Here are a few choice quotes from Sam on religious moderation:
A) Religious moderation owes its genesis to rationality, not religion:
The first thing to observe about the moderates retreat from scriptural literalism is that it draws its inspiration not from scripture but from cultural developments that have rendered many of God’s utterances difficult to accept as written (17).
The only reason anyone is “moderate” in matters of faith these days is that he has assimilated some of the fruits of the last two thousand years of human thought (18).
B) And here is why we should not applaud the moderately religious:
moderation in religion…offers no bulwark against religious extremism and religious violence…[because] it does not permit anything very critical to be said about religious literalism (20).
By failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do, religious moderates betray faith and reason equally (21).
Rather than bring the full force of our creativity and rationality to bear on the problems of ethics, social cohesion, and even spiritual experience, moderates ask that we relax our standards of adherence to ancient superstitions and taboos, while otherwise maintaining a belief system that was passed down to us from men and women whose lives were simply ravaged by their basic ignorance about the world. In what other sphere of life is such subservience to tradition acceptable”(21)?
(By the way, this is one of those books where I find myself saying: “man, I wish I’d written that!”)
Not instigating the debate I had anticipated, I will push the matter further: Setting aside personal distaste for religion or even the arguments against theism and sticking just to his argument against religious moderation, does Sam overstate the case against or treat the moderates unfairly?
We all know of good theists, the “salt-of-the-earth” sort of people (cf. Brooks, Wilder et al) who do not seek to dominate, but instead seek peace and harmonization. Without denying the havoc wreaked by institutional spirituality, in fairness we must recognize the good that has been rendered by these religious types as well. Sam’s argument seems to be that the moderates provide a screen for the more deleterious elements of the faith communities. And though we do not share their view, they just happen to understand the world in terms of their properly basic beliefs, a position that, given what we conjecture about socially constructed knowledges, is warranted. In other words, we cannot fault them for seeing through the only eyes they possess.
To bring this observation directly to bear on the Book of Sam, what can we make of his assertions above?
Is it necessarily true, for instance, that religious moderation comes only from the triumphs of the mind? Is it certain that moderates are betraying both faith and reason? Isn’t it equally as plausible that they have found or seek a place of balance, justifying the claims of intellect while answering the dictates of intuition or common sense? To repeat, not all those who claim a faith will let it override their sense of fairness and endorse acts of violence.
If it is likely that the only avenue to defuse the religiously extreme will be through those who can play their language game (i.e. others fluent in faith discourse and logic), and if Sam’s target is the religious extremism of a loud minority, then to remove what is arguably his most able tool would seem inefficient. And even if his concern is with truth and liberating those misled by faith, the moderates would still likely be his best entree to a discussion with the religious.
If, on the other hand, his target is something like Religion (capital “R”), then terrorism and the moderates who enable it are only red herrings.
What is Sam really after here?
Moderation in all things will make you healthy and wise.
I’m in total agreement with Sam Harris in regard to moderates, in fact his thesis is one of the few I’ve read that advocates for a complete rejection of religious moderation. The problem is not with what degree of irrationality you submit to, but THAT you submit to it at all. In my own personal experience, I find religious moderates even more difficult to cope with than the literalists and fundamentalists. These latter ones seem more apt to act with a group mentality and in that there’s a faint hope that they will listen to reason, simply because they take the written word seriously (a very faint hope). The moderates are difficult and frustrating to reach because they are usually in some kind of personal and ephemeral relationship with their god. People like Oprah, who is hardly a christian, is highly intellectual but she believes that a personal deity is guiding her life and bringing her in contact with a love that is universal and perfecting. At first glance it would seem that her theism is on the verge of being secular, but while she obviously understands evolution theory and the progress of scientific knowledge she has zoomed into a theistic stratoshpere where she is unreachable. She has assimilated the immense scape of human intellectual undertanding and still maintains a theism that has god granting her special powers and privileges that most people would never even dream of ever happening to them. Oprah justifies her immense wealth and power without feeling guilty that children are starving in this world because god is gifting her with privileges she accrues.
To my way of thinking, the moderates should know better. The fundamentalists are the victims of ignorance, but the moderates have the opportunity to join the non-believers and have instead chosen to embrace theism in strange and mostly self-aggrandizing ways. I certainly agree with Sam that it is education and scientific understanding that has in fact created the moderates, but ultimately it’s been a failure of education. I don’t think we need to turn to moderates to bridge the rationality gap between the religious and the secular becasue most of us come from religious backgrounds. We already understand the parameters and the limitaions of religious belief, but we have managed to move beyond those confining borders.
