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Christianity Johnson on 15 Apr 2009 12:52 am

Religion, terror and the future of reason

Religion is ridiculous and we should stop tolerating it – a discussion between Lee Strobel, Sam Harris and Hugh Hewitt:

Hugh Hewitt vs Sam Harris
Uploaded by apologetics

40 Responses to “Religion, terror and the future of reason”

  1. on 15 Apr 2009 at 3:01 am 1.Subjects Of Interest said …

    You know we consistently repeat the same issues over and over about the Bible and i have yet to hear a theist respond ‘directly’ to these points Sam made at the end. It is always diverted.

    I know you are brought up to see your religion as being all good and peaceful and loving; and it is true that many Christians indeed are this, including one of my very best friends. But that does not change the fact that I am going to hell to be punished for eternity because i would not acknowledge a mute God(God is far from mute in the Bible). This is something he must believe as a Christian, that his loving friend will suffer infinately more than Christ did on the cross. Endless torture, no respite, for as long as God reigns i will be screaming in eternal agony. My friend looks into my eyes and must come to terms with this ultimate end for his friend, who is just as moral and loving as he is. He will (perhaps) go to Church the Sunday after i die and nod his head once more about Gods infinite grace and love.

  2. on 15 Apr 2009 at 4:10 am 2.Anonymous said …

    praise god!!

  3. on 16 Apr 2009 at 11:30 pm 3.anonymous J said …

    Amen, praise God. what is wrong with the world today is that we dont have any moral standing anymore. we need God! people who don’t want anything to do with religion or God are the people who want to do bad things without feeling bad for doing them. May you find God one day and feel the greatness of salvation.

  4. on 16 Apr 2009 at 11:47 pm 4.Anonymous said …

    I was joking… seriously.

  5. on 17 Apr 2009 at 12:05 am 5.Anonymous said …

    J, where does god get his moral code from?

  6. on 17 Apr 2009 at 9:30 am 6.Chris said …

    I was pleased to see two men discussing religion without resorting to personal attacks and acting like a couple of adolescences.

    Hugh did a great job of forcing Harris Hand here. This is a guy who truly desires to censor ideas and implies society should bring child abuse charges against those who teach their own children about God,

    This idea that Religion is the source of all evil is all hogwash. The three biggest charities are all religious based. During the Bush years we called this cherry picking the evidence Sam.

    We atttempted to free cultures from God with Lenin/Stalin and Zedong/Yaobang/Ziyang/Zemin and we witnessed the murder of millions. We still do. Sam and his ilk should clean their own houses before attempting to sell his propaganda to others.

  7. on 17 Apr 2009 at 11:13 am 7.Gern Blansten said …

    From Wikipedia:

    Christian writer Dinesh D’Souza writes that “The crimes of atheism have generally been perpetrated through a hubristic ideology that sees man, not God, as the creator of values. Using the latest techniques of science and technology, man seeks to displace God and create a secular utopia here on earth.”[17] He also contends:

    “And who can deny that Stalin and Mao, not to mention Pol Pot and a host of others, all committed atrocities in the name of a Communist ideology that was explicitly atheistic? Who can dispute that they did their bloody deeds by claiming to be establishing a ‘new man’ and a religion-free utopia? These were mass murders performed with atheism as a central part of their ideological inspiration, they were not mass murders done by people who simply happened to be atheist.”[18]

    In response to such criticism, atheist writer Sam Harris writes:

    “The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.”[50]

    Richard Dawkins has stated that Stalin’s atrocities were influenced not by atheism but by their dogmatic Marxism,[27] and opines that while Stalin and Mao happened to be atheists, they did not do their deeds in the name of atheism. [51]

  8. on 17 Apr 2009 at 11:50 am 8.Lou said …

    I agree with the hogwash Christ. Religious leaders like Sam (Glad to hear the admission) desire to point out the atrocities in OTHER religions but not their own. I could equally argue

    “The Salem witch trials were not done in of God of God, they were done in fear of the unexplained”

    “The Crusades were not done in the name of God, but were an effort to gain military might and power”
    God was only an excuse.

    Is a silly game. Atheism in the cases you provided was the under girding force that led to a society that REASONED that all religion were bad and needed to be eradicated from society. Hey, sometimes reason is painful. It just opened the door to a life destroying myth.

    Every worldview has had their good and bad moments. Some just refuse to acknowledge their short comings. The very crux of arrogance.

  9. on 17 Apr 2009 at 12:46 pm 9.Gern Blansten said …

    “I agree with the hogwash Christ.”

    Freudian slip?

  10. on 17 Apr 2009 at 3:35 pm 10.Anonymous said …

    Can we just call Godwin’s Law on chris’s comments? I mean, we’ve had cultures based on other religions besides christianity that flourished pretty good until christianity came along and fucked everything up. Christian theocracies themselves have never turned out well statistically.

