MR. RUSSERT: Sam Harris has written two books; the latest, “A Letter to a Christian Nation.” And on his Web site he writes this as part of the atheist manifesto. “Incompatible religious doctrines have balkanized our world into separate moral communities - Christian, Muslims, Jew, Hindus, etc. - and these divisions have become a continuous source of human conflict. Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it was at any time in the past. The recent conflicts in Palestine, the Balkans, Northern Ireland, Kashmir, Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Iran and Iraq, and the Caucasus are merely a few cases in point. In these places religion has been the explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in the last 10 years.
“In a world riven by ignorance, only the atheist refuses to deny the obvious:
Religious faith promotes human violence to an astonishing degree.”
MR. MEACHAM: We’re unclear where Sam stands. Yes. I don’t think there—yes, religious feeling has fueled conflict from time immemorial. There’s no question about that. It has also brought people together. Religion itself, the one derivation of the word is to tie back one to another and one to, if you believe in a God, in an order beyond time and space. My, my argument against the, the atheist position is, yes, that’s a very shrewd diagnosis. But, forgive the phrase, what the hell are you going to do about it? You’re not going to take religion out of people’s lives. You can manage it, you can marshal it, as Rick tries to do. Rick’s one of the great marshallers of religious fervor of, of, of our time, or perhaps of any time. And the issue to me becomes one for the religious of humility. That is, you used a phrase a moment ago that pricked up my ears, millions of Christians on the march for good causes, what, what we can agree in a, in a civil conversation are good causes.
DR. WARREN: Yeah. Yeah. Right.
MR. MEACHAM: But, man, the phrase “millions of Christians on the march,” to so many people, it just makes them flinch, because millions of Christians on the march have done a great deal of harm throughout history. Crusades, pogroms, any number of things, the things that Sam was writing about. So how do we take something that is there, that we’re not going to get rid of, you can’t legislate religion out of human experience. You can try to legislate it out of politics and government—I don’t think it’s going to be very successful, but you could try—but if you accept that it’s going to be a factor in human affairs, then what you do about it at that point? I would submit that we should argue that the religious, particularly Christians, should acknowledge the centrality of humility in their faith, and have a sense of history about it.
Christians are—Jews and Christians are fundamentally taught that we don’t know everything.
DR. WARREN: Mm-hmm.
It could have been more interesting if Sam had bee on the show also.
I forget now which prominent actress said that it doesn’t matter what they say about you, it only matters that they say something, or words to that effect.
Two years ago, discussions like the one above were only being held here and in places like this. Now atheism is being discussed in the mainstream. Like the actress said, I don’t think it matters what the slant is, it only matters that thanks to Sam, Richard and others, atheists all over the country are coming out of the closet and (finally) calling some of the religious on their delusions.
Rick Warren is author of a purpose driven life and the pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forrest, Calif.
Weird, It sounds like meacham is carrying water for the pastor, who says nothing.
The pastor actually said plenty—the opening post was just an excerpt from the program. I was traveling, but happened across a replay of this, very late on Christmas Eve in my hotel room, and was surprised to see this Newsweek editor sitting alongside Rick Warren. The manner in which they traded off answering questions, it came across as if he and Warren were acting as a team. I suppose it’s just as appropriate as coming out for a particular political position, but I must say I’d now suspect Christian bias in their editorial content. . . although, since I don’t subscribe, maybe that would be no surprise to those who do.
This was the first time I ever heard/saw Rick Warren speak. I’ve never read anything by him, either, only knew him by reputation. I will say I admire him for at least appearing to practice what he preaches. Unlike some notorious church figures, he and his wife seem to be acutely aware of dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s as far as their personal example goes. He said that after his book raked in so much dough, he repaid his entire past salary to his church. He and his wife also made a pact when they first married that they would, every year, donate an extra 1% (I think that’s what he said) of their income to the church (or charities?). In other words, if they donated 25% last year, then it’s 26% this year, and so forth. I admire that, considering the position he’s in. He gloated a bit over relaying that tidbit to the interviewer, however , which of course is no surprise—he’s doing it for Godly gold stars, and nothing but. Doesn’t bother me, of course—he can be as pleased with himself as he wishes—but I just always find that pride/bragging thing amusing in Christians.
I only caught a portion of the show (and agree that having an atheist voice to liven up the exchange would have been more useful. . . as it was, it was entirely one-sided), but it has amazed me this week to see how ubiquitous the topic of religion has been on news programs. I don’t normally watch any TV, so flipping through news channels was eye-opening.
You really haven’t lived until you’ve heard Vegas preachers do their public TV broadcasts during the wee hours—some hilarious caricatures. I also watched a little of the Christmas Eve mass from St. Peter’s Basilica (loved their blonde baby Jesus in the nativity). I can’t even believe the ostentatiousness on display in Vatican City, and would love to know how much it all cost over the centuries—the elaborate frescos, the gold leaf columns, the exquisite sculptures, the stained glass, the vaulted ceilings. . . We certainly know who paid for it, though, don’t we .
@zapd: Thank you for posting the portion of the transcript from Sunday’s Meet the Press. I finished listening to the podcast and immediately came online to vent my frustration with what I heard.
The transcript misses an important detail: as Russert finishes quoting Sam Harris, one of the two panelists (I believe it was Warren) laughs out loud at the statement just read by Russert.
When a grown and apparently educated adult laughs at what is a reasonable, factual statement because it doesn’t reflect his superstitious ways, I can no longer accept anything he says. He lost all credibility by belittling the statements of someone who NBC didn’t do the honor of having on hand to defend himself. I find it shameful and embarrassing for his parishioners that this man represents his religion and his ‘flock’ in this way.
I watched the meet the press and Meacham didn’t come off as any better in my view. Warren seem to imply in very vague terms that Hitler was an atheist (or that his regime was atheistic) and Meacham just sat there and said nothing. I know it isn’t his job to defend atheists but how about some intellectual honesty. Hitler wasn’t an atheist and his regime insituted school prayer. He could have said something.
On a second note Mr. Warren was on cnn talking about solving the aids crisis and was very vague about a specific solution. All he said was that he wants to solve it. WOW!! :shock: How about he gets into some specifics? HOW do you plan to solve it. :idea: I swear if he says abstenence education I’ll scream :x