Sam Harris on the Danger of ‘Religious Ecstasy’ Pointing the Wrong Way

Sam Harris often gets criticized as “Islamophobic.” But in a piece recently posted on his website, he explains his appreciation for “contemplative rituals,” like religious calls to prayer. It’s not that he lacks empathy for moderate Muslims (the “peaceful billion,” he writes) when he goes after the radicals; instead, his empathy lies with the victims of Islamic fundamentalism — the gays, the women, the apostates, etc. Religious devotion, in the wrong hands, can wreak havoc on a society:

Islam marries religious ecstasy and sectarian hatred in a way that other religions do not. Secular liberals who worry more about “Islamophobia” than about the actual doctrine of Islam are guilty of a failure of empathy. They fail not just with respect to the experience of innocent Muslims who are treated like slaves and criminals by this religion, but with respect to the inner lives of its true believers. Most secular people cannot begin to imagine what a (truly) devout Muslim feels. They are blind to the range of experiences that would cause an otherwise intelligent and psychologically healthy person to say, “I will happily die for this.” Unless you have tasted religious ecstasy, you cannot understand the danger of its being pointed in the wrong direction.

To think that religious doctrine plays no part in Islamic terrorism — that the “religion of peace” could never drive someone to violence — is to plead ignorance on the matter. Yes, of course, there are other factors at play, but religion is the key ingredient.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.persephonespath.com/ PersephoneK

    I don’t think Sam would disagree with you. He’s merely adding that normal, sane, otherwise rational people can be driven to die for religion because of our brain wiring. As a Christian apostate, I can completely agree with this. I would have died for god at one point if asked (by him), and as I think back on that, it terrifies me. I was a regular, middle class, midwestern girl being raised on a fairly benign brand of religion. Mix in a particularly violent and strict set of beliefs… recipe for disaster.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      we gots a historian in our midst

    • Michael W Busch

      Harris has said many things that are incredibly wrong (I personally have argued that with his fandom at some length). That does not make him “a perfect poster boy for atheism” – it makes him a person who advocates both bad ideas and good ones. In other words, like a lot of other people.

      And your last sentence makes remarkably little sense.

      • jondrake

        But atheism is “the key ingredient” to his posturing.
        Even if he tries to distance himself from the word “atheist”.

        • sane37

          You have no idea what you are talking about.

          • Rabble Rauser

            You haven’t actually read Harris’s books, have you?

            • sane37

              My comment is challenging that Sam Harris is what all atheists are like or believe. Don’t paint me with a Harris brush.
              Sam Harris’ opinions are his own, not necessarily representative of atheism on the whole.

              • Grady

                “No True Atheist”.

                • RobMcCune

                  You don’t know what that means, do you?

                • Michael W Busch

                  No one is denying that Harris is an atheist, so your attempted use of “No True Scotsman” is misplaced.

        • Michael W Busch

          But atheism is “the key ingredient” to his posturing.

          No, it isn’t the “key ingredient”. Harris’ being often wrong and being often disturbingly focused on violence are not based on atheism, which by itself is value-neutral. They do illustrate that simply being an atheist is not sufficient to not have many deeply wrong beliefs.

    • Ders

      So tired of this reaction. You distort his arguments and sound intellectual, but you fail to understand his real claim.

      I’ll be happier with Islam when the moderates actually spend some effort in calling out the radicals…and I mean the masses of moderates, not just the bold few.

      • jondrake

        So tired of the your disingenuous reaction. Harris has said many vile things, and when he is called out on them he cries that he was “misinterpreted”.
        “No True Harris” so to speak.
        I understand his real claim. He would like to wipe Christians and Muslims off the face of the earth…he just doesn’t have the guts to come right our and put it so bluntly.
        Yet.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Your claim to be a sorcerer with psychic abilities has been noted. Enjoy your time in the lake of fire.

          • Grady

            Where was that claim made?