    What about Finland and Norway? Aren’t they godless and have THE highest standard of living?

  11. on 17 Apr 2009 at 5:04 pm 11.Chris said …

    Religion in Finland
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Religion in Finland is primarily Christian, though prior to Christianisation, Finnish paganism was the primary religion.

    Churches and Religion

    Finland is a country with both eastern and western influences. Christian influences from both East and West reached Finland a thousand years ago. Missionary efforts on the part of the Western church were, however, stronger, and by the beginning of the 14th century most of Finland was under the Roman Catholic Church and Swedish rule. The Catholic Church brought European civilization to Finland. It united dispersed tribes into a single nation and provided an advanced system of administration. The Church ministered to the destitute and infirm by maintaining houses for the poor and hospitals. It fostered learning and the arts. Eighty stone churches, their frescoes, wood carvings, sacred relics, altar cloths and vestments remind us of the high standard of both Finnish and imported art. The Church was responsible for higher learning and for teaching the common people as well. By the end of the middle Ages the Finns had learned to live with the Church and its sacraments. The Bishop of Turku was the most powerful man in medieval Finland. He also represented the Finns at the Royal Council of Sweden. Most of the 164 Finns registered at medieval universities embarked on their studies with the support of the cathedral chapter.

  12. on 17 Apr 2009 at 5:04 pm 12.Chris said …

    Religion in Norway
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Religion in Norway is overwhelmingly Protestant (Evangelical-Lutheran) with 82.7% belonging to the state Evangelical Lutheran Church of Norway.[1] Early Norwegians, like all of the people of Scandinavia, were pagans believing in Norse mythology; the Sámi having a shamanistic religion. Due to the efforts of Christian missionaries, Norway was gradually Christianized in a process starting at approximately 1000 AD and which was substantially finished by 1150AD. Prior to the Reformation, Norwegians were part of the Catholic Church with the conversion to Protestantism occurring in 1536. Islam is now the second largest religion due to recent migration trends although the census shows that there are more people with no religious beliefs

  13. on 17 Apr 2009 at 5:34 pm 13.Anonymous said …

    I’m just gonna direct you here:

  14. on 17 Apr 2009 at 6:28 pm 14.Lou said …

    Hmm Gern you got me. Maybe more like a Maslowanian slip.. not much for Freud.

    Christ, LOL, well done! He just keeps coming back for more. I enjoy skiing over there but there is nothing like the US. They cannot even begin to compete with what we have done as a leader of the free world. At least, for the time being.

  15. on 17 Apr 2009 at 6:35 pm 15.Lou said …

    An interesting quote:

    “We atheists have to accept that most believers are better human beings.”

    Roy Hattersley

  16. on 17 Apr 2009 at 7:10 pm 16.Anonymous said …

    People wonder why there’s 85% christians and such a high crime rate. *shrug*

  17. on 17 Apr 2009 at 8:10 pm 17.Gern Blansten said …

    And as we all know, Roy Hattersley knows everything.

  18. on 18 Apr 2009 at 1:05 pm 18.Christian Wright said …

    It would be clever if a company like Royal Caribbean began to offer 40-day cruises for Christians. They could call it the Noah Experience Cruise or something like that. Praise Jesus! The only problem is, spending that much time together on a boat, some people of different denominations might begin to kill each other.


  19. on 19 Apr 2009 at 4:33 am 19.BjornFeuer said …

    In the end Hugh simply resorts to calling Sam stupid.


  20. on 19 Apr 2009 at 11:32 pm 20.Hermes said …

    BjornFeuer: “In the end Hugh simply resorts to calling Sam stupid.


    Yep, as has been said before;

    “They’ve got to take offense. It’s the only weapon they’ve got.” –Richard Dawkins

  21. on 19 Apr 2009 at 11:48 pm 21.Rostam said …

    Attempting to dispel criticisms of his remark, Harris first gives on the internet the relevant passage from The End of Faith. Then he concedes that he did not express himself as well as he might have-”Granted, I made the job of misinterpreting me easier than it might have been”-and goes on to claim that saying he wants to kill people for their ideas “remains a frank distortion of my views.” He explains:

    When one asks why it would be ethical to drop a bomb on Osama bin Laden or Ayman Al Zawahiri, the answer cannot be, “because they have killed so many people in the past.” These men haven’t, to my knowledge, killed anyone personally. However, they are likely to get a lot of innocent people killed because of what they and their followers believe about jihad, martyrdom, the ascendancy of Islam, etc.

    At this point we can breathe a sigh of relief-if he only wants to kill some terrorists then it’s alright-and Harris (who wears a white hat) can go back to his hobby of demonizing theists (who wear black hats). A closer examination of his explanation reveals, however, a couple of difficulties.

