On My (Qualified) Agreement With Sam Harris
To restate from the last post on this topic …
Assertion: Sam Harris was compelled to pen The End of Faith on September 12, 2001 and wrote his Letter To A Christian Nation a few years later. He is one of a growing number who equate the travesties perpetrated by Muslim terrorists with anyone who claims what he calls a “rigid” religious view. Rigid thinkers are dangerous in this world because they become too extreme.
Keep that idea in mind as you consider some points of agreement that Harris claims to share the hard-core “Christian right.” In summary, Harris agrees that (p. 3-4) …
- If one of us is right, the other is wrong.
- The Bible is either the word of God, or it isn’t.
- Jesus offers humanity the one, true path to salvation, or he does not.
- True Christians believe that all other faiths are mistaken and profoundly so.
For all the relativists out there I want to point out that Harris, like me, appears to believe in the existence of objective truth. That being the case, we each must admit that one of us is right and one of us is wrong. It has to be so. We cannot hold completely contradictory views and both be right.
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On Sam Harris’ Understanding of Condemnation to Hell
Assertion: In the introduction to his Letter To A Christian Nation, Harris is quick to differentiate between harmless, liberal/moderate Christians and “the religious right.” Harris scolds the former if they should cover for the latter because, by doing so, liberal/moderates “give shelter to extremists of all faiths.” That’s the setup and it is important to remember in this discussion.
Remember that Harris was compelled to pen The End of Faith on September 12, 2001 and wrote his Letter a few years later. He is one of a growing number who equate the travesties perpetrated by Muslim terrorists with anyone who claims what he calls a “rigid” religious view. Keep that idea in mind as you listen to the beginning of Harris’ argument against the Christianity he despises …
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The final Evolution as Mythology post is up (here). Please take the time to read it. This has been a fantastic series of articles by some serious experts and each is definitely worth taking the time to read. I will offer a quick summary here but that alone does not do this series of articles justice. This is the kind of information every serious Christian should have stored in the immediate access area of their brain. If you can remember nothing else, remember these three points:
Evolution is no different from any other myth
A myth may be true or false, but its principle characteristic is that it validates the thinking, practices, and ideals of a culture. Evolution explains our existence within the framework of our modern culture of naturalism, which has no need for a god. A myth cannot be proved, or disproved, with the technology of the culture; a myth requires faith.
In this case, it requires faith to buy into the unrepeatable requirement for abiogenesis, the elusive wishfulness that goes with panspermia (of any variety), or the baseless assertion of macro-Evolution is a “fact.” Like any other myth, Evolution requires the true believer to suspend disbelief in order to accept it.
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Assertion: Dawkins offers into evidence (The God Delusion, pp.16-17) further proof of his assertion that the faithful are unthinking by quoting a letter written to Albert Einstein by the president of a historical society in New Jersey that “so damningly exposes the weakness of the religious mind, it is worth reading twice:”
Response: I fully agree with Dawkins’ critique of the letter in question! When the writer claims that “everyone knows religion is based on Faith, not knowledge,” then goes on to describe how he never admits his religious doubts for fear of “…disturb[ing] and damag[ing] the life and hopes of some fellow human being…,” I am on Dawkins’ side when he says that the letter “drips with intellectual and moral cowardice”(17). It does. The letter writer admits that he is not pursuing the truth. He is pursuing a self-serving piousness that I also believe is intellectually and morally bankrupt. Although the letter writer may represent a large portion of the faith community, he does not represent those who vehemently deny that religion is based on blind faith and not on knowledge.
He does not represent me.
Though the letter writer rolls over and plays dead regarding the reality of the epistemological basis for faith, I do not. He does not represent those who believe that faith is a trust that can comes from knowledge based on evidence. Once again, Mr. Dawkins is cherry-picking his opponents. Doing so relegates him to the same intellectually and morally vacuous position as those he so condescendingly condemns.