To Light the Flame of Reason is all about the art of clear thinking, an art that is needed now more than ever in the world we now live in. Written for anyone who wants to navigate better in this world filled with populist dogmas, anti-science attitudes, and pseudo-philosophy, authors Christer Sturmark and Douglas Hofstadter provide a set of simple tools for clear thinking, as well as a deeper understanding of science, truth, naturalism, and morality. It also offers insights into the rampant problems of extremism and fundamentalism – and suggestions for how the world can move towards a new enlightenment.
The book argues that we need to reawaken the basic values and ideals that defined the original age of enlightenment. We need to accept the idea that the world we inhabit is part of nature, and that it has no trace of supernatural or magical forces. Ethical questions should be detached from religion. This doesn’t mean that the questions become any easier
— just that ideas are tested and judged without being profoundly tainted and constrained by religious dogmas.
Such a form of secular humanism builds on the power of free thought — the power to investigate and understand the natural world. Although not everything can be investigated or understood, the sincere quest for knowledge and understanding establishes a flexible, nondogmatic attitude toward the world. Curiosity and openness lie at the core of such an attitude. The scientific method of careful and open- minded testing, as well as science’s creative and reflective ways of thinking, provides key tools. What clear, science-inspired thinking helps us to understand, among many other things, is that a person can be good and can be motivated to carry out morally good actions without ever bowing to, or being limited by, supposedly divine forces.
To Light the Flame of Reason will appeal to adults who are trying to figure out how to deal with the ever-increasing daily bombardment of conflicting messages about what is right, true, sensible, or good, and it should appeal even more to teenagers and university students who are struggling to find a believable and reliable philosophy of life that can help guide them in their choices of what and whom to trust, and how to act, both on the personal and the social level.
Today, more people have greater access to information and knowledge than ever was dreamt of before, and more people are concerned about the world situation. More people have the chance, through their own actions, to make a difference.
Each one of us, as an individual, matters. It is thus vitally important that each of us should choose, in a conscious and reflective manner, our own views of reality, of the world, and of humanity. And this means that it is crucial for us all to train ourselves in the art of thinking clearly.
Christer Sturmark along with Pulizer Prize winning author Douglas Hofstdter argue that we must refocus our efforts on cultivting a secular society, and in doing so, we will rediscover the values and ethics that are so foreign in today’s society.