The increased awareness of the Giordano Bruno Stiftung has led to numerous critical or even defamatory media reports. In most cases, the harsh criticism comes from the pens of theologians, even though this may not be obvious to the reader, viewer or listener; the prejudiced reviewers hide behind a mask of independent reporters. In this way, various misconceptions have crept in regarding the foundation, reflected in a number of enquiries to the management board. On the following pages, we are providing answers to the ten most commonly asked questions.
1. Is the Giordano Bruno Stiftung an atheist institution?
The label “atheist” is very popular with journalists, for reasons of its “smell of sulphur”, i.e. strong emotive impact in religious debates, but it is hardly a suitable word to describe the foundation’s philosophy. The gbs represents a naturalistic rather than atheistic position. That is to say, we believe that the universe can be explained rationally, and that there are no gods, ghosts, goblins or demons interfering with the laws of nature. This in turn means that a definition of “God” which does not interfere with laws of nature (this is incompatible with creationist belief or miracles) would not contradict naturalism, even though many supporters of naturalism are happy to do without the “inelegant god-hypothesis”. Incidentally, the idea that the Giordano Bruno Stiftung can be reduced to one-dimensional or even dogmatic atheism is disproved by the foundation’s name; it is known that Giordano Bruno was not an atheist, but rather a pantheist (i.e. believed that God and the Universe are one and the same).
2. Is the gbs hostile to religion?
The foundation is critical of religion, not hostile to it. We regard religions as the cultural treasure chamber of humanity, which, as well as outdated views of the world and morality, also contain meaningful aspects that should still be respected today. However, a critical, rational, secular approach to religion is required to separate the valuable elements from the archaic errors and the associated, often barbaric “moral values”. Religions are works of humanity, just like all the other products and institutions that our species has created in the course of its cultural evolution. Consequently, religious texts should be regarded in the same critical manner as works of ancient philosophers, especially as the latter were ethically and intellectually superior to the former in many areas.
The basic problem of religions is that they tend to regard imperfect human utterances as “holy” and thus “sacrosanct”, which in the course of human history has led to enormous suffering. Even today, the resulting inquisitorial logic, “You will believe in it, or we will make you believe in it”, represents a massive threat to the peaceful coexistence of humans. As long as this danger still exists, criticism of religion will remain one of the most essential tasks of enlightenment.