On the subject of religious belief, we relax standards of reasonableness and evidence that we rely on in every other area of our lives. We relax so totally that people believe the most ludicrous propositions, and are willing to organize their lives around them. Propositions like “Jesus is going to come back in the next fifty years and rectify every problem that human beings create”–or, in the Muslim world, “death in the right circumstances leads directly to Paradise.” These beliefs are not very contaminated with good evidence.
And of course he goes on, pointing out that religion does not confer any moral benefit, that the books of the Bible and the Koran are full of nasty, hateful stuff, that American politics is poisoned with delusional religious thinking, etc., all of it true…and here’s the first comment.
Once again, we folks of faith are told that we’re all, everyone of us, a violent, vengeful, and..oh, by the way…not very bright bunch. Once again, we’re told that there’s no proof for what we believe. (Here’s a clue, Sam. It’s all based on faith, a fact we freely admit.) Once again, the very worst examples of religious fanaticism and zealotry are thrown in our faces as if we were all just a hairbreadth away from killing our daughters for being victims of assault.
You want to be an atheist, be an atheist. But don’t present your nasty bigotry and smarmy arrogance as if it were “enlightened thinking”.
Sheesh…with people like Sam spouting this sort of mean-spirited baloney, it’s no wonder the rest of America can’t stand us liberals. Half my time in activism is spent trying to convince moderates that we aren’t all as condescending and arrogant as Sam and his ilk.
Harris does not say anywhere that people of faith are all violent—he explains that the Bible is full of violent, vengeful stuff. This is true.
The “faith” argument is nothing. Claiming that your beliefs are OK because you believe in them blindly with no supporting evidence does not reassure me.
The argument isn’t that the religious are going to start carrying out honor killings in this country. It’s that religion can lead people to do very bad things, and therefore is not a reliable moral guide.
Harris doesn’t say that the religious aren’t very bright, and he doesn’t have to. I don’t think it’s entirely true, but it’s definitely the case that they’re blinkered, and can’t see any criticism of religion with lashing out. This fellow is definitely demonstrating that.
Harris’s comments are perfect examples of enlightened thinking—they are ideas based on reason and evidence, rather than dogma and faith. That “nasty bigotry and smarmy arrogance” he’s complaining about aren’t there—what is there is calm, measured dismissal of delusions in which the commenter has placed importance.
That last paragraph is what really bothers me. He’s a liberal activist, and he claims to be spending much of his effort undermining enlightenment values, and reassuring people that the liberal party will support their traditional tribal superstitions. No thank you, Mr Activist, you do not represent me. I think we ought to have one party in this country that is fighting hard for universal secular values, one group of people who are willing to stand up and say you can keep your superstitions in your home and your church, but they are not the basis for a rational government. That attitude that we must pander to the silly “faiths” of people, beyond just leaving them alone but instead making them core values of a political party, is exactly what we must oppose.