Purveyor of Truth
On March 15th we did a short post on freethinkers entitled FreeThinkers, Are There any Conservative FreeThinkers Today?. Today we revisit the topic in an effort to provide a bit more framework to the discussion. Rather than a quote followed by a site statement it is hoped today's entry prompts deeper thought based on introspection. Before we begin, the answer to the question "... Are there any Conservative FreeThinkers Today is, of course. However, true Freethinkers in either conservative or liberal/progressive circles is more rare than common.
We start with a definition of freethinking followed by further discussion.
Merriam Webster - : a person who forms his or her own opinions about important subjects (such as religion and politics) instead of accepting what other people say
: one who forms opinions on the basis of reason independently of authority; especially : one who doubts or denies religious dogma
Clearly, based on the above definition, a freethinker is a person who bases their opinions, or judgement on observable evidence, reason, and proper logic. Freethinkers reject political and or religious dogmatism preferring to form opinions independent of accepted convention.
I ask your indulgence for a moment while I inject site philosophy. In my view being a freethinker demands giving others the same right to think as they see fit absence derision or ad hominem attacks on their person. Sites who fancy themselves freethinkers who do not recognize this are nothing more than firebrands that would fully support authoritarianism to advance their goals.
Freethinking requires an active, questioning mind, and a dogged determination to not accept tradition, convention, or dogma on face value.
Seven steps to become Freethinker:
1)Try to avoid joining groups of supposedly like-minded others.
2) Ditch the 24/7 cable/satellite news cycle.
3) Evaluate why you do certain things.
4) Become open minded, and question everything.
5) Be wary of authoritarianism.
6) Learn basic logic. (For example, take this comment: "Senator A just has to be wrong about this economic plan. I heard that 20 years ago, he was an alcoholic." As you can see, the discussion mysteriously shifted from talking about the economy to talking about Senator A's past. This logical fallacy is called an Ad Hominem Attack. The above speaker was not criticizing Senator A's plan, but bringing up an old problem that the senator had with alcohol, in an attempt to damage his reputation. How do we know that Senator A has not reformed?
7) Try to enjoy being free-thinking.
For explanations click on the above link.
From SKP Freethinkers:
What Is A Freethinker's Basis For Knowledge?
Freethinkers are naturalistic. Truth is the degree to which a statement corresponds with reality. Reality is limited to that which is directly perceivable through our natural senses or indirectly ascertained through the proper use of reason.
The scientific method is the only trustworthy means of obtaining knowledge. For a statement to be considered true it must be testable (what repeatable experiments or methods confirm it?), falsifiable (what, in theory, would disconfirm it, and have all attempts to disprove it failed?), parsimonious (is it the simplest explanation, requiring the fewest assumptions?), and logical (is it free of contradictions or non sequiturs?).
Arguments based on faith, authority or ad hominem character attacks are unacceptable.
Do Freethinkers Have A Basis For Morality?
Freethinkers accept human life as the primary basis for morality. That which enhances humanity is "good"—that which threatens it is "evil." There are no cosmic absolutes. Given our existence in the universe, life must be the basis for values. Hence, most freethinkers are humanists. This usually embraces a respect for the welfare of our entire planet, including the other animals.
An ethical choice is rarely a simple "right and wrong" decision. Most moral questions involve a conflict of values, requiring a careful use of reason. Obedient conformity to the dictates of another mind is supremely immoral and very dangerous.
Do Freethinkers Have Meaning In Life?
Freethinkers know that meaning must originate in a mind. Since the universe is mindless and the cosmos does not care, you must care, if you wish to have purpose. Individuals are free to choose, within the limits of humanistic morality.
Some freethinkers have found meaning in compassion for needless suffering, social progress, the beauty of humanity (art, music, literature), personal happiness, pleasure, joy and love, and the advancement of knowledge.
Doesn't The Complexity Of Life Require A Designer?
The complexity of life requires an explanation. Darwin's theory of evolution, with cumulative nonrandom natural selection "designing" for billions of years, has provided the explanation. A Divine Designer is no answer because the complexity of such a creature would be subject to the same scrutiny itself.
Freethinkers recognize that there is much chaos, ugliness and pain in the universe for which any explanation of origins must also account.
Why Are Freethinkers Opposed To Religion?
Freethinkers are convinced that religious claims are false—they have not withstood the tests of evidence and reason. Not only is there nothing to be gained by believing an untruth, but there is everything to lose when we sacrifice the indispensable tool of reason on the altar of superstition.
Most freethinkers consider religion to be not only untrue, but harmful. It has been used to justify war, slavery, sexism, racism, mutilations, intolerance, and oppression of minorities.
Hasn't Religion Done Tremendous Good In The World?
Some religionists are good people but they would be good anyway. Religion cannot take credit for actions which are just as easily accomplished by freethinkers.
In fact, most modern social and moral progress has been made by people free from religion—including Clara Barton, Margaret Sanger, Albert Einstein, Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Marie Curie, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, H. L. Mencken, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Robert Burns, Percy Shelley, Johannes Brahms and many others whom we honor today for their contributions to humanity.
Most religions have consistently resisted progress—including the abolition of slavery; women's right to vote and to choose contraception and abortion; medical developments such as the use of anesthesia; scientific understanding of the heliocentric solar system and evolution, and the use of lightning rods; and the American principle of state/church separation.
Do Freethinkers Have A Particular Political Persuasion?
No, freethought is a philosophical, not a political, position.
Freethought today embraces adherents of virtually all political persuasions, including capitalists, libertarians, socialists, communists, Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives. There is no connection, for example, between atheism and communism. Some freethinkers, such as Adam Smith and Ayn Rand, were staunch capitalists; and there have been communistic groups which were deeply religious, such as the early Christian church.
More BELOW THE FOLD.
Freethinking requires the ability to state your positions on philosophical issues surrounding religion, politics, ethics, metaphysics et all while respecting the views of those you disagree with and avoiding ad hominem attacks always.
All thoughts and comments are readily welcome here at RN USA, with the SINGLE caveat they conform to freethinking guidelines outlined above.