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I have been reading END OF FAITH by Sam Harris during the past week.

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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 05:08 AM
Original message
I have been reading END OF FAITH by Sam Harris during the past week.
The subtitle of the book is Religion, Terror and the future of reason.

The book may be an antidote for the OD'ing on religious fervor on DU the past few days.Its basic premise is that religious faith is irrational and we have to find a way to replace it if only because such a faith in an age of mega weapons poses a threat to the existence of mankind itself. In previous eras, the limited capability of human beings to inflict death meant that religious wars could be localized and the casualties could be limited.That is no longer the case.And religion provides a strong motive force for those who have a grievance against another group to inflict enormous casualties and draw totally innocent populations into the fray.

Some excerpts: "Our technical advances in the art of war have finally rendered our religious differences-and hence our religious beliefs-antithetical to our survival.We can no longer ignore the fact that billions of our fellow human beings believe in the metaphysics of martyrdom or in the literal truth of the Book of Revelation or any of the fantastical notions that have lurked in the minds of the faithful for millennia-- because they are now armed with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.There is no doubt that these developments mark the terminal phase of our credulity.Words like "God" and "Allah" must go the way of "Apollo" and "Baal" or they will unmake our world".

The book also goes on to contrast the fantasy that religion peddles as Paradise when the real universe is fantastic enough if we let our imagination and thinking follow natural phenomena with the aid of science."If one didn't know better,one would think that man,in his fear of losing all that he loves,had created heaven, along with its gatekeepr God, in his own image".

Great, thoughtprovoking reading.Highly recommended.
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shockra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 05:24 AM
Response to Original message
1. Yes. Yes. Yes.
I've mentioned that book in these forums at least four times now. I can't imagine anything more important to read right now, either. There are so many posts here where I realize it would be impossible to have a dialogue with the poster until they've read this book. And I've wished so hard that they would, if only for arguments sake.

There was also an Alternet article a few days ago that mentioned Sam Harris's The End of Faith.

http://www.alternet.org/story/21641 /

The End of Reason

By David Morris, AlterNet. Posted March 31, 2005.

Organized religion elevates superstition to an entirely new level, so let's call its institutions by their proper name: superstition-based institutions.

http://www.alternet.org/story/21641/
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 05:29 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Supersition based institutions.I like that term.
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mopaul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 05:30 AM
Response to Original message
3. the nazis were steeped in religious symbolism & mysticism
i agree with sam, we are at a dangerous crossroads, apocalyptic in scale.
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HysteryDiagnosis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 05:57 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark wasn't made for nuthin'.... eom.
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shockra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 05:33 AM
Response to Original message
4. Harris also has a website.
http://www.samharris.org /

The guy looks an awful lot like Ben Stiller, I must say.
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Must_B_Free Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 07:21 AM
Response to Original message
6. Wasn't he the one from Star Search with the Chuck Taylors
Edited on Mon Apr-04-05 07:23 AM by Must_B_Free
who sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"?

http://www.rjprod.com/sam_harris.htm
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MollyStark Donating Member (816 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 07:24 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. Yes, the beggining of the wobble voiced vocalists
Obviously if Sam Harris says something it must be true.

:wink:
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Discord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 09:00 AM
Response to Reply #7
11. Lost of historical support for our concerns.
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Tsiyu Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 07:27 AM
Response to Original message
8. Thanks for that "book report."
Having been raised in the Episcopal church, I always viewed my faith as a personal, private matter. Christ was a peace advocate, an advocate for the poor, a hater of vile men like * and Cheney.

Now, I have no faith whatsoever. It is easier to believe and trust in the decent humans I know than to wonder why any loving God wouldn't just destroy the people who twist Jesus into a warmongering bigot.

Reason, not more religion, is the only thing that will clean up the mess we're in today.
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Discord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 09:02 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. agree. good post. and please, continue to speak out.
I have been and others have, and we catch alot of hellfire and brimstone, even from "liberal christians". The more outspoken we are, hopefully others who feel the same will begin to speak up as well.
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:16 AM
Response to Reply #8
14. Trust human reason , intelligence and effort.
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ladjf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 08:57 AM
Response to Original message
9. Excellent book. Sam also appears on various talk shows
and lectures. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the relationships between politics and religion. He's a good writer and thinker.
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Discord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 08:59 AM
Response to Original message
10. Thank you for your post. I hope we can wake people up
before its too late.

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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:14 AM
Response to Reply #10
13. I think, we need to subject our most deeply held beliefs to scrutiny
as Sam Harris has done and shed them if they stand in the way of achieving peace with our neighbors and fellow human beings.
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Discord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #13
20. what I've been noticing is that even the liberal christians
hold their own God above the rights of ALL Americans.

For they believe they are above reproach.
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adwon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:22 AM
Response to Original message
15. If reason were enough
the Napoleonic wars would never have occurred.

There is a distinction between religion and faith.

Faith is the belief in something, not necessarily God.

Some people claim to have faith in science (which is a self-negating proposition).

