« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#35 — The End Of Faith Sessions 1

2016-04-25 | 🔗

In this episode of the Making Sense podcast, Sam Harris reads and discusses the first chapter of "The End of Faith."

SUBSCRIBE to listen to the rest of this episode and gain access to all full-length episodes of the podcast at samharris.org/subscribe.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I'm going to be starting today a series entitled the end of faith sessions fired by two things: first that I've always heard that the Audio book edition of the end of faith is deeply unsatisfying. Rumor has it that the voice is actor who read it didn't do a good job. This is even seem to disagree with Maine and give a deliberately infelicitous reading of the text, and it's also the case of the most controversial things I've ever written are in that book and continue to come back to haunt me. So I'm going to read in a suit the podcast and then elaborate on what I wrote there
issuing any caveats as needed track, not read certain sections of it, but this is main jail. Breaking the audio for better or worse. Chapter one reason in exile: the young man boards the bus as it leaves the terminal he wears an overcoat beneath his overcoat he's wearing a bomb. His pockets are filled with nails, ball, bearings and rat poison. The buses crown red headed for the heart of the city. The young man takes a seat beside a middle aged couple. You will wait for the bus to reach his next stop. The couple at his side appears to be shopping for a new refer generator. The woman has decided on a model, but her husband worries it will be too expensive. He indicate another one in a brochure that lies open on her lap. The next stop comes into view. The bus doors swing,
the woman observes that the model or husband is selected will not fit in the space underneath their cabinets. New passengers have taken the last remaining seats and begun gathering in the aisle. The bus is now full young man smiles with the press of a button. He destroys himself the couple his side and twenty others on the bus The nails, ball, bearings and rat poison insure further casualties. On the street in the surrounding cars all has gone according to plan the young man's parents soon learned of his fate, although say didn't have lost a son. They feel tremendous pride in his accomplishment. They know he's gone to Heaven and prepared a way for them to follow? He is also sent his victims to hell for eternity. It is a double victory. The neighbors find the uh integrate cause for celebration and honor the young man's parents by giving them gifts of food and money this is all we know for certain about the young man. Is there anything else that we can in
for about him. On the basis of his behavior, was he popular in school Was he below or high intelligence? bright future. As a mechanical engineer, his behavior simply mute on questions of the sort and hundreds like them. Why is it so easy, then? So trivially easy? You can almost bet your life on it, easy to guess the young man's religion? Okay. So that's how I started the book, and this opening has been quite controversial for reasons that make no sense. Many people who object to this be
in in which is a a fictionalized account in its details. Early imagining what a prototypical suicide bombing on a bus might be. Like many have objected that there's something on realistic about this or that these kinds of events don't happen that this is a falsehood to put this forward as somehow indicative of the kind of thing that is happening in our world that has been happening for decades. What I claim is simply false. This is a proto typical case. For a reason, the details I've given here apart from the fictionalized couple shopping for a refrigerator, are well attested to This is precisely the sort of thing that muslim suicide bombers have done and continue to do, and I believe that every detail here is factual, including the penultimate gesture
smiling at the that is also well attested to by those who survived suicide attacks. And while there are others who have committed suicide bombings and for quite some time that uh tigers in Sri Lanka, where the most prolific suicide bombers. It was case when I this- and it is even more true now that when you hear about a suicide bombing, there is one thing you can be virtually certain of and that is that it was carried out by a believer in islam- someone who believes in Paradise. Someone who believes that he was going to Paradise because of his martyrdom. Someone who- leave that he was sending infidels to hell where they will burn for eternity someone who was in touch with a community of people who believe the same things that not to say that a non muslim suicide bomber is impossible, but
you can know these things about any suicide bomber today with a high order of confidence, and that is a name about which I think no honest person can pretend to be in doubt at this moment in history,. If you tell me that an airplane has been hijacked or that a pilot of a plane has intentionally flown it into a building or into the ground, killing himself and everyone else on board, and you stipulate that this person was not mentally ill or suicidally. Do pressed, as has happened on occasion. I can tell you what you will hear on the Black Box if that Black Box gets recovered, I can tell you the pilots or hijackers last words. Now, how can I do that? Is it because I'm psychic? No,
but I will take this bet every time. Why do I know that if you recover that Black box, you will hear someone screaming Allahu, Akbar because only one ideology on earth is producing this behavior reliably, this point and that ideology which I would call jihadism or Islamism now, depending on the context, comes directly out of the religion of Islam. No other religion is producing an analogous death cult at this moment and as I will make very clear in this book. There are theological reasons for this. While I will go on to criticize Christianity in other religions, for their specific problems and the problem of suicidal jihad is not something that all religions, culpable for and if you're going to be in the business of criticizing religion or even
containing the secure you have your own society, it's only decent to acknowledge that difference. So if you're, one of those people who think I have stacked the deck against Islam by providing this generic example of a suicide bombing, I think you're. Quite clearly, fooling yourself back to the a belief, is a lever that once pulled moved almost everything else in a person's life. Are you a scientist, a liberal, a racist? These are merely species of belief and action, your beliefs to find your vision of the they dictate your behavior. They determine your emotional responses to other human beings. If you doubt this consider how your experience would suddenly change, he came to believe one of the following propositions: one you have only two weeks to live to.
You just want a lottery prize of one hundred million dollars and planted a receiver in your skull and Erma populate in your thoughts. These are mere words until you believe them once believed they become part of the the apparatus of your mind, determining desires, fears, expectations and subsequent behavior. There seems, however, to be a problem with some of our most cherished beliefs about the world, they're leading us inexorably to kill one another. A glance at history, or the pages of any newspaper, reveals that ideas which divide one group of human beings from another only to unite them in slaughter generally have their roots in religion. It's a, I think. The word generally here is inaccurate. I should have said often have their roots in religion. I don't think most wars have been religious in origin, a significant subset
have been, and certainly when societies breakdown along tribal lines, BR came down along confessional lines into religious camps is a very common phenomenon and this is not to say that people are motivated by theology in their subsequent conflict, but they motivated by religious tribalism, but I wouldn't say- say that most wars have been religious, though I think some of the various divisions in our world now are explicitly religious back to the text instead of our species ever eradicates itself through war? It will not be because, is written in the stars, but because it was written in our books is what do with words, like God, in Paradise and sin in the present that will determine our future. Our situation is this: most of the people in this world believe that the creator of the universe has written a book. We have the misfortune of having many such books on hand each making an exclusive claim as to its in
availability. People tend to organize themselves into factions, according to which of these incompatible claims they accept, rather than on the basis of language, skin, color, location of birth or any other criterion of tribalism, text, urges its readers to adopt a variety of beliefs and practices, some of which are benign, many of which are not all, perverse agreement. On one point of fundamental importance, however, quote respect for other faiths or for the views of unbelievers is not an attitude that God endorses. While all faiths have been touched here and there by spirit of Ecumenical ISM, the central ten every religious tradition is that all their mere repository's of error, or at best dangerously incomplete in town services does intrinsic to every creed once a person believes really believes this certain ideas, can lead to eternal happiness or to its antithesis. He cannot tolerate the pot
