Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sam Harris interviewed on Liberal's making excuses for Radical Islam



Hat Tip: Bits of Starstuff

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33 comments:

Tommy said...

So, when is Sam Harris going to write "Letter to a Muslim Nation"?

Rhology said...

Yeah, I'd like to see that.

Problem is, if he wrote that, he'd get a fatwa issued against him and he'd have to go into hiding.

Or he can write a Letter to a Christian Nation that's full of idiocy and drivel and all he ever gets is some bloggers upset w/ him. The contrast is striking.

Chris Severn said...

Christians are less scary than Muslims at the moment, true.
I hope though that nobody's using Muslims as the yardstick for civilised behaviour.

angelsdepart said...

WHY ISN'T ANYONE LISTENING TO SAM HARRIS???

Rhology said...

B/c he is foolish. Maybe if he'd focus his attacks on Islam alone he'd get more credibility.

Tommy said...

Care to elaborate, Rhology?

Chris Severn said...

Rhology,
I see on a posting on your own blog, in regards to some other person's website, you say:
If this is the best a published author can do (not that I should be surprised, given the low quality of thinking in recent offerings from Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Richard Dawkins), then I'd hope nobody is worried.

Since you've previously admitted on this blog that you haven't read Dawkins' recent book, I think I can figure out something interesting about yourself, and it is this :
You form opinions on things that you know very little about, and indeed choose to remain wilfully ignorant of.

You made comments in this thread: "... Letter to a Christian Nation that's full of idiocy and drivel..." and "...he is foolish".
Rhology, have you in fact read "Letter to a Christan Nation", or are you similarly wilfully ignorant of this book ?

Since I now know that you are so willing to speak with authority about book(s) you haven't read, do you have any convincing argument as to why I should respect anything else you say ?

Sorry about the tone of this comment, but as you can tell, I get annoyed by wilfully ignorant people advancing their irrational, ignorant opinions.

It's similar to talking to a kid about the fact their room is dirty, and them putting their hands over their eyes, and saying "No, I can't see a dirty room, it's clean!"

Tommy said...

Chris, on another blog there was one theist reader who claimed that Richard Dawkins wrote in The God Delusion that life was meaningless. As I had just read The God Delusion, I knew this guy was wrong and quoted him exactly what Dawkins wrote about the meaning of life. It was evident the theist never even read the book.

Rhology, I am sure that Harris is not afraid to write a book critical of Islam, as he devotes an entire chapter of "The End of Faith" to criticism of Islam and he is frequently critical of that religion in his television and public speaking appearances.

Rhology said...

Tommy,

Why is he foolish?
1) Atheists are foolish.
2) His arguments are foolish.
3) He should spend ALL of his time attacking Islam, not just part of it.


Chris,

No I haven't read his book. I have also not read Mein Kampf.
How do I know their arguments are foolish? From the way they are represented. And from the way that they themselves embody their views.
I've read some things Harris has written and I read the transcript of his discussion w/ Rick Warren. Warren did terrible, but Harris' arguments were ridiculous in their futility, which magnifies Warren's incapacities.
So, if Harris goes on a big mag and floats his best arguments and they're pathetic, what does that say about his book?

Why listen to what I say?
1) B/c I'm somewhat of an authority on the Bible and Christianity, which it seems interests you. You, by contrast, are not an authority, sometimes demonstrating a lack of the most basic knowledge of hermeneutics.
2) B/c I'm trying to help you get out of where you are, b/c I was once there and I know how bad it is. You may not realise it now, but you will some time. Just know that when that moment comes, I would be happy to help you, talk w/ you, meet w/ you, pray for you, whatever it takes to help. I, like Jesus, will not bring up your former sins; if you repent, they are erased. I will accept you as a brother.
The invitation remains open for all time. I have been praying for you and I pray you'll remember this when the time comes.
3) B/c your arguments are foolish like Harris', indeed you endorse his foolish arguments.
4) B/c I've shown your arguments to be baseless.

If you're torqued about me not reading your heroes, please present an argument from one of them that actually makes sense and does not beg the question, and then I'd strongly consider spending my time on it.

Peace,
Rhology

Tommy said...

Presented like a true genius Rhology....NOT!

It always amuses me how theists operate under the assumption that those of us who are atheists are lost and missing something in our lives. Personally I am a happy and fulfilled married man and father of two beautiful small children. I have a house and a job that pays a decent salary. Lie is hard sometimes and I wish I was wealthy enough to quit my job and be free to do whatever I wanted, whether it be kayaking, scuba diving, volunteering for a worthy cause, etc. But on balance I have a good life compared to many people I know.