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              Right there in his post. Feel free to read it for comprehension. And that’s the last I’ll bother with you, since you’re sock puppeting.

              • Grady

                No it wasn’t. But, conveniently for you, Mehata deleted his post.

                You are now dismissed.

    • Geoff Boulton

      The existence of civilization destroying weapons and the fact that they are, in the US at least, under the control of Christian nut jobs who think the end of the world would be a good thing is in itself enough reason to wish to see the end of religious thinking.

      • jondrake

        Scientists, many of them atheists according to Dawkins, built those weapons.
        If you put guns in the hands of warring gangs, you get what you are asking for.

        • Geoff Boulton

          My comment did not refer to ‘warring gangs’ it referred to Christians in the US who openly admit that they look forward to the end of the world and will more than happily do anything they can to move us closer to Armageddon.

          Regarding the development of the technology, this was an inevitable outcome from Einstein’s discovery of the relationship between mass and energy. It was then developed in response to fears that the ‘enemy’ might already be developing a bomb of their own. The enemies at that time being the ‘Gott mit uns’ gang in Germany and the ‘Arahitogami’ gang in Japan. It was also those ‘atheist’ scientists, including Einstein’ who petitioned the President not to use the bomb against civilians. A rather different scenario to the ‘evil atheists plotting how to destroy mankind’ one that you seem to be implying.

          Of course, if Christianity had its way, we would never ‘discover’ anything and millions would die every year simply because of ignorance over disease and its causes. Ignorance which has been overcome by those ‘evil’ atheists.

          • Rabble Rauser

            Signing a “Petition” against using something that was developed for mass murder is a useless gesture, simply made to cover up the crime.

            • Geoff Boulton

              You’re right. Obviously, it would have been better to do nothing, allow the Germans to develop it first and ‘liberate’ the US. America. Land of the free. Gott mit uns, Seig Heil!

              • Grady

                The Germans had no chance of developing the bomb, but thats as good an excuse as any.

                But if they had, it would have been done by Scientists…and as even Oppenheimer said to Truman that the scientists had blood on their hands.

                Face it. Deal with it.
                You are not operating from any position of Moral Superiority, and you are obviously willing to lie.
                The other posters are right…this is becoming a Hate Site.

                • RobMcCune

                  Your frothing hatred does not make this a hate site no matter how hard you try with your multiple accounts.

                • Grady

                  Of course nothing I say makes this a hate site.

                  But Mehta’s remarks do.

                • RobMcCune

                  Point it out, the only hate here is coming from you and your sock puppets.

                • Grady

                  Mehta said religion is THE key factor.

                  That was a lie.

                  Yep, he’s a hate.

                  So are you.

                • RobMcCune

                  Religion is the key factor in religiously motivated violence. It’s not a radical or hateful idea. Especially coming from a misogynist who thinks all atheists are hateful people out to get him.

                  Yep, he’s a hate.

                  Wow, are you really that incoherent, or are you just lazy?

                • Grady

                  Mehta said it was the key factor in Islamic Terrorism. He simply sidesteps the economic and political factors and the years of military action that has killed hundreds of thousands.

                  Those were the key factors.

                  Are you really that Willfully Oblivious to what he said? Or just dishonest?

                • RobMcCune

                  The key factor does not mean the only factor, quit being willfully oblivious to the context of what he said. Economics and politics don’t compel people to impose brutal punishments for acts that are against their religion, as most Islamic terrorists do when given the chance. Not to mention how prolific suicide bombing is among Islamic terrorists compared to other terrorists and radicals.

                  Or just dishonest?

                  Funny that someone who changes their screen name thinks their in any position to call others dishonest.

                • Geoff Boulton

                  Personally, I blame the perfect creator who fine tuned the constants of the universe so that E=MC2 and then created a violent hominid with the intelligence to make use of that fact. I mean, it’s not as if he didn’t know how things were going to turn out, is it?

                • Grady

                  So you accept the fine tuning argument?