deleted. The people he loves might be led astray by the plan to shipments of unbelievers. Certainty about the next life is simply incompatible with tolerance in this one. And I certainly stand by this claim- I'm sure I'll revisit this at some point in the book. But just imagine, what it would be like some of you might in fact know what it's like to be certain that the difference between spending eternity in Heaven or Turnitin hell turns on whether you believe the right things about a book or about the origin of the universe. Now many people pretend to believe these things or believe it to some degree. But if you are certain of this, if we are certain that someone someone with the wrong ideas by persuading your child to doubt. The truth of your religion has thereby prepared and eternity of suffering for the person you care about most
this world. If anything is intolerable, that is, that is worse than your neighbor kidnapped your child and forgery in him or her in his basement for a decade right, we're talking about an eternity of hellfire. That is the worst possible fate, and what many people lose sight of is that some people really believe that this fate awaits you if you think the wrong things at the origin of a book. What about the invisible being? Who is imagined, dictated, and it's only as people are uncertain about these claims it's only
so far as they doubt, these doctrines of the otherwise pay lip service to that they are capable of behaving themselves in a condition of a pig, Dima, logical pluralism. In the condition of arrival, truth claims, in condition where teachers and camp counselors and new friends may lead their children to doubt the truth of their religion. Otherwise, the need to resort to violence is absolutely imperative. What would you do you if you knew someone was about to inflict, and it sure trinity of misery on your child? You would do whatever it took to stop them, and if you couldn't pass the requisite laws, you would be coming along unto yourself. This leaves a aside of course. The curious
round the of a god who would do such a thing? God, the omniscient sociopath, who is rig the game this way, who has condemned to eternal torment people who buy a mere accident of birth by the sheer fact that they have the wrong nouns and verbs in their heads, they will spend eternity being tortured. That is the source of morality on offer you neighbor hammock religion, but of that moral in closing I'll just say that what we are seeing more and more especially in the muslim world, are the anti social consequences of religious certainty. We see what should otherwise be unthinkable, psychological reality. We see well educated people with other opportunities, often with families willing to blow themselves up and going to their deaths in a spirit of
jubilation watch. Some of these videos see the smiles on the faces of people who are about to blow themselves up. Nothing in your life has made you this enthusiastic in recent memory, and this once again, is the power of belief. You might call the power of brainwashing if you think that these people are on some level victims of propaganda, fine, but to doubt that they believe what they say, they believe makes absolutely no sense in these cases back to the book. Observations of this sort pose an immediate problem for us. However, because criticizing a person's faith is currently taboo in every corner of our culture. On this subject, liberals and conservatives have reached a rare consensus- religious beliefs, simply beyond the scope of rational discourse, criticizing a person's ideas, God and the afterlife is thought to be in
taking away that criticizing his ideas about physics or history is not so it is that when a muslim suicide bomber obliterates himself, along with a score of innocence on a Jerusalem ST the role that his fee faith played in his actions is invariably discounted. His motives must have been political, economic or entirely personal without faith. Desperate people would still do terrible things. Faith itself is always and everywhere, exonerated but tech. She has a way of creating fresh moral imperatives, technical, the art of war, finally rendered our religious differences, and hence our religious beliefs, antithetical to our survival. We can no longer ignore the fact that billions of our neighbors believe in the metaphysics of martyrdom or in the literal truth of the book of revelation or in any of the other fan fantastical notions that have worked in the minds of the faithful for millennia, Millenia
papers, are now armed with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that these developments, market terminal phase of our credulity words, like God and Allah, must go the way APOLLO and ball or they will make our world it spent. Wandering the graveyard of bad ideas suggest that such conceptual revolutions are possible. Consider the case of alchemy it fast native human beings for over one thousand years, and yet anyone who seriously claims to be a practicing alchemist today will have disqualify himself for most positions of responsibility in our society. Faith based religion must suffer the same slide into obsolescence. What is the alternative to religion as we know it as it turns out? This is the wrong question to ask chemistry was not in Alta Alchemy, it was a wholesale Alex ignorance at its most rococo, for genuine knowledge we will find, but, as with alchemy, to speak of alternatives to religious faith is to miss the point. Of course, people of faith fall on a continuum. Some
draw solace and inspiration from a specific spiritual tradition, and you remain fully committed to tolerance and diversity, while others would burn the earth to cinders if it would put an end to heresy. There are, in other words, religious moderates and religious extremists, and their various passions and projects should not be confused One of the central themes of this book, however, is that religious moderates are themselves the bearers of a terrible dogma. They imagine that the path to peace will be paved once. Each of us has learned to respect the unjustified beliefs of others. To show that the very ideal of religious tolerance born of the- motion- that every human being should be free to believe. Whatever he wants about. God is one of the principle forces driving us toward the abyss, and this is where I introduce what is perhaps the most controversial point in the book where I implicate so called religious moderates in the ongoing problem of religious intolerance and religious vial.
Needless to say, moderates are better than fundamentalists. If we could turn all fundamentalist into moderates. That would be great, but moderates because of the respect they demand for religion and because of their own comf fusion, about what it is that fundamentalists believe they prevent us from criticizing fundamentalism or even noticing it its consequences in the way that we must- and this is something that I spell out at greater length soon. We have been slow to recognize the degree to which religious faith perpetuates man's inhumanity to man. This is not surprising, since many of us still believe that faith is now Central component of human life. Two myths now keep faith beyond the fray of rational criticism and they seem to foster foster's. This extremism and religious moderation. Equally, one most of us believe that there are good things that people get from religious faith, for example strong communities, ethical behavior, spiritual experience that cannot be
had elsewhere too. Many of us also believe that the terrible things sometimes done in the name of religion are the products not of faith per se, but of our baser nature's forces, like greed, hatred and fear for which religious beliefs, themselves the best or even the only remedy taken together. These myth seem to have granted us perfect immunity to outbreaks of reasonableness in our public discourse, religious moderates, moderate, have taken the apparent high road of pluralism, asserting the equal city of all faiths, but in doing so they neglect to notice the irredeemably sectarian truth claims of each as long as a Christian because it only his baptized brethren will be saved on the day of judgment. He cannot possibly respect the beliefs of others, for he knows that the flames of hell have been stoked by these very ideas, and await their adherence. Even now, and Jews generally take the same aragone view of their own enterprises and have spent Millenia
passionately reiterating the errors of other faiths. It should go without saying that these rival belief systems are all equally uncon animated by evidence and yet in sexuals as diverse as Hg Wells Albert Einstein, Karl Young, MAX Planck, Freeman Dyson and Stephen Jay Gould, have declared the war between reason and faith to be long over on this view- there is no need to have all of our beliefs about the universe. Cohere a person can be a God in Christian on Sunday and working scientists come Monday morning without ever having to account for the partition that seems to have erected itself in his head. While he slept he can, as it were, or have his reason and eat it too. As the early chapters of this book will illustrate, it is only because the church has been politically hobbled in the west that anyone can afford to think this way in places where scholars can still be stoned to death for doubting the veracity of the Koran. Goulds notion of a quote loving Concorde dot, but we.
