Critical thinking can lead you down either path
I appreciate Paul Prather's wonderfully balanced June 12 column, "New atheists embody the very things they hate." As a secular humanist, I cannot agree with all he has written; however, he made many fine and credible points.
I prefer to call myself a secular humanist because atheist simply defines me as someone who has no belief in god(s). It does not define what I stand for and how I live my life. This is, perhaps, the limitation some "new atheists" place upon themselves.
I applaud Prather for his successful attempt to understand and spotlight the issues. However, he must understand that the aggressive new atheism is seen as needed by its adherents. No successful religious movements in history have become so without a lot of bombast, aggressiveness and a fair share of fundamentalism. It is the only way to impress large groups. Surely, we cannot deny the new atheists the way to a successful imprint on society.
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Too many secular humanists refer to religious followers as "idiots" and "fools." That causes me to separate myself from them. There are individuals of faith who are far smarter than I am. Religious faith and secular humanism are not dividing lines of intelligence.
The banner of secular humanism is "critical thinking." Prather has done some very impressive critical thinking. While I am certain we may disagree on the existence of god, we at least can agree that we should think about it, rather than cast inflammatory remarks or defame each other.
We're all humans
Christian terrorism is as much an oxymoron as Islamic terrorism.
The common denominator among all religions is that they are composed of human beings, all of whom came into the world helpless and totally dependent. Some became Christians; some became Muslims; others became Jews.
But the important thing for recent letter writers and all of us to understand is that, "Whatever behavior any human being does (good or bad), the possibility for expressing that same behavior lies in every other human being in varying degrees."
This is why, theologically speaking, we are depicted as all being descendents of a single set of parents.
As an African-American who has given serious study to the history of my people in this country, I used to think the capacity for extreme group violence was something unique to Caucasian people, some kind of genetic defect perhaps.
However, after observing not only extreme ethnic violence throughout Africa and Asia but also gang violence within the U.S., I am forced to see perverse degradation of the human form as a universal phenomenon.
Our respective religions did not cause this human degradation; the real problem is that our respective religions did not prevent it. The quest for power and dominance is corrupting on many levels, but nothing castrates religion more than this evil.
Servants of God cannot seek to be dominated by God, while simultaneously seeking dominance over others. This too is an oxymoron.
I pray our cultural biases do not prevent us from seeing our human commonalities and working together for a more just and equitable world.
Shahied S. Rashid
In his June 22 column on parenting, John Rosemond let us know, yet again, that modern parents have just gotten it all wrong.
According to Rosemond, for the past 40 years, parents have been doing their job all wrong — they have tried to explain to their children the reasons for their decisions; they have tried to understand their children's motivation, and basically, they've given up expecting their children to obey their orders without question.
Rosemond might be right that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, but I do have to take issue with his perspective on parenting.
He suggests that parents know how to parent from "intuition" and later suggests parenting is "learned." Talk about psychobabble.
With all his experience in this area, Rosemond hasn't yet decided whether parenting is gained from nature or nurture. And if it is nurture, then surely, we can learn new things.
But Rosemond is resistant to new things on principle, "Where children are concerned, new ideas are not true, and true ideas are not new."
As a parent, I know my job is not easy and I am constantly learning how to do it better. Notably, I have learned a great deal from research about child development and human relations from those who have studied this during the 40 years, which Rosemond seems to deplore.
I do think the Herald-Leader could serve parents better by finding a columnist who is not primarily an angry old man.
Obama aids Dow
A recent letter writer said the Herald-Leader did not write about a drop in the stock market. The writer should expand his view to more than one day when referring to the stock market. Since Barack Obama became president, the market has risen about 30 percent in only 16 months; an amount all of us investors are thankful for.
The writer should look at a graph of the last two years so he can compare the improvement under Obama to the steep decline under the previous administration. Looks like that hope-change thing is working pretty well on Wall Street.
UK's moral compass
While some readers neither know nor care who Wendell Berry is, I was pleased to read the June 24 editorial supporting the Kentucky author's decision to transfer his personal papers from the University of Kentucky to the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort.
With businessman Lee T. Todd Jr. at UK's helm, the university appears to have lost its moral compass.
Emphasis has been placed on athletics and Top 20 status; and from all appearances, Todd seems to be less concerned with the intellectual values of the university than his predecessors.
The renaming and rebuilding of Wildcat Lodge and the acceptance of coal money for just this purpose have hurt UK's image — especially given coal-industry practices that appear to place the safety of the miners and the stewardship of the land in last place.
In severing his ties to UK, Berry made a powerful statement and rebuffed the current administration of Todd and the UK Board of Trustees.
For this fact alone, Berry deserves the respect of all Kentuckians who view themselves as stewards of the environment and believers in the moral authority of the college presidency.