An American Bible: A History of the Good Book in the United States, · Read more · The Bible for BlockheadsRevised Edition: A User-Friendly Look. The Good Book: A Humanist Bible [A. C. Grayling] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Drawn from the wealth of secular literature and. The Good Book. A Humanist Bible. By: A. C. Grayling Media of The Good Book. See larger conceive of a powerful, secular alternative to the Bible. But that is.

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superstition and the Persian East, The Good Book contains a lot of material from thinkers This is hardly a role call of naturalistic, secular humanists. Grayling. The Good Book is a book by A. C. Grayling. It was published in March by Walker The Good Book's organizational system is similar to that of the Bible. "If the humanists are in the ascendant, then Grayling's self-help book for the spiritually rudderless will be . Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version. The Good Book book. Read 63 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. A book of extraordinary audacity from a remarkable thinker--a secular.

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New poetry. Poem of the Week: The children themselves knew nothing about all that. They just played together as children.

I have often reflected on how much hard work goes into making those children different from one another, telling them they belong to different tribes, different religions, different this, different that. We had a campaign in London just recently in which we put a row of smiling baby faces on the side of the bus in London and under each one we put their political affiliationLabour, Tory, Liberal, and so onas you might do here, on the side of the bus you might have a Republican one-year-old and a Democrat one-year-old.

Of course, you see the absurdity of it and you see how hard we have to work at introducing divisions between human beings. The thing to do is to get away from them. One thing about The Good Book is it is a little bit like the UN Declaration of Human Rightsa document of which I am a great admirer, by the way, although now we rather dismiss it and think of it as vague and aspirational.

But that document and this book, both of them try to say: Forget all the differences, prescind from them, focus on the things that we have in common, which is our humanity and the fact that all of us need food, comfort, and warmth, and above all we need the companionship of our fellows and an opportunity to express ourselves.

One very important point is that most of history has imposed on humankind what must be a falsehood, which is there is one great truth, one right answer, one correct way to live.

That's not true. One thing that we learned from the Enlightenment is plurality, diversity, the fact that there are huge differences between people, and that we must honor those differences.

You know the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You have to recognize the differences between you and other people, not make yourself the arbiter of what is good and right, but respect the fact that people have other choices, providing of course that they exercise those choices responsibly, under what John Stuart Mill called the "harm principle," that we mustn't harm others.

My question is about human rights. Now that we are a system of this multiplication of human rightswe shifted from the fundamental rights to economic, social, and cultural, to more specific third-generation, fourth-generation rightsisn't there the risk that we lose the focus of what is fundamental, what is really necessary in our life, and also because as the more rights we see in charters, the less we are able to fully implement them?

That's a very good point. It would be terribly important not to lose sight of the overall inspiration, the early inspiration. The fact is that the Declaration is rather vague in its statement of principles.

See a Problem?

Think about a right to life. It needs a jurisprudence and a philosophy to make richer this idea of what a life is that we have a right to. If I put you in a cage and give you bread and water, you're alive but that's no life. It has the implication to a certain quality of life, which is why the two great conventions came into existence, to try to make it more precise.

But in making it more precise and in becoming more legalist about it, we do risk this danger that you mention. It is quite important, therefore, that we should constantly recur to the question of principle and recognize that what Mrs.

Roosevelt and her committee were doing when they drew up that document was to say, "Let us open a space around people so that they can, if they take responsibility and if they have the energy, make something for themselves.

That is the important point about it: let people have the opportunity, which is denied to perhaps more than half of humankind today for various reasonstraditional reasons having to do with what you wear, what you eat, whether or not you get an education, and so on.

I heard you say that you are not being critical of any religion. What I would be curious is as to whether there is any organized school of thought or group within the world today which closely reflects the same thinking that you havefor example, the Ethical Culture Society of the Unitarian religion, or some other schools, if you don't want to call them religions.

Is there any organized school of thought that most reflects your own thinking? That's different from whether its author has been critical of it in the past. I frankly and freely confess to having written some blunt things about religion in the past.

But that's a separate matter from this book. The answer to your question is yes, the humanist movement. When people talk about humanists, what immediately springs to mind is open-toed sandals and beards, a rather earnest outlook on life, and perhaps a large dollop of vegetarianism. But in fact humanism is not a prescriptive movement.