I, like many secular thinkers, have a strong faith in human intelligence and feeling. But I do not see any “good in the world” brought about by religious dogma, where there appears to be good works done in the name of God or some other deity it seems clear to me that it is the human compassion of those people and not their beliefs that is the the source of their benevolence. People who do good solely for their God/religion are doing it for selfish reasons - a payback in the afterlife. For me it is people without religious beliefs who truly do good from their hearts because they have a compassion for others that is pure and authentic.
Perhaps I’ve strayed from the topic so I’ll leave it at that.
[quote author=“lawrence”]Moderation in all things will make you healthy and wise.
Moderation in all things exposes you as a lazy man.
Moderation is a way of standing on the fence rather than committing to a cause, belief, goal, etc. Moderates in religion are no different; they believe at will and are swayed by emotion and situation, often defining hypocrisy. “More apt to act with a group mentality,” (CanZen) the individual moderate’s choice religion is rarely threatened, and they are either too lazy to investigate other options on their own, too ignorant of the world around them to question what they have been told, or to afraid to be wrong. I vote lazy.
[quote author=“passion”][quote author=“lawrence”]Moderation in all things will make you healthy and wise.
Moderation in all things exposes you as a lazy man. I vote lazy.
stuff i do for fun
love to hike & backpack
natives, fruit, vegetables and flowers
mesquite pork, chicken, fish, rib eye & veggie from the garden!
i chose a long time ago to live by doing
This is not the place for your personal ads.
The subject is moderation and specifically religious moderates.
This is not the place for your personal ads.
The subject is moderation and specifically religious moderates.
Passion these are my interest websites!
I have no ads! I make no money! Did you look?
I do these things because they are fulfilling as opposed to empty expressions of living.
My religion is the life I live!
I chose, long ago, to live life to the fullest, to refuse to accept any premise unless warranted.
Everybody always has been and always will be trapped in the insular little world surrounded by their petty beliefs!
Religion, ideology, journalism, philosophy, literature, politicians all play the same game and only the fool or the lone fish eats the worm!
I am branded religiously moderate because I live life to the fullest?
The thrust of this discussion is simple, religious moderates take no responsiblity for the extremists of their religion and don’t actively try to control them.
Why does Islam, Judaism and Christianity have so many different sects?
Even Jesus himself doesn’t like the moderates:
Revelation 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. “
Controlling human beings is a tricky proposition. You have to be able to twist their thoughts, beliefs and emotions without them knowing it.
Psychological operations are planned operations to convey selected information and opinions to select audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of organizations, groups, and individuals.
Psychological operations or deception is one of the oldest weapons in the arsenal of man.
Psychological operations or psychological warfare is simply learning everything about your target audience, their beliefs, likes and dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. Once you know what motivates your target, you are ready to begin psychological operations.
Psychological operations may be defined broadly as the planned use of communications to influence human beliefs, opinions and behavior ... to create in target audience or groups behavior, emotions, and opinions that support the attainment of objectives.
A psychological operations warfare campaign is a war for the soul using deception.
The primary weapons used are sights and sounds.
Psychological operations can be disseminated by face-to-face communication, audio visual means (television), audio media (radio or loudspeaker), visual media (leaflets, newspapers, books, magazines and/or posters).
On the Earth today it is as easy to deceive through visual ‘reality’ as it is to deceive with spoken falsehoods. Digital images are easily manipulated making it extremely easy to stage and invent scenes as propaganda.
Humans corruptible nature, and one of the seven deadly sins, pride, is the reason their are so many sects. Certain individuals either out of disagreement with existing dogma or to create their own ‘religious cell’ call on their ‘special’ relation with ‘god’ to deceive their flock into ‘buying’ their ‘prophetic visions’.
At this website I found much to agree with what you are saying, Lawrence, So much in fact that I would fail my students for plagiarism.
Now I don’t mind you incorporating the ideas of others into your own, but I find that passing them off as your own is deceptive. Please give credit where it is due. It is only right.
I am not trying to sell a book, I am not trying to write a term paper, I am trying to express an idea. I did not realize that these were major considerations in the expression of ideas.