                  That a good start.

                  We will deal with hour actual Straw Men later.

                • Geoff Boulton

                  It’s called sarcasm.

                • Geoff Boulton

                  ‘We will deal with hour actual Straw Men later. [sic]‘

                  Still waiting for your promise to be fulfilled. I hope I don’t have to wait 2000 years, and still counting, like Jesus’s followers.

                • C.L. Honeycutt

                  Loser reported for sock puppeting. Poor angrums.

                • Grady

                  Report noted, but I already knew you guys were sock puppeting.

        • Michael W Busch

          Scientists, many of them atheists according to Dawkins, built those weapons.

          You continue to confuse “scientist” with “engineer” or “built those weapons” with “did basic research”. Science is a way of gaining knowledge about the universe. What people do with that knowledge is a separate and serious set of problems.

          • Grady

            Ah, a Moral Ostrich.
            So you can develop WMDS and comfort yourself that its not my fault what people do with it.
            How Atheist.

            • Michael W Busch

              Once again, you conflate science and basic research with engineering and building weapons. That is wrong.

              Example: The science of nuclear physics lead to the engineering of nuclear weapons, but it also lead to the engineering of nuclear power and the engineering of nuclear medicine, among other good things.

              How Atheist.

              No. Just recognizing the distinction between knowledge and action. The latter is a separate set of problems from the former, and often far more serious.

              • Grady

                But the later, in the case of nuclear weapons, is not possible without the former.

                Face it. It won’t do any good to hide from it.

                • RobMcCune

                  You’re the one who only now admitted that basic science research wasn’t directly responsible for the development of nuclear weapons. Funny how the so-called truth you want him to face keeps moving closer and closer to his consistent position.

                • Grady

                  No such admission was made. The scientists basic research let directly to the development of nuclear weapons.

                  They knew what they were doing.

                  Very early on they knew that massive energy could be released, in an uncontrolled fashion.

                  Their culpability is blatant.

                • Michael W Busch

                  @First: Not true. There were nuclear reactors before there were nuclear weapons (although not much before), and nuclear medicine was being explored a decade earlier. And it is entirely possible to build nuclear reactors that can’t be used to make material for nuclear weapons.

                  @Second: I do not hide from the problems of the actions that people use their knowledge to do. But, for the third time, actions and knowledge are two different things.

            • RobMcCune

              Says the reality ostrich.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              Crybaby reported for sock puppeting.

  • islandbrewer

    I think it’s an effect of their space rock. Have the Imams ever taken a geiger counter to the Q’aba?

    • WallofSleep

      I always thought it looked like some kind of giant Bene Gesserit device.

      • baal

        I, for one, have seen where they fear to look.

    • jondrake

      No bigotry or hate here. No sir!

      • islandbrewer

        How is that bigotry? Explain.

      • MD

        You don’t know what the origin of the Q’aba is, do you?

      • Matt D

        No apologists lurking around atheist forums looking for “gotcha” moments. No sir!

      • RobMcCune

        Really, I’m seeing quite a bit from your end.

    • Michael W Busch

      Cut out the “they must be sick” nonsense.

      And meteorites aren’t significantly radioactive.

      • islandbrewer

        You’re right, meteorites aren’t significant;y radioactive, I’m sorry.

        But religious ecstasy is sick.

        • Michael W Busch

          But religious ecstasy is sick.

          No. By itself, it is not. It is a set of normal phenomena in human brains that people learn to wrongly interpret in religious terms (be those terms Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or any other set). To take an example: Dan Barker can still go into a Christian-style ecstatic speaking-in-tongues state, even though he knows that it’s just his brain doing its thing.

          • Grady

            So Barker says. But Barker is an admitted liar; he admits that he continued to preach to his congregation after he “no longer” believed.

            He even tells the story about how he gave a phony sermon to get his plane tickett back home.

            Of course he needed the money, I get that, but a lot of criminals use that excuse.

