The Turbulent Universe

Paul Kurtz, Author
Paul Kurtz. Prometheus, $20 trade paper (310p) ISBN 978-1-61614-735-8
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Humans must “fully realize that they exist in a universe without a God,” argues Kurtz (1925–2012) in this eloquent call for “humanist eupraxsophy,” a “practical moral” system based on empathy and scientific knowledge. The prolific philosopher begins by explaining that pre-Socratic thinkers looked for natural causes to explain the world around them, but the rise and spread of organized religion stalled human progress until the Scientific Revolution. The author credits the invention of human culture, not deities or spirits, for providing the means to pass on the tools and knowledge necessary to survive in a world that has suffered genocides, the fall of numerous civilizations, and at least five major extinctions in the past 570 million years. Kurtz (What Is Secular Humanism?) sums up his hopes with a clarion call for a world government based on “planetary ethics,” which would ideally marshal the best of our intellectual, scientific, and moral resources to solve problems and guide human progress. With vigor and conviction, Kurtz lays out his vision of a civilization grounded in reality and compassion, and while he is less clear when it comes to specifics like gender issues or how to do away with religious fundamentalism, his final work will give thoughtful readers plenty to think about. (Apr.)
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