I do know this though. If I were to go back to being a Christian, my life would not be any better than it is now. I would still have to pay a monthly mortgage, pay property taxes, feed and bathe my kids at night when my wife is at work and so on.

Now, you have made it rather plain that you believe I am foolish for being an atheist. You believe that I possess something called an immortal soul, which no device known to humanity can locate or measure or test in anyway. You believe that if I accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior, my soul will go to a place called Heaven, which no device known to humanity can locate or measure or test in any way. Likewise, you believe that if I am an atheist when I die that my soul will go to a place called Hell, where I will endure torment and suffering for all eternity. Again, this place called Hell has no known location.

And you base these beliefs on a collection of texts that were written nearly two millenia ago by people who did not know the existence of the Americas, Antarctica or Australia, who did not know that Earth was one planet among many that orbited one of billions of stars in one of millions of galaxies in a vast universe. And yet for all of their ignorance about the world and the cosmos, I am supposed to accept on faith that they are right about the existence of an afterlife and what will happen to me in it depending on what I happened to believe when I was alive.

Now, as for Sam Harris, you have not cited a single argument he has made that is wrong. You don't have to read any of his books. You can mention one argument from his debate with Rick Warren. That shouldn't be too hard.

And as for Islam, Sam Harris can write about it as much or as little as he likes. He, as do I, lives in a majority Christian country where one of the major political parties has too pander to an influential group of religious people who believes that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old and that the story of Noah's Ark really happened. So it only makes sense that he, as do I, focuses the majority of his attention on Christianity and the Bible. After all, as much as I detest Islamic fundamentalism in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, there is not very much Sam Harris or I can do about it. But here in America we can make a difference in standing against religious dogmatism.

If that puts you and I on opposite sides of the fence, well then I am very sorry about that. It's nothing personal.

Rhology said...

Hey Tommy,

You were right in your 3rd paragraph. I thank you for trying to understand my position. You summarised it well.

And you base these beliefs on a collection of texts that were written nearly two millenia ago by people who did not know the existence of the Americas, Antarctica or Australia, who did not know that Earth was one planet among many that orbited one of billions of stars in one of millions of galaxies in a vast universe.

Well, some of them were written more like 4 millennia ago.
By men, who were inspired by the God of the universe - that's an important factor not to neglect.
So you're wrong to think God didn't know about all those places.
Even if the men didn't know, that doesn't mean anythg.

I am supposed to accept on faith that they are right about the existence of an afterlife and what will happen to me in it depending on what I happened to believe when I was alive.

What will happen to you in the afterlife depends on your ACTIONS in this life, in a way. You've sinned - you deserve Hell.
If however, you CHOOSE to repent and believe Christ, then you'll go to heaven. It's not "happening to believe".

You can mention one argument from his debate with Rick Warren.

The Sam Harris worship around here cracks me up.

Here.
Here.
Here.
Here.
Here.

I want to be nice here; my irritation is w/ the obsession w/ Harris, not w/ you so much. Harris is a fool w/ a big microphone.

If you want to know MY thoughts... I'll skim and give you a few.
HARRIS: The core problem for me is divisive dogmatism.

Of course, he is quick to excuse HIMSELF from being divisive. Noooooo, it's only those religionists.

HARRIS: Then God also likes smallpox and tuberculosis.

The old, tired problem of evil. Please.

HARRIS: You bring up slavery—I think it's quite ironic. Slavery, on balance, is supported by the Bible, not condemned by it.

Tremendously clumsy and poorly-researched. Which version of slavery does he mean? Ancient Hebrew? Roman? American Southern? Viking? Turkish? Babylonian? Egyptian?

an influential group of religious people who believes that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old and that the story of Noah's Ark really happened.

I'd be happy to argue that this has far more evidence than the myth of evolution.

It's nothing personal.

No, neither for me. It does make me sad for you, however, and for Harris and ChooseDoubt. Jesus said that you do not submit yourselves to the light b/c you prefer the darkness b/c your deeds are evil. You can repent of your sin at any time, and I pray you will. An added bonus of believing in Jesus is passing from irrationality over to rationality.

Peace,
Rhology

Tommy said...

I don't "worship" Sam Harris. I do think he is an articulate spokesperson though.

Regarding the slavery issue, it is a matter of how Christians interpret the Bible. I have no problem with praising Christians who agitated against slavery. On the other hand, pro-slavery Christians used the Bible in defense of slavery. Fortunately, the good Christians won out on that one.

