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Professor Simon Blackburn

Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge, member of the Humanist Philosophers’ Group, and a Vice-President of Humanists UK

I don’t see that religion is particularly bad, but at certain historical moments it is very dangerous and this is one of them. There is a risk that we will undermine the West, that we will go back to the religious wars of the 17th century.

Simon Blackburn was born in 1944 and is currently the Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Before that, he taught Philosophy at Pembroke College, Oxford, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include two introductions to philosophy, Think (Oxford, buy it here) and Being Good (Oxford, buy it here – also published as Ethics A Very Short Introduction), as well as Lust (2004, buy it here),Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed (Allen Lane, 2005, buy it here), The Oxford Dictionary of PhilosophyMirror, Mirror: The Uses and Abuses of Self-Love, and numerous other academic publications.

Simon Blackburn participated in the 2001 HPG conference “Is Nothing Sacred?” (buy the book here) and in December 2001 he gave Humanists UK Voltaire Lecture “Does relativism matter?” He also contributed to HPG publications: ”So you think you can live without God?” and “What is Humanism?” (buy it here). He also wrote a critique of the Archbishop of Canterbury in The Sunday Times on 4/4/04, “Well said, archbishop: let’s hear it for atheism”.

He was one of the 43 scientists and philosophers who signed and sent a letter to Tony Blair and relevant Government departments concerning the teaching of Creationism in schools in March 2002, and one of the signatories to a letter supporting a holiday on Charles’ Darwin’s birthday, published inThe Times on February 12, 2003, and also sent to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary. On 5/4/07, he wrote in “Against the grain: Religion should be kept out of politics” (in The Independent Education section):

…Should we respect other people’s religious faith? Respect is a very difficult word. It sounds reasonable but it’s horribly ambiguous. It can span everything from toleration to admiration.When a criminal demands respect, they don’t just demand tolerance but subservience. When religious groups demand respect, what starts off as a demand for tolerance can rapidly end up as a demand to take over your life. Do you respect my gardening? I might expect you to tolerate it, but you have no duty to admire it. I don’t see that religion is particularly bad, but at certain historical moments it is very dangerous and this is one of them. There is a risk that we will undermine the West, that we will go back to the religious wars of the 17th century. The only reason Christians are not still burning each other is because the secular state stopped them.

See also

Simon Blackburn’s website    
Transcript of a R4 “Analysis” discussion with Patron of Humanism Kenan Malik on “The origins of values” here .
His 2004 article “Religion and Respect”

Buy books by Simon Blackburn at Amazon.co.uk through this link and a portion of the sale price will go to Humanists UK.

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