Christmas Eve with Sam Harris

The LA Times published an article written by Sam Harris today in which he discusses 10 myths and truths about atheism.

The 10 Myths:

1) Atheists believe that life is meaningless.

2) Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history.

3) Atheism is dogmatic.

4) Atheists think everything in the universe arose by chance.

5) Atheism has no connection to science.

6) Atheists are arrogant.

7) Atheists are closed to spiritual experience.

8) Atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding.

9) Atheists ignore the fact that religion is extremely beneficial to society.

10) Atheism provides no basis for morality.

It’s still surprising to me that anyone can believe atheists are “dogmatic” (What’s dogmatic about being rational? Beats me) and that atheism “provides no basis for morality.” But there you go.

Nice to see this type of article in a major paper on Christmas Eve, especially as recent polls point to the fact that over 80% of people actually believe in angels. (While more educated people have less of a tendency to believe in them, it’s still an embarrassingly high percentage.)

I’m looking forward to reading the response to Harris’ article.

[tags]LA Times, Sam Harris, atheism, Christianity, atheist, Bible, Koran, science[/tags]

  • Richard Wade

    Sam sent me the article last night. I was very glad he was attempting to debunk these myths, and in the affirmative part he did a good job. But I was disappointed that he used almost all ten points to “dis” Christianity and Islam more than just illuminate the 10 truths. But that’s Sam, and I wish he could resist poking someone in the eye when trying to help them see.

    I doubt that many Christians would have finished the article because of the attacks, and they are the people we need to reach, if we want to extinguish these prejudices and stereotypes.
    If you want to reform a bigot, you don’t start by calling him an asshole.

  • Susan

    I think it’s an excellent article, and one I hope people will read with an open mind. I agree that Sam was quite critical of Christianity and Islam in certain parts, but I have the impression that he was doing so more to make his point and show a contrast than to attack. I do feel, however, that a Christian open-minded enough to have started the article would be able to look past the critical bits. All in all, well done!

  • Richard Wade

    Susan, I hope you’re right. The open-minded Christians who would finish the article are not the ones we suffer under. There are some incorrigable bigots who will never relinquish hate, but I’d like to reach those who have prejudice, but can be mitigated. Here, we see the differences between Sam’s overall goal of moving humanity beyond religion entirely, and my desire to help atheists gain social and political acceptance in the nearer future. I used to bash people over the head with the truth. Many bruises later I’m trying to learn finesse. At the very start of this long, long quest we may be at slightly cross purposes. I wouldn’t want to stop Sam; I just don’t want him to increase the chances that you or I get beat up by Clem and Bubba, the Defenders of the Faith.

  • Michael

    Susan, you used “christian” and “open minded” in the same sentence. Isn’t there a rule against that?