Now, if there was more evidence for a young Earth and Noah's Ark than there was for evolution, the overwhelming scientific consensus would be in support of the former. But it does not. The Biblical timeline for Noah's flood is around 2500 BCE, whereas the archeological evidence for a unified Egyptian kingdom dates back to 3000 BCE. Funny then that there is no sudden interruption of Egyptian culture around 2500 BCE. For your information, that is approximately when the Great Pyramid was constructed.

Chapter 2 of Genesis mentions the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, predating the alleged flood. If there was a worldwide flood that reached as high as the highest mountais, all of the rivers would be erased and new ones would eventually form. You would not have identical rivers reforming in the same place they existed before such a catastrophic event.

If you really need to make yourself believe that the Earth is only about 6,000 years old in order to make it through the day, then you really are divorcing yourself from reality.

What is really sad is that you have allowed yourself to be brainwashed to such an extent that you actually go about your day believing that those of us who do not embrace your beliefs are evil and deserve to suffer.

Here's a difference between an atheist and a Christian such as yourself. The worst thing I could say about you is that you are deluded and that you have allowed your mind to me imprisoned by an ancient religious text written by flawed men, and that nothing happens to you after you die. The best thing you could say about me is that I seem like a nice guy and it's too bad I am going to burn in hell after I die. The worst thing you can say about me is that you look forward to me burning in hell after I die.

Personally, I think the worst thing you could say about me is a lot meaner than the worst thing I could say about you.

Chris Severn said...

Rhology,

I've been really busy last week or two, and will be for the next week, so unfortunately I'm not able to write at length at the moment. I will be in a week or so though.

For now, a comment on one point that you made :
B/c I'm trying to help you get out of where you are, b/c I was once there and I know how bad it is. You may not realise it now, but you will some time.

I was a Christian, so I've been somewhat near where you are (I'm sure our experiences were different).
I now realise how bad it was being a Christian, and I'm a much happier and nicer person now.
So, I'd like to reverse your sentiments, and tell you that if you decide being a Christian isn't a good thing, I'd be happy to help you too.

So far your prayers haven't worked on me. Neither have the prayers of a few other Christians I know. Feel free to keep trying though! Maybe God will change his mind and show me a sign.

Cheers,
Chris

Rhology said...

Chris,

I will, and perhaps He will. I used to pray that He would. Instead He showed me my life was pointless and revealed to me my depravity. Close enough.

I'd like to know: What assurance would God have that, if He did show you some kind of sign (I assume you mean some kind of visual appearance, as I used to demand), that you would indeed attribute it to Him, repent, and glorify Him?

Chris Severn said...

He showed me my life was pointless and revealed to me my depravity.

Rhology, I feel sad for you. This is the sort of thing I don't like about religion.

Making people feel like that. Unless of course you were one of the rare people who

really was depraved, in which case - a win for religion.

Scientology does a similar thing to hook people. Gives you a personality test that

shows you're deficient in some area, and only Scientology can help you.

I'd like to know: What assurance would God have that, if He did show you some

kind of sign (I assume you mean some kind of visual appearance, as I used to

demand), that you would indeed attribute it to Him, repent, and glorify Him?


Well, I wouldn't think God would need assurance. He'd know what would happen

anyway..

It doesn't have to be a sign, he could just tweak the "belief" center in my brain.

Make me believe. Don't worry about free will. I'm giving him permission and asking

him to do it, so that my free will doesn't end up with me roasting in hell.

As for signs if that's his want, then discovery of something in deep space with a

message from him would be good... Confirmation of healings of amputees. Him coming

and having a chat, doing some really cool miracles that Penn and Teller couldn't

do.... I suppose if the finale involved him taking me to meet some of the people

I've known who have died, then that'd be sweet. All in a real, physical sense,

without me having consumed any mind altering substances, and I'm allowed to take a

camera with me.

Repent? Certainly I'd repent some things. There's other things that gods usually

disagree with that I'm perfectly happy with having done. I wouldn't repent those. I

certainly wouldn't repent any sins of my ancestors.

As for glorifying him, he'd have to explain the bible. Which bits are true, which

aren't. He'd have to explain why deliberately set up the world to look exactly like

he didn't exist. He'd have to give a very decent explanation for the problem of

evil. If he explained all these things in a way which made me think he's a decent

deity, then I'd glorify him. I really can't think of any way he could explain it

all satisfactorily though. Especially if the reality of the situation includes

sending people to hell.

Of course, if he looked like he was going to send me to hell, I'd have a go at

repenting and glorification, but I'm a really bad liar, and if he's half the god

he's made out to be, he'd probably see though it.

Chris Severn said...

Sorry for my choppy posting. problem with cut and paste....

Tommy said...

