Sam Harris The Case Against Christianity
Sam Harris offers his case against the Christian god concept
Samuel Benjamin "Sam" Harris is an American author, neuroscientist, philosopher, the co-founder and chief executive of Project Reason, a non-profit organization that promotes science and secularism
I like Sam Harris.
Anonymous claims that 30,000 children strave to death daily in our world. In the Christian bible in Matthew we find Jesus telling people not to worry about what they will eat tomorrow, or what they will wear, or where they will stay. God will take care of them just like he does the sparrows, and certainly we are worth much more than sparrows. I remember it making a good sermon years ago but people didn't know how to think. They still do not know how to think today. The starving children and the homeless seem to make the words of Jesus very hollow and the mythical god a liar.
I brought this out in another forum and was condemned for taking it out of context. If the children starve and die it is because they are not Christians and god wanted them dead, they told me. That made me wonder if the birds in the biblical example were Christians. I hardly think so.
Then a woman told me I had it all wrong because she did Christian work with the homeless and they don't want a place to stay. They want to stay on the streets and remain homeless, she told me. I wonder if this includes the refugees that have lost their homes or have been driven from their homes? How about those who have fled in war and strife just hoping to stay alive? so much for a typical American Christian knowing anything about homeless people.
Sam Harris even said it. We do not know how to think properly or reason honestly. This is one of the many falsehoods that religion teaches you.
I don't see evidence that a god takes care of sparrows. When a hawk, crow or a cat takes out after a sparrow, the predators are as likely to have a nice meal as a sparrow is to have safety and protection.
Starving children see no evidence of god feeding them, and homeless children see no evidence of a godly intervention.
If children starve and are homeless because they are not christian, then that promise is an empty one. If god wanted starving and homeless children dead, then that god is not worth the time to pay attention to the myths and fables that have evolved about them.
Any person who performs christian work and believes starving and homeless people don't want the security of food and shelter, has not talked to the homeless and starving people I have. There is a mythology that grows within the religious community that claims of hunger and homelessness do not reflect the poor person's plight.
Sometimes I think Sam goes a bit over the top, and mostly he makes perfect sense, but he always appears to me to be a very frightened person.
He's really frightened of Islamic fundamentalists getting a nuke.
Though I think they might blow it up, showing their people how to use it.
Like he Jihadist who blew himself and his class up, demonstrating how to be a suicide bomber.
My impression is that Islamic countries, particularly Iran, want to get a nuclear device So They Can USE It. In that regard, they are damned scary. Pakistan has had nukes for a while, yet managed to keep them under government control, but the relative political stability of that country does not compare well with either the US or Russia at either country's worst point.
Personally, I think Sam is concerned and with damned good reason, and the drive by the US and John Kerry for coming to an agreement with Iran about control of their nuclear program is evidence that he is not alone.
Loren, I agree.
I've always liked Sam Harris. I don't believe he is over the top, but indeed quite rational and well-reasoned. I think he often gets unfairly criticized.
I've always admired this speech, which, I should mention, was Harris' rebuttal to William Lane Craig at a debate at Notre Dame University. Personally, I think the YouTube user "Atheism-Is-Unstoppable" did a bit better job at illustrating Sam's words, though:
It is all about presentation.
I know that they are taking things out of context when they publish pieces of debates, as we didn't hear what argument he is countering properly.
Though I see how theists react to the way Sam puts his case and they see him as being no better than another religious fundamentalist. They think he is an atheist fundamentalist and thus hold that against him, because that is the impression his talks give.
I agree with Sam's message, I only think he could package it differently so he doesn't appear so frightened of theism.
It's this sense of his being very afraid is what alarms theists who say, how could he possibly be afraid of people with morality from god.
So they clam up and ignore him as being an idiot.
His message doesn't reach them.
I've never gotten the impression that Sam Harris appears frightened when he speaks about religion, but religion ruins lives, kills people and stops human progress in its tracks. If he sounds scared, he has every right to be.
That's the impression of Sam some Christians on the Xtian forums appear to have.
Maybe it's just the quiver in his voice as he speaks, I've noticed that and people out to get him will pick on little vocal inflexions and blow them out of proportion.
I stopped trolling such forums years ago, but I still get their messages and those that I didn't expose my atheism to, keep trying to get me back.
