This thread is meant to be a great debate between myself and randman about the conflict or role of each of science, religion, and politics in another. In particular, we will be discussing the view of some prominent authors on this topic starting with Sam Harris' 'Letter to a Christian Nation'
Later randman may choose another book or essay that is antithetical to the position of Sam Harris, an avowed atheist and critic of religion.
I picked up my copy of LtCN yesterday and got through the introduction. I don't imagine it will take me all that long to read as it is less than 100 small pages. That being said I also want to take my time.
I want to start by quoting from the introduction a section that I feel is important to understanding this book.
The primary purpose of this book is to arm secularists in our society, who believe that religion should be kept out of public policy, against their opponents on the Christian Right. Consequently, the "Christian" I address throughout is a Christian in a narrow sense of the term. Such a person believes at a minimum, that the Bible is the inspired word of God and that only those who accept the divinity of Jesus Christ will experience salvation after death.
In other words, this is meant to be an assault on the stereotypical Christian. Hopefully this will temper any complaint from randman that the book is biased or has any other purpose such as rigorous defense of secularism.
Rather than go off on tangential claims of equivalence of some of Sam’s arguments against dogma, I would like as much as possible to focus on the particular claims and whether they are true on their own. You may be able to mount an equally damning case against atheism or secularism on its own but that cannot logically negate any analogous claims against religion.
I would like to start my real analysis of Harris by first pointing out what I believe to be a fundamental flaw in one of his opening arguments.
Harris is talking about how Christians will be all too quick to denounce other religions on nothing but their base absurdities. He says:
The truth is, you know exactly what it is like to be an atheist with respect to the beliefs of Muslims. Isn’t it obvious that Muslims are fooling themselves? Isn’t it obvious that anyone who thinks the Koran is the perfect word of the creator of the universe has not read the book critically? Isn’t it obvious that the doctrine of Islam represents a near perfect barrier to honest inquiry? Yes, these things are obvious. Understand that they way you view Islam is precisely the way devout Muslims view Christianity, And it is the way I view all religions.
The problem with this is not that it is necessarily wrong, but that it is not IMO the primary reasoning most Christians use to discredit Islam. Most Christians will turn to the Bible and their religion itself as all the evidence they need to reject Islam. Islam says that Christ is not God, therefore Islam is wrong. They reject it not because it is absurd or it is a barrier to honest inquiry. They reject it because THEIR religion tells them to.
It seems as though Sam has somewhat missed the point while trying to make this comparison. While what he says may be true for the already non-religious, it makes no sense to use this reasoning to try to convict the religious that their dogma is irrational because the reason they reject other religions is, by Harris’ own standards, equally irrational.
Great Debate forum please.
Edited by Jazzns, : No reason given.
Of course, biblical creationists are committed to belief in God's written Word, the Bible, which forbids bearing false witness; --AIG (lest they forget)