            • Michael W Busch

              So Barker says. But Barker is an admitted liar; he admits that he continued to preach to his congregation after he “no longer” believed.

              Your statement makes no sense. We judge the truth of Baker’s claims based on their plausibility and supporting evidence, not on if he admits to having said something false in the past (otherwise, we would trust people who lie as long as they didn’t admit to it).

              It is entirely plausible, although regrettable, for someone to keep preaching something they do not believe in order to get paid until they can find another form of employment.

              It is also entirely plausible for Barker to be able to still have the same entirely mundane set of experiences he previously called religious experiences even though he knows they are entirely inside his own head. This is not an isolated case – many other people have similar experiences and attribute them to Jesus, or Allah, or a moment of Nirvana, or simply recognize them as the interesting neurochemistry that they are, and some of that has even been documented in brain imaging studies (as non-specific as those are).

  • HarrisFan

    As much as I adore Sam Harris, I’m consistently unable to follow him on this topic (and I’ve tried). I appreciate his unique insights as someone who has experienced spiritual ecstasy and understands the role this might play in extremism. To me, however, he seems to translate this into the idea that he has some special, privileged insight into the true nature of Islam, one that overrides the work of scholars who conduct actual research on the topic – research involving data of the sort skeptics are supposed to value. And I find his treatment of Scott Atran suspect, given then Atran wrote a book called In Gods We Trust and has made statements that directly contradict the one Sam quotes, in many places. Sam is scrupulous about honesty so I’m sure that conversation did take place, but the degree to which that quote is taken out of context is suspicious, to me.

  • L.Long

    Sheeple take comfort in empty rituals, what a shameful idea. Yes I know its true but is it so silly, why are they so weak that to stand up and square the shoulders and face the world is so hard? OK they get help from their make believe friend but the places that help comes from is not really in the 21st century so its bound to be in the long run very bad help.

    • meekinheritance

      Birthdays, anniversaries, funerals, marriages, etc. Rituals bond communities/families/friends together. We take comfort in bonding with others. These are not empty rituals, and it is not shameful to take comfort in them.

      • Matt D

        Listing rituals that most people around the world (not just christians) enjoy, is grandstanding, and the claim “everyone takes comfort in them” isn’t true either. Many “communities/families/friends” have been torn apart by those events, and if you ignore history to suit an argument, you’re willfully slicing peices out of reality to suit your views….that IS shameful.

        • meekinheritance

          It might not be obvious, but I was somewhat agreeing with L.Long. While it might be that “sheeple take comfort in empty rituals”, there are many non-empty rituals and that many non-sheeple enjoy end benefit from. I’m sure that throughout history, “many” have been torn apart at these rituals, but I wonder if it was the ritual itself, or other issues surrounding the event that triggered it. If in general these rituals split people apart, we wouldn’t have them in the first place. I’m truly sorry if you were hurt at one; I didn’t mean to raise a sore subject.

    • Michael W Busch

      There are no “sheeple” and most religious people aren’t “so weak”. There are simply people, almost all of them entirely normal, who believe wrong things.

    • Grady

      Keep telling the world has much you hate those weaklings.

      Atheists are going to be seen for the haters they are.

      I personally think they will kill Christians in mass if they get control; after all, it has happened before.

      • RobMcCune

        Atheists are going to be seen for the haters they are.

        Says the person who paints all atheists with the same brush, believes they all are out to get him, and had to change accounts after his misogynistic post got deleted.

        Project much?

      • Michael W Busch

        I personally think they will kill Christians in mass if they get control; after all, it has happened before

        Citation Needed. No, Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot do not count – their genocides were of political opponents who simply happened to be significantly religious (and in the case of Mao and Pol Pot, were predominately non-Christian).

        And you are confusing Marxist-Leninist atheism with what most of the people here believe. Very few here would want atheists to “get control” – the ideal is a secular government that promotes neither a religion nor irreligion.

