Media Interviews and Appearances: Print
Holiday in Hellmouth
by James Wood
God may be dead, but the question of why he permits suffering lives on.
By Pico Iyer
It is not answers that pull many people into the religious life, it is questions. The person who lives deeply and enduringly with, and within, a religion often finds that he is surrounded by ever more doubts as he goes on, not convictions. In an eloquent monk like Thomas Merton, the religious impulse is almost always fired by a kind of holy restlessness, as if each time the traveler ascends a peak, he sees nothing but the larger peaks that now confront him. “Our knowledge,” as Isaac Bashevis Singer put it, “is a little island in a great ocean of non-knowledge.” Religion is in that regard like that other affair of the spirit and the heart, marriage. I may know my partner inside out, her habits and her gestures, and yet the more I see of her, the more I have to acknowledge how much will always lie beyond my reckoning—and in that very space of unknowing, my hunger for a continuing relationship may be quickened.
Too Much Faith in Faith
By Alan Jacobs
If there is one agreed-upon point in the current war of words about religion, it is that religion is a very powerful force. Perhaps you believe, with that vigorous atheist Christopher Hitchens, that “religion poisons everything”; or, with the Christian historian and sociologist Rodney Stark, that religion created modern science and ended slavery. Or, like a significant majority of the British public recently polled by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, that religion is a “social evil,” a “cause of conflict and confusion.” But in any case you’re likely to think that, for good or ill, the sheer impact of religion is enormous.
Don’t write off religion just yet
By John Gray
A glance at the longer sweep of history shows this Enlightenment view to be misguided. Doubt has been an integral part of religion at least since the Book of Job, while science has often gone with credulity. The doctrines of dialectical materialism and “scientific racism” promoted by communists and Nazis, respectively, during the 20th century were as irrational as anything in the history of religion. Yet in the 20th century, millions of people embraced these pernicious ideologies as scientific truth.
Perceiving 2 Fallacies, a Secularist Faults His Fellows
By Peter Steinfels
Austin Dacey is a philosopher by training and an active secularist not only by conviction but by profession as well: He is a representative at the United Nations for the secularist Center for Inquiry.
If God Is Dead, Who Gets His House?
By Sean McManus
The fastest-growing faith in America is no faith at all. And now some atheists think they need a church.
For those touched most by 9/11, a turning point in faith
By Rick Hampson
NEW YORK — The pope’s pilgrimage to the site of the World Trade Center revives a question asked by many of those traumatized by the terrorist attacks, including the faithful, the faithless and those in between: Where was God on Sept. 11, 2001?
Novelist’s Crash Course on Terror
By Michiko Kakutani
In one of these chuckleheaded essays about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Martin Amis complains about the use of the shorthand 9/11: “My principal objection to the numbers is that they are numbers,” he writes in “The Second Plane.” “The solecism, that is to say, is not grammatical but moral-aesthetic — an offense against decorum; and decorum means ‘seemliness,’ which comes from soemr, ‘fitting,’ and soema, ‘to honor.’ 9/11, 7/7: who or what decided that particular acts of slaughter, particular whirlwinds of plasma and body parts, in which a random sample of the innocent is killed, maimed, or otherwise crippled in body and mind, deserve a numerical shorthand? Whom does this ‘honor’? What makes this ‘fitting’?”
Finding the Voices of Moderate Islam
John McCain recently reminded Americans that the great strategic challenge facing the West—and, indeed, the civilized world—is extremist Islam. And more important than any martial aspect of that threat, he said, is the ideological struggle between moderate and extremist understandings of Islam.
Adam’s Maxim and Spinoza’s Conjecture
By Michael Shermer
Belief, disbelief and uncertainty generate different neural pathways in the brain
The atheist delusion
By John Gray
‘Opposition to religion occupies the high ground, intellectually and morally,’ wrote Martin Amis recently. Over the past few years, leading writers and thinkers have published bestselling tracts against God. John Gray on why the ‘secular fundamentalists’ have got it all wrong
Why I Write These Columns
By Stanley Fish
Every once in a while I feel that it might be helpful to readers if I explained what it is I am trying to do in these columns. It is easier to state the negative: For the most part, it is not my purpose in this space to urge positions, or come down on one side or the other of a controversial question. Of course, I do those things occasionally and sometimes inadvertently, but more often than not I am analyzing arguments rather than making them; or, to be more precise, I am making arguments about arguments, especially ones I find incoherent or insufficiently examined.
Amis and Islam
By Rachel Donadio
“I’m a passionate multiracialist and a very poor multiculturalist,” Martin Amis said a few weeks ago. He was on the phone from London, praising his hometown’s ethnic variety — “It’s exhilarating and moving to live in a city with so many races and so many colors” — and denouncing its fissures, particularly over radical Islam. “I don’t think that we can accommodate cultures and ideologies that make life very difficult for half the human race: women.” Amis was explaining his stance in a gloves-off row that’s been raging in the British press since last fall, when the literary theorist Terry Eagleton likened some of Amis’s statements on Muslims to “the ramblings of a British National Party thug.”