    For one thing, millions of people share Osama bin Laden’s ideas. Should they be killed? If Sam Harris says “Yes,” then he wants to slaughter millions of people not because they have done anything wrong, but because they might do something wrong someday. That was Lenin the atheist’s reasoning in a nutshell. It’s easy for people who deny the immortal soul to advocate-and do-such things. If, on the other hand, Harris says millions of people should not be killed for their ideas, but should only be killed if they put their ideas into practice, or if they enable and cause others to put those ideas into practice, then he has shifted ground considerably, and did express himself poorly.

    A second problem with this is that in his aforementioned book The End of Faith, Harris has repeatedly identified not only Islamic extremists, but also Christians who believe in the Bible, as threats to the survival of humanity. According to him, belief in the Bible is a threat to civilization and Christians, not just Osama bin Laden, could easily be included among those whose dangerous ideas require their elimination.

    Many quotes could be given to show that Harris sees theism, including biblical Christianity, as a danger.

    our religious differences-and hence our religious beliefs [emphasis in original]-antithetical to our survival. We can no longer ignore the fact that billions of our neighbors believe in the metaphysics of martyrdom, or in the literal truth of the book of Revelation . . .Words like “God” and “Allah” must go the way of “Apollo” and “Baal,” or they will unmake our world. “

    . . . faith is still the mother of hatred . . . The only salient difference between Muslims and non-Muslims is that the latter have not proclaimed their faith in Allah, and in Mohammed as his prophet. [Harris is imprecise in his use of language here-he says “non-Muslims” when he means “non-Muslim theists like Christians and Jews,” not “all non-Muslims”-but his meaning is clear from the preceding words and from the whole thrust of the chapter.

    Words like “the fall of civilization,” “could ultimately destroy us,” “driving us toward the abyss,” “life-destroying gibberish” (this of both the Koran and the Bible)tell us that Sam “The-sky-is-falling” Harris wants to save the human race from religion-and what might not be done if the fate of humanity is at stake? Wouldn’t it be justified to kill some people to save humanity-especially if they have no immortal souls and are nothing but matter?

    Harris does not just want to save humanity-he wants to “create the world anew.” This requires “the building of strong communities”where everyone will think the way Sam Harris wants them to. Wouldn’t life be so much easier in a “unified” community where everyone marched to the beat of the same drum? That was Hitler’s and Lenin’s dream exactly. To achieve this secular paradise religion, especially Christianity and Islam, needs to go. It is urgent for the future well-being of humanity. Religious faith “must” disappear. “Religious tolerance . . . is one of the principle forces driving us toward the abyss.” Along with this clear call for intolerance, Harris advocates “uprooting” religion, which he falsely describes as “the most prolific source of violence in our history.”[vii] Somehow he blames the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the War of 1812, drug related ghetto violence and World Wars I & II on religion.

    Sam Harris has a strong incentive to “uproot” the ideas that “must” disappear-the salvation of the human race. Do I need to point out that the word “uproot” has connotations of violence? Harris openly said people with dangerous ideas should be killed, and then, when questioned, said “Oh, I just meant a few terrorists.” He has identified theists, including Bible believing Christians, as people with dangerous ideas that menace the human race. That Christianity is dangerous is one of the main themes of his Letter to a Christian Nation. What is to prevent him, or those with his “values,” from believing that killing Christians, or any other believers, is necessary for the good of mankind?

    “The world would be a much better place if we could just get rid of (a) the capitalists and kulaks; (b) the Jews; (c) people who believe in God. They are to blame for all our problems. They are enemies of humanity, and we are doing the world a favor by getting rid of them.”

    I realize he may just be talking without knowing what he is saying-though I doubt it. I realize he will probably never get his hands on the levers of power. I only want to suggest that he may, like Hitler, be pointing at other people as the source of evil when he is a source of evil himself. Certainly the atheists Lenin, Stalin, and Mao make Osama bin Laden look like a Boy Scout. Hitler also gave plausible explanations to those who were concerned about his radical statements.

    Perhaps, since the idea that bloodshed follows from secular ideas is one of the main ideas of this study, it might not be too much of a digression to look at another place where Sam Harris advocates a policy that could lead to the deaths of millions. Referring to the SARS scare that emerged out of China in 2003, Harris states that the consequences of China’s irrational and politically motivated policies did not lead to catastrophe-that time. He goes on to say that it is “not difficult to imagine” a situation where inability to properly handle such a health crisis would be too dangerous for the entire world. In that case, “There is little doubt we would ultimately quarantine, invade, or otherwise subjugate such a society.”

    This is a remarkable statement. If a truly world-threatening epidemic were to emerge from China, the Sudan, Burma, Mexico, Rumania, or some other country whose health-standards were less than adequate, Harris thinks it might be necessary to “invade” or “subjugate” such a country. Oh, he allows for the possibility of a quarantine as well, but he can calmly and rationally advocate a policy-including subjugating China or, who knows, even Russia-that would cause unimaginable suffering and slaughter.

