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.
In an era in which the ideals of the Enlightenment need all the help they can get, we’re lucky to have such a lucid, stylish, and intelligent exposition and defense. This is truly a book for our time.
Christer Sturmark has done as much as anyone to uphold reason and humane critical thinking. ..His values are gathered and refocused in this, his own book. As a bonus, ..the eminent writer and polymath Douglas Hofstadter, adds his own distinctive lustre to an already luminous volume.
We live in a highly polarized world. Knowledge resistance, conspiracy theories and fake news make it ever more difficult to navigate. In To Light the Flame of Reason: Clear Thinking for the Twenty-first Century. Christer Sturmark reflects on our place in history as well as on our potential future as a more united and reasoning humankind. He gives a credible and sensible voice to the new enlightenment-oriented worldview.
Björn Ulvaeus, lyricist, songwriter, former member of ABBA
Not only is Christer Sturmark and Douglas Hofstadter writing with clarity and passion about our urgent need for the values of enlightenment in this sad time of populism and scorn for science.
They also have this wonderful page turning quality in their prose, that completely captures you like a good crime novel.
David Lagercrantz, the New York Times number one bestselling author of
The Girl in the Spiders Web.
The author of 'To Light the Flame of Reason', Christer Sturmark, has personally met and interviewed an impressive number of today's intellectual giants. He always manages to make the discussions highly interesting with straight-to-the point questions, thought-provoking angles and analogies, and a good sense of humor. Likewise with this impressive book. If a book like this had been available when I was in my late teens, it would have saved me years of collecting and contemplating important information about human thinking - and its failures. Today's youth need these insights even more, in this period of knowledge resistance, filter bubbles, internet trolls, fake news, false accusations of fake news, not to speak of dogmatic religions. Research indicates that the senior generation is even more gullible regarding social media. Thus, many adults too will benefit from reading this comprehensive collection of arguments - if they still have an open mind, i.e., open to rational reasoning and logical arguments.
Dan Larhammar, Professor, President of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
As a publisher, Christer Sturmark is unique. In the books that he champions you can see his passions for reason and tolerance, for the full flowering of human potential. And now those passions are on full display in a beautiful book of his own, as lucid and illuminating as it is warm and inspiring. What a world it would be if there were more Christer’s populating it. Let enough people read his book and maybe there will be.