It doesn't tell people what to think or how to be. Rather, it says: Whatever we do, let us first acknowledge our humanity and let us acknowledge the fact that as very imperfect beings in a life which is often difficult and yet has the capacity in it for joy, let us reflect and think, make sensible choices, and build good relationships. Humanism, with a small 'h' and with a capital 'H,' which is the sort of organized version of it, is a movement for ethical reflection which doesn't premise itself on the thought that there are transcendent sources of instruction about how we should live.

There is a big contrast between saying that "our duty is to understand and obey. One of the great sins in Christianity is the sin of pride, thinking that you can stand on your own two feet and make these choices for yourself.

Humanism opposes the view that we are subjects; we are agents, and we must act responsibly. So the answer to your question is: Yes, humanism would be that sort of, if I may be allowed the expression, broad church of attitudes towards living sensibly, responsibly, and well. I will stick to the convention of leaving God out of this. It's hard for me to see how ignoring the seven normative rules or the Ten Commandments can result in a just society of people coexisting with each other without interfering with the others' happinessdo not kill, do not lie, do not steal, treat your parents with respect, don't covet your neighbors' goods or spouses.

How do you marry the two, or do you think it's necessary to do that?

But almost all the ethical traditions of the world, if not indeed all of them, religious or non-religious, share a very great deal just on these points. They don't obey without qualification the injunction not to kill, because our bishops bless our troops on their way to war and we find circumstances in which we think it's justifiedfor example, in self-defense or in defending a principle. Coveting your neighbor's goodswell, the consumer society and its associated economy rather depends upon our wanting to own nice watches and motor cars.

Coveting your neighbor's wifewell, I'm afraid human nature is what it is. So, in general, the kinds of prescriptions or ideals that all the great ethical systems set for themselves share much in common with that. But if you look at Christian ethics of the very early churchthat is, in the first three centuries or so of the Christian churchyou notice something rather distinctive about it.

We are told give away everything we have, take no thought for tomorrow, consider the lilies of the field, make no plans. If your family disagrees with you, turn your back on them. This is an unlivable ethics which made sense to people who very sincerely thought that they lay at the end of the world, that the Parousia, the Second Coming, was imminent, that the Messiah was going to return. And so of course you don't need material goods, you don't marry, you don't plan, because it's next week or next month, it's very soon, and you must be like the wise virgins and keep the wick of your lamp trimmed.

After centuries had gone by, they recognized that a little bit more thinking about the good life was required, and they took it from Greek philosophy. In fact, what we think of as the characteristically Christian attitude, the Christian gentleman or the Christian gentlewoman, is directly from Aristotle, the megalopsychosit sounds absolutely terrifying in Greekthe Latin words translated magna anima, magnanimity, the magnanimous person, the person of respect, kindness, and courtesy who considers others, the considerate person.

This is at the very heart of the idea of being a genuine Christian.

But in fact it is a Greek view imported into Christianity late on because of the poverty, you might say, of the early Christian ethics, which was the ethics of a people who thought that they were living right at the very end of time.

When one understands this and puts things into the context of history and recognizesif you go, for example, to the teachings of Mozi in ancient China two or three centuries before Christ, who preached brotherly lovelove your fellow man, honor him respect him, help him; we go back to Confucius, who talks about junzi, the gentleman, the person who has duties to his fellows and his neighborsyou see that human ethics, when it has been well thought and when it has been thought with generosity, kindness, and the best, most sympathetic understanding of what it is to be human, has a great deal in common with all the other great traditions.

You stimulate a lot of questions and a lot of polemics. One question I have is, if you look at a Hobbesian view of life in society versus outside of society that he calls in the state of nature, everything is kind of pretexted upon having a government, a structurewhether you call it proscriptions based on religion, or maybe even some humanist ideal if you talk about Athenian democracy.

If you could say that's net or pure of religious influence, I don't know. But given that context, and if that's truenot to just base it only on Hobbes, but I think he's a good examplethen what can we say about the humanist Bible and humanist thinking outside of that context? I think you are kind of going in the direction of you really don't necessarily need governments and structures per se to live as a good person.

Do you struggle with that at all? GRAYLING: I really don't think that it would be possible for human beings to live without institutions that regulate their relationships with one another. But the production of such institutions is very natural to human beings because we are essentially social animals.

