Larry Summers and Kishore Mahbubani:
“The origins of the contemporary era lie in the West’s transformation during the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution. No other civilization can take credit for giving birth to modernity. This was not done with some benign intent to uplift humanity in general; there were many problems along the way, and the explosion of Western power across the globe had some terrible consequences for other cultures and regions. Yet the ultimate result was the diffusion of a modern outlook that relies on science and rationality to solve problems, much to the ultimate benefit of the planet’s population.”
from The Fusion of Civilizations, The Case for Global Optimism
“There is no god, and Sam Harris is his prophet.” This comment appeared on an Internet forum discussing a new editorial by Harris, a neuroethicist who has published a series of provocative arguments with titles like “The God Fraud” and The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Moral Values. Harris claims in these polemics that human well-being is paramount and we should promote moral systems that increase it and dismantle systems that don’t. If you haven’t read Harris’s work or can’t guess from the above titles, he believes science increases well-being while religion doesn’t, particularly for women and poor people.
From the Prelude to Scientists as Prophets
Walter Russel Mead:
In 1776, Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations, a sly and subversive classic of secular humanism too often mistaken today for a mere lecture on the benefits of capitalism. In it, Smith said relatively little about religion and even less about the United States. Yet he managed to put his finger on the forces that are still shaping the role of religion in American politics today. His analysis is a better guide to the future of the evangelical movement than are most contemporary accounts.
Smith saw what we see: the progress of modernity, he noted, was not undermining religion in the Britain of his day. Instead, religious revivals were blooming. These new religious movements often rejected the liberal values of a free society. They favored absolute moral codes, conservative interpretations of religious doctrines, and political activism to enact their values into law.
From Born Again, The Atlantic, March, 2008