  • Croquet_Player

    What exactly are you referring to? There is simply no call to hate anyone here at all. He made a point of re-quoting Harris’ “the peaceful billion”, and is specific in his critique of ideology, not people. There are plenty of “hate sites” on the internet. This isn’t one of them.

    • Croquet_Player

      Go play the stock market, baby Nostradamus.

      • RobMcCune

        Was that a Marzuke refrence? If so, bravo sir.

    • Carmelita Spats

      Ask your god to give you a vagina, turn you into a twelve year old girl, and then have a grotesque, paunchy, bearded, 60+ year-old, crazed religionist stick his filthy fingers into your vulva to mutilate your genitals. Then, you and your mutilated vagina, your vagina dentata can come back and lecture the rest of us on the topic of “hate”. I am hateful. I HATE a sanctimonious religion that mutilates female genitals, decapitates blasphemers (I’m one of those, blasphemy is a blast-for-me), censors, issues fatwas, abhors humor, demands special privilege, gives cover to child brides, justifies acid on young girls’ faces, stoning, and teaches that flying horses took a sweaty, overweight, cave-dwelling, illiterate, madman with a decimated colon to “heaven”. I LOATHE the religion to no end. There, I’ve just turned this site into a “hate” site. I hope people of good will and better morals than the bloated “prophet” on Bud Light continue to point out the HATEFUL things that are done in the name of coveting a ridiculous afterlife.

      • WallofSleep

        Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold the fucking phone here. Muhammad had colon problems?
        :P

        • indorri

          I noticed that as well. Learn something you never wanted to know everyday.

        • Croquet_Player

          Who knew?

      • Croquet_Player

        What Carmelita Spats said.

      • jondrake

        Therefore all Muslims need to be taken out.
        Yep, this is becoming a hate site.
        Hey, did you know some blacks are criminals? That some Jews have ripped people off? That some Catholics are child abusers? That all lawyers are shysters?
        Lets spread the hate, sista!

        • Croquet_Player

          “Therefore all Muslims need to be taken out.”…said absolutely no one here. Except you, drama queen.

        • baal

          You have no idea what Carmelita just said.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Jesus but you are a stupid, trashy Christer.

      • The Other Weirdo

        10% of his colon was destroyed? That’s an awfully specific claim.

    • Croquet_Player

      Pretty sure Carmelita Spats just won the internets.

    • RobMcCune

      You don’t believe in that, remember.

  • Croquet_Player

    Oh by the way, in Aleppo today a 15 year-old was shot in the face and killed in front of his parents for being an “unbeliever”. There’s some hate for ya. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22840728

    • WallofSleep

      Yeah. The equation goes something like this:

      Superstitious bullshit that endorses, encourages, and justifies the oppression and murder of “the other”? Nothing to see here, move along.

      Criticizing said superstitious bullshit and the misery it produces? Well that there is hate.

      Fucking fundie math. What horrible bullshit.

  • WallofSleep

    Right. Because stating that a certain religion isn’t all sunshine and lollipops equals hate. Fucking idiot.

    • Mario Strada

      He is trolling, like he does seemingly every day. Can’t you see the love and tolerance coming out of every word?

    • Mario Strada

      What a profound argument. Troll.

    • WallofSleep

      Hahahahaha! How very sad.

    • Croquet_Player

      “Bitch”. Oh how hilarious! Are you one of these internet trolls I keep hearing about? Go on, say something else that’s idiotic and offensive! Do it! Do it! I promise we’ll throw some popcorn into your cage afterwards!

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      Hey now, you should know that we godless, amoral folks don’t like sexist slurs around here. Something about the inherent dignity of all human beings deserving basic respect, I think it was.

    • Michael W Busch

      Cut out the misogynistic slurs. Now.