    Sam Harris has a vision of an ideal world. In this world, there would be no irrational health policies and no security threats, because everyone would have basically the same ideas (his ideas naturally). In order to attain this vision, some people will have to go. Religious people have to go, and threats to the general well-being must be subjugated, by force and invasion and full scale war if necessary. Sam Harris is a good example of how the road to secular Utopias leads through swamps, bogs, and quagmires of human blood and bones-and in the end proves to be unattainable, so all of the suffering was in vain.

  22. on 20 Apr 2009 at 1:32 am 22.Anonymous said …

    WOW, what a brainwashed looney. There’s so much shit to wade through I’m gonna have to come back later with like some rubber boots, gloves, and a raincoat or something.

  23. on 20 Apr 2009 at 11:02 am 23.Lou said …


    Getting on to the actual issue, I think you hit on some good points. Harris backed off his comments in the book faster than Obama off a campaign promise. When I read the rantings of a guy like Harris the term “Brownshirts” always comes to mind. Gratefully a guy like this has no actual power but his ideas are dangerous nonetheless. This is nothing new.

    We have seen his Utopian ideas tried in other settings and we see the resulting bloodshed that always comes about. Lenin & Jefferson both had utopian mindsets. Lenin had the privilege of implementing his passion. Harris’ reason must be implemented at all cost or one will face the gulags…….uh, er I mean a severe tongue lashing.

    Sadly, atheist will hold up anyone as a leader as long as they denounce other religions. The means and strategies are moot. The bottom line is he despises other religions. It reminds much of the mindset of our current political parties.

  24. on 20 Apr 2009 at 10:52 pm 24.Hermes said …

    Lou, as a former atheist yourself (nudge nudge), you know that atheists in general aren’t much into ‘holding up people as leaders’. There are exceptions, of course, and those are largely due to to fervor that could be considered religious, for example some of the folks who pray at the alter of Ayn Rand. Yet, switch to theistic circles and you folks are largely about personalities. Not what was said but if it’s the right person saying it. Very authoritarian. So, since — being a former atheist — you know this, why not just keep the skewing of your point to a minimum? After all, it would be what Christ would want you to do.

  25. on 20 Apr 2009 at 11:46 pm 25.Lou said …

    “you know that atheists in general aren’t much into ‘holding up people as leaders’.”

    Actually, no, I looked up to Anthony Flew.

    “There are exceptions, of course,”

    Yes many, Harris, Hitchens & Dawkins round out the trinity nicely doncha think?

    Even as as intelligent an atheist as your are Hermes (wink, wink), you don’t really claim to have come up with all your great reasoning completely in a vacuum?

    What would Christ have me do Hermes? That does interest me.

  26. on 21 Apr 2009 at 7:34 am 26.Subjectsofinterest said …

    I would call Dawkins a leader in the field of evolutionary biology.
    I would call Hitchens a leader in the field of journalism.

    Lou – Send us some examples of people claiming Harris, Hitchens and Dawkins as ‘leaders’ of some atheist movement as opposed to being just respected intellectuals.

  27. on 21 Apr 2009 at 1:27 pm 27.Lou said …

    All atheist have jobs just as all theist have jobs Subject. Well, some may be losing them at the moment. I’m not clear on why atheist are so taken back by such a claim?

    The guys I mention are best selling authors, atheist routinely quote these guys, the media interviews them on atheism and they are the guys debating the theist at major forums. Even this site is endorsed by Richard Dawkins. If you are above that, good for you.


  28. on 21 Apr 2009 at 11:19 pm 28.Hermes said …

    Lou, like a fine homeopathic remedy, your posts were free of, well, just about any content.

    Dawkins: I disagree with his idea of memes. Unless something has happened in the last 5 years of significance, I’ll hold to that till shown facts that support the idea. He’s a good speaker, a good writer, but not a good debater.

    Hitchens: Massive mistakes (Iraq being the main one). He gets credit for retracting his bold comment that waterboarding wasn’t torture by actually agreeing to be waterboarded to find out for himself — then being honest about the experience. Unlike Dawkins, he’s a hell of a debater.

    Harris: Some interesting comments. He was unfairly blasted when he said that the word atheist should be abandoned, though I think he’s wrong about that. After all, as you know Lou — being a former atheist yourself — the bigoted theists will do anything they can regardless of the title you happen to use. Right? That said, I do want to see if he finds anything interesting through his actual research.

    So, beside your opinion, do you have something that is less odorous and more substantive? Got anything that would hold up without corn starch? Care to back up your wet and streaming diatribes with something worthy of commentary?

    In the meantime, consider listening to someone who is frequently requested to speak in Evangelical circles;


    Maybe something inside you will gel? Beats pouring Kaopectate in your ear.

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