If we look at Hobbes and we look at the whole social contract theory tradition, which contrasts life within a society where there are laws, structures, and an order of society, with something else, thought of as the anarchy of the primitive condition, the contrast is a false one, because even outside developed societies, human beings as social animals always had their connections and their groups in which there were ordered relationshipsrespect for elders and certain rules and taboos that governed their relationships with one another.

It's very easy to demonstrate that, quite naturally, if human beings get together in certain circumstances, they won't have the Lord of the Flies experience of William Golding; they will have a rather different experience. An organic social structure would arise.

It's simple to show it in this way.

The Good Book

If you were walking down the street and a complete stranger was walking down the street ahead of you, and you saw a great pile of bricks teetering just above him and just about to fall on his head, what would you do? You would shout out a warning instinctively.

You wouldn't say, unless you were a rather special person, "Hmm, this is going to be interesting. Most people have this instinctive reaction to call out to a fellow human being.

That marks something deep about the connection between all human beings from which organically the structures of our society have arisen. The fact that we have institutions and laws, and the fact that we arrange and organize, the fact that we have in our mores and our morals as well as in our legal systems ways of relating to one anotheras we do right now, we listen to one another with respect and courtesy, ask questions in a polite waythis is natural to us, this is what we are as human beings.

What is unnatural is what our newspapers are full ofwar, conflict, turmoil, people doing other people down, cheating, and lying. These things happen all the time, but they are a minority avocation of human experience, because in every town and city of the world, every hour of every day, there are a million acts of kindness and cooperation, courtesy, and normal friendship.

When you walk into a shop or get on a bus, what you get from most of the human beings you encounter is what is natural to us. It's the wars, the conflicts, and the cheating that are not. My question is about the historical development of human rights and whether it is driven more by secular humanism or by religion. But the example I wanted to give you is I just happened by pure chance to be reading a little bit of Deuteronomy last Sunday.

In the portion where there are the Decalogue and the Commandments, you learn that you have to rest on the Sabbath, but also your male and female slave is entitled to rest on the Sabbath.

The Good Book_ a Humanist Bible

You cannot covet your neighbor's wife, but you also can't covet your neighbor's male and female slave. The explanation in Moses is that you have to remember we were slaves in Egypt. It struck me there was no appreciation of the fact that maybe slavery wasn't a good thing. My question is: Did you have to wait until the secular world of the 18th and 19th century to see that change, or what was the driving force that changed that? It happens that all of usif you do the math on our ancestry, we are all related to one another, everybody on the planet is, and we are, all of us, therefore descendents of slaves, and we are, all of us, all descendents of slave owners.

This is a part of our history that we do well to remember. Now this sounds like a commercial break, but I don't intend it to be.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a book, called Towards the Light of Liberty, which recounts the development of thinking about the concept of liberty from the beginning of the Reformation, so just the modern history of liberty, which began with a desire for liberty of conscience, the liberty of thinking for yourself in matters of religion.

The last contains Grayling's humanist version of the Ten Commandments: "Love well; seek the good in all things; harm no others; help the needy; think for yourself; take responsibility; respect nature; do your utmost; be informed; be courageous.

It is very inviting to readers. It allows you to read small amounts, to reflect, or find something that is quotable. I didn't want page after page of dense text, which is rebarbative. In another act of mimicry, the language of The Good Book is self-consciously formal.

It enables you to ask what is being said, and then to ask: which of the two books do you find speaks more warmly, humanely and generously about the human condition? To some, it may feel like an act of blatant hostility. But the year-old Birkbeck philosophy professor and broadcaster is not afraid of being caught in the crossfire. They will see it as a terrible act of arrogance. It absolutely isn't at all. Without being all Uriah Heep about it, it is modestly offered as a contribution to the conversation of mankind.

When I was young my older sister was murdered. It was a really awful situation. Her husband was arrested. She had been thrown in the river.Grayling holds a chair of philosophy at Birkbeck College in London and is president of the British Humanist Association. Yet the surprisingly heavy hand of Grayling as redactor and maker is felt in almost every part of The Good Book.

A ‘Good Book,’ Absent God

It has parables and historical narratives like the Bible. Not such a Good Book Sat, Apr 30, , It's not for use in academia or for people who are obsessed with finding or citing the ultimate sources of the ideas and proverbs contained in the Good Book. I read my way carefully through the literature of the great traditions which do thisso, for example, classical antiquity in the Western tradition, Confucius, the Jewish and Christian writings, the Muslim writings.

LANNIE from Allentown
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