Saturday, January 05, 2008

Rabbi Wolpe versus Sam Harris

I thought this was a really great debate. The moderator did little to interfere, Harris and Wolpe were visibly in fighting mode with hackles raised, new territory was explored not covered so much in prior debates, and Wolpe (though not remotely convincing) handled himself pretty well and had some pretty clever things to say at times. Harris meets the challenge well, and at the end you feel the audience is sympathetic towards his views.

Judging from their reactions, I believe that the audience watching this debate was left mostly with an attitude of- "There might be something out there, but this religion shit is really not cutting the mustard", which I think is a success. The pressure being put upon the religious is working in dramatic fashion. The talking points are out and about all over the media (despite incessant attempts to distort Sam's position), and they are forcing the religious to become more honest about the meaning of their faith.

It will not collapse overnight. What happens when you change your position (as I've done a couple times), is you begin to discover on your own the points which other people have already made to you. Your own inner dialogue starts to challenge you with observations that feel as if you made them up, despite the fact that they are the same ones others have been telling you all along, you just weren't listening deeply and you weren't capable of allowing them to sink in. Finally you change your position on your own and credit yourself for having thought it through in your own unique way. Only years down the road do you realize that it was another person who really did the convincing. And you'll never admit it publicly. Give it some time, you can mark my words. The fruit of the recent books by Harris, Hitchens, and Dawkins is still about 2+ years away. Suddenly alot of people will start making an Exodus away from their faith, and it won't be clear what caused it, and the atheist books won't get the credit.

Chickenshit in NJ will enjoy seeing Harris debate a Rabbi ;-)


Chickenshit in NJ said...

Yes, I enjoyed seeing this debate. But as rabbis go, I don't think Wolpe is all that representative of the majority of them, despite the fact that he's a "Conservative" rabbi, which I was shocked to learn from googling him after seeing this debate. He really comes off like he's a "Reform" rabbi. Maybe because he's based in LA, I don't know. Perhaps some ex-Jews out there reading this will know what I mean. But yes, I'd say Harris came off very well overall.

Aaron said...

He sounded like a reform rabbi to me also.

However, after watching these debates again and again, It is clear that no matter who the debater is, someone will say that he doesn't represent everyone or so and so.

And where are the women? Only Ayaan Hirsi Ali is in it, but no women religion defenders. Care to explain why?