Rational Humanist Music

Some­thing that’s both­ered me a lot lately is a lack of good mu­sic that evokes the kind of emo­tion that spiritu­ally-in­spired mu­sic does, but whose sub­ject mat­ter is some­thing I ac­tu­ally be­lieve in. Most songs that at­tempt to do this suffer from “too literal syn­drome,” wordily talk­ing about sci­ence and ra­tio­nal­ity as if they’re form­ing an ar­gu­ment, rather that sim­ply cre­at­ing po­etic imagery. I was re­cently mo­ti­vated by the Baba Yetu mu­sic video for Civ­i­liza­tion V, which es­sen­tially show­cases the power of sci­en­tific achieve­ment over the course of hu­man his­tory.… but the lyrics ba­si­cally at­tribute this to Chris­ti­an­ity, rather than sci­en­tific progress. I’m not op­posed to re­li­gious mu­sic be­ing used for such a pur­pose, but I wanted to find a song that hit all the right emo­tional notes as well as the in­tel­lec­tual con­cepts. I think that art is an im­por­tant medium by which to com­mu­ni­cate ideas, and for ra­tio­nal­ity to be suc­cess­ful as a meme it’s go­ing to need “car­rier wave” works of art to help it com­pete with re­li­gion for the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion’s pas­sion and un­der­stand­ing.

I’ve only found two songs that come close to be­ing the spe­cific thing I’m look­ing for:

Word of God

Singularity

(Highly recom­mend good head­phones/​speak­ers for the Sin­gu­lar­ity one—there’s some sub­tle am­bi­ent stuff that re­ally sells the fi­nal parts that’s less effec­tive with mediocre sound)

Over the past few months I’ve been work­ing on a ra­tio­nal hu­man­ist song. I con­sider my­self a rea­son­ably com­pe­tent am­a­teur song­writer when it comes to lyrics, not so much when it comes to in­stru­men­tal com­po­si­tion. I was wait­ing to post some­thing when I had an ac­tual fi­nal ver­sion worth listen­ing to, but it’s been a month and I’m not sure how to get good in­stru­men­ta­tion to go along with it and I’m just in the mood to share the lyrics. I’d ap­pre­ci­ate both com­ments on the song, as well as recom­men­da­tions for good, similar mu­sic that already ex­ists. And on the off chance some­one likes it enough to try putting it to the mu­sic, that’d be awe­some. (I don’t mind other peo­ple us­ing the lyrics for non-profit pur­poses, I do mind us­ing them for profit pur­poses)

Brighter than To­day

Many win­ter nights ago
A woman shiv­ered in the cold
Stared at the sky and won­dered why the gods in­vented pain.
She bit­terly struck rock to­geth­er
Wish­ing that her life was bet­ter
Sud­denly she saw the spark of light and golden flame.

She showed the oth­ers, but they told her
She was not meant to con­trol
The pri­mal forces that the gods had cloaked in mys­tery.
But proud and an­gry, she defied them
She would not be satis­fied.
She lit a fire and set in mo­tion hu­man his­tory.

To­mor­row can be brighter than to­day,
Although the night is cold
And the stars may feel so very far away

Oh.…

But ev­ery mind can be a golden ray
Of courage hope and rea­son
Surely we can find a bet­ter way.

Ages since but not yet now
We built the wheel, and then the plow
We tilled the earth and proved our worth against the drought and snow;
Soon we had the time to pon­der
Look up to the sky and won­der
Could there be some deeper mean­ing we were meant to know?

To­mor­row can be brighter than to­day,
Although the night is cold
And stars may feel so very far away.
But fu­tures can un­fold where
Courage, hope and rea­son grow
with ev­ery pass­ing sea­son so
we’ll shed the lies that tie us down
And seek truths ever more profound
And drive the dark­ness far away.
To­mor­row can be brighter than to­day

Brighter than to­day

The uni­verse many seem un­fair
And the laws of na­ture do not care
The plagues and storms and our own evils nearly doused our flame
But all these things, we have en­dured
Through morals learned, dis­eases cured.
Against our Her­culean tasks we’ve risen to pro­claim:

To­mor­row can be brighter than to­day,
Although the night’s still cold
The stars won’t always be so far away
If I may be so bold
It doesn’t have to be this way
Each hu­man mind’s a golden ray
of courage, hope and rea­son
Each and ev­ery pass­ing sea­son
We can seek the truths that make us stronger
Build the world that we all long for
Strive for lives of joy and mean­ing
Shine a light that’s always gleam­ing
Rise up to the stars and say:
To­mor­row will be brighter than to­day!

To­mor­row will be brighter than to­day!

I know it will be brighter than to­day.

(This is, es­sen­tially, a fan-song for Harry Pot­ter and the Meth­ods of Ra­tion­al­ity, in­spired in par­tic­u­lar by chap­ter 47)