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markdohle

Sam Harris, the dangers of atheism

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Personally I don't see how anyone can remain in one of the Abrahamic religions, except for cultural reasons, if one is fully familiar with all the facts, and one does not become familiar with all the facts without being informed fully about what those of other views have said.

You're leaving out the fact of our interaction with God at the spiritual level, a reality in our lives. I know that you think we are misguided, but it is a factor in our lives that our opponents tend to ignore.

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You're leaving out the fact of our interaction with God at the spiritual level, a reality in our lives. I know that you think we are misguided, but it is a factor in our lives that our opponents tend to ignore.

First, don't think of people who have different views as your opponents.

Yes, I think you are fooling yourself. What else can I say. Without objective evidence of God and with His existence being illogical, the claim you make is empty.

I had a long conversation once, when I was living in the States going to school, with an elderly Jehovah's Witness who believe she was among the 144,000 elect. They teach that only this small number go to heaven and most of us end up in a paradise "New Earth." Those few who are in the elect "know" it by God's spirit. There is no external tangible evidence, they just know, and are treated no differently by the congregation than other members.

Now I had no commission to try to shake her conviction, but it did intrigue me, so I persuaded her to open up and tell me her history and how she had come to this (really unshakable) belief. What is there to be said about human belief except that it can be strong and still absolutely misguided. We see the willingness of people of all sorts of religious belief to die for their belief, but we know that can't all be being guided by the same spirit.

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First, don't think of people who have different views as your opponents.

If you think I am assuming a combative attitude, I am not. It doesn't bother me if there are viewpoints expressed which are not my own. However, I do think that (in another thread by another UMer) having the words "asinine" and "ignorance" applied to myself as a response to a post has a bit of opposing flavor to it.

Yes, I think you are fooling yourself. What else can I say. Without objective evidence of God and with His existence being illogical, the claim you make is empty.

I do realize that much of my experience with God is subjective, although there are instances (as I said in some other post somewhat recently) when I have been given specific knowledge that I could not have attained otherwise. Either the knowledge was from God, or I have psychic abilities, or there is another option that I can't imagine. I harbor no illusion that such evidence is going to cause someone to convert. I'm just pointing out that there is a spiritual aspect of our experiences that forms a part of our belief.

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I can hear the walls crumbling between us and them.

When atheists can attack the core problems of religion but respect and perhaps even adopt (he was advocating mediation was he not?) the better practices of spirituality then I think that is the type of person that believers, who also want to get rid of these core problems, can partner with.

Who wants anti-science fundies to continue dominating the conversation? When more Christians are willing to engage them openly then only then will those views become historical as a wild period in Christianity.

As of now many Christians could do well by watching this and applying the same lessons to themselves. All too often they are just carbon copies of each others, very populist in this manner, and can easily claim to be a Christian because they fit the "mold" and share their own culture but how many truly help their communities with missions? Just volunteering, feeding the homeless, collecting gifts for Christmas, etc..? Plenty of course! But all too often the carbon-copy-Christian believes attacking non-believers is their holy duty truly forgetting that is not a true mission.

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People become prominent because they have interesting things to say and they say them well. If they make money from it, good for them.

Personally I don't see how anyone can remain in one of the Abrahamic religions, except for cultural reasons, if one is fully familiar with all the facts, and one does not become familiar with all the facts without being informed fully about what those of other views have said. The way these religions maintain themselves is by preventing people from becoming fully informed, through coercion, social pressure, indoctrination (especially of children) and meme devices such as "faith" and "sacrifice" and "you will be persecuted."

People become famous by being controversial, and Dawkins in particular really exemplifies this. But that is the exact opposite of an effective way to argue. If you go around attacking religion left and right, religious people aren't going to go out and buy his books to read the more fleshed out arguments. Dawkins and others like him make a living selling books to atheists desperately seeking confirmation of their own beliefs. They do nothing to actually advance the dialogue or effect the change they claim to desire.

And even this Harris chap, in his argument for trying to soften the rhetoric a bit, started off his speech with a music of how absurd it is that they should need to discuss such things in the modern day. Statements like that are the rallying cry of every smug person who thinks they've figured out everything and anyone who disagrees isn't living in the modern world.

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