Harris in L.A.Times

This article by Sam Harris makes the point that “Within every faith one can see people arranged along a spectrum of belief.” and that “The problem is that wherever one stands on this continuum, one inadvertently shelters those who are more fanatical than oneself from criticism. Ordinary fundamentalist Christians, by maintaining that the Bible is the perfect word of God, inadvertently support the Dominionists — men and women who, by the millions, are quietly working to turn our country into a totalitarian theocracy reminiscent of John Calvin’s Geneva. Christian moderates, by their lingering attachment to the unique divinity of Jesus, protect the faith of fundamentalists from public scorn. Christian liberals — who aren’t sure what they believe but just love the experience of going to church occasionally — deny the moderates a proper collision with scientific rationality.”

What is missing is an attempt to answer the question why those in these outer circles believe as they do – and without that Harris is just preaching to the choir.

And it is neither effective nor true to assert that “there is not a person on Earth who has a good reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead or that Muhammad spoke to the angel Gabriel in a cave”. For some a “good reason to believe” might not be based on reason (but might be just because it feels good) and for others it might be based on reason applied to misinformation (as when a usually reliable source lies to me I may later claim to have had good reason based on past experience to believe the lie).

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