Faith and reason would be perfectly delusional. This is not to say that the deepest concerns of the faithful, whether moderate or extreme, are trivial or even misguided, there's, no denying that most of us have emotional and spiritual needs that are now addressed. However, obliquely and at a terrible price, by mainstream real And these are needs that a mere understanding of our world, scientific or otherwise, we'll never fulfill. Sacred dimension to our existence and coming to terms with it could will be the highest purpose of human life, but we will find that it requires no faith and untestable propositions. Jesus was born of a virgin. The Koran is the word of God for us to do this. So here I begin to touch on a theme which is bra about more later in the book, but also most fully in my recent book. Waking up
that there are rational approaches to quote spiritual experience. I do think finding a rational basis for ethics and finding a rational basis for making template of life is an extremely important project in on many levels, the most important project for any individual to engage the myth of moderation in religion, yeah that any one of our religions represents. The infallible word of the one. True God requires an encyclopedic ignorance of history, mythology and art to even be entertained as the beliefs, rich, listen iconography of each of our religions attest to centuries of cross pollination among them. Imagine source the doc terms of modern religions are no more tenable than those which for lack of adherence or castep on cast upon the scrap heap of mythology Millenia ago
there's no more evidence to justify belief in the literal existence of Yahweh and Satan, and there was to keep Zeus perched upon his mountain thrown or Poseidon churning the seas. According to Gallup, thirty percent of Americans. Believe that the Bible is the literal inerrant word of the creator of the universe. Another forty eight percent believe that it is quote the inspired word of the same still an errant. Those certain of his passengers must be interpreted symbolically before their truth can be, brought to light. Only seventeen percent of us remained to doubt that a personal god in his infinite wisdom is likely to have authored this text or for that matter to have created the earth with its two hundred and fifty thousand species of beetles. Some four six percent of Americans take a literal list view of creation and forty percent believe that God has guided creation over the course of millions of years. This means that one hundred and twenty million of us place the Big Bang
five hundred years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer. If our polls are to be trusted, nearly two hundred and thirty million Americans believe that it book showing neither unity of style nor internal consistency, the authored by an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent Datac Survey of Hindus, Muslims and Jews around the world which surely yield similar results, reveal and that we, as a species have grown almost perfectly intoxicated by our myths. How is it in this one area of our lives. We have convinced ourselves that our beliefs about the world can float entirely free of reason and evidence say that the numbers have grown slightly more favorable, at least in the US in the intervening years. So I wrote this one thousand three hundred and fourteen years ago was published twelve years ago,
in two thousand and four? I would say that, based on recent polls, we've gained about ten percent in the direction of reason, but the general picture is the same where you have vast numbers, literally more than one hundred million, claiming to believe the unbelievable now as to whether there's much distance between what people claim and what they actually believe. That is a topic of real interest in con Quinson genuine debate. Surely there is some difference there, but what is also clear is that, even if we cut these numbers in half, we vast numbers of people, even in the US in the year, two thousand and sixteen believing Payton Leigh absurd things about the origin of Bible and therefore about the moral order of the universe. The book it is with respect to this rather Sir prizing cognitive scenery that we miss decide what it means to be a quote religious, moderate in the 21st century mod
person. Every faith are obliged to loosely interpret or simply ignore much of their cannons, in the interest of living in the modern world. No doubt in obscure truth of economics is at work here. Societies become considerably less productive whenever large numbers of people stop making widgets and begin killing their customers and here's for heresy. The first thing to observe about the moderates, retreat from scriptural literalism, is that it draws its inspiration not from scripture but from cultural develop that have rendered many of God's utterances difficult to accept as written in America. Religious moderation is further enforced by the fact that most Christians and Jews do not read them bible in its entire t, and Consequ they have no idea just how vigorously the God of Abraham wants heresy, expunged, Book of Deuteronomy reveals that he has something very specific in mind: should you're so her daughter returned from yoga class advocating the worship of Krishna, and this is from Deuteronomy chapter thirteen verses, seven through eleven.
If your brother, the son of your father of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the spouse, who, when you embrace or your most intimate friend, tries secretly seduce you saying, let us go serve other gods on open to you or your ancestors before you gods of the people's around weather near you or far away anywhere through throughout the world. You must show him no pity you must now spare him or conceal his guilt. No, you must kill him. Your hand must strike the first blow in pulling him to death and the ham and the rest of the people following you stone him to death, since he is trying to divert you from Yahweh, you are God. Well, that's uh, that is clear, an injunction
there is no metaphor there. This is not allegory. This is a direct command to kill people for any semblance of religious diversity. Give someone suggest to you that you should be proud in a religion other than the one. True one you happen to have in hand, in this case Judaism or some variant of Christianity, you should kill him and you must be the first to kill him This is spelled out elsewhere. If you're reluctant to do this, your neighbors should kill you. So this is this.
Behavior were seen among not Christians. For the most part, though, you can get Christians in Africa at the moment, killing homosexuals very much in the spirit of the sort of text, but when you consider a group like the islamic state, this is the sort of literalism to which they are committed and analogous passages obviously exist in the Koran, as we will see. But as I've often said, the old testament of the Bible is the worst of the worst. When it comes to precise injunctions to kill people for thought crimes. It's only by a loophole in Judaism, the Jews. Don't consider this an actionable doctrine now, The Messiah has not yet returned. The temple has not been rebuilt, a Sanhedrin who not been reconvened, which is a body of elders that can judge cases of this kind. In this case a case
heresy, but once all that happens, the Ultra Orthodox believe that this is how we should live, and any Jew who tells you otherwise is either ignorant or aligned to. So it is by logical and historical accident, not the internal more full resources of the tradition of Judaism that we are now not seen barbaric Jews murdering their neighbors for religious offenses, and it is by extraordinarily unhappy accidents of theology that we are seeing this among Muslims worldwide, and this is a difference again that we have to learn to talk about honestly, back to the stoning of children, for heresy has fallen out of fashion in our country. Not here a moderate Christian or Jew, arguing for a quote sim folic reading of passages of this sort, in fact one seems to be explicitly blocked,
God himself in Deuteronomy thirteen verse one quote whatever I am now commanding you, you must keep and observe adding nothing to it. Taking nothing away. End quote: passage is as canonical as any in the Bible and is Only by ignoring such barbarisms at the good book can be reconciled with life in the modern world. This is a prop slim for moderation in religion. It has nothing under writing it other than the unacknowledged neglect of the letter divine LAW, the only real isn't anyone is quote moderate in matters of faith? These days is that he is a simulated. Some of the fruits of the last two thousand years of human thought, democratic politics, science advancement on every front, concern for human rights and end to cultural and geographic isolation, etc. The doors leading out scriptural literalism, do not open from the inside. Can we see among Non fundamentalist is not some sign that faith it's
health has evolved. It is rather the product of them the hammer blows of modernity that have exposed certain tenants of faith. To doubt, not least among these developments has been the emergence of our tendency to value evidence and to be convinced, by a proposition to the degree that there is evidence for it. Even most, fundamentalists live by the lights of reason. In this regard it is set their minds seem to have been partitioned to accommodate the profligate truth. Claims of their faith tell a devout crew and that his wife is cheating on him or that frozen yogurt to make a man invisible and he's likely to recur. There is much evidence as anyone else and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it tell him at the book that he keeps by that was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire fraternity if he fails to accept his every incredible claim about the unit and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever which moderation springs from the fact that even the least educated person among us simply no,