Chris, I would take a different tack. Even if the god of the Bible did exist and it was proven to me, I would still not worship it. It would basically mean that we were living under the thumb of a galactic tyrant worse than Stalin or Mao. Thankfully though, the god of the Bible does not exist, so we need have no worry about what happens to us in a non-existent afterlife!

Chris Severn said...

Tommy, you're right. I'm being generous with my hope that God would tell me all the parts of the bible that I think are bad were written by someone else, and the good bits were from him.

That effectively means he's just a creator that loves us. No hell or genocide, or stoning people.....

On top of that, I'm willing to forgive that he's spying on us.

Given that, I'd have to say he's pretty cool, and at least as worthy of my adoration and "worship" as some of my other idols...

Rhology said...

Tommy,

That's not a very rational position to take. **IF** God is your creator, you say you still wouldn't worship Him, huh? You sound like a bratty child throwing a temper tantrum on the floor b/c mean ol' Daddy wouldn't give him anymore Cheerios.

Chris,

I was going to say, "If you are serious, then it'll happen," and then you went and agreed w/ Tommy. Who knows? God may 'tweak' you, but why would He be under any obligation to do so w/ an attitude like yours?

Tommy said...

Rhology, is a child required to respect or love a parent that is abusive or absentee? I would say no.

But it is all moot, because the god you worship does not exist, and that's a fact.

Chris Severn said...

Rhology,

God would be under such an obligation because he created me, and apparently loves me.

Imagine I'd never met my dad, but my mum told me that he was around and watching me on security cameras and that if I didn't worship him, then he was going to come and torture me in a few years' time. Mum couldn't show me these security cameras, and she drinks a lot. I say "hey Dad, if you're really there, can you please call me to let me know, then I'll worship you". If nothing happens can I assume Dad isn't really there ? If he is really there but doesn't answer me, is it fine that in two years he enters my room one night, abducts me and tortures me for weeks ?

Rhology said...

Tommy,

1) The child must love his parents.
2) You seem to be making a connection between God and an abusive human parent. On what basis besides personal preference do you do so? If personal pref, why should I or anyone else care?

Chris,

God would be under such an obligation because he created me, and apparently loves me.

1) It would be a self-imposed obligation.
2) All such self-imposed obligations have time limits.

Imagine I'd never met my dad, but my mum told me that he was around and watching me on security cameras and that if I didn't worship him, then he was going to come and torture me in a few years' time.

You know God exists, though. You just won't admit it b/c that would mean that you'd be acctable for your sins and you love your sins.

Mum couldn't show me these security cameras, and she drinks a lot.

I don't get the "drinks a lot" comment.

If nothing happens can I assume Dad isn't really there ?

You can't make any determination one way or the other, if we're speaking logically.
The disconnect w/ reality from this metaphor is that all the while, you know your Dad really is there and loves you but you keep urinating on pictures of him and hurling throwing knives at his effigy that is pinned to your wall.

Peace,
Rhology

Chris Severn said...

Rhology,

I do think it's quite presumptuous of you to think to know my mind, specifically claiming that I know God exists, and claiming also that you know the reasons why I deny it.

Do you claim the same thing of Muslims, Jews, scientologists, Buddhists, Hindus ? That they really know the Christian god is real, but they don't admit it ?

Rhology, I really don't believe that any gods exist. Really. Understand that. I have good reasons for this, and it isn't because I'm scared of being accountable. It's because I'm concerned with knowledge of reality.

Tommy said...

Chris, that is because Rhology just cannot get over the fact that there are atheists who lead happy and normal lives. He needs atheists to be bad people because if we're good, then what is the point in believing in a god?

In the end, all that people like Rhology can do is try to scare us with what might happen to us when we die. Sorry pal, it just ain't gonna work with me.

Rhology said...

Chris,

I know you know God exists b/c the Bible says so. It also says that you are suppressing the truth. haven't we been over this before? If you are suppressing the truth, why would anyone expect you to tell it?

Yes, I claim the same about everyone who does not believe in the God of the Bible.

Tommy,

It grieves me that you think that way, but if you think it is a challenge to me that you don't believe, you're wrong. My responsibility is to tell you the truth. I won't be in your shoes on that day.

Peace,
Rhology

Chris Severn said...

So Rhology,

You're not calling me a liar. It's the bible calling me a liar. And you believe the bible over ..... well, everything. No hard feelings then I suppose.......

Completely off topic. I've got a book here that says all bible believing Christians eat their young. The book also says that the sky is blue, which I know is true. Sorry Rhology, I'm not going to listen to anything from you about morality again, because afterall, what can I trust from a guy who eats his young ?

