Discussion on Sam Harris

Split from '40 deaths in right wing terrorist attack' thread

Atheism, secularism & freethought etc.

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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#21  Postby quas » Apr 12, 2019 6:52 pm

Sam Harris wrote:Our situation is this: most of the people in this world believe that the Creator of the universe has written a book. We have the misfortune of having many such books on hand, each making an exclusive claim as to its infallibility. People tend to organize themselves into factions according to which of these incompatible claims they accept—rather than on the basis of language, skin color, location of birth, or any other criterion of tribalism. Each of these texts urges its readers to adopt a variety of beliefs and practices, some of which are benign, many of which are not. All are in perverse agreement on one point of fundamental importance, however: “respect” for other faiths, or for the views of unbelievers, is not an attitude that God endorses. While all faiths have been touched, here and there, by the spirit of ecumenicalism, the central tenet of every religious tradition is that all others are mere repositories of error or, at best, dangerously incomplete. Intolerance is thus intrinsic to every creed. Once a person believes—really believes—that certain ideas can lead to eternal happiness, or to its antithesis, he cannot tolerate the possibility that the people he loves might be led astray by the blandishments of unbelievers. Certainty about the next life is simply incompatible with tolerance in this one.

---

I certainly stand by this claim - I’m sure I will read this at some point in the book – but just imagine what it would like, some of you might in fact know what it’s like- to be certain that the difference between spending an eternity in heaven or eternity in hell turns on whether you believe the right thing about a book, or about the origins of a universe. Now many people pretend to believe these things. Or believe it to some degree. But if you are certain of this, certain that someone with the wrong ideas, by persuading your child to doubt the truth of your religion, has thereby prepared an eternity of suffering for the person you cared about the most in this world. Well, if anything, is intolerable. That is. That is worse than your neighbor kidnapping your child and torturing him or her in his basement, for a decade. We are talking about an eternity of hellfire. That is the worst possible fate.

And what many people lose sight of is that some people really believe that this fate awaits you. If you think the wrong thing about the origin of a book, or about the invisible being who’s imagined to have dictated it, and it’s only as so far as people are uncertain about these claims, it’s only as so far as they doubt these doctrines, that they otherwise pay lip service to, that they are capable of behaving themselves in a condition of epistemological pluralism, in a condition of rival truth claims, in a condition of teachers and camp counsellors and new friends may lead their children to doubt the truth of their religion. Otherwise the need to resort to violence is absolutely imperative. What would you do if you knew someone was about to inflict an eternity of misery on your child? You would do whatever it took to stop them. And if you couldn’t pass the requisite laws, you would become a law unto yourself.

This leaves aside, of course, the curious morality of a god who would do such a thing. God, the omniscient sociopath, who has rigged the game this way. Who has condemned to eternal torment, people who by mere accident of birth, by the sheer fact that they have the wrong nouns and verbs in their heads, that is the sort of morality in offer in Abrahamic religions.

In closing I would say that, we are seeing more and more, especially in the Muslim world, are the anti-social consequences of religious certainty. We see what should otherwise be an unthinkable psychological reality. We see well-educated people with other opportunities, often with families, willing to blow themselves up and going to their deaths in a spirit of jubilation. Watch some of these videos, see the smiles on the faces of people who are about to blow themselves up. Nothing in your life has made you this enthusiastic in recent memory. And this once again is the power of belief. You might call the power of brainwashing, if you think that these people are, on some level, victims of propaganda. Fine. But to doubt their belief -what they say they believe- makes absolutely no sense in these cases.
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#22  Postby willhud9 » Apr 12, 2019 9:46 pm

Except many Christians and Jews and Muslims don’t preach the infallibility of their holy texts and preach that the holy texts are bit one facet of their religious tenets.

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Re: 40 deaths in right wing terrorist attack

#23  Postby proudfootz » Apr 12, 2019 10:31 pm

felltoearth wrote:

That was awesome.

And I can say in all confidence, that jackass guest in the clip at the end is no Hitchens, and Hitchens would have eviscerated his screed top to bottom. What absolute garbage Harris entertains.


I recall reading some of Soapy Sam's stuff back in the heyday of The Four Horsemen of Atheism. Good times!

However, I am less interested in the 'culture wars' narrative, where The WestTM is locked in mortal combat with the lesser peoples of the Earth.

We've heard this song and dance before.