who is more about certain matters than anyone did two thousand years ago, and much of this knowledge is incompatible with scripture. Having heard so then about the medical discoveries of the last one hundred years MOE. So it's no longer equate disease processes with sin or demonic possession having learn about the known distances between objects in our universe, most of us about half of us. Actually, the idea that the whole works was created six thousand years ago, with light from distant cars already in transit toward the earth impossible to take seriously such concession to maternity, do not in the least suggest that faith is compatible with reason or that are real. Regions are in principle, open to new learning is just as the Utila we have ignoring or quote reinterpreting. Certain articles of faith is now overwhelming being flown to a distant city for heart. Bypass surgery has conceded, tacitly at least that we have learned a few things about Fizz
Geography, engineering and medicine since the time of Moses. So it's not that these texts of maintain their integrity overtime they haven't, just they've been effectively edited by our neglect of certain of their passages. Most of what remains the quote: good parts, has been spared the same window in because we don't we truly modern understanding of our ethical intuitions and our capacity for spiritual experience. If we better understood the workings of the human brain, we would endow only discover lawful connections between our states of consciousness are modes of conduct and the various ways we use our attention. What makes one purse I'm happier than another is love more conducive to happiness than hate. We generally prefer beauty to ugliness in order to chaos, why does it feel so good to smile and laugh, and why did shared experiences generally bring people closer together? Is the
ego an illusion and if so, what implications does this have for human life? Is there life after death? These are. Similar questions for a mature science of the mind. If we ever developed such a science, most of our religious tax will be no more useful to mystics. Then they now are to astronomers. And again, this is a claim that I stand behind The only reason why these books have any integrity left in them, apart from the occasional example of good writing, is that we haven't had fundamental breakthroughs in a rash scientific context on ethics and spiritual experience, and insofar as we do, the change you will see in our conversation will be exactly analogous to what has happened in area of medicine. Medison order, questions of cosmology, if you're an astronomer seem to the Bible or the Koran for guidance about how to think. In fact, you are not an astronomer,
and the same will be true for what I'm calling here, a mystic or contemplative someone who care just to explore in the laboratory of his own mind the deepest experiences available based on how he uses is attention and the more we understand about the human mind. The more tech ology intrudes upon it. Less sane and rational people will fixate on these books now back to the book. Well, moderation in religion may seem a reasonable position to stake out. In of all that, we have and have not learned about the universe. It offers no bull work against religious extremism, an religious violence from the perspective of those seeking to live by the letter of the texts. The just moderate is nothing more than a failed fundamentalist. He is in all likelihood going to wind up in hell with the rest of the unbelievers. The problem religious moderation poses for all of us is that it does not permit anything. Very critic will be said about religious literalism. We cannot say
get fundamentalists are crazy, because they're merely practicing there freedom of belief. We cannot even say that they are mistaken in religious terms, because there knowledge of scripture is generally unrivaled. What we can say is religious moderates is that we don't like the personal and social costs that a full embrace of scripture imposes on us. This is not a new form of faith or even a new species of scriptural exegesis. It is simply a capitulate to a variety of all too human interests that have nothing in principle to do with God. Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance, and it has no boo in a few days in religious terms, to put it on par so with fundamentalism. Perhaps I should say that again, because this is an important point. Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance. It is by knowing more and more about things beyond religion
and knowing less and less ultimately about the details of one's own religion. One becomes a religious moderate that, by definition, Avengers religious moderation unconvincing to a fundamentalist and intellectually dishonest to an atheist. Because the moderate doesn't acknowledge the origins of transformation in his or her thinking, the moderate pretends that this is somehow coming from the tree in itself that it's the resources internal to Judaism or Christianity or Islam that have allowed for this moderation go back to Deuteronomy now or a thousand years from now, and you will find same passage to May sending that you kill you your daughter if she joins the Hari Krishnas back to the book text themselves are unequivocal, they're perfect in all their parts.
By their light, religious moderation appears to be nothing more than an unwillingness to fully submit to God's law by failing to live by the letter of the texts, while tolerating the irrationality of those who do religious moderates betray faith and reason equally, unless the core dogmas of faith or call called into question. That is that we know there is a god and that we know what he wants from us. Religious moderation will do nothing to lead us out of the wilderness. The benign t of MO religious moderates does not suggest that religious faith is any even more sublime than a desperate marriage of hope and ignorance. Nor does it guarantee that there is not a terrible price to be paid for limiting the scope of reason in our deal. Teams with other human beings, list moderation in so far as it represents an attempt to hold on to what is still serviceable in orthodox religion closes the door to more sophisticated approaches to spirituality ethics and the building of strong communities,
religious moderates seem to believe that what we need is not radical insight and innovation in these areas, but me we're dilution of iron age philosophy, rather than bring the full force of our creativity and rationality to bear on problems of ethics, social cohesion and even spiritual experience. Moderates merely asked that we relax our standards of adherence to ancient superstitions in taboos, otherwise maintaining a belief system that was passed down. It was for men and women whose lives were simply ravaged by their basic ignorance about the world. In what other sphere of life is such subservience to tradition, acceptable, medicine engineering? Not even politics suffers the anachronism that still dominates our thinking about ethical values and spiritual experience, and this is point that I occasionally make, although perhaps not often enough that one of the uh there are costs to
just moderation, is that it blocks the door to a truly rational, truly on embarrassing approach to ethics and spirituality. Moderates insist that we respect the notion of revelation because there's something so good in these books that we couldn't possibly come up with it on our own or couldn't view all books as they product of merely human minds and then sample the best wisdom from each without regard for any tradition. This belief, in addition to maintaining the tribalism of separate religious communities in our world, this belief is not only obviously false, but profoundly unhelpful back to the text. Imagine that we revive a well educated christian of the century. The man would prove to be a total ignoramus, except on matters of faith. His beliefs.
Geography, astronomy and medicine would embarrass. Even a child but he would know more or less everything there is to know about. God, though, he would be considered a fool to think that the earth is the center of the cosmos or that Rep and a action constitutes a wise medical intervention, his release, these ideas would still be beyond reproach. The practice of boring holes in the human skull off and its imagined for the purpose of releasing a demon that has taken up residence there. This is gone back thousands of years. I say in a footnote here that archaeological evidence suggests that this one of the oldest surgery,
teachers and it was presumably performed on epileptics and the mentally ill as an attempt at exorcism. Okay back to the curious fact that a man from the 14th century would know everything there is to know about God there to explanation For this either we perfected our religious understanding of the world a millennium ago, while Arnaud knowledge on all other fronts, was still hopelessly inchoate or religion. Being the Mir maintenance of dogma is one area of discourse that does not admit of progress. We will see that there is to recommend the latter view, passing year, do our religious beliefs conserve more and more of the data of human experience if religion address this is a genuine sphere of understanding and human necessity, then it should be susceptible to progress. Is doctors should become more useful rather than less progress in religion, as in other fields, would have to be a matter of present inquiry, not the mere reiteration of past doctrine, whatever
true now should be discoverable now and describable in terms that are not an outright affront to the rest of what we know about the world. By this measure, the entire project of religion seems perfectly backward. It not survive the changes that have come over us, culturally, technologically and even ethically otherwise. There a few reasons to believe that we will survive it The point I'm making here- and I believe I make it in these terms near the end of the book- is that I don't think there's any reason to believe that we can serve I've our religious differences indefinitely for thous of years into the future. How is it that the most of price of ideology we have ever spawned will sir, because well indefinitely There's a good idea even now, to have manatee divided against itself in this way back to the book?
