Sam Harris on the Politics of Ignorance.

There’s an excellent article by Sam Harris about President Bush’s recent comments in support of teaching Intelligent Design along with Evolution in science classrooms. A small sample:

It is time that scientists and other public intellectuals observed that the contest between faith and reason is zero-sum. There is no question but that nominally religious scientists like Francis Collins and Kenneth R. Miller are doing lasting harm to our discourse by the accommodations they have made to religious irrationality. Likewise, Stephen Jay Gould’s notion of “non-overlapping magisteria” served only the religious dogmatists who realize, quite rightly, that there is only one magisterium. Whether a person is religious or secular, there is nothing more sacred than the facts. Either Jesus was born of a virgin, or he wasn’t; either there is a God who despises homosexuals, or there isn’t. It is time that sane human beings agreed on the standards of evidence necessary to substantiate truth-claims of this sort. The issue is not, as ID advocates allege, whether science can “rule out” the existence of the biblical God. There are an infinite number of ludicrous ideas that science could not “rule out,” but which no sensible person would entertain. The issue is whether there is any good reason to believe the sorts of things that religious dogmatists believe—that God exists and takes an interest in the affairs of human beings; that the soul enters the zygote at the moment of conception (and, therefore, that blastocysts are the moral equivalents of persons); etc. There simply is no good reason to believe such things, and scientists should stop hiding their light under a bushel and make this emphatically obvious to everyone.

It’s a very worthy read and something that all atheists should take heed of. We can’t just ignore the True Believers™ anymore because they’ve managed to get their silly ideas taken seriously by too much of the general public. We need to engage them and reveal just how absurd some of their arguments really are.

Found via Atheist Exposed.

61 thoughts on “Sam Harris on the Politics of Ignorance.

  1. Warbi, I be lost. I tried to read that, but it was rather long and I’ve spent many hours behind the PC coding and doing Calc… give me a hand? Can you explain the relevance of the statement (and the book) to this conversation to me?

  2. I have to admit that Darryl B set me to wondering what God actually smells like.

    Firecrackers, perhaps? Puppy breath? Ass?

    Darryl B:We can’t see God, touch him, or smell him.

  3. Oops, sorry, Arc. tongue rolleye   Just my poor attempt at humor.  Darryl B’s comments reminded me of some of the writings in there- Christian mysticism.  That’s the good thing about mystics- they don’t always have to make sense.  lol I should have put a disclaimer on it though.  Certainly rough reading.  My apologies…

  4. That was exactly my beef.. lol. It’s like it was translated from english to french to spanish to german and back to english again. It was painful reading. Thanks, tho! smile

  5. Heh heh heh. You guys are funny. All so well educated that you must make fun of me. I don’t mind though. I find it the most funnyest that your scientific IQ tests all call me a genius. LOL (I think thats correct english). As a Canadian, I do speak many other languages than just American so my appologies if some things did not come out perfectly clear. I feel sorry for those who hate me because I have an opinion that differs from theirs. I don’t hate you or your opinions. I do get very frustrated however when others refuse to consider other opinions than the ones given to them by their professors. I think that’s one of my major faults. I also think you are very resentful of those who claim to be God’s “chosen people”. I don’t blame you. Everybody hated the Jews when they claimed that title right. Please understand that God does not hate Gay people, rapists, or Hitlers. He hates sin and wants all his beloved children to turn from their destructive life-styles. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I don’t plan on wasting my life trying to come up with them either. All that really matters in my life is discerning between right and wrong. Are there any major faults in Jesus’ teaching that you don’t agree with. Jesus I’m talking about, not the church or your president. Jesus was the biggest sinner of them all: he ate with tax-collectors, healed people on the sabbath day, and even claimed to be God. What He preached was unconditional love towards all people and He is willing to forgive all who call on His name. Yes, even those who at one time commited murder. Perhaps that is hard to accept for some people but understand that if anyone does anything hateful towards their neighbor it is considered murder in the eyes of one who is perfect. Spreading lies (or even facts) that are harmful to a person’s reputation is like breaking that person down and destroying them. Any Christian (or unbeliever) that claims they are without sin is greatly mistaken. I transgress all 10 commandments every single day. Go ask your neighbor if it would upset him to know that you think about his twelve-year-old daughter while you are in the shower. Maybe you are not engaging in sexual acts with his wife but wouldn’t you agree that improper thoughts are equally damaging. God called it adultery to cover all sexual immorality. Again, Jesus is willing to forgive our mistakes. That was one of the hardest things for me to understand when I started to learn about Christ because I am human like the rest of you reading this and I had problems forgiving others. You see, we cannot compare ourselves to Him because He was perfect. I know a lot of people who are trying desperatly to make themselves perfect, but it will never happen. Look at the body-builders that take what would be a fat mass of flesh and turn it into a rock hard piece of armor. It is still subject to hot and cold and can easily be pierced. Many of these perfectionists don’t even believe in an after-life. So what’s the point? Why are they not sitting in an alley with a half-empty bottle of paint thinner? I think it is because they are driven by the same thing I am driven… God. I believe God is pushing many of you. Try and prove He doesn’t exist. It is imposible! We were not there at the beginning. We have yet to invent a time-machine to go back and watch the event. When you see an apple do you doubt that it came from a tree… of course not you can see the tree. Are you so dependant on the five senses that you cannot fathom anything else. I’ve never been to the ocean but I know that the rivers are flowing towards something. There is only one thing an honest person needs to prove the existence of God… life. Its funny that there are billions of planets in this universe that highly suspected of being capable of sustaining life yet they have not sent any ambassadors over to speak with us about probing their galaxies. Oh, but we’re probably the most evolved right. The Bible was written for children and yet all the knowledge and education of the Western World cannot understand even a word of it. Look up the word faith in your dictionary, learn it and put it to practice. Then you will finally receive that which Jesus offers freely to all His children… forgiveness. He forgives you for not being perfect and will allow you to proceed with your life and do what you were made to do: Love you neighbor as youself… even when he sins against you.