  • Mario Strada

    What’s wrong with the image? It happens to be the same image on Harris blog and it is very similar to another 1000 of them all over google images. I don;t see the hate in it, just a depiction of Muslims in prayer. Considering Harris article is about muslims and prayer, rituals and the sort (Not that I expect you read the original article) I honestly don’t get the comment. Except through the lens of insanity.

    • Space Cadet

      Not the image of prayer, but capturing an image of Hemant’s article. I guess timberwraith thinks Hemant will become so embarrassed by the trolls saying this is now a hate site that he’ll remove the offending article completely. But xe captured an image of the article! Xe has proof of the hate! Checkmate, Not-So-Friendly-Atheist! Or something similarly stupid.

  • A3Kr0n

    This has always been a hate site, where have you been? I come here to stay abreast of all the hateful things religious people are doing.

  • WallofSleep

    “Can you feel that? Can you fucking feel that?!?”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEfL11huQxY

  • TCC

    What. The. Fuck. The comments by timberwraith and jondrake are just bizarre.

    • baal

      The partisan trolls have trouble when folks pierce their blinkered reality. We see that event as their bizarre lashing out in this forum.

  • WallofSleep

    It’s like this: if you can criticize christianity and the hate that it spreads eight ways ’til sunday, but shrink away from doing the same when it comes to islam, you’re a fucking hypocrite of the worst order and your opinion is worthless to me.

    But that only goes for criticism. If you want to hate on people simply for being christian, muslim, or whatever, you can fuck off as well.

    • Atheist for human rights

      Nope straw man. All religions are capable of evil. Harris is the one saying one is uniquely evil. Issuing decrees of inferiority is bigotry. Which also makes Mehta a bigot.

      • Kevin Beach

        I didn’t get an “Islam is evil” vibe from this piece, and I don’t think being critical of a religion is wrong either. I can criticize Christianity all day long, no problem, but Harris tries to criticize Islam and everybody flips shit? Why? I think his criticism is legitimate too. No other religion cranks out violent devotees quite so fast. However, I’m sure if Christianity had a few fundamentalist hellholes, ahem, theocracies to promote and shelter it’s ideology it would be just as bad.

        • WallofSleep

          “I’m sure if Christianity had a few fundamentalist hellholes, ahem, theocracies to promote and shelter it’s ideology it would be just as bad.”

          No fucking doubt. The Scott Livelys of the world are encouraging the creation of that kind of shit in Uganda.

      • WallofSleep

        Reading comprehension isn’t one of your stronger characteristics, is it? Please re-read my hanging comment and point out to me where I offered anything more than my opinion of those who are willing to criticize one religion but not another, and my opinion of those who hate others simply for their religion.

  • Atheist for human rights

    Islam is not uniquely evil. That is bigotry. All religions are capable of evil. But the vast majority of Christians are not living in third world countries that are being mercilessly bombed by neo-cons like Harris.

    It is truly amazing that a violent neocon like Harris is calling other people violent.

    • NoGodsBeWithYou

      Criticism of Islam is not bigotry, criticism of Christianity is not bigotry. Someone who maliciously mischaracterizes another person’s ideas, however, is at best a troll.

      • jondrake

        Which makes Harris a Master Troll.

        • RobMcCune

          You hate Harris, but aspire to be like him, interesting.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Making it even more curious is that he loves Jesus, but aspires to be the opposite of him.

            • Grady

              Who said he loves Jesus? He sounds like a Muslim sympathizer.

              • RobMcCune

                Quit talking about yourself.

              • C.L. Honeycutt

                Reported for sock puppeting.

          • Grady

            So you are saying that Harris is a Master Troll?
            Hey, I like it!

            • RobMcCune

              Well somebody switched to his other sock quickly.