Moderates do not want to kill anyone in the name of God, but they want us to keep you using the word God, as though we knew what we were talking about, and they don't want anything too critical said about p who really believe in the God of God, fathers, because tolerance, perhaps above all else, is sacred, speak sacred in truthfully about the state of our world, to say, for instance, that the Bible and the Koran, when both contain mountains of life, destroying gibberish, is antithetical to tolerances, as currently conceive it but we can no longer afford the luxury of such political correctness. Maintain the iconography of our ignorance. The shadow of the past ourselves in the universe that seems bent upon destroying us we quickly discover both has ended. Rules in is a good thing to the forces arrayed against US
is that every human being comes to desire? Genuine knowledge about the world, problem for religion, because every religion preaches the truth of propositions, for which it has no evidence. In fact, every religion preaches the truth of propositions, for which no evidence is even conceivable. This put the leap in Kierkegaard's leap of faith. All our knowledge about the world suddenly disappear. Mention that six billion of us wait tomorrow morning in a state of utter ignorance and confusion are books and computers are still here, but we can't make heads or tails of their can't We've even forgotten how to drive our cars and brush our teeth. What now? How much would we want to reclaim? First, This is about growing food and building shelter that we would want to get re acquainted with wood want to re, learn how to use and repair many of our machines learning to under and spoken and written language would also be a top priority, given that the skills are necessary for acquiring most others when in this,
process of reclaiming our humanity. Will it be important to know the g this was born of a virgin or that he resurrected and how would we relearn these truths, if, indeed, they are true? By reading the Bible A tour of our shelves will deliver similar pearls from antiquity, like the quote. Fact that ISIS, the goddess of fertility sports, an impressive pair of cow, horns, reading further, we will learn that Thor carries a hammer and that are Duke sacred? Animals are horses dogs and a dragon with a forked tongue, whom should we give top billing in our resurrected world? Yahweh or Shiva, and when we want to relearn that premarital sex is a sin or that adulteress is should be stoned to death. Or the soul enters the zygote at the moment of conception and what we think of those curious people who begin we're, claiming that one of our books is distinct from all others and that it was actually written by the creator of the universe
undoubtedly spiritual truths that we would want to relearn once we managed to feed and clothe ourselves- and these are true- is that we have learned imperfectly in our present state. It for instance, to overcome one's fear in in weirdness and simply love other human beings assume for the moment, at such a process of personal transformation exists, and that there is something worth knowing about it. There is another words, some skill or discipline, or conceptual understanding or dietary, that allows for the reliable transformation of fearful hateful or in different persons into loving ones. If so, we should be positively desperate to know about it. There may even be a few, typical passages that would be useful in this regard, but as for whole raft of untestable doctrines, clearly, there would be no reasonable basis to take them up again in the Quran it seems certain would find themselves respectfully shelved next to Ovid's Metamorphoses and the egyptian book of the dead. The point is: is that most of what we,
Currently hold sacred is not sacred for any reason other than it was thought sacred yesterday The world anew the practice, organizing our lives around untestable propositions found in ancient literature to say nothing of kill. And dying for them, would be impossible to justify what stops us from finding it impossible. Now. Then we have observed that religion by lending meaning to human life permits communities, at least those united under a single faith to cohere. Historically, this is true and This score religion is to be credited as much for wars of conquest as her feast days in brotherly love, but in its if upon the modern world. The world already united, at least potentially by echo, comic environmental, political and epidemiological necessity
this ideology is dangerously retrograde, our past is not sacred for being passed, and there is much that is behind us that we are struggling to keep behind us and to which it is to be hoped. We could never return with a clear conscience. The divine right of kings Feudalism, the caste system, slavery, political executions, forced castration, vivisection bear baiting, honorable tools. Chastity belts, trial by ordeal, child labor, human and animal sacrifice, the stoning of heretics, cannibalism, sodomy laws, taboos again, contraception, human radiation experiments list is nearly endless and if it were extended indefinitely, the proportion of abuses for which religion could be found directly response,
is likely to remain undiminished. In fact, almost every indignity just mentioned can be attributed to an insufficient taste for evidence, uncritical faith in one dogma or another. The idea where that religious faith is somehow a sacred human convention, distinguish as it is both by the extravagance of its claims and by the paucity of its evidence, is really two great. A monstrosity to be appreciated in all its glory Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse cultural singularity. A vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible. When foisted upon each generation a new it renders us incapable of realizing just how much of our world has been unnecessarily seated to a dark and Barbara's past. Our world is faster coming to the activities of men and women who would stake the future of our species on beliefs
should not survive an elementary school education there's. So many of us still dying on account of ancient myths is his bewilder. And, as it is horrible and our own attachment to these men, weather, moderate or extreme, has kept us silent in the face. The developments that could ultimately destroy us indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today, as it was at any time. In the past, the recent conflicts in Palestine, Jews versus Muslims, the Balkans, Orthodox Serbians versus Catholic Croatians Orthodox Serbians versus bosnian albanian Muslims.
Northern Ireland Protestants versus Catholics, cashmere Muslims versus Hindus, Sudan, Muslims versus Christians and Animists Nigeria, Muslim versus Christians, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Muslims versus Christians, Sri Lanka, Senal Es Buddhist versus Tamil Hindus, Indonesia, Muslims versus Timorese Marie's Christians and the caucuses Orthodox Russians versus Chechen Muslims. Mug no matter by Johnny's Versus Catholic and Orthodox Armenians are merely a few cases in point. In these places, religion has been the explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in the last ten years, and here I would say this is when I say it's, the explicit cause here. This is not I'm not arguing that all of these people, or even most of them, are fighting over theological differences. Most of these conflicts are not
produced by religious ideology, in the same way that a suicide bomber will blow himself up expecting to get into paradise, but the break down of these societies is along religious lines. So it's it's religious tribalism here, for the most part, is producing this behavior in as owner. A recent example of this, I would I would mention, is the atrocities being committed by Buddhist in Mian MAR against the rule sing a Muslims. Now there is no Doc
turn in Buddhism that explicitly in joins this or even justifies it. But they're buddhist as Buddhist practicing in group out group tribalism, and this definition of in group and out group is clearly defined by religion. So there are two principles: are those religious tribalism and their specific religious ideas that lead people to do horrendous things based on what they believe very often about the afterlife or about specific crimes in the context of their faith, blasphemy, apostasy, homosexuality, etc the text, this event should strike us, like psychological experiments, run amok, for that is what they are. Give people divergent irreconcilable and untestable notions about what happens after death and then oblige them to live together with limited resources. The result is just what we see
be: an unending cycle of murder and ceasefire. If history reveals in categorical truth. It is that an insufficient taste for evidence regularly brings out the worst in us and weapons of mass destruction to this diabolical clockwork, and you have found a recipe for the fall. Civilization can be said of the nuclear brinksmanship between India and Pakistan if their divergent religious beliefs are to be quote, respected, there's nothing for religious pluralist to criticize, but each poor diplomacy, while in truth, the entire conflict is born of an irrational civilization, This myth over one million people died in the orgy of religious killing that attended the partitioning of India and Pakistan. The two can creative since fallout. Three official wars suffered a continuous bloodletting at their shared border and are now poised to it, terminate one another with nuclear weapons simply because they disagree about quote facts that are every bit as fanciful as the names of Santa's reindeer and their discourses.
So there are capable of mustering a suicidal level of enthusiasm for these subjects without evidence there conflict is only nominally about land, because they're incompatible claims upon the territory of Kashmir are a direct consequence of their religious differences. Indeed, the only reason, India and Pakistan or different countries is that the beliefs of Islam can not be reconciled with those of Hinduism from the point of view of Islam would be scarcely possible to receive a way of scandalising a law that is not perpetrated each morning by some observant in do the quote land these people are actually fighting over is not to be fat
in this world. When will we realize that the concessions we have made, the faith in our political discourse have prevented us from even speaking about much less uprooting the most prolific source of violence in our history? And here I should say I should have written one of the most prolific sources of violence in our history. Obviously, tribalism of all kinds is the main source of intergroup violence and religious tribalism is a subset of that problem. And here's a quotation. Mothers were secured on swords, as their children watched young women were stripped and raped in broad daylight, then set on fire. A pregnant woman's belly was slim open, her feet, this rays, skyward on the tip of a sword and then tossed onto one of the fires that blazed across the city quote. This is not an account
the middle ages, nor is it a tale from middle earth. This is our world. The cause of this behavior was not economic, it was not racial and it was not political, the above past describes the violence that erupted between Hindus and Muslims in India in the winter of two thousand and two. The only difference between these groups consists in what they believe about God or One thousand people died in this month. Long series of riots nearly half his me. We have died in the israeli palestinian conflict in more than a decade, and these are tiny numbers considering the possibilities. Nuclear war between India and Pakistan seems almost inevitable guy. What most Indians and Pakistanis believe about the afterlife, our own dotty Roy, said that western concern turn over this situation is just a
white, believing quote blacks, cannot be trusted with the bomb. This is a grotesque charge. One might argue that no group of people can quite be trusted the bomb, but to ignore the destabilizing role that religion plays on the subcontinent is both reckless and disingenuous. We can only hope that sources of secularism and rationality will keep the missile their silos for awhile. Yet until the deeper reasons for this conflict can be finally addressed, while I do not mean to single out the doctrine of Islam for special abuse, there's no question that at this point in history, it represents a unique danger to all of us, muslim and non Muslim alike. We also say many Muslims are basically rational, intolerant of others, as we will see how eh these modern virtues are not likely to be products of their faith in chapter four argue that insofar person is observant of the doctrine of Islam, that is in sofa, Is he really believes it? He will pose a problem for us in D,
is grown rather obvious. The liabilities of the muslim faith are by no means confined into the beliefs of muslim extremists, sponsor the muslim world to the events of September 11th, two thousand, and one leaves no doubt that is sick, different number of human beings in the 21st century believe in the possibility of martyrdom we have, in response to improbable fact, declared a war on terrorism rather like declaring a war on murder is a category error that obscures the true source of our troubles. Terrorism is not a source of human violence, but merely one of its in directions, the leader of a nation and the World Trade Center and brought down with missiles. The atrocities of September 11th would have been acts of war It should go without saying that we would have resisted the temptation to declare a war on war in response problem is with Islam itself and not merely with terrorism.