That seems to be the crowd with whom Harris chooses to march. Fuck him and his newfound fascist friends.
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#24  Postby quas » Apr 13, 2019 2:48 am

willhud9 wrote:Except many Christians and Jews and Muslims don’t preach the infallibility of their holy texts


By many, are you talking about the majority?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quranic_inerrancy
I'm not sure why this Wikipedia page exists, but I guess it's created for people just like you?
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#25  Postby Spearthrower » Apr 13, 2019 3:00 am

quas wrote:
willhud9 wrote:Except many Christians and Jews and Muslims don’t preach the infallibility of their holy texts


By many, are you talking about the majority?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quranic_inerrancy
I'm not sure why this Wikipedia page exists, but I guess it's created for people just like you?



Have you reviewed the 2 sources for this one line page on Wikipedia?
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Re: 40 deaths in right wing terrorist attack

#26  Postby Spinozasgalt » Apr 13, 2019 3:05 am

quas wrote:
Spinozasgalt wrote:I didn't say it's not applicable to any moderates. This is Harris's thesis after all and thus it's his job to apply it to, or show it's applicable to, particular cases. He's failed to do that in the piece, so his analysis floats free of particular examples.


You want Harris to bring out names like Ken Ham or Ray Comfort, as if there's something unique about their literal scripturalism compared to the millions of creationist fundies out there? In the event that you get over this farcical objection, you will be stuck arguing why the moderate's cherrypicking interpretation can be equally as valid as the fundamentalist's literal scripturalism. I don't want to get into that debate, because even if you win the debate, you wouldn't be able to overcome the underlying problem that religion, at its most basic level, is incompatible with tolerance. Which is why even the moderate Mehdi Hasan still retains his discriminatory attitude towards the kafir.

Well, no, I'd suggest that Harris better his case by using particular moderate religious believers as his examples, because he's writing about them in the piece without including any of them. Of course it would've been a difficult case to make without cherrypicking from the believers that appear to confirm your view and leaving out those who don't, because of the broad variability of beliefs among religious moderates. But I think that's Harris's problem for making such bold and sweeping claims. And no, I don't think such a basic form of skepticism about these claims constitutes a "farcical objection".

Your claims in the linked post about the "underlying problem" of "religion, at its most basic level" are in the same style: you've just stated that it's "religion, at its most basic level" without doing the hard work of showing that that's the case. I don't quite know what argumentative pressure you think that exerts on the skeptic when I've just explained how that whole style just fails to address the skeptic.

And I know next to nothing about Mehdi Hasan, but I searched Twitter and the first post I get from him on the topic of "kafir" is: https://twitter.com/mehdirhasan/status/ ... 0625967104
kafir.jpg
kafir.jpg (315.97 KiB) Viewed 424 times

I don't know what any of this tells us.
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#27  Postby Spinozasgalt » Apr 13, 2019 3:07 am

Also, nice to see ya, Spearthrower. :grin:
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#28  Postby Spearthrower » Apr 13, 2019 3:13 am

Spinozasgalt wrote:Also, nice to see ya, Spearthrower. :grin:



(hugses)
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#29  Postby NuclMan » Apr 13, 2019 3:15 am

This appears (to me anyway) to be a lot of "baby out with the bathwater" dilemma. I'm a fan of Harris - well at least up until this discussion. Are we really saying he's a right-wing fascist? That the reasons he's having discussions with some of the right-wing's darlings is because he supports everything they do? If i remember correctly he refused to have Milo or Bannon on the podcast.

I tend to agree with him that the left isn't waging the war of ideas effectively enough and that finding some common ground with the right is arguably the way to persuade them to listen to anything the left has to say or to get them to vote for more sane representatives.
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#30  Postby quas » Apr 13, 2019 3:20 am

Spearthrower wrote:Have you reviewed the 2 sources for this one line page on Wikipedia?


https://books.google.com.pk/books?id=ZR ... am&f=false

You want to argue that the 6 basic beliefs are false?
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#31  Postby NuclMan » Apr 13, 2019 3:25 am

willhud9 wrote:Except many Christians and Jews and Muslims don’t preach the infallibility of their holy texts and preach that the holy texts are bit one facet of their religious tenets.

Harris loves his no true scotsmans


Sam Harris wrote:
Our situation is this: most of the people in this world believe that the Creator of the universe has written a book. We have the misfortune of having many such books on hand, each making an exclusive claim as to its infallibility.
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#32  Postby quas » Apr 13, 2019 3:31 am

NuclMan wrote:This appears (to me anyway) to be a lot of "baby out with the bathwater" dilemma. I'm a fan of Harris - well at least up until this discussion. Are we really saying he's a right-wing fascist? That the reasons he's having discussions with some of the right-wing's darlings is because he supports everything they do? If i remember correctly he refused to have Milo or Bannon on the podcast.