In Defense of God
by Lori Smith
Atheist bestsellers have spurred on protectors of the faith.
A Neurology of Belief
By Oliver Sacks and Joy Hirsch
On Religion: A Pragmatist and a Lobbyist on Atheism
By Samuel G. Freedman
As represented in print by best-selling authors like Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, atheism has lately mounted an in-your-face attack not simply on religion’s influence on public policy, but on belief itself.
Prime Roller, Prepare to Meet a Wiseacre
By Michiko Kakutani
Sam Harris’s 2004 book, “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason,” set off a noisy boomlet of antireligion books, including Richard Dawkins’s provocative if preachy tome, “The God Delusion” (2006), and Christopher Hitchens’s furious (and often very funny) jeremiad, “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” (2007). These books provided a vehement response to the growing influence of evangelicals in American politics and the raging fires of fundamentalism around the world, and they even led to talk about the stirrings of a “new atheist” movement.
My Nose, My Brain, My Faith
By David Van Biema
Believing or disbelieving something is always as much about feeling as fact. Sam Harris, a doctoral candidate at UCLA, wanted to see what that means in physiological terms…
Ian McEwan: The TNR Q&A
By Isaac Chotiner
‘Atonement’ author Ian McEwan on Bellow, the Internet, atheism, and why his books are still scary.
Moderates Storm The Religious Battlefield
By Lisa Miller
More-modest voices are reclaiming the debate over faith from the bomb throwers.
Dallas ISD student picked to participate in forum with world leaders
By Courtney Flatt
Not often does a high school student get to shake hands with Colin Powell, Queen Noor of Jordan and Phylicia Rashad. For one week this past summer, Oak Cliff resident Donivon Fletcher listened to lectures and witnessed performances at the 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival.
Two authors, a rabbi and an atheist, debate religion and science
By Steve Padilla
Religion and science take center stage in a forum analyzing the role of faith in public and private life.
Man and God
How should faith respond to the onslaught of atheism?
Top Ten Stories of 2007
2. Atheism tops the bestseller charts
Something to believe in
By Adam Rutherford
On The Archers, poor Shula is rather worried because Alistair’s curmudgeonly dad, Jim, is trying to indoctrinate his grandson Daniel into the atheistic dark arts. She anxiously consults Alan, Ambridge’s kindly liberal vicar, who thinks it’s all rather amusing, and nothing to fret about.
What Your Brain Looks Like on Faith
By David Van Biema
Sam Harris is best known for his barn-burning 2004 attack on religion, The End of Faith, which spent 33 weeks on the New York Times best-seller List. The book’s sequel, Letter to a Christian Nation also came out in editions totalling hundreds of thousands. Last Monday, however, the combative Californian produced a shorter (seven pages) and seemingly calmer publication that will be a hit if it reaches 10,000 readers: “Functional Neuroimaging of Belief, Disbelief and Uncertainty.”
The 10 Biggest Religion Stories
By David Van Biema
#7 | The Roar of Atheist Books
There may or may not be more atheists, but there are more atheist authors—and readers want to give them a hearing.
Atheism’s Wrong Turn
By Damon Linker
Mindless argument found in godless books.
Mind, Matter, or God?
By Barry Boyce
As the so-called new atheists go toe-to-toe with religious literalists, where do Buddhists and other contemplative practitioners stand?
Bankrolling Ali’s Asylum
By Jerry Adler
Ayaan Hirsi Ali stands at the nexus of forces shaping the 21st century—and it’s a very dangerous place to be.
‘Martin Amis is no racist’
In his G2 cover story on Monday, Ronan Bennett was wrong to condemn Martin Amis for his comments about Islam, argues Christopher Hitchens
Does God have a place in a rational world?
BY Michael Reilly, La Jolla, California
WE’RE on the Pacific coast, miles from southern California’s still-raging wildfires, but talk of conflagration fills the air. Some of the best minds in science are gathered here at the seaside resort of La Jolla, together with some of the world’s most insistent non-believers, to take a fresh look at the existence or otherwise of God.
The Atheist’s Dilemma
By Katha Pollitt
How likely is it that the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims will wake up one morning and abandon their ancestral faith? Even if you are a ferocious Sam Harris-style atheist who thinks religion is completely stupid—the province of shysters and fools—you have to admit it would be quite astonishing if that view persuaded the devout anytime soon…
Stalin was an atheist: so am I
By Paul Thornton
Antony Flew’s case illustrates the folly of argument by association in today’s God wars.