We need only ask why muslim terrorists do what they do. Why would someone is conspicuously devoid of personal grievances or psychological dysfunction as Osama Bin Laden, who is neither poor, uneducated, delusion, Ull Nora prior victim of western aggression, to vote self to cave dwelling machination with the intention of killing innumerable men, women and children? He has never met. The answer to this question is obvious, if only because it has been page The articulated ad nauseam by Bin Laden himself. The answer is that, like Bin Laden, actually believe what they say, they believe they. Leaving the literal truth of the Koran. Nineteen well educated middle class men trade, their lives in this world for the privilege of killing thousands of our neighbors, because I believe they would go straight to Paradise for doing so it is rare to find the behavior of human beings so fully and satisfactorily explained. Why have we been reluctant to accept this explanation? As we
scene. There is something that most Americans share with Osama Bin Laden, the nineteen hijackers and much of the muslim world. We to cherish the idea that certain fantastic propositions can be believed without evidence such heroic acts of credulity. I thought not only acceptable but redeeming even necessary. This is a problem that is considerably deeper and more rebelling and the problem of anthrax in the mail, the concessions we have made to religious faith, to the idea that believe can be sanctified by something other than evidence. Rendered as unable to name much less a dress, one of the most pervasive causes of conflict in our world muslim extremism. This one point on terminal. They should probably make hear the words I used to speak about. This problem have shifted a bit, and that was really due to the influence of marginal was and the book we wrote together. Islam in the future of tolerance, module has imp
rest upon me, the wisdom and utility of differentiating Islamism, which is political Islam from Islam itself, and to talk about jihadism as a category of Islamism, which refers to those who are Ben, keep on using violence and terrorism immediately to meet their aims. Where is miss more generally, are trying to change the facts on the ground politically through cruise at the ballot box. It's the islamist project, the explicit aspiration for theocracy the desire not only to live under Sharia law oneself, but to oblige all of society and the world. Ultimately. To do so. That's these lemmas project and that's what I'm referring to when I'm talking about muslim extremists here or truly devout Muslims, or those who really believe in the literal truth of the Koran in the teeth,
this newer languages, more precise, less inflammatory, but is not a difference of meaning on my part, there's no thing about my talking in terms of Islamism and jihadism that should signal a lack of concern about the doctrines within Islam that are producing this behavior doctrines about apostasy and blasphemy and Jiha Aden martyrdom and Paradise. I'm convinced that margins terminology is better. So that's what I tend to use now and I hope it's clear that, even in the context of this book I was never painting with a broad brush and talking about all Muslims. I was talking about the most devout, the most energize, the most convinced. Now I just have different words with which to name them: muslim extremism. It is important to specify the dimension in which muslim extremists, are actually extreme they're extreme in their faith, their extreme in their devotion. To the literal word of the Koran and the Hadeeth, the literature Rakow,
in the Sainz and actions of the profit- and this leads them to be extreme- the degree to which they believe that maternity and secular culture incompatible with moral and spiritual health. Muslim extremists are certain of the exports of western culture. There are leading their wives and children away from God. There consider our unbelief to be a sin, so grave that it merits death whenever it becomes an impediment to the spread of Islam, these sundry Russians are not reduce Rible, to quote hatred in any order very sense. Most muslim extremists have never been to America or even met in American, and they have far fewer grievances with western Imperial some than is the norm around the globe. Above all, they appear to be suffering from a fear of contamination, as has been widely noted. They are also consumed by feelings of quote humiliation, humiliation over the fact that, while their civilization has foundered, they have watched a godless in loving people, become the masters of everything they touch watch. This feeling is also the product of their faith MA.
Please do not merely feel the outrage of the poor who have been deprived of the necessities of life. They fill the out rage of a chosen people who have been subjugated by barbarians. Osama Bin Laden wants for nothing. What, then, does he want? He has not called for the equal distribution of wealth around the globe. Even his demand for palestinian statehood seems an afterthought stemming as much is Anti Semitism as from any so solidarity he feels with the Palestinians. Needless to say, anti Semitism in solidarity are also the product of his faith. He seems most exercised over the presence of unbelievers, american troops and Jews in the Muslim Holy Land and over what he imagines to be the territorial ambitions of Zionists. These are purely theological grievances. It would be much better for all concerned if he merely hated us to be sure hatred is an eminently human emotion and it is uh is that many muslim extremists feel it, but faith is still
the mother of hatred, here as it is, wherever people define their moral identity's in religious terms, the old any sailing at difference between Muslims and non Muslims is at the la they have not proclaim their faith in Allah and Mohammed is his prophet. Islam is a missionary religion. There is not likely be an underlying doctrine of racism or even nationalism and made in the militant muslim world. Muslims can be both racist and nationalistic, of course, but it's seems all but certain that if the w underwent a massive conversion to Islam and perforce repudiated all jewish interests in the holy land, the basis for muslim quote hatred would simply disappear. Most Muslims who commit atrocities are explicit about their desire to get to Paradise. One failed palestinian suicide bomber describe being pushed to attack Israelis by the quote. Love of martyrdom. He added I didn't want revenge for anything. I just wanted to be a martyr. Mister stayed on the would be martyr conceded that his jewish captors
quote better than many many Arabs with regard to the suffering that his death would have inflicted upon his family He reminded his interviewer that a martyr gets to pick seventy people to join him in Paradise. He would have been sure to invite his family, along as I've said, peep buffet. That tend to argue that it is not faith itself, but man's baser nature that inspires such violence, but I take it to be self evident the ordinary people cannot be moved to burn, genial old scholars alive for blaspheming the Koran or celeb the violent deaths of their children, unless I believe some improbable things, the nature of the universe, because most really and offer no valid mechanism by which their core beliefs can be tested and revised. Each new generation of believers is, can them to inherit the superstitions and tribal hatreds of his predecessors. If we would speak of the baseness of Arnej, here's our willingness to live, kill,
and I on account of propositions, for which we have no evidence, should be among the first topics of discussion. Most people in positions of leadership in our country will say that there is no direct link between the muslim faith. End quote terrorism. It is clear, however, that Muslims hate West in the very terms of their faith and at the Koran mandates such hatred. Once again, I'm not talk about all Muslims, I'm talking about the truly devout the extremists, the militant, but I don't use those modifiers in every single sentence. There's a difference between Muslims and the doctrine of his so when I say that Islam mandates such hatred in general hatred of infidels. That is simply true. That is fact, both in the Quran and hadith. This is a distinction that one has to keep making. Unfortunately,
criticizing Islam, one is criticizing a doctrine, a set of ideas, people all that is Muslims, adhere to this doc turn to one or another degree. When I say, as I do at some point in this book that we are at war with Islam, I am talking about the set of ideas. There's no point in this book where I suggest- and there was no point while right- that I ever thought that we are at war with all Muslims. In fact, the primary victims of islamic theocracy are themselves Muslims, and I've always felt solidarity with these
people who, through no fault of their own, were born into societies where the most basic political freedoms, especially for women, are nonexistent. So, as I read this book, please keep these distinctions in mind, because I don't for reasons that should be obvious, always modify the term Muslim with truly devout. Truly observant, truly convinced it, but that is who I'm talking about Muslim in this context is someone who really believes the doctrine of Islam, but that is not all the Muslims on earth it is widely claim by quote moderate Muslims, that the Koran mandates nothing of the kind, and that Islam is quote a religion of peace, but one need only read the Koran itself to see that this is untrue. Make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them hell shall be there home and evil fate.
