Saturday, October 28, 2006
There was a balanced article in the Washington Post about Sam Harris which is worth a read. It talks a bit about his background, and points out the negative reactions of religious moderates.
I am perpetually saddened by the arguments of moderates which invariably fall under the following lines of unreason:
Moderate's Steps to Create Meaning out of Nonsense
1.) Claim that the holy book in question was inspired by the creator of the universe, but tainted by human flaws. This way we can throw out all those tiny little irrelevencies such as- how the religion started, why people believed in the God in the first place, what drove the people to ethinically cleanse their neighbors, the reason behind their customs and rituals, the origin of their sense of what is moral and right. Just minor stuff, of course. Throw it all away, and keep a few psalms and the sermon on the mount. The rest was tainted by culture.
2.) Claim something like this- "Religion doesn't make people bigots," says Reza Aslan, author of "No God but God," a history of Islam. "People are bigots and they use religion to justify their ideology." In other words, only bigots actually believe their holy books. Good people use their pre-established sense of morality to discern that the bulk of their holy books are grossly immoral.
3.) Realize that, because there are patches of enlightened insight in every holy book, they therefore must have been inspired by the creator of the universe, and should rightfully be classified as "holy" books and given respect accordingly. Especially if their jackets are made of leather, the page edges are painted gold, and the translation is antiquated and totally divorced from references to the modern world.
4.) The big bamboozle, the big fraud, the big trump card of unreason. Say this: "he has taken these "Old Books" at their literal word, instead of studying the way that the faithful actually engage the scriptures". What a crock of FUCKING insanity!!! I could just as easily say that we should parse Mein Kampf and decide that we should never belittle the tome again because of it's many prosaic lines emphasising loyalty, courage and honor. Taken as a whole, it's a nightmare. But parts of Mein Kampf were clearly inspired by God Almighty so it's a big holy book. Especially if we were to to bind it in leather, paint the edges gold and put Hitler's more innocuous phrases in red.
Sam Harris used this glorious retort to this pathetic line of babbling grasping stone age madness in a recent debate in New York (described in article):
"If the Koran were exactly the same," he said, toward the end of the night, "and there were just one line added to it, and the line said, 'If you see a red-haired woman on your lawn at sunset, kill her,' I can tell you what kind of world we'd live in. We'd live in a world where red-haired women would be killed often. We'd live in a world where people like yourself" -- and here Harris gestures to his opponent, Oliver McTernan -- "would say, 'That's not the true Islam.' Twenty women in Baghdad would have their heads cut off and someone would come forward and say, 'This has nothing to do with Islam. Some of them were strawberry blond. Some of them were strangled."