      • Atheist for human rights

        It’s all right to criticize Islam but it is not all right to say muslims are inferior to other religions

    • Yoav

      Even if we ignore attacks against the US and other western countries as being a response to being bombed there is more then enough to criticize in the way Islamic societies treat their own people. While I don’t think the quran is uniquely hateful, hell most of the hateful stuff was plagiarized from the bible, going through the enlightenment and then being subjected to secular governments forced the mainstream of Christianity and Judaism to pretend the hateful stuff doesn’t actually mean what it means. The problem is that in Muslim majority countries the most toxic version of Islam are in power and violently object to any idea of reforming Islam to become more inclusive, but sure if the Scott Livelys and Brian Fischers get their christian theocracy it would be indistinguishable from Saudi Arabia. In the meantime Saudi Arabia regularly execute people for the horrible crime of blasphemy and treat 50% of it’s population as subhuman only because they lack a penis. In Pakistan a 13 year old rape victim is held responsible for tempting the poor guys who raped her while they go scott free and in Indonesia, regularly paraded as a model for a tolerant, friendly Islam, Alexander Aan was thrown in jail for making a facebook post admitting he’s an atheist.

  • Atheist for human rights

    I like how Mehta says yep there are other factors but I’m going to completely ignore them. To put it another way Its like saying i know there are other factors but im too hateful to take the time to consider them. You just prove that bigotry is based on being intellectually lazy and/or ignorant.

    • Edmond

      The point of the post is to just to comment on a new article that Sam Harris has on his site which might be of interest. No more, no less. There’s no reason for Hemant to go into a full rehash of all the points of the issue, which everyone has discussed ad nauseum, and which you could research further for yourself either on Hemant’s site or on Harris’. I don’t really think “lazy and/or ignorant” when I picture a full time math teacher and full time blogger.

    • Pseudonym

      Of course religion is not “the” key ingredient. How ignorant is that! History gives us no shortage of examples of horrible violence and terrorism without religion. You can be good without God. You can be bad without God.

      Had Hemant said it was “a” key ingredient, none of the people accusing him of bigotry would have a leg to stand on. One small word makes all the difference.

      • Miko

        Drop the word “key” as well. Religion plays a role only to the extent that it plays a role in any other mass movement such as the Civil Rights movement: people who are religious tend to describe their collaborative actions in religious terms. In this case, many of them also speak Arabic and describe their goals in this language. If one understands the folly in saying that the Arabic language is a “key” ingredient in terrorism, one should likewise understand the folly in saying the same about the Islamic religion.

        • Pseudonym

          I would argue that “a key ingredient” is correct in this case, but not for the reason that most people think.

          You have to think back to the Cold War and the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD) which prevented overt war between the two superpowers. After Communism collapsed in Europe, with only one superpower left, it was inevitable that a new opposition would have to evolve into the niche left by geopolitics.

          To be successful, the new opposition must have two key properties: have no land to destroy or invade, and don’t fear death. This is the only way to counter MAD. In other words, it pretty much had to have a trans-national component and a religious (or similarly-placed ideological) component.

          That it was radical Islam and not something else is, of course, one of those accidents of history.

    • Grady

      It has long know that the “Friendly Atheist Site” is misleadingly names.
      Mehta has even admitted it, but contines the charade.
      Does that make him a liar?

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        You’re switching accounts and sock puppeting. Reported.

  • seahen

    “Religious ecstasy” sounds like a new rave cocktail. One part MDMA, one part DMT?

  • Bdole

    When we finally get the capacity to nuke your home.

  • Matt D

    Unless you give examples of why this is a “hate site”, it’s not important that you think it is.

  • RobMcCune

    When you take it over.

  • Matt D

    When do you stop acting like a twelve year old with an internet connection?

    • Michael W Busch

      Don’t insult the twelve-year-olds.

    • RobMcCune

      Most 12 year olds don’t spend months pathetically posting the same thing over and over like the morphing Mabus wannabe above.

  • Matt

    Having experienced “religious ecstasy” in a Christian environment I cannot stress the impact it has on someone’s life. Even now as an atheist 6 years on I can still vividly remember the experiences. They seriously alter and mess with your logical perception. It is a very VERY strong weapon the religious wield.


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