Believers make war on the infidels who dwell around you deal firmly with them, know that God is with the righteous mother passengers from the ninth chapter of the Quran religious Muslims cannot help, but to stain a culture and again, I'm just english and religious Muslims from those who don't take these kinds of versus seriously religious Muslims cannot help but to stay in a culture that, to the degree that it is secular, is a culture of infidels to the degree that is real. This our culture is the product of a partial revelation, that of Christians and Jews inferior in every respect to the revelation of Islam. The reality that the yes currently enjoys, far more wealth and temporal power than any nation for Islam is viewed by devout Muslims as a diabolical perversity, and this situation will always stand as an open invitation for jihad. In so far as a person is muslim that
insofar he believes that Islam constitutes the only viable path to God and uh Koran annunciate sit perfectly. He will feel contempt for n man or woman who doubts the truth of his beliefs. What is more, he will feel that the eternal happiness of his children is put in peril by the mere presence of such believers in the world. If such people happened to be making them, policies under which he and his children must live, the potential for violence imposed by his beliefs seems unlikely to dissipate. This is why economic advantages in education in and of themselves are insufficient remedies for the cause of religious violence. There is no doubt that many well educated middle class fundamentalists are ready to kill and die. For God's sin, Huntington and others have observed. Religious funding
I was in the developing world is not principally a movement of the poor and uneducated, and here I should say that Samuel Huntington who has since died, who gave us the clash of civilizations Meme, has been much maligned yeah, I think almost entirely unfairly, but any reference to him in liberal circles. Brands you as an imperialist of some sort, but I think, hunt and was generally right. He was certainly right on this point that religious fundamentalism in the developing world, especially in muslim majority societies and special in muslim communities that have my great to the west, does not correlate with poverty and lack of education. In fact, it is inversely correlated with those things. So education and economic opportunity are not an obvious remedy for this problem. The problem,
as we have engineers and architects and pediatricians and people with degrees in computer science, who r gravitate NG to the most extreme jihadist ideology, so how you educate your way out of that situation is anybody's. Guess back to the book to see the role that plays in propagating muslim violence. We need only Why so many Muslims are eager to turn themselves into bombs these days? The answer, because the Koran makes this activity seem like a career opportunity, nothing in the history of what Eastern Colonialism explains this behavior, though we can certainly can see that this history offers as much to atone for sub. Track the muslim belief in martyrdom and jihad, and the actions of suicide bombers becomes completely unintelligible, as does the spectacle public jubilation. That invariably follows their deaths. Insert these peculiar
leaves, and one can only marvel- that suicide bombing is not more widespread. Anyone who says that the doctrines of Islam have quote nothing to do with terrorism. Our airways have been filled with apologist for Islam. Making this claim is just playing it game, with words and you know what I would simply broaden the claim and say that it's not merely the Koran that spells out the rewards for martyrdom is not even principally the Koran but is the larger literature of the Hadith the does. But here I give a quotation from the Koran. The believers who stay at home, apart from those that suffer from a grave impediment, are not the equal of those who fight for the cause of God with their goods and their persons. God has given those that fight with their goods and their persons a higher rank than those who stay at home. God has promised all good reward, but far richer is the for those who fight for him. He that leaves his dwelling.
Fight for God and his apostle and is then overtaken by death shall be, awarded by God, the unbelievers your inveterate enemies and that's from the fourth chapter of the Koran out right, prestigious Tatian, with the articles of faith regularly produces utterances of this sort quote Islam is a religion of peace. The very word Islam, after all means peace and suicide is forbidden in the Quran, so there is no scriptural basis whatsoever for the actions of these terrorists. End quote to such magicians. Pat, are we add that the phrase dirty bomb does not appear anywhere in the text of the Koran? Yes, the Koran seems to say something that can be construed as a prohibition against suicide. Quote: do not destroy yourselves chapter four, Sarah twenty
but it leaves many loopholes large enough to fly a seven hundred and sixty seven through quote let those who would exchange the life of this world for the hereafter fight for the cause of God, whoever fights for the cause of God, he dies were triumphs. We shall richly reward him. The true believers, fight for the cause of God, but the infidels fight for the devil, fight then against the friends of Satan, say trifling or the pleasure, this life, the hereafter, is better for those who would keep from evil. As the Koran chapter. Four, sir, is seventy. Four to seventy. Eight love invitations to martyrdom are considered in light of the fact that Islam does not distinguish between religious and civil authority that win tear. I have chronic literalism spring interview on the level of the state. A muslim, ass operation for world domination is explicitly enjoined by God on the level of the individual.
Metaphysics of martyrdom provide a rationale for ultimate self sacrifice. Toward this end is Bernard Lewis observes, since the time of the prophet Islam has been quote, associated in the minds and memories of Muslims, with the exercise of political and military power, in quote the physics of Islam are particularly inauspicious where tolerance and religious diversity are concerned. For Marta This is the only way that a Muslim can bypass the painful litigation that awaits us all on the day of judgment and proceed directly to Paradise, rather than spends centuries moldering in the earth in anticipation of resurrected and subsequently interrogated by wrathful angels, them are, where is immediately transported to allows garden or a flock of quote dark. Eyed virgins awaits him, because we are believed to be nothing less than the verbatim transcripts of gods. Utterances text like the Koran, The Bible must be appreciated and criticized for any possible interpretations for which they're susceptible and to which they will be subjected.
