The Secular Conscience by well-known atheist and philosopher Austin Dacey makes a couple of interesting arguments about morals and their origin. Dacey proclaims that—gasp!—you don't need religion to have a moral base and a conscience. He also says that—double gasp!—religion should not be done away with, and it in fact belongs in the public discourse about morals. His book is gaining admiration from both religious scholars and atheist philosophers. His religious fans like him for respecting their beliefs, and the secularists enjoy his steadfast argument that non-religious people do have a conscience. If you can cut through some of the pretentious and verbose language (he is, after all, a philosopher), Dacey makes points worth contemplating regardless of your faith. He pulls current stories from the news about where secularists are forgetting their fundamental beliefs. Like a less-hated Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens, he outlines his own reasons for not believing in a supreme being. Some of these arguments are threadbare atheist standbys, but Dacey succeeds at punctuating old atheist complaints with new pieces of information and studies. The result is that his book is pretty friendly toward religious readers, and he gives the atheist arguments a slight facelift.
Sun., April 20, 2 p.m., 2008