My response to the Harris article:
As always when Sam Harris writes an article many people will compare his nonbelief in the gods of organized religions (atheism) to a sort of fundamentalism of it's own kind. This is grossly inaccurate for the following reason:
A lack of belief in a personal god who supposedly wrote a holy book chalk full of absurdities, blatant contradictions and gross immorality is not equivalent to a dismissal of any sort of spirituality or possibility of a higher intelligence or even a cosmic creative force. What it is a dismissal of is lunacy of fundamentalism.
Any sort of honest examination of personal gods the world over will reveal that the idea of an angry middle-eastern sky deity who demands animal sacrifices should be marginalized the same way UFO abduction stories are. Give one reason why such a deity does not seem just as ridiculous as Zeus. The problem is that when a modern person reads the holy books, they interpret them from a modern perspective, which was not at all how they were written to be interpreted. A day *really* is a day, not a thousand years for instance. Only severe grasping would suggest that the original story tellers meant something different. The modern person overlaps their modern enlightenment onto these scriptures and turns them into something that they were not intended to be. It is very true that a reading of the bible for instance, in it's own context without cherry picking, leads to more fundamentalism and not more open-mindedness towards other viewpoints. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" and the penalty is a brutal death- what part of this statement is open to discourse? This is not open to questions of metaphor or allegory, it is literal.
As a former fundamentalist Christian myself I am very familiar with the religious meme. Fundamentalists are duplicitious folks who masquerade as normal citizens, while in the back of their minds they are not satisfied with anything short of complete and total theocracy and diminishment of any other form of belief. The scriptures of the two major American religions make it undeniably clear that other religions are abominations. Only a completely distorted and disingenuous liberal misinterpretation of these scriptures would lead to the fantasy that we could somehow have rational discourse with these people, or that plurality is possible within this matrix of absolutism.