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Sam Harris Interview & Manifesto 
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Post Sam Harris Interview & Manifesto
Truth Dig.com interview

An Atheist Manifesto

Highly condensed portions of the book...




Thu Apr 06, 2006 3:40 pm
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Post Re: Sam Harris Interview & Manifesto
Sam Harris: The Truthdig Interview

By Blair Golson

With the publication of his 2004 New York Times bestseller, "The End of Faith," a full-throttle attack on religion, Sam Harris became the most prominent atheist in America.

For many, that would be a profoundly dubious honor. A recent national study by University of Minnesota researchers found that atheists are America's least trusted minority group



Thu Apr 06, 2006 8:27 pm
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Post Re: Sam Harris Interview & Manifesto
In your book, you write that when a suicide bomber blows himself up, the role that faith played in his actions is invariably discounted. His motives must have been "political, economical, or entirely personal." Why does faith get a free pass?

This is one of the interesting things about our discourse right now. Our own religious demagogues, the fundamentalists like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, will call a spade a spade and observe that there is a link between Islam and the kind of violence we see in the Muslim world. While I don't agree with these people on anything else, they are actually offering a much more candid and accurate diagnosis of the problem, vis a vis Islam, than anything that's coming from the Left.

Leftists, secularists, religious moderates, and religious liberals tend to be very poorly placed to recognize that when somebody looks into a video camera and says, "I love death more than the infidel loves life," and then blows himself up, he's actually being honest about his state of mind.

This is not propaganda, this is not politics and economic desperation masquerading as religion. People are really being motivated by the content of religious beliefs, and there are people who are really willing and eager to blow themselves up because they think they're going to get to paradise.

Religious moderates and secularists don't understand that because they don't really know what it's like to believe in God. They don't know what it's like to be sure God is there to hear their prayers , that He has dictated a book, and that the book is perfect in every syllable, and it's a roadmap to paradise. And fundamentalists understand what it's like to believe these preposterous things.

You assert that Islamic suicide bombers aren't using religion as a pretext for political or economic grievances. But how do you know?

First of all, the 9/11 hijackers showed no evidence whatsoever of being people who were concerned with poverty or the plight of the Palestinians



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Post Re: Sam Harris Interview & Manifesto
One of the most persistent criticisms of your theory is that the two largest genocides of the 20th century, the Holocaust and the Stalinist purges, were explicitly irreligious. How do you respond to that?

The problem that I am confronting is the problem of dogma. What you have just done is to point to political dogmatism, instead of religious dogmatism. The argument against religious dogma is not an argument for atheist dogma. We should be fundamentally hostile to claims to certainty that are not backed up by evidence and argument. And what we find with Nazism is a kind of political religion. We find this with Stalinism as well



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Post Re: Sam Harris Interview & Manifesto
Are there any historical parallels that suggest it would be possible for people en masse to abandon irrational faith?

There are societies that are profoundly irreligious by our standards. Australia, Canada, and Japan, along with basically all of Western Europe



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Post Re: Sam Harris Interview & Manifesto
Just stirring up the mud a little, since there's still time left on the clock for this book.

Harris on why he chose to write "The End of Faith": It was my immediate reaction to Sept. 11



Thu May 25, 2006 1:57 pm
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Post Re: Sam Harris Interview & Manifesto
Good point regarding the third world issue, Mad.

Thinking back to 9/11, there were a lot of people who's gut reactions (that I was disgusted by) were to kill the guys wearing the Turbins and praying to Allah. The backlash against the Muslim world was substantial, and there were quite a few of us calling for a more rational and reasonable approach to the situation. Harris seems to indicate people were trying to not make this look like Islam vs. the US, but I the reality was the exact opposite.

Mad: A question for those who have read the book: Is Harris' convincing in his argument that bin Laden's form of Islam is more central and popular than it is frequently held to be?

I don't recall if Harris specifically address bin Laden's specific form of Islam. If Harris did discuss this, his arguement obviously failed to pick up any points with me based on my lack of recolection. I don't see people joining with bin Laden due to religion but rather because of world views... for example the US invasion of Iraq was likely a motivator for people to join bin Laden's terrorist network.




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Post Re: Sam Harris Interview & Manifesto
Sam Harris: Christians look at Muslim discourse and find it fundamentally unpersuasive. Christians aren't lying awake at night worrying about whether they should convert to Islam. Why not? Because Muslims can't really back up their claims. They are clearly engaged in a style of discourse that is just not intellectually honest.

Not all Christians. Some engage Muslims and attempt to learn something about faith in God, prophetic witnessing, veneration of scripture, commitment to prayer, passion for justice, peace and reconciliation, care for creation, and the love of God. Some Christians want to learn how these two complex religious systems share common historical roots, claim shared values, and can work together to mend ethnic conflict, religious intolerance, social injustice, and ecological disaster. And there are some Muslims who want the same from Christians.

And some of these Christians and Muslims work with some Jews and Buddhists and Hindus and Humanists and even a few Atheists to gain better insight for their limited, incomplete, partial view of the world: seeking the greater truth that transcends all traditions, systems and community claims.

Sam Harris: It's not purposed to genuine inquiry into the nature of the world. It is a reiteration of dogma, and they are clearly committed to a massive program of self-deception.

It's purposes are complex and multiform. It provides a non-linear narrative, network of symbols and ideals, images and stories, prayers and psalms, proverbs and parables with wide reaching impact. It is normative and transformative: mobilizing adherents to engage their selves and the world at many levels; shaping and changing and creating new worlds along the way. Some blindly follow dogma: others critically, sympathetically, hopefully and passionately engage it; giving it contemporary form while reshaping both the dogma and the world it colors. Some are self-deceived: others carefully and comprehensively examine who they are and to whom they belong; a life-long journey of self-exploration and discovery.

Sam Harris: Every Christian recognizes this about every religion other than Christianity. So every Christian knows exactly what it is like to be atheist. They just don't turn the same candor and intellectual honesty on to their own faith.

Some Christians see only what they want to see when examining other religions or atheism. They never get beyond one-dimensional caricatures and stereotypes; blinded by prejudice and ignorance, they project inaccurate fantasies onto complex phenomena they know very little about- nor care to learn.

Other Christians struggle to see their faith through the eyes of others: wanting to take responsibility for the abuses, malice and hatred enacted in their name; confessing how their their Scriptures, theologies, symbols and ideals have been used to scar and damage. They see piety as largely an act of reparation and holiness as the will to mend what is broken. They see their God on the cross of humiliation and subjugation: as one who was executed for protecting the outsider, deemed heretical, a scandalous blaspheme to all things religious...




Thu May 25, 2006 10:33 pm
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