Paul Kurtz, America's leading secular humanist philosopher, affirms that it is possible to live the good life and be morally responsible, without belief in religion. In this original and penetrating book, Kurtz delineates the means by which humanity can transcend the limitations of traditional religious loyalties and achieve a higher stage of ethics.
Fundamentalists deny the possibility of ethics without belief in God. Conservatives rail against secularists. Yet belief in God is no guarantee of moral virtue - as the evils committed in the name of religion have vividly shown. Are there secular ethical principles and values that are vital for a world in crisis?
In this new edition of Forbidden Fruit, Kurtz defends the ethics of secularism and humanism. In order to progress to a maximum level of creative development, he maintains that we must be nourished by the "forbidden fruit" of the knowledge of good and evil, grounding principles and values in autonomous reason. This is the path that leads to the discovery of significant ethical truths that can guide both self-reliant conduct and consideration for the rights of others. By breaking the bonds of theistic illusion, we can summon the courage and wisdom to develop a rational ethic based on a realistic appraisal of nature and an awareness of the centrality of the moral decencies common to all peoples.
The ultimate key to the good life, Kurtz writes, is to eat of the fruit of the second tree in the Garden of Eden - the tree of life - discovering for ourselves the manifold potentialities for a bountiful existance.
Forbidden Fruit contains important chapters on ethical excellences for individuals, moral education for children, and thoughts on privacy and human rights, in addition to presenting concrete ethical recommendations as alternatives to the reigning orthodoxies.
About Paul Kurtz
Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), professor emeritus of philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was the author or editor of more than fifty books, including The Transcendental Temptation, The Courage to Become, and Embracing the Power of Humanism, plus nine hundred articles and reviews. He was the founder and chairman of Prometheus Books, the Institute for Science and Human Values, the Center for Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He appeared on many major television and radio talk shows and lectured at universities worldwide. His passing in 2012 received global attention, including full-length obituaries in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and global media.
"An appropriate challenge to current trends in religion and politics."
"The basic message of this book is that secular humanism is reasonable because it does not involve any superstitions; it is practicable because it coincides with common decency; and it promotes harmony because it does not divide society into pure us and evil them.
"Kurtz's arguments are so cogent, his definitions so clear, and his examples so close to everyday life, that this book could be used as a textbook in introductory ethics courses wherever state and church are separate."
- Mario Bunge, FRSC, Frothingham Professor of Logic and Metaphysics, McGill University, Montreal, Canada