Monday, August 24, 2009

Sam Harris, author of "The End of Faith" on Real Time with Bill Maher

By Ellipses

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Cylinsier said...

Definitely some interesting points made. My attitude has always been that religious belief is not something that should be actively attacked so long as the believers can keep their faith separate from their activities in life (for example, declaring war on Islam). But if what this guy is saying is true, that a true believer would be incapable of making decisions outside of that sphere of influence, then it makes for a compelling argument in favor of atheists being more active in educating about their position against faith rather than being inactive observers. I'll expound on this more when I get around to my next blog post.

Wesley said...

Cylent but deadly...and Elliptidamien...this guy Sam Harris is on to something. Organized religion defeats the very thing it sets out to do in the first be spiritual. When I say spiritual I am in synch with Sam Harris and what he said at the end of the cut. I went ahead and listened even though watching Marr made be spew a few chunks in my throat. Where I disagree with Sam is kind of what Cypuke was trying to say except that he was limited by his lack of intelligence and vocabulary...I think Sam's atheism can be described the same way as Sam described religious people's religion...he places it in a place of honor that cannot be questioned.

scott said...

Interesting clip, and i'm glad that there are critics of religion like Harris and Maher speaking their pieces.

i think, however, that Harris has one big blind spot, and that is that our beliefs, whether religious or secular, ALWAYS have the potential to influence rational (or irrational) thought. The key is to recognize where we are falling under the influence of our beliefs, and to own up to how we are influenced.

It certainly gets attention to use a public platform to call the beliefs of others "bullshit" but i'm not sure Harris doing so really advances his agenda. i have to be honest and say that his statement raised my hackles a bit, because to me it was simple arrogance. Understandable, and a statement that i can't deny is accurate about some of the ridiculous things that people embrace, like believing that a burn mark on toast is an appearance of some deity or holy personage.

One of the reasons that i embraced an Anglican expression of Christianity is that generally, beliefs are held lightly, however deeply they make also be held. Wesley is on to something when he points out that Harris' atheism can be described in the same way he chooses to view others' devotion to religion.

In listening to the clip & reading the comments, it seems to me that the phrase organized religion isn't as precise a descriptor as the phrase institutional religion. Perhaps the root problem isn't religious belief itself, but the characteristic human tendency to solidify our beliefs (secular as well as religious) into systems which we then feel compelled to defend against others who aren't buying our product.

i'm really looking forward to that next blog post, Cy.

Cylinsier said...

Its up, amph. I'm hoping it comes across as an explanation of why I do not have any non-scientific beliefs rather than an attempt at coalescing my lack of belief into a system of belief that is superior. I was going for the former, not the latter.

Ellipses said...

What I found particularly intriguing, was the way he described his atheism as being the same level of disbelief as your average Christian, plus one.

It has been my experience that the type of person Cy is talking about in his most recent post sees atheists as EXTREMELY different in their views than themselves... but honestly, I don't believe in all the same gods that you don't believe in... I just don't believe in the ONE god that you DO believe in.

I am Mike Huckabee plus one.

Ellipses said...

I was thinking about santa clause and god yesterday... and I think I have a post in the can, so I will try to pound it out tonight... I have so much freakin' work right now it's ridiculous... but this idea that I had really nagged at me.

And I am going to try really hard to not belittle religion in an attempt to figure out why people believe one thing while dismissing another... oh well, it goes it goes :-)

scott said...

it's to my chagrin that i always seem to fall back to a Christian context in these kinds of discussions, but that's the context in which i relate to ideas of belief & non-belief.

i really liked Harris' "plus one" analogy describing atheism, which will be more accessible to people of faith who also manage to keep an open mind.

Cylinsier said...

I think what it comes down to is some people just want to view the world logically and same people find happiness by feeling that they are not alone. Nothing wrong with that in my opinion. Its just when you start to use your belief OR your lack of belief as a justification to persecute the other side. Its one thing to think someone is wrong but wholly another to think they should suffer or die because of it.