DOn't bother trying to tell me that you don't eat your young. My book says you do, and what would I expect a young-eater to say ?

Rhology said...

Chris,

Yes, I believe the Bible over you. And yes, the Bible calls you a liar, a rebel, an enemy of God, a lover of evil. All sorts of things.

No, no hard feelings. I freely admit that. :-D

That book sounds interesting. (Clever, too, I like it! See, now you're engaging the meat of the matter, no pun intended.)
1) Does the book comport with reality?
2) I don't eat my young.
3) Does the book also say that young-eaters actively suppress the truth that they eat their young?
4) Does the book give reason why young-eaters actively suppress the truth that they eat their young?
5) Does that reason make sense?
6) Important, does the book claim to provide grounds for reason, logic, and intelligibility?
7) Most important, does the book indeed provide grounds for reason, logic, and intelligibility?

If not, it's just another Book of Mormon, Bhagavad Gita, Qur'an, Humanist Manifesto, Moby Dick, animé, whatever.

Peace,
Rhology

Chris Severn said...

Hi Rhology,

Happy to get to the meat of the matter (nice pun), so I'll get rid of my metaphoric book. The intention of my fake book was of course to infer you shouldn't go around believing everything written in a book of unknown authorship just because you think the book is right on a few things.

I'll repond to your points with respect to the bible.

1. Does the book comport with reality
The bible is sometimes set in real places, sometimes not. It contains many things which do not comport with reality.

2. I don't eat my young
Sure you don't :)

3) Does the book also say that young-eaters actively suppress the truth that they eat their young?
4) Does the book give reason why young-eaters actively suppress the truth that they eat their young?

My point is that you shouldn't trust arbitrary claims made in a book without proof. The claim that atheists supress the truth is one such claim.

5) Does that reason make sense?
If the reason is what you said earlier, that "You just won't admit it b/c that would mean that you'd be acctable for your sins and you love your sins."
then, no, the reason doesn't make sense. You'd need to add stupidity to the list of characteristics for it to start to make sense. Intelligent people woudln't think pretending something is true makes it true.

6) Important, does the book claim to provide grounds for reason, logic, and intelligibility?
Claiming something and showing the claim to be true are very different things. The bible claims a lot of things. Many of them are false.

7) Most important, does the book indeed provide grounds for reason, logic, and intelligibility?
No. The bible just claims to.

There isn't much useful difference between the Book of Mormon, Bhagavad Gita, Qur'an or the Bible as concerns their claims of reality.
The Humanist Manifesto doesn't claim as reality things that can't be demonstrated. Nobody is claiming Moby Dick as non-fiction. It is a very good book though.

Rhology, I think I at least partially understand why you believe in a god. Perhaps even why you believe some parts of the Bible. But, why do you believe all of it, without question, to the exclusion of all other evidence ? What makes you think that the god you believe in had anything to do with the Christian bible? What is it about a collection of stories written largely by ignorant goat herders more than 1500 years ago that impresses you so much ?

Rhology said...

I thought I'd answer over at my place, in order to bring this thread-hijacking to a close. I claim a lot of responsibility for that. ;-)

Tommy said...

Solomon was not celebrated worldwide for his wisdom. In fact, outside of the Bible, you would be hard put to find any contemporary or near contemporary account of him, nor would you find much in the way of any archeological evidence to support the existence of a large Israelite kingdom spanning from the Sinai to the Euphrates.

Rhology said...

Tommy,

Haha, prove your negative statement. This should be fun.

"But we can't trust the Bible for that information!" Beg the question too, while you're at it.

Chris Severn said...

Rhology, I'll head on over to your new thread....

Tommy said...

Rhology, if I had a dollar for every time you wrote "beg the question" I would be a millionaire by now.

Simply provide me corroborating evidence from outside of the Bible that the claims about Solomon are true. If there were anything in the contemporary or near contemporary records of Egypt or Assyria or any other of Israel's neighbors describing a wise and powerful Israelite king named Solomon, that would be convincing evidence for me.

For example, we have confirmation outside of the Bible that King Jehu of Israel was a real person because there is an Assyrian obelisk that shows Jehu prostrating himself before the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III.

The OT refers to an Egyptian pharaoh called Shishak, and the Egyptians have records for a pharaoh from the same time period called Sheshonk. We can be reasonably certain that they are referring to the same person. That is another example of where the Bible and non-Biblical sources corroborate each other.

Therefore, it should not be too hard for Christians or Jews who believe that Solomon was a wise man who ruled a mighty kingdom to come up with extra-Biblical sources to support the belief.