  6. Darryl B confesses:  I find it the most funnyest that your scientific IQ tests all call me a genius.

    I find it the most funnyest that you would make such a claim!

    As a Canadian, I do speak many other languages than just American …

    “American” is not a language, “genius”. 

    I feel sorry for those who hate me because I have an opinion that differs from theirs. I don’t hate you or your opinions.

    I don’t hate you either, Darryl.  Really.

    I transgress all 10 commandments every single day.

    Well, the first 4 are kind of silly *anyway* . . . the rest are good rules to live by, but I’m *very* concerned that you seem to be KILLING people EVER SINGLE DAY!

    TURN YOURSELF IN, MAN!  For your SOUL’S SAKE!

    I believe God is pushing many of you. Try and prove He doesn’t exist. It is imposible!

    Okay, here goes, Darryl . . .

    Hey, God?  If you exist, could you PLEASE – in Jesus’ name – appear before me RIGHT NOW?

    (checks watch)

    Darryl, I waited about 10 minutes, and God didn’t show.  He didn’t even TRY to get my attention, like by making a bush burn or speaking to me through a fiery chalupa or stopping my heart, or *anything*.

    I think it’s safe to say “He” doesn’t exist – after all, I asked in Jesus’ name and *everything*, just like Jesus said to do in the Good Book!  What gives?

    What do YOU think, Darryl?

  7. I feel sorry for those who hate me because I have an opinion that differs from theirs. I don’t hate you or your opinions. I do get very frustrated however when others refuse to consider other opinions than the ones given to them by their professors… self assured babble continues unquoted …Any Christian (or unbeliever) that claims they are without sin is greatly mistaken.

    For someone who claims not to have all the answers, you sure seem convinced that you have all the answers. For the record, I don’t consider myself well educated, nor have my opinions about faith been informed by my ‘professors’. That came from my parents. Where we differ primarily is that I have not been actively misinformed by a religious organization at any point in my life. Also, I respect most of the basic rules of grammar because it helps people understand exactly what I am thinking. There is nothing more or less to it. I find spell checkers help in that regard.

    I don’t think anyone here hates you. I certainly don’t. But I do disagree with you on multiple points, not the least of which are the existence of a personal god, an afterlife of any sort and the concept of ‘sin’. Yet you continue to refer to these things as obvious facts, while providing no material proof of their existence.

    Also, I continue to find your dogmatic comments and directives disturbing, a little threatening – and perhaps more importantly – equally as dismissive as anything else I’ve read here from any of the non-believers responding to your proselytizing

    Believe me – no one here is going to leave SEB convinced of Jesus’ majesty after reading the mess you just shat out here for us. Darryl, Please recognize that this is a distinct possibility and reconsider future posts of this nature. Jesus would want it that way.

  8. Thanks for pointing that out Beau Tochs. This guy just admitted to killing EVERYDAY! WTF.

    Or are you just thinking about murdering and sexually assaulting your neighbour’s 12 year old daughter every day in the shower, Darryl? Damn maybe I should stop posting…this could be dangerous…he said he was in Canada, too…he wouldn’t even need to cross a border to get to me.

    Leessss! We’ve got a situation here!

  9. rgjp writes: Thanks for pointing that out Beau Tochs. This guy just admitted to killing EVERYDAY! WTF.

    Yeah, that kinda jumped off the page at me – although upon further consideration of Darryl’s monosynaptic blather:

    Darryl: God called it adultery to cover all sexual immorality.

    . . . it leaves me wondering just how broadly Darryl interprets the Ten Commandments.  If God really meant that adultery included ALL sexual immorality, then it might stand to reason that by insisting “Thou shalt not kill” the Almighty most *certainly* must have meant that we shouldn’t kill ANY living, breathing creature.

    Without specificities, I suspect that Darryl the Genius is simply hedging his bets. But then I think about all the sacrifices of buring animal flesh that made “a sweet savor” unto The LORD, and I just don’t know . . .

    If Darryl eats red meat or chicken or fish, etc – then perhaps he DOES transgress the 6th commandment every single day.

    *Fascinating* what this whole “religion thing” does to people’s minds . . .

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