I was sent this as an “open letter” — I don’t know if it’s posted anywhere else, but since it’s “open”, I’m happy to let everyone read it.
Can I please ask you to refrain from insulting and writing about Sam Harris in the negative. I don’t know what you expect to achieve by constantly writing Sam Harris hit jobs. You are tearing the atheist community apart.
Does it not hurt you knowing that you are contributing to the toxicity of the atheist community? Do you not care about, as Sam Harris says, that his daughter will one day have to read articles about their father being a racist, and Islamophobe? Even if you don’t agree with Sam or Richard Dawkins, can’t you please get in line. They’re the ones on the front lines. They’re are the ones that will bring enlightenment to the masses.
Don’t you care about the damage you are doing? Imaging someone who is considering the notion of god and reads Sam Harris and thinks, “yes this makes sense, I no longer believe”. Now imagine that this person has major influence in society. Imagine that maybe this person becomes president. Imagine the good they could do.
Now imagine that they then read a PZ Myers blog post, and they read you saying Harris is a bigot and racist etc. You just prevented that president from being enlightened and doing great work as president, because they instead read something religious and became religious.
These are the stakes. We are not cultists, we are just pragmatic, for the greater good. I compel you. But I bet you have your mind made up and are not willing to listen to my sound reasoned arguments.
I feel a duty to at least try to persuade you and your readers. Please just write something positive about Sam, at least that way you appear neutral and unbiased.
Hmm. How shall I put it?
I’m always baffled by the one-sidedness of these complaints. Harris says torture is OK, racial profiling is a good thing, etc., etc., etc., and he’s not the one
tearing the atheist community apart, it’s the people who stop and say NO.
The worst thing possible is that Sam Harris’s kids might read that someone dislikes their father’s opinions; once again, we ignore the children in Iran and Iraq whose father might be dead because of Harris’s opinions. They don’t matter, but Sam Harris does.
The hypothetical about some future president becoming an atheist because they read Harris is absurd and misses the point. I don’t mind if a future president is a theist, as long as they don’t excuse torture and war (and quite a few other things). I wouldn’t vote for an atheist president who wants to see more racial profiling against Muslim Americans. To put atheism at the top of your list of criteria and to excuse all other violations of an Enlightenment philosophy is not the way to enlighten the Republic. I favor neither a theocracy nor an atheocracy. I don’t assume that someone would be a good president simply because they’re an atheist — I think Sam Harris would be a nightmare president, and I think I would be a terrible president, too. There are skills involved in being a great leader, and lack of belief in gods isn’t a necessary one of them.
But mainly, I’m amazed at atheists who ask others to be silent about disagreement. Way to be great critical thinkers, guys! If that’s the way your mind works, I guess they really are at risk of reading some fragment of what I write and being converted to, say, Catholicism.
But the problem isn’t what I write. It’s their authoritarian personality.