No, you are wrong. Harris is a right-wing fascist Trump fanboy.
https://samharris.org/trump-in-exile2/
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#33  Postby felltoearth » Apr 13, 2019 3:34 am

Sorry folks. Pretty much indisposed until Tuesday-ish. I’ll weigh in on Thommo’s question then.
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#34  Postby Spinozasgalt » Apr 13, 2019 4:23 am

proudfootz wrote:A recent discussion of Sam Harris and his hate-friendly brand...


The anti-trans section of this is at about 26:30 if anyone wants to hear it.

Douglas Murray rants about trans identities and the words trans people use to understand and explain their identities, jokes about women with penises, implies it's all a trivial topic, etc, while Harris giggles along and lets him.
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#35  Postby tuco » Apr 13, 2019 5:13 am

What is trivial and whatnot can only be assessed in some context.
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#36  Postby proudfootz » Apr 13, 2019 7:42 am

Sadly, in disputes with True Believers it has been pointed out I may have taken Bible verses out of context.
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#37  Postby Cito di Pense » Apr 13, 2019 7:56 am

quas wrote:
You want to argue that the 6 basic beliefs are false?


There are two ways to be a scriptural literalist; one is as a believer, and the other is however you're undertaking scriptural literalism. Of course, you have to do the same kind of cherry-picking the believers do in order to say what the basic beliefs are.

The justifications for trying to understand literalism are all over the map, but most of the time it boils down to another us vs. them shit-flinging contest. Just to be clear, us vs. them is much more important than anything else for Harris, and evidently, for you, too. It's also true for a lot of those who don't like what Harris has to say, so we hear things about fanboys from both sides of the us vs. them divide, and so on.

A lot of these folks can't get themselves out of bed in the morning without an enemy to battle.
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Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#38  Postby Rachel Bronwyn » Apr 13, 2019 8:50 am

I'm not sure what Sam Harris ever said that was profound. At best, I find him boring.
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Re: 40 deaths in right wing terrorist attack

#39  Postby Rumraket » Apr 13, 2019 10:23 am

willhud9 wrote:They aren’t examples. You are just stating a belief people could hold. Give specific examples. Clearly define your assertions. It’s what Harris failed to do. He attacks the ideology he presents as if any other interpretation of it couldn’t possibly be equally valid and fails to qualify his attack with actual specifics.

For example he could mention Francis Collins as a Christian with moderate theology and compare it to Ken Ham’s theology, but the problem with that is it starts poking holes in Harris’ neat no true Scotsman he erects. His stereotyping and generalization falls flat, but c’est la vie.

This makes zero sense.

Yes, he could have mentioned Francis Collins as an example of a religious moderate. Let's suppose he did that, now what? Where's the No True Scotsman?
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Re: Discussion on Sam Harris

#40  Postby Rumraket » Apr 13, 2019 10:37 am

willhud9 wrote:Except many Christians and Jews and Muslims don’t preach the infallibility of their holy texts

They don't preach it, or they don't believe it? There's a difference.

and preach that the holy texts are bit one facet of their religious tenets.

Nobody has claimed people exclusively get their religious ideas from their scriptures. In fact Harris has stated the opposite, exactly concerning moderates. They are moderates BECAUSE they also taken on secular or other extra-scriptural views, and are as a consequence re-interpretating the scriptures in a non-literal way (or, as he's also completely correct about, they some times simply forget some of the bad passages exist and ignore them).

When you remind these people of the Bad Passages(tm), they will invariably offer up some laughable rationalization for why that passage is still true and still probably the inerrant word of God, it's just that "it was meant for another time". Oddly enough the idea that it is just backwards bronzeage bullshit doesn't enter their minds.

How do I know they do this? Experience. Even some atheists do it, they "excuse" certain biblical passages as just being intended for another time. A strange moral relativism creeps in, where some things no matter how cruel or barbarous can be totally okay just because they happened a long time ago.

Particularly the topic of slavery will have their heads explode in acrobatic mental contortions. Somehow Gods commands about biblical slavery (who to take as slaves, how to deceive them into indefinite servitute, and when and how to beat them) was morally fine because that was just the culture at the time, but slavery in the united states was bad. Apparently that wasn't "just the culture at the time" too.

Go figure.

Harris loves his no true scotsmans

How so? Where is the no true scotsman fallacy? It's like you've forgotten what that even is.
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