Thursday, February 08, 2007

Copernican, Galilean

Sam Harris responds to Andrew Sullivan

" ....Even when it comes to compassion and self-transcendence, there is new wine (slowly) being poured. Why not catch it with a clean glass?

All the best, Sam"

What brilliance, this writer. What command of language. It's breathtaking. As one person wrote on another blog concerning Harris- "Galilean. Copernican."

Revolutionary. Better than Russell.

I think that the undeniably crisp piquancy of Sam Harris' logic leaves people with the choice to either understand him or to distort him. To any discerning human being with any interest at all, the words are like barbs of honesty- things which any reasonable person knows to be true already, but things which people of faith have been trying to dilute and run away from with tricky word games all their lives.

Also, this lecture is Sam's best. The first part you have heard many times. But video two is awe inspiring. This is reality put out into the open for the emperor's devoted tailors.


upinVermont said...


I just checked for a response yesterday. You caught it before I did. I just can't see where Sullivan can run and hide from here? Can you?

It's just becoming increasingly clear that his politics is little different from his religion. He is unable to rationally justify either. He clings to a religion that has historically detested his sexuality, and he clings to a party that curries votes by exploiting homophobia.

I would be curious to know what a psychoanalyst would make of this man. It reminds me of a anecdote about Stalin. It goes like this:

He was apparently asked how he got people to follow him so devotedly. In response, he brought a chicken with him. Before everyone concerned, he plucked the living chicken feather by feather. When he was done, the chicken would follow him precisely and wherever he went.

I think the analogy works for Sullivan. He's a plucked chicken.

Aaron said...

I think Sullivan's statement that he would not be devoted to Jesus were he born into another religious culture was a telling admission. But as Harris said, he is not holding his tennis raquet up, and his position is so vaporous it can fluidly evade any bullet. People like you and I who have educated ourselves about the historical context of Christianity can readily see how extraordinarily senseless it is for a homosexual man to adhere to this religion.

I think this all goes to clearly show that spiritual feelings exist before they are branded onto a religious dogma. The spiritual yearnings we all (well most of us) have are like liquids which take the shape of their religious container when dumped inside, no matter how preposterously silly that container is. I wholly agree with Harris, why dump that good wine into a tainted glass. You just want to tell these people to wake up for Christ's sake. Their insistance on adopting these religious traditions is hurting everyone.

Aaron said...

In trying to figure out how Sullivan maintains the beliefs he has, I have come to the conclusion that it is greatly a social belief. Sullivan believes in human social context what only a madman stranded on a deserted island would believe himself.

In fact, I would like to send Sam Harris an idea for further writing. As a former Christian, I know the 3 primary reasons average people believe in Christianity, and the top three aren't because it's believable on it's own accord. Here's the logical sequence:

1.)There must be a designer. Having either a shady understanding of natural selection and evolution or none at all, these folks are typically not even aware of the counterargument. Any fool can see there is a creator. Chalk it up to American science classes that kids graduate without even the faintest understanding of the foundation of biological sciences and technologies.

2.) Since there must be a designer, and because there is so much love and beauty in the world, this designer must be influential in the world and care about humanity, influencing the course of world events. Of course.

3.)Since the designer influences the world and bestows prosperity where prosperity is deserved, then America is God's favorite nation, and duh, Since America is a Christian nation, then obviously Christianity is the one true religion. Any idiot can see this! Christianity is responsible for everything good about the modern world, and America is the leader of the world.

Okay, so this is the distillation that is driving masses of people to pile into megachurches by the throngs. This is the core reason why common folk that I know at work and elsewhere are easily willing to accept Christianity despite there being no compelling reasons to believe it, often even by their own admission. Minor reasons are the miracles, the fact Christianity survived so long etc...

I think a good book idea would be to take these 3 cornerstone arguments and pick them apart with facts. First, prove my idea. Actually interview American Christians and find out why they believe. I think my three deductions of Christian logic spell out clearly the reason that the U.S. is uniquely afflicted. Being so prosperous, people have no need to consider that they are wrong. The creator clearly has blessed us with holy prosperity.