religion. In this original and penetrating book, Kurtz delineates the means by which humanity can transcend the limitations of traditional religious loyalties and achieve a higher stage of ethics. In order to progress to a maximum level of creative development, Kurtz maintains, we must be nourished by the 'forbidden fruit' of the knowledge of good and evil, grounding principles and values in autonomous reason. This is the path that leads to the discovery of significant ethical truths that can guide both self-reliant conduct and consideration for the rights of others.
By breaking the bonds of theistic illusion, we can summon the courage and wisdom to develop a rational ethic based on a realistic appraisal of nature and an awareness of the centrality of the moral decencies common to all peoples. The ultimate key to the good life, Kurtz writes, is to eat of the fruit of the second tree in the Garden of Eden - the tree of life - discovering for ourselves the manifold potentialities for a bountiful existence. "Forbidden Fruit" contains important chapters on privacy and human rights, and presents concrete ethical recommendations as alternatives to the reigning orthodoxies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Living Outside Eden; The Failure of Theistic Morality; Ethical Inquiry; The Common Moral Decencies; Excelsior: The Ethics of Excellence; Responsibilities; Eduction for Character and Cognition; Human Rights; Privacy; The Tree of Life; Index.
Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was the author or editor of more than fifty books, including "The Transcendental Temptation, The Courage to Become," and "Embracing the Power of Humanism," plus nine hundred articles and reviews. He was the founder and chairman of Prometheus Books, the Institute for Science and Human Values, the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He appeared on many major television and radio talk shows and has lectured at universities worldwide. "From the Trade Paperback edition."