Though PZ Myers even had a shot at Harris, with remarks like: "Harris exhibited his usual woefully oblivious moral ineptitude, and Chomsky slapped him down hard. I am most amazed by the fact that Harris then promoted this as a personal victory."
This was regarding the Harris Chomsky debate.
Harris does appear to be somewhat inept to some Christians as well as Atheists.
Maybe Harris needs to review how his approach affects some viewers.
In some of his debates, especially his encounter with Chomsky, I agree with PZ.
I wonder if the stridency of Hitchen influenced the very young Harris? I watched Harris from the time before he started his doctorate and along the process of his life, he became more specific, descriptive, influence confrontational.
I have the sense that religious fundamentalists will not read anything with substance and then whine about being persecuted. Harris isn't persecuting them; he describes them, and they don't want to see what he sees.
How I'm feeling about Sam Harris depends upon what he's saying at the time. I'm on board with everything he says in the video, but his thought experiments regarding torture make me wince. Sometimes his blog posts sound like he's thinking out loud and that may be exactly what he's doing: checking his arguments to make sure his opinions are based on logic and reason. Sometimes it makes him seem like a cold clinician because he doesn't always take into account the emotional impact associated with something as abhorrent as torture.
I also sometimes wonder if he's painting Muslims with too broad a brush. Sometimes I think yes; sometimes I think no. Unfortunately, there are enough crazy Muslims to give all of them a bad name. There are also a large number of crazy Christians in this country. They don't represent the large majority of Christians, but there are enough of them to influence American foreign policy. In both cases, there are enough crazy religionists to destroy us all. Part of me wants to give the more moderate Muslims and Christians a pass, but then I think how even they could be contributing to our demise simply by making lazy thinking acceptable behavior.
I've paid dearly for trying to keep my beliefs in line with reality, among both Christians and atheists. The Christians kicked me out of their club a long time ago. Today I expressed the thought (in chat) that we may already be screwed when it comes to global warming. That isn't a comfortable thought, but it lines up with current scientific consensus, especially since no one is doing a blessed thing about the problem. A couple of our atheist members told me I was a Debbie Downer and to change my thinking on the subject. It reminded me of the treatment I got from Christians when I left their religion. No facts, no referrals to climatologists who think we're going to be A-OK; just admonishments to "think positively" followed by ad hominem attacks. Maybe I should pray about the situation as well?
I will admit I don't know as much about global warming as I should, probably for the same reason I was told to "just think positively" and to "stop being a Debbie Downer": FEAR. When I started looking into it, I discovered that climatologists are afraid. If they are afraid, we should be taking the situation very seriously, indeed. "Just leave it to the experts" I was told. It reminded me of "Just leave it to Jesus." The experts, while having the advantage of actually existing, won't be enough. All the positive thinking in the world won't change facts. Facts are stubborn that way.
It's possible science could pull our collective asses out of the fire, but I don't like our chances. Nothing is being done and those who deny the seriousness of the situation are giving a pass to climate change deniers in much the same way moderate religionists give a pass to their more radical brethren. I, myself, should be doing more. I'm trying to change. From my failure, I've learned my efforts to change others will most likely be in vain. If I can't change myself, why should I expect more from others?
I get it. It's scary. It's not pleasant to think about it, especially for an 18-year-old kid with his whole life ahead of him. But, my friend, ignoring the situation and looking toward Mars won't make global warming go away. Now that I've accepted the probability of a bleak future, I have to find a way to make peace with the facts. I can't sweep them aside.
I still have days--even weeks--when I'm very upset, but facing the finality of it all has brought some good things. I'm learning to stop taking things for granted, to be here now as much as I can, to love my family (flawed as they are), to enjoy wildlife while it is still here, to revel in my music, to love my parrot, to fight my life-long depression for those sweet moments when life is beautiful, because it is so very, very fragile.
Some of the things that once caused me anguish are gone. I never had children and I will leave no legacy. My mistakes will (mostly) stop with me. At the same time, I am sorry for those who are young. I think about my five-year-old cousin and wonder what kind of world she will inherit from those of us who could not change in time.
The little spat on chat was a reminder to be thankful for what I have. I might not be able to change myself enough to face the coming crises, ordinary or extraordinary. But I have the now. And now is enough.