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.

More bumperstickers ('06)

Be nice to America or we'll bring democracy to your country.

Bush: Like a rock, only dumber.

Annoy a conservative: Think.

Ignorance and arrogance is a bad foreign policy.

Which God do you kill for?

Of course it hurts, you're getting screwed by an elephant.

Love Thy Enemy strongly implies not killing them.

Hey Bush supporter, embarrassed yet?

When fascism comes to this country, it will draped in a flag and carrying a cross.
- Sinclair Lewis

If you want a nation ruled by religion, move to Iran.

America: one nation under surveillance

You can't be pro-life and pro-war.

Nothing is less patriotic than lying to your country.
Impeach Bush.

Jesus was a bleeding heart, long haired, peace loving, anti-establishment hippie freak with strange ideas - everything conservatives hate.

At least in Vietnam Bush had an exit strategy.

I'd rather have a president screwing his mistress than screwing his country.

They that can give up essential liberty for a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
- Ben Franklin

Rich man's war, poor man's blood.

We're making enemies faster than we can kill them.

If you support Bush's war, why are you still here? Shut up and ship out!

I think, therefore I am liberal.

The Republican Party, our bridge to the 11th century.

Torture is not a family value.

You voted for Bush?? Are you evil or just stupid?

Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents' Dinner ('06)

Satirist Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in April 2006.
The full video (24:10) is here
The full transcript is here

Excerpts:

I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the No Fact Zone. Fox News, I hold a copyright on that term.

I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.

Though I am a committed Christian, I believe that everyone has the right to their own religion, be you Hindu, Jewish or Muslim. I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

Fox News gives you both sides of every story: the president's side, and the vice president's side.

But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super-depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good -- over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!

I've got a theory about how to handle these retired generals causing all this trouble: don't let them retire! Come on, we've got a stop-loss program; let's use it on these guys.

Jesse Jackson .... Very interesting and challenging interview. You can ask him anything, but he's going to say what he wants, at the pace that he wants. It's like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, by the way, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.

New press secretary, Tony Snow. Got some big shoes to fill, Tony. Big shoes to fill. Scott McClellan could say nothing like nobody else.