Rolling Stone 40th Anniversary Issue
...[W]e’ve interviewed more than 100 musicians, artists, leaders and thinkers, including two Rolling Stones, two Beatles and two presidents (three, if you count Al Gore), not to mention LSD pioneers, scientists, comedians and philosophers, preachers and atheists…
Suffering, Evil and the Existence of God
By Stanley Fish
In Book 10 of Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” Adam asks the question so many of his descendants have asked: why should the lives of billions be blighted because of a sin he, not they, committed? (“Ah, why should all mankind / For one man’s fault… be condemned?”) He answers himself immediately: “But from me what can proceed, / But all corrupt, both Mind and Will depraved?” Adam’s Original Sin is like an inherited virus. Although those who are born with it are technically innocent of the crime – they did not eat of the forbidden tree – its effects rage in their blood and disorder their actions.
In God’s name
Many secular intellectuals think that the real “clash of civilisations” is not between different religions but between superstition and modernity. A succession of bestselling books have torn into religion—Sam Harris’s “The End of Faith”, Richard Dawkins’s “The God Delusion” and Christopher Hitchens’s “God is not Great—How Religion Poisons Everything”. This counterattack already shows a religious intensity.
What the New Atheists Don’t See
By Theodore Dalrymple
To regret religion is to regret Western civilization.
Keeping the faith
By Tim Egan
The US may be one of the most religious countries in the West but is it undergoing a period of doubt.
An argument for intelligent belief
By James Martin
An increasingly common argument against religion is to point out how irrational it is. Authors like Richard Dawkins (“The God Delusion”), Sam Harris (“The End of Faith”) and Christopher Hitchens (“God is Not Great”) all make the point that the essential irrationality of religion leads people to do stupid, dangerous, and even violent things.
Atheists don’t speak with just one voice
By Nica Lalli
All religions have richly diverse histories and equally diverse believers. Yet why are non-believers treated as a monolith? Equal treatment might lead to greater understanding.
Militant atheists are wrong
By Lee Siegel
A flurry of literary attacks on God may also be closing the book on imagination.
Imagine one of the hot young up-and-comers of the Tory party - George Osbourne perhaps - announcing in his speech to the Conservative party conference that if they wanted to address their perception problems with the voters the best way forward would be to drop the word “conservative” entirely, because it sends all the wrong signals. Don’t worry, he assures the stricken party activists, all we’d have to do is change a few letter heads and business cards.
Religion as a force for good
By Ian Buruma
It has become fashionable in certain smart circles to regard atheism as a sign of superior education, of highly evolved civilization, of enlightenment. Recent bestsellers by Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and others suggest that religious faith is a sign of backwardness, the mark of primitives stuck in the Dark Ages who have not caught up with scientific reason.
Root and Branch
By Ian Hacking
...The people do not trust those who present themselves as elite. If you want a sense of the monstrous self-confident complacency of days gone by, read H.L. Mencken’s daily reports to the Baltimore Sun on the Scopes trial, now reissued under the title A Religious Orgy in Tennessee. Or read any of the self-indulgent, virulent atheists in circulation today—Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens being just two. Contrary to their professed intentions, such writers buttress the faithful; their loathsome arrogance shields evangelical churches from doubt. That part of the American population that believes God made man in His own image has a heartfelt contempt for know-it-alls. I am inclined to say, God bless the people, even when they get it wrong….
Are Sacred Texts Sacred? the Challenge for Atheists
By Carlin Romano
For a long time, religion had been doing quite nicely as a kind of minor entertainment. Christmas and Easter were quite unthinkable without it, not to mention Hanukkah and Passover. But then certain enthusiasts took things too far by crashing airliners into office towers in the name of Allah, launching a global crusade to rid the world of evil, and declaring the jury still out on Darwinian evolution. As a consequence, religion now looks nearly as bad as royalism did in the late 18th century.
By David Abel
An increasing number of young people in America - and adults around the world - don’t believe in God. Greg Epstein, who advises fellow atheists and agnostics at Harvard University, wants to create a kind of church for those who reject religion. But he’s encountering resistance from some of the very people he wants to unite.
Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion
By Jonathan Haidt
...But because the new atheists talk so much about the virtues of science and our shared commitment to reason and evidence, I think it’s appropriate to hold them to a higher standard than their opponents. Do these new atheist books model the scientific mind at its best? Or do they reveal normal human beings acting on the basis of their normal moral psychology?...
Defender of the Faith?
By Mark Edmundson
A good deal of the antireligious polemic that has recently been abroad in our culture proceeds in the spirit of Freud’s earlier work. In his defense of atheism, “God Is Not Great,” Christopher Hitchens cites Freud as an ally who, he believes, exposed the weak-minded childishness of religion. Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins come out of the same Enlightenment spirit of hostile skepticism to faith that infuses “The Future of an Illusion.” All three contemporary writers want to get rid of religion immediately and with no remainder. But there’s more to Freud’s take on religion than that…
All in the name of God
By Ian O’Doherty
When Sam Harris first appeared out of the blue with his wonderful first book, The End Of Faith, it seemed that Richard Dawkins finally had someone else who could shoulder the burden of being remorselessly attacked by religious attack dogs in the mainstream media.