These groups are not simply against religion, of course. They object to what they call “religious fanaticism:”
Unfortunately, not only do too many well-meaning people base their conceptions of the universe on ancient books—such as the Bible and the Koran—rather than scientific inquiry, but politicians of all parties encourage and abet this scientific ignorance.
Their idea of ignorance is to advocate against embryonic stem cell research and for abstinence in order to limit Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
The joint statement of the Center for Inquiry (CFI)and the Council for Secular Humanism (CSH) “Declaration in Defense of Science and Secularism,” (as published at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies) is signed by about 45 people: fellows and staff of the two organizations, (retired) editors, Nobel Laureates, and professors at major universities. You might recognize the Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania, Arthur Caplan, PhD, and Peter Singer, the notorious “ethicist” from Princeton. For some reason, it seems especially odd to me that one of the signers is Edward O. Wilson, PhD, of Harvard University.
Mixing information from polls concerning beliefs and scientific knowledge and confusing religion and education, the Declaration opens with
We are deeply concerned about the ability of the United States to confront the many challenges it faces, both at home and abroad. Our concern has been compounded by the failure exhibited by far too many Americans, including influential decision-makers, to understand the nature of scientific inquiry and the integrity of empirical research. This disdain for science is aggravated by the excessive influence of religious doctrine on our public policies.
We are concerned with the resurgence of fundamentalist religions across the nation, and their alliance with political-ideological movements to block science. We are troubled by the persistence of paranormal and occult beliefs, and by the denial of the findings of scientific research. This retreat into mysticism is reinforced by the emergence in universities of “post-modernism,” which undermines the objectivity of science.
The Center for Inquiry dedicates its international resouces to counter any and all expression of religious moral grounding in the public conversation on science and ethics. CFI projects include the Committee for Scientific Examination of Religion and conferences like “Scripture and Skepticism, the Uses of Doubt in Biblical and Qu’aranic Studies” conference.
The Council for Secular Humanism publishes the journal “Free Inquiry“ and objects to baptism of children and moral education that includes religious worldviews. They reject authoritarian beliefs(except their own).
The advocacy for “humanist” ethics and a “Cosmic World View” appears every bit as religious as the worldview to which the CFI objects. (I will admit that I am confused by the notion of “humanist ethics” and advocates for human enhancement in partnership with CFI, an organization that supposedly objects to the notion that “that the Earth has been given to the human species as its dominion.”
The motto of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (where I first found the Declaration which is also published at CFI) is “Promoting ethical technology for expanding human capacities.” They “work closely with the World Transhumanist Association,” which has the same motto. Both organizations ask why we can’t be “better than well” through enhancement with technology. Since it seems that I’m almost attached to my own laptop and smartphone, I could agree with them except for their authoriatarian way of rejecting religion and proselytising in favor of moving beyond being human. At least they do admit that transhumanism might be a substitute for religion, “however, transhumanists seek to make their dreams come true in this world, by relying not on supernatural powers or divine intervention but on rational thinking and empiricism, through continued scientific, technological, economic, and human development.”