Communists have and had faith that they were on the ultimate side of history.

The Nazis had faith that a limited economic base could provide enough material to support a world war.

Most Americans profess a faith in democracy.



There hasn't been a pure religious war in the West since the 17th century. Yet, the practice of total war (a holdover from the 30 Years' War) has occurred multiple times since then.
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:27 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. The ability to label people as The Other based on religion has exterted a
powerful hold on us and enables easy demonization.That, in turn, makes wars possible. I am sure that you will change your mind about the hold of religion on our imaginations if you read Samuel ( another Sam!) Huntington's Clash of Civilizations, a relentless attack on Muslims and essentailly catering to the demonization of THEM.
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adwon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:32 AM
Response to Reply #16
18. You postulate too far
It's label people as other. Any other can lead to the calculus that makes war possible.

Once again, reason alone is not enough. The Napoleonic wars immediately followed the Age of Reason. They were based on a desire of France to liberate all of Europe from the monarchical yoke. It was the most destructive series of wars since the 30 Years' War and its proponents were professed atheists.

Does this mean atheists are warmongers? Not any more or less than anyone else. All it means is that the old bugaboo that religion is the sole source of war is false. War is a political condition, not a religious condition (since the 17th century anyway).
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Discord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:46 AM
Response to Reply #18
21. I disagree with one point...
Athiests or strictly political wars are definately well outnumbered by wars that were initiated by religious dogma, bias, bigotry, or demonization. While some wars were political in nature, religion sets the environment that allows immoral or illegal ways to take place. They are political propagandist and gives the masses the sense of "justice" to commit acts of war.
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adwon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:50 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. Postulating too far
Religion does not set an environment. It can be used to do that, but in itself it does not.

The French Revolution was overtly anti-religious. So was the October Revolution, the Mexican Revolution, and pretty much every other revolution (sans Iran) since 1800. How religion set the environment for aggressive war in those cases (minus Mexico) I don't understand.
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Discord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:03 AM
Response to Reply #22
28. That is up to you to come to try and understand
I know of what I speak, but would take pages of writing to convey that to you and don't have any ONE site or link that would cover it all.
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adwon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #28
32. ?
This is a conclusory statement, not an argument. It is not incumbent on me to prove your points.
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adwon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:52 AM
Response to Reply #21
24. By the way
I won't disagree that religion plays a role in some wars. I disagree when people say that religion is the sole source of all wars. That's the false proposition I argue against.
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:02 AM
Response to Reply #24
27. I agree that religion may not be the sole factor in wars.But its
capability of corroding human minds is almost infinite.Long after Darwin postulated Evolution for the Origin of Species, a leap comparable to Copernicus and Galileo,look at the power of the yahoos among us to destructively interfere in the education of our children.
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adwon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:05 AM
Response to Reply #27
30. So is an unthinking belief in anything
Should we just ban thought on the premise that it can cause a war? Think too hard about anything and you end up with the premise that it is right and anyone who denies it is wrong. This is not the sole premise of religion.
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Discord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:04 AM
Response to Reply #24
29. I never claimed it was the source of ALL wars.
Just the majority were about religion, or religion was used by the government to gain support for wars.

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adwon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:11 AM
Response to Reply #29
33. That's disputable
Not to be nitpicky, but majority of wars since when? I started with the end of the 30 Years' War to show that no religious war has been waged in the West since then. Also, majority of the wars where?

I ask these questions because there are numerous examples of wars fought that had nothing to do with religion (Rwanda comes to mind). There are also plenty of wars fought in which religion plays little or no role (20th century).
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Discord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:13 AM
Response to Reply #33
36. You got it. You must be absolutely correct. I will digress.
Enjoy your reality. Wish I could share such grand understanding.
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:54 AM
Response to Reply #18
25. In my thinking, religious animosity, like racial animosity, subsists
Edited on Mon Apr-04-05 10:55 AM by KlatooBNikto
under the skin and even if the rulers profess to be men guided by reason, exerts a stranglehold on the popular imagination which leads to wars and aggression.I believe also that a complete destruction of religious beliefs is necessary for us to enter a world dominated by reason alone.Two or three people at the top professing to be such men will not cut it.

Almost ten years ago, I happened to travel in China on business and encountered a remarkable young woman in Guangzhou.When I asked her why China has been so aggressive in the past, she laughed at me and said,"you have swallowed your country's propaganda completely". China has never attacked any country except in situations when it was in danger from imperialists from the US.If it wasn't for Chairman Mao's resistance to US aggression against it,in Korea and later in Vietnam, China would never have survived". Let us think about it.Even though religion does not enter into this argument, it is the idea that we are somehow more virtuous than the Chinese communists because we are a Christian nation that made Vietnam and Korea possible, IMO.Not to mention the racial aspects.That same idea made us ignore the reality of a nation of one billion people for nearly three decades.The same logic is currently in place against the Muslims. That their God is somehow less than our own.
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adwon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #25
26. Ok
I can tell you now that it will not work. Marxism-Leninism was an ideology that professed to be guided by reason alone and it was inherently aggressive and brutal.

