From the first paragraph alone:
“For nearly as long as there have been villages, there have been village atheists,...”
I’m sure there were. Most were probably burned at a handy stake before they could cause much trouble, though.
“Never mind, as well, that militantly atheist movements like Soviet and Khmer Rouge communism—as well as volkish pagan ones like Nazism and Tutsi supremacy—stand behind some of the worst mass violence of the past century. Harris believes religious belief is the single greatest threat to the survival of the human species.”
Any belief based upon unfounded principles is the same as a religious belief. None of it is rational. How is the belief in communism any different from christianity? One is a political belief based upon unreachable utopian ideals, the other is a belief that you will reach utopia after death. And while it may be nice to have these fantasies, both have about the same chance of occuring in the real world.
“Never mind that, among the world’s one billion Islamic believers, the vast majority of clerics and lay Muslims renounce the politicized brand of Islamist dogma that extremists seek to inflict on Muslim and non-Muslim populations alike”
The argument is that the moderates allow the fundamentalists to exist. You can’t stand up in front of a crowd and say that Odin talks to you without people thinking you are squirrely.
“How can it be that the 9/11 suicide bomber, whose spiritual principles and hateful political practices are denounced in the highest reaches of mainstream Islamic observance, is “a man of perfect faith,” and that the innocent victims of those attacks, Muslim, Jew, Christian, Jain, or Hindu, are automatically symbols of defiled secularism? “
The difference being that the people being killed, even if they were religious in their own right, are being killed because of another’s belief in something completely unprovable. There is no proof that god exists as indicated in the Koran and yet that it is the reason you kill someone. See the issue? Does it matter that you kill someone equally as religious as yourself?
It’s obvious, of course, that a certain derangement of Muslim dogma prompted these men into terrible action, but there are also, again, more complicated forces in play,...
Sure and not everyone who grew up in a ghetto becomes a crack dealer. People make choices all the time. Today I choose not to be a nut and blow up the World Trade buildings. Easy. Their choice of religion was what caused them to do this. Sam made some good points about other religions that this could never have occured if these people were members of them.
Here again, Harris glides right by historical precedent—a well-advised move for his argument, since the only power that has used nuclear weapons on civilian populations (up to and including the zealots in Pakistan and India who now belong to the nuclear club) is our own secular, Enlightenment-bred American republic, steeped in pragmatic self-regard far afield from faith-induced deliriums of jihad and martyrdom
The author here seems to have forgotten his own quote of:
Polls regularly show that at least 90 percent of Americans believe in God; more than 80 percent agree that the deity is regularly performing miracles in today’s world; more than 80 percent also believe in an afterlife and Heaven as an actual physical site for same
Maybe a truly secular society may not have used the bomb on Japan. But, then again, a truly rational and secular society would value its members more than the enemies who are trying to destroy it and use it as needed. Dunno, but I think Patton said it best,
“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”
- Attributed to General George Patton Jr