Saturday, September 4, 2010

Harris: "The Case Against Faith" ('06)

Newsweek
Nov. 13, 2006

The Case Against Faith
by Sam Harris

[excerpted; full text at the link above]

... 44 percent of Americans are confident that Jesus will return to Earth sometime in the next 50 years... nearly half the American population is eagerly anticipating the end of the world.... this faith-based nihilism provides its adherents with absolutely no incentive to build a sustainable civilization—economically, environmentally or geopolitically....

Much of what people believe in the name of religion is intrinsically divisive, unreasonable and incompatible with genuine morality...

Religious people will devote immense energy to so-called moral problems—such as gay marriage—where no real suffering is at issue, and they will happily contribute to the surplus of human misery if it serves their religious beliefs.... [stopping stem cell research]

We have elected a president who seems to imagine that whenever he closes his eyes in the Oval Office—wondering whether to go to war or not to go to war, for instance—his intuitions have been vetted by the Creator of the universe. Speaking to a small group of supporters in 1999, Bush reportedly said, "I believe God wants me to be president." Believing that God has delivered you unto the presidency really seems to entail the belief that you cannot make any catastrophic mistakes while in office. One question we might want to collectively ponder in the future: do we really want to hand the tiller of civilization to a person who thinks this way?... [Sadly, yes, "we" apparently do! Grrrr. -- RH]

We are living in a world in which millions of Muslims believe that there is nothing better than to be killed in defense of Islam. We are living in a world in which millions of Christians hope to soon be raptured into the stratosphere by Jesus so that they can safely enjoy a sacred genocide that will inaugurate the end of human history. In a world brimming with increasingly destructive technology, our infatuation with religious myths now poses a tremendous danger. And it is not a danger for which more religious faith is a remedy.

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