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Old 11-08-2006, 04:40 PM   #1
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Welcome to our Raving Atheists Forum, Sam Harris.

We are a community of atheists, freethinkers, skeptics and theists from different countries and backgrounds. Most of us have read and enjoyed your books and feel honored with your presence here.

Please feel free to post a welcome message and then you can decide whether to answer the many questions our members have posted on another thread or to receive them directly on this very thread.

I am your moderator, Eva, and will make sure this thread remains respectful, peaceful and fun.

We are grateful of Professor Chaos, the member that coordinated this meeting tonight. Thanks, Prof., from all the members and myself.

Let's get it on!

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, 04:51 PM   #2
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Sam, I too would like to thank you greatly for joining us tonight in this informal setting to have a nice chat about your new book Letter to a Christian Nation as well as our often similar worldviews.

As we wait for you to arrive, I will post the first question:

Some critics of your book, including the original Raving Atheist himself, wonder exactly to whom your new book is directed. The title plainly suggests that you wish the book to fall into the hands of American Christians, however you suggest that the book is aimed to "arm secularists."

Do you think any significant number of Christians have or will read the book, have you had any feedback from Christian society, and are you actively planning any marketing towards the Christian demographic?

I will grieve. Grief is not a theistic concept. ~ Sternwallow
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:03 PM   #3
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Hi Guys --

Thanks for the invite.
On the audience for my book: I am, of course, not optimistic about converting many fundamentalists. But the truth is that fundamentalists do, occassionally, change their minds. I have heard from many of them. They have had their religious certainties eroded by rational argument. It is possible. So I keep making noise...

With any luck my next book will be about the brain.

Sam
 
Old 11-08-2006, 05:07 PM   #4
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fFrom Kate:

Do you see any similarity to the animosity directed at atheists to that which was directed at feminists in the beginnings of that movement? Are there any "PR" lessons or approach techniques from the feminist movement we might draw upon in the campaign to eliminate religion's insidious influence in our government?

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, 05:09 PM   #5
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Yes, I think that is good analogy. But it suggests to me that if we make any significant progress, we won't be talking about "atheism" anymore. We'll just demand that people be reasonable. Now, we don't talk about "feminism" very much, we just demand that people examine their gender biases.
 
Old 11-08-2006, 05:10 PM   #6
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From Choobus:

Which aspect of religiosity do you consider to be the greatest threat to a progressive society?

I will grieve. Grief is not a theistic concept. ~ Sternwallow
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:10 PM   #7
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Thanks, Sam!

"I do not intend to tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at death."
Some drink at the fountain of knowledge. Others just gargle.
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:10 PM   #8
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Mr. Harris, fundamentalists DO change their minds, of course....This forum is filled with them. We even have a retired minister!

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, 05:12 PM   #9
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Another obvious analogy would be the civil rights movement: does it still exist? I'm not sure, but we condemn racism wherever we find it (more or less). I think the dissolution of identity or the marque (atheist, feminist, etc.) is a good sign.
 
Old 11-08-2006, 05:13 PM   #10
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Re: fundamentalists --

Yes, they do change their minds-- but it is frankly amazing how many reasonable people are not aware of this. I left of a scientific meeting where it was an article of absolute certainty for many people that you can never crack a person's faith through rational argument, evidence, etc.
 
Old 11-08-2006, 05:14 PM   #11
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REMINDER FOR THOSE JUST JOINING US:

Please post your questions in the thread located here.

We will posit your questions to Mr. Harris in order, so as not to deluge him with dozens of questions at once.

Thank you.

I will grieve. Grief is not a theistic concept. ~ Sternwallow
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:14 PM   #12
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***** Mr. Harris, respond only to official questions posted by Professor Chaos. But also comment freely on any other topic or post made by members, if they are not questions*****

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, 05:16 PM   #13
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From Choobus:

Which aspect of religiosity do you consider to be the greatest threat to a progressive society?

I will grieve. Grief is not a theistic concept. ~ Sternwallow
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Old 11-08-2006, 05:18 PM   #14
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On the meeting I just referred to here. I am reviewing currently. Here is a snippet of what I wrote prior to coming online with you all, in case you are interested. It was very depressing.

I just returned from a three-day meeting at the Salk Institute entitled, Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival. Participants included Steven Weinberg, Harold Kroto, Richard Dawkins, and many other scientists and philosophers who have been, and remain, energetic opponents of religious unreason. And then there were other esteemed participants and audience members who proved themselves eager and abject purveyors of American-style religious bewilderment.

The meeting was conducted as a town hall, before an audience of invited guests. It was a room full of bright, well-educated, scientifically literate people—and yet, three days were insufficient to get those assembled to agree that there is a genuine conflict between religion and science. There I witnessed scientists—many of whom were avowed atheists—give voice to some of the most unctuous religious apologies I have encountered in my days as a critic of religion. It is one thing to be told the Pope is great exemplar of reason and resistance to embryonic stem-cell research has nothing to do with religious dogmatism; it is quite another to be told this by a Stanford physician who sits on the President’s Council on Bioethics. While at Salk, I had the pleasure of hearing that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were examples of secularism run amok, that the doctrines of martyrdom and jihad have nothing to do with Muslim violence, that people can never be argued out of their beliefs, that science has made no important contributions to our ethical lives, and that it is not the job of scientists “to take away people’s hope”—all by scientists who were happily trading in the most abject and paralyzing shibboleths of academic political correctness. There were several moments that brought to mind the remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers—people who looked like familiar scientists, worked as scientists, and would soon be returning to their labs, nevertheless gave voice to the alien hiss of religious stupidity at every opportunity. And then half the audience applauded. In case anyone thought that the front lines in the culture wars can be found at the entrance to our nation’s mega-churches, I am here to report that we still have considerable work to do in some of the nearby trenches.
 
Old 11-08-2006, 05:19 PM   #15
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That truly is a disheartening, and, frankly frightening tale.

From: TheAmazingPinball:

You said in Letter to a Christian Nation, regarding the possibility of a future without religion, to think of someone in the time of the American Revolution pondering the possibility of a future without slavery. How unlikely it would have seemed to anyone then that less than 100 years later it would be gone. I think it's a good way of getting some perspective but just as you said (as best I recall not having the book at hand) in the book, it isn't exactly the same thing. My question is: Do you think that there will ever be a time when the world is free of religions, and more specifically, god beliefs? And if you do think that is a possibility, what do you see as the first step (since rational discussion apparently does not work)?

I will grieve. Grief is not a theistic concept. ~ Sternwallow
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