You argue against religion when you should argue against faith. Faith is not exclusive to religion. You have faith that removing religion will cause world peace. Faith is belief in the absence of demonstrable proof.

Regarding your trip to China, forgive me for discounting her story. It's nice and maybe it sounds right, but it's as false as saying the Cold War was a fight between Christianity and godless atheism. That's a claim that was made by the right, not the left. Also, consider the fact that Mao is as highly regarded in modern China as Abraham Lincoln is in America. It's natural for her to believe the best of Mao and the worst of America in those situations, just as we tend to believe the best of Lincoln and the worst of Jefferson Davis (this is not a defense of Davis, this is just an example). Truth often depends on the location of the viewer.
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Discord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:11 AM
Response to Reply #26
34. U.S.A.!!! U.S.A.!!! U.S.A.!!!
Just keep on keeping on.

I mean, ya know... its not like the Chineese have been recording history for thousands of years or anything. They have no idea what they are talking about...

We got it right. You know we do. We would never concieve of distorting history or anything like that. I mean we SHOULD be teaching Creationism is high school too dontcha think? That will lead to some open minded and reasonable people. But don't you ever dare say that America intentionally distorts the REAL truth, cause ya know. We wrote it so it MUST be true.
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adwon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #34
37. .
Edited on Mon Apr-04-05 11:22 AM by adwon
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:11 AM
Response to Reply #26
35. That is true. Mao was clearly a brutal man in his time but the younger
generation in China as typified by this young woman in Guangzhou, regard him their savior.They do not like Communism any better than you and I but believe that his ruthlessness was needed when China was being subjected to attacks from the West.We also need to remember the long history of Western and Japanese Imperialism against China extending over 150 years before we start jumping to conclusions about China's aggression.

I believe that the phrase "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition"was conceived to provide a motive for Imperialists like Commander perry to attack China.
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kwassa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #35
39. The millions starved by Mao.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/asia_pac/02/china...

brief quote:

The "Great Leap Forward" was Mao's attempt to rapidly industrialise China's peasant economy.

It was one of the biggest human disasters in the 20th century, as 10-40 million people died as a result of famine between 1959-1961.

(jump)

the country's farmers were collectivised into 26,000 communes, each overseeing about 25,000 people and appropriating all their land.

The shake-up failed to lift food production, with disasterous consequences.

Grain output declined from 200m tonnes in 1958 to 160m tonnes in 1960, and helped to trigger the most costly famine in human history.



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Discord Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:06 AM
Response to Reply #25
31. well said and thank you!
Always good to hear from people who have travelled abroad to see how glaring the contrast is to what people have been brainwashed to believe in this country.
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xpat Donating Member (295 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:28 AM
Response to Original message
17. For those who wish to rethink who Jesus was
The Jefferson Bible is a must read. It was written by deist founding father Thomas Jefferson, who culled Jesus' ethical doctrine, sifting out what he called "so much ignorance, so much absurdity, so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture" he attacked "the stupidity of some, and roguery of others of His disciples<, o>f this band of dupes and impostors"

http://www.angelfire.com/co/JeffersonBible/index.html

To get an immediate feel for Jefferson's viewpoint, just read Chapter 17, verses 62-64.
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MountainLaurel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:38 AM
Response to Original message
19. Another one to add to my reading list
On the bright side, I'm single-handedly bumping up the DC Public Library's circulation numbers.

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Roland99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 10:51 AM
Response to Original message
23. A good friend recommended that I read that.
It's on the list....
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 11:47 AM
Response to Original message
38. I have often wondered if the hold religion exerts on popular beliefs, is
Edited on Mon Apr-04-05 11:48 AM by KlatooBNikto
due to the failure of our political and econmic structures to provide relief to people in times of their need, whether it is psychological, monetary or simply assurance that someone simply cares. I realized that this was the reason for Mother Teresa's effectiveness.She has said many times that it is not money or health care or economic benefits that matters to destitute people. The feeling someone cares for them without any questions asked is what they are seeking.The fact that Mother Teresa was revered by the destitute of Calcutta is an indictment of India's political system.
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kliljedahl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 01:15 PM
Response to Original message
40. Just got to page 182
Have really enjoyed it. Anyone got a suggestion for a follow-up in the same vein?


http://www.kliljedahl.net
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Auntie Bush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 01:33 PM
Response to Original message
41. When young I was Agnostic...when mature I was an Atheist ...now
that I'm old...I'm a forgotsnic.
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KlatooBNikto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-05 02:56 PM
Response to Reply #41
42. So long as you refuse to believe in Faith based
economics ( Supply Side), Faith Based elections ( 2000, 2004 and midterm 2006), Faith based War on Terrorism,Faith based ideas that we are led by honorable men, you are doing OK in my book.Just don't send any money to charlatans like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. Better still, ask them to invest money in a new business venture, called Faith Based Donuts.
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