Departing the Vacuousness
Started by Recusant, June 10, 2021, 07:41:30 AM
QuoteIt was inspiring — really inspiring. I remember watching clip after clip of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens debating Christians, Muslims and "purveyors of woo," exposing the fatuity of their faith-based beliefs in superstitious nonsense unsupported by empirical evidence, often delivered to self-proclaimed prophets by supernatural beings via the epistemically suspicious channel of private revelation. Not that Harris, Dawkins and Hitchens were saying anything particularly novel — the inconsistencies and contradictions of religious dogma are apparent even to small children. Why did God have to sacrifice his son for our sins? Does Satan have free will? And how can the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be completely separate entities but also one and the same?The "New Atheist" movement, which emerged from the bestselling books of the aforementioned authors, was the intellectual community that many of us 15 or so years ago were desperately looking for — especially after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which seemed to confirm Samuel P. Huntington's infamous "clash of civilizations" thesis. As Harris once put it, with many of us naively agreeing, "We are at war with Islam." (Note: This was a dangerous and xenophobic lie that helped get Donald Trump elected. As Harris said in 2006, anticipating how his brand of Islamophobia would enable Trump's rise, "the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.")New Atheism appeared to offer moral clarity, it emphasized intellectual honesty and it embraced scientific truths about the nature and workings of reality. It gave me immense hope to know that in a world overflowing with irrationality, there were clear-thinking individuals with sizable public platforms willing to stand up for what's right and true — to stand up for sanity in the face of stupidity.Fast-forward to the present: What a grift that was! Many of the most prominent New Atheists turned out to be nothing more than self-aggrandizing, dogmatic, irascible, censorious, morally compromised people who, at every opportunity, have propped up the powerful over the powerless, the privileged over the marginalized. This may sound hyperbolic, but it's not when, well, you look at the evidence. So I thought it might be illuminating to take a look at where some of the heavy hitters in the atheist and "skeptic" communities are today. What do their legacies look like? In what direction have they taken their cultural quest to secularize the world?[Continues . . .]
Quote from: Icarus on June 11, 2021, 01:31:37 AMUnaware that Harris ever said something so indiscreet. He is ordinarily pretty smart.
QuoteOne of the central themes of this book, however, is that religious moderates are themselves the bearers of a terrible dogma: they imagine that the path to peace will be paved once each of us has learned to respect the unjustified beliefs of others. I hope to show that the very ideal of religious tolerance--born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God--is one of the principle forces driving us toward the abyss.
QuoteIt appears that one of the most urgent tasks we now face in the developed world is to find some way of facilitating the emergence of civil societies everywhere else. ... It seems all but certain that some form of benign dictatorship will generally be necessary to bridge the gap. But benignity is the key--and if it cannot emerge from within the state, it must be imposed from without. The means of such imposition are necessarily crude: they amount to economic isolation, military intervention (whether open or covert), or some combination of both.
QuoteThe link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.
Quotein a narrow sense [the Jews] . . .brought their troubles upon themselves?. for their refusal to assimilate, for the insularity and professed superiority of their religious culture?that is, for the content of their own unreasonable, sectarian beliefs.
QuoteIt is decidedly unhelpful that those who claim to know that torture is ?always wrong? never seem to envision the circumstances in which good people would be tempted to use it. Critics of my collateral damage argument always ignore the hard case: where the person in custody is known to be involved in terrible acts of violence and where the threat of further atrocities is imminent. If you think such a situation never pertains, consider what it might be like to capture a high-ranking member of al Qaeda along with his computer. The possibility that such a person might really be ?innocent? or that he could ?just say anything? to mislead his interrogators and implicate innocent people begins to seem less of a concern.
QuoteIt should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. ... What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime--as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day--but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe.
Quote from: billy rubin on June 11, 2021, 01:17:52 PMnot so medeival, bluenose. totalitarianism is alive and well intbe modern world. china is busy right now dividing its attentionbetween its new space station and brainwashing its muslims.
Quote from: hermes2015 on June 12, 2021, 08:53:34 AMWe are all human, with some unattractive qualities. I don't think these "flaws" diminish the value of whatever we have achieved in our fields of expertise. Wagner, Picasso, Francis Bacon (the painter), and John Lennon may have exhibited some undesirable qualities, but that does not make me admire their achievements any less.