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Old 11-08-2006, 05:42 PM   #31
Sam Harris
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Notable mail -- I think the weirdest stuff is the people who agree with my criticism of religion, point for point, only to then put forward their own totally insane beliefs -- alien superintelligence-channelled-knowledge, etc.

The amazing thing is that 99% percent of mail is incredibly supportive--which is a bit of surprise.
 
Old 11-08-2006, 05:42 PM   #32
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Thanks Sam! Id just like to say you changed my view on the threat Religion poses to society. Previously i read a book by Huston Smith called "Why Religion Matters" and it said it brings meaning, and saves us. Science saves scientists, religion saves the religious, ect... your book opened my eyes on how we can't keep these viewpoints strictly to ourselves, with stem cells, abortion gay rights ect... thanks for keeping it real! :)

"We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself."
Carl Sagan
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:44 PM   #33
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on how to engage theists -- I think it has to happen on countless fronts -- but most importantly in public forums. I'm not necessarily recommending that ever social situation become the occasion for another round in the culture wars. But wherever religion is having an effect on public policy, we have to make as much noise as possible.
 
Old 11-08-2006, 05:46 PM   #34
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FROM: The Raving Atheist:

Which arguments do you believe are most effective against the religious: (1) purely philosophical, rational disproofs of the existence of God or (2) empirical, scientific ones?

I will grieve. Grief is not a theistic concept. ~ Sternwallow
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:48 PM   #35
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on engaging theists --

I think I may have misunderstood the spirit of you question. I think engaging theists in public debates has to be examined on a case by case basis -- there are certainly times where it gives too much credit to theism, dignifies lunacy with a public forum, etc. Dawkins will rarely do it, and I think his reasons for avoiding these debates are basically sound.
 
Old 11-08-2006, 05:50 PM   #36
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Hey Sam, thanks for taking the time to have this discussion tonight.

I am taking a class here at Penn State next semester that I am really looking forward to- Anthropology 040 Honors. It is on the evolution of religion as a natural phenomenon, and the two main books used in the course are "Breaking the Spell" by Daniel Dennett and "The End of Faith." I just figured you would like to know, if you didn't already, that your book is even being used as a sort of teaching material.

"Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence." -Richard Dawkins
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:50 PM   #37
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"dignifies lunacy with a public forum"

:lol: :rock:

Wonderful....this phrase will be repeated-and properly attributed- many times in the future. Love it.

One of the most irrational of all the conventions of modern society is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected....That they should have this immunity is an outrage. There is nothing in religious ideas, as a class, to lift them above other ideas. On the contrary, they are always dubious and often quite silly.
H. L. Mencken
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:52 PM   #38
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adds to come-back list

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Old 11-08-2006, 05:52 PM   #39
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Most effective arguments:

Strangely, I think the most potent arguments don't even address the rationality of believing in God. They reveal the terrible consequences of specific religion beliefs--e.g. preaching the sinfulness of contraception in Africa, etc. When people recognize that their own beliefs are on a continuum with these harmful ideas, they get uncomfortable. But I think both modes of argument need to be invoked simultaneously.
 
Old 11-08-2006, 05:52 PM   #40
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Quote:
Eva wrote
"dignifies lunacy with a public forum"

:lol: :rock:

Wonderful....this phrase will be repeated-and properly attributed- many times in the future. Love it.
One for quote page indeed.
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:52 PM   #41
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Thank you for the response Sam.

One problem I have with theists is a fundamental misunderstanding of various topicsand proper logic. Creationists like Kent Hovind is a good example of how these people win debates (at least from their perception and the audience). It is impossible to even answer their question before they throw out another stupid question. The audience is usually ignorant and hand victory over to the person who talked the most...
 
Old 11-08-2006, 05:53 PM   #42
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Conversely, JU Mike asks:

FROM: JU Mike

Which argument for theism do you find the most difficult to refute, and what would be your response to that argument?

I will grieve. Grief is not a theistic concept. ~ Sternwallow
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:54 PM   #43
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***** Mr. Harris, paralell to this thread, we have a lively group of people in the chat room going through this thread blow-by-blow, just so you know. We are having a great time!!*****

One of the most irrational of all the conventions of modern society is the one to the effect that religious opinions should be respected....That they should have this immunity is an outrage. There is nothing in religious ideas, as a class, to lift them above other ideas. On the contrary, they are always dubious and often quite silly.
H. L. Mencken
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:54 PM   #44
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Nice to hear The End of Faith has made it into the classroom. It should be a lively discussion...
 
Old 11-08-2006, 05:55 PM   #45
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It has also made it into my bedroom, now if only I could get my husband to read it...
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