Sam Harris Reflects on 9/11

September 9, 2011
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I’m a big fan of author and neuroscientist Sam Harris. I will suggest you read anything he has written before I suggest anything else, and I’ve referenced him a few times in earlier posts. He has a brief reflection on the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy, and you can read it here. An excerpt:

And we must decline to tell our children that human history began with magic and will end with bloody magic—perhaps soon, in a glorious war between the righteous and the rest. One must be religious to fail the young so abysmally—to derange them with fear, bigotry, and superstition even as their minds are forming—and one cannot be a serious Christian, Muslim, or Jew without doing so in some measure.

Such sins against reason and compassion do not represent the totality of religion, of course—but they lie at its core. As for the rest—charity, community, ritual, and the contemplative life—we need not take anything on faith to embrace these goods. And it is one of the most damaging canards of religion to insist that we must.

Read Sam Harris.

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15 Responses to Sam Harris Reflects on 9/11

  1. Keith
    April 26, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Alan, no amount of reason or patience will work with the Gary’s of the world, but I admire your attempts.

  2. Gary Litchfield
    September 10, 2011 at 9:20 am

    By the way. Sam Harris didn’t come up with the idea of playing the giant blame game involving religions. Sam Harris borrowed the idea from Congress!

    • Alan Litchfield
      September 10, 2011 at 10:48 am

      He actually got it from the philosopher Betrand Russell. Read Russell’s “Why I’m Not A Christian.”

      • Gary Litchfield
        September 10, 2011 at 3:32 pm

        I would prefer to read the Bible. And your time would be better spent baking cookies and giving them to the poor!

        • Alan Litchfield
          September 10, 2011 at 5:16 pm

          Are you reading the part where you are supposed to stone your children to death if they don’t obey? Put down the rock! (Duck, Alan, duck . . . )

          • Gary Litchfield
            September 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm

            Christians don’t stone anyone any longer. Moslems have taken over that chore. Don’t walk under any rock cliffs soon though!

            • Alan Litchfield
              September 10, 2011 at 9:21 pm

              Perhaps we can agree on something – neither of us are fans of Islam, I bet!

  3. Alan Litchfield
    September 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I knew this one would crawl under your skin. I don’t think the Hitler comparison works, though. Harris is an atheist, and Hitler was, obviously, a Christian. While many respond to Harris’ arguments with anger, all too few respond to his arguments with cogent replies – and I’ve read many attacks on his work. I strongly suggest any of his first three books. Even if you don’t agree with them, they will make you think. “The Moral Landscape” is a textbook example of how to argue a point and how to reason clearly.

    • Gary Litchfield
      September 10, 2011 at 8:50 am

      Hitler’s religion has always been under dispute. As far as Hitler being a Christian. Just because a mouse lives in a cookie jar doesn’t make it a cookie. History has shown us what we humans are capable of. Hitler was just one of many. Yes I know Harris is a atheist. He attacks all religions in a sorry attempt to get his sick points across. And no Harris doesn’t have the answers on how to argue a point and reason clearly. The blind can’t lead the blind. By the way, Atheisim is a religion. Every human on earth is religious in some way.

      • Alan Litchfield
        September 10, 2011 at 10:40 am

        Atheism is simply means that someone has looked at the evidence for god, and found it lacking. That is all it means. When some decent evidence is provided, then perhaps atheists will reconsider. The burden of proof is on the one making the claim that something is the case. It doesn’t mean atheists believe god doesn’t exist in the absolute sense, it just means there is not enough evidence to justify believing in her.

        The Nazi belt buckle contained the German phrase “God is with us.” Try this exercise, do a google search for an online version of “Mein Kampf,” and then search for all the times Hitler invokes god. Hitler also explicitly invoked god in many of his speeches. They are easy to find. The only people who claim Hitler wasn’t a Christian – he was a Catholic – are self-serving apologists who want to rewrite history.

        • Gary Litchfield
          September 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm

          You just reaffirmed my above statement Alan. Hitler did invoke God. But not the same one I and most Christians believe in. Even the Devil believes in God. (From the Bible) Remember the mouse in the cookie jar? Hitler proved he wasn’t a true Biblical Christian by his actions. He killed millions of innocent Jews and others. Hitler murdered millions in the name of HIS God.
          Not mine. Osama Bin Laden did the same. That fact doesn’t negate the existence of God! There again you wonderful people are playing a giant blame game.

          If you would like some proof for the existence of God. Look at your two sons. When you kids were born I compared you all to expensive fine watches. And with a watch, there has to be a watchmaker. Yes?

          You can’t put God in a test tube and prove Him. But God put you and Harris on this earth to Test You. And someday He will prove himself to you both!

          • Alan Litchfield
            September 10, 2011 at 5:13 pm

            Implicit in your reply is that anyone who believes in your god (as if you alone had access to him) can not do anything wrong, like murder or any other crime. This is manifestly untrue. Death row is full of Christians, and the Vatican has been abusing young children for centuries.

            This “your god” argument is simply question-begging. You have no way to know which god any murderer or pedophile believes in. There is simply no way to verify what you say, so there is no reason to believe you. Besides, it really doesn’t matter what Hitler believes – we only have his statements and his actions. Neither Hitler, nor you, have any good evidence to validate your belief in a supernatural being you both claim to exist, and be the author of your actions. I could care less what Hitler, or you claim, I want to see the evidence.

            The watchmaker argument is an old one and fails because you seem to ignore massive amounts of evidence. It would be rude to suggest that god was the cause of the cancer that took Scott, but your “watchmaker” argument suggests precisely this. What about earthquakes, floods, drought and tornadoes? Cancer and birth defects? Some watchmaker. This horrible design has been going on since time began. And who is struggling to make it better? Human beings – with the aid of science and reason. You can’t have it both ways.

            • Gary Litchfield
              September 10, 2011 at 6:50 pm

              Have we human beings succeeded since the beginning of recorded history?

              Some watchmaker. Yes He was. He made everything perfect and good. Mankind messed it up. Along with a nother spirtual being we, and the Lord calls Satan. Blame Satan, not God!

              And no you can’t have it both ways. It’s your choice, and people like Harris’s choice. You decide!

              God put us all here so He could observe our choices. Every word you speak is being recorded, along with Mr. Harris. Nothing is hidden from the Creator.

              Two different beliefs. Good or Evil. Right or wrong. Demorcrat or Republican. Etc.

              Your choice. God is picking out his family for all eternity. And He just doesn’t make robots. Are you a robot?

              And no son I didn’t ignore massive amounts of evidence when you were born. It was right there in front of me. And still is. You didn’t come from pond scum. Or my dog would have lapped you up along with your brother and sister from the beginning.

              When you and Harris and others like you can answer all the unanswered questions that is put before science, knowledge, and the world. Then I and the world will come bow before you!

              • Alan Litchfield
                September 10, 2011 at 9:19 pm

                Do you mean that your god is incapable of stopping satan do bad things in this world? Who is running this world? Satan, or your alleged god? No, this world does not need your god to explain it. We don’t have all the answers. But cosmology, biology, paleontology and a host of other sciences have explained our world far better than religion ever will. It seems your god is unable or unwilling to stop satan. Or maybe he doesn’t exist?

  4. Gary Litchfield
    September 9, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Sam Harris = Hitler Reincarnated! Thanks for the warning Alan. I am sure the families, friends, and loved ones, of those who were murdered on 9/11/01 will just love Sam Harris. They came from different religous backgrounds, including Moslem.

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