With varying emphasis and elisions throughout the religious world. Mom is not that some Muslims neglect to notice the few references to non aggression that can be found in the Koran and that this leads them to do. Terrible things to innocent unbelievers problem is that most Muslims believe that the Koran is the literal word of God. The corrective to the worldview Osama Bin Laden is not to point but the single line in the Koran that condemned suicide, because this ambiguous statement is set in a thicket of other passages to can be read only as direct summons to war against the quote. Friends of Satan. The appropriate response to the Bin Ladens of the world is to correct, everyone's reading of these text by making the same evidentiary demands in religious matters that we may, in all others. If we cannot find are way to a time when most of us are willing to admit that at the very least, we are now sure whether or not God wrote some of our books, then we need only count the days to Armageddon, because God has give
thus far many more reasons to kill one another, then, to turn the other cheek live in an age in which most people believe that mere words, Jesus Allah RAM, can mean the difference between eternal torment and bliss. Everlasting consider mistakes here. It is not surprising that many of us occasionally find it necessary to murder other human beings for using the wrong magic words or the right for the wrong reasons. How can any person presumed to know that this is the way the universe works, because it says so in our holy books? How do we know their holy books are free from error, because the books themselves say so a piston logical black holes of this sort are fast draining. The light from our world. Wise and consoling and beautiful in our religious books, but words of wisdom and consolation, Beauty abound in the pages of Shakespeare, Virgil and homer as well, and no
ever murdered strangers by the thousands. Because of the inspiration he found there the belief that certain books were written by God who, for reasons difficult to fathom made Shakespeare a far better writer than himself leaves as powerless to address the most potent source of human conflict past and present and again, I should have said one of the most potent sources. How is it that the absurdity of this idea does not bring us our lie to our knees? It is safe to say that few of us would have thought so many people could believe such a thing if they did not actually believe it. Imagine a world in which generations of human beings come to believe that certain films were made by God or the specific software was code to buy him. Imagine a future in which millions of our descendants murderer each other over rival, interpretations of star wars or windows. Ninety eight,
and yet this would be no more ridiculous than the world we're living in. We live in a world where all things good and bad or finally destroyed by change only to devour us at his leisure parents lose their children and children, their parents, husbands and wives are separated in an instant, never to meet again friends, part company, haste without knowing that it will be, for the last time this little more than a vast spectacle of loss, but it seems that there's a cure for all of this. If we brightly not necessarily ethically but within the framework of certain ancient beliefs and stereotyped behaviors, we will but everything we want after we die when our bodies finally fail us. We just shed our corporeal ballast and travel to a land where we are reunited with everyone we loved while alive of
course, overly rational people, another other rabble will be kept out of this happy place and those who suspended their. Is belief, while alive will be free to enjoy themselves for all eternity. We live in a world of unimaginable surprises from the fusion gee that lights, the sun to the genetic, an evolutionary consequences of this lights, dancing for eons upon the earth and yet Paradise conforms to our most superficial concerns with all the fidelity of a caribbean cruise. This is wondrously strange if one didn't know better one I would think that man, in his fear of losing all that he loves, had created Heaven, along with his gatekeeper God in his own image. Imagine that you have gone to your doctor for a routine checkup and he gives you terrible news. You've contracted a virus that kills one hundred percent of those it infects, The virus mutates so often that its course is totally unpredictable. It can lie do for many years even decades or it can kill you
right in an hour. It can lead to heart attack, stroke myriad forms of cancer, dementia, even suicide. In fact, there seems to be no constraints upon what it's terminal stages might be as for strategies of avoidance, diet and health regimes, Seaquest Asian to one's bed, nothing avails! You can be certain that, even if you live with no other purpose than to keep the progress of this virus in check, you will die for there is no cure for it inside and the corruption of your body has already begun. Surely most people consider this report to be terrible news indeed, but we The news, in fact, isn't the inevitability of death? Just such a prognosis doesn't life itself have all the properties of our hypothetical virus. You could die at any moment might not even live to hear the end of this paragraph. Not only that you will definitely die at some moment in the future. If being pro paired for death entails knowing when and where it will happen, the
odds are, you will not be prepared, not only you bound to die and leave this world you're bound to leave in such a precipitous fashion that the present significance of anything your relationships, your plans for the future, your hobbies, your possessions, will appear to have been totally illusory, while all such things, when projected across an indefinite future seemed to be acquisitions of a kind proves that they were nothing of the sort when the stopper on this life is pulled by an unseen hand, there will have been in the final reckoning, no acquisition anything at all, and if this were not insult enough, most of us suffer the quiet, if not frank, on happiness of our neuroses. In the meantime, we love our family and friends are terrified of losing and yet or not in the least free to merely love them, while our short lives coincide. We have aft are all ourselves to worry about as Freud
and his descendants. Never tired of pointing out each of us has dragged and sundered by diametrical urges to merge with the world and disappear. Orchard within the citadel of our own apparent separateness, either impulse taken to its extreme seems to condemn us to unhappiness we're. We are terrified of our creaturely, insignificance and much of what we do with our lives as they rather transparent attempt to keep this fear at bay. While we try not to think about it, the only thing we can be certain of in this life is that we will one day die and leave everything behind and yet, paradoxically, it seems almost impossible to believe that this is so Our felt sense of what is real seems not to include our own death. We doubt the one thing that is not open to any doubt at all. What one believes happens after death dictates much of what one believes about life
and this is why faith based religion in presuming to fill in the blanks in our knowledge of the hereafter does such heavy lifting for those who fall under its power. A single proposition you will not die once believed, determines a response to life that, be otherwise unthinkable. Imagine how you would feel if your only child suddenly died of pneumonia. Your reaction to this tragedy will be largely determined by what you think happens to human beings after they die. It would undoubtedly be comforting to believe something. Like quote, he was God's little angel and God took him back early because he wanted him close to Jesus he'll, be waiting for us when we get to Heaven end quote, if your beliefs are those of a christian scientist, obliging you to forgo all medical interventions, you may even have co. Collaborated with God. By refusing to give your child antibiotics, I feel if you learn that a nuclear war had erupted between Israel and its neighbors over the ownership of the Temple Mount
if you were a Millenia minded Christian, you would undoubtedly view this is a sign of Christ's imminent return to earth. This would be nothing if not good news, no matter what the death toll there's, no denying that a person's conception of the afterlife has direct consequences for his view of the world. Of course, religious moderation, cancer, did not being too sure about what happens after death. This is a reasonable attitude, given the possibly of the evidence on this subject, but religious moderation still represents a failure to criticize the unreasonable and dangerous certainty of others. As a consequence of our silence on these matters, we live in a country in which a person cannot get elected president. If he openly down stay existence of heaven and hell. This is truly remarkable, given that there is no other body of quote knowledge, that we require our political leaders to master even a hairstylist must pass a licensing exam before plying his trade in the United States and yet those given the power.
To make war and national policy. Those whose decisions will inevitably affect human life for generations are not expected to know anything in particular before setting to work. They do not have to be political scientists, economists even lawyers, they need not have studied international relations, military history, resource management, civil engineering, or any other field of knowledge that might be brought to bear in the governance of a modern superpower. They need only be expert, fundraisers comport themselves, well on television and be indulgent of certain myths in our next presidential election. An actor who reads his Bible would almost certainly defeat a Rockets I
This who does not? Could there be any clear indication that we are allowing on reason and other worldliness to govern our affairs, and I would say that, though twelve years have passed since this book was published and the polls have creeped in the right direction. All of this is still true. I don't think, and an open atheist could win an election for president in this country and any explicit criticism of, I believe in Heaven and Hell, for instance, I think with doom a person's candidacy, no matter what their other qualifications
or attributes I think I said this someplace not in this book, but since an omnibus genius, a personal comes along once every two hundred years in terms of his or her intellectual talents who looks like George Clooney and has the people skills of Oprah would fail to win the presidency in the US this year. If he openly doubted the reality of God. Or revelation. I still think that's true, but I think that's a reality that is slowly changing and I think a change more quickly than than we expect in probably change more quickly than I was expecting twelve years ago back to the book without death. The influence of faith based religion would be unthinkable. Clearly, the Active death is intolerable to us, and faith is little more than the shadow cast by our hope for a better life beyond the grave, the world
beyond reason, as we will see in the last chapter of this book, there's little doubt that a certain range of human experience can be appropriately described as spiritual or mystical experiences of meaningfulness, selflessness and heightened emotion surpass our narrow identities, as quote selves, and escape our current under standing of the mind and brain. But nothing about these experiences justify the arrogant and exclusionary claims about the unique sanctity of any text. There is no reason that our ability to sustain ourselves emotionally and spiritually cannot evolve with technology, politics and the rest of culture. Indeed, it must evolve if we're to have any future at all. The basis of our spirituality surely consists in this. The rain if possible, human experience far exceeds the ordinary limits of our subjectivity. Clearly, some experiences can utterly transform a person's vision of the world. Every spiritual tradition rests on the
site that how we use our attention from moment to moment largely determines the quality of our lives. Many of the results of spirit. Practice are genuinely desirable and we owe it to ourselves to seek them out. It is important to note These changes are not merely emotional but cognitive and conceptual as well, just as it is possible for us to have insights in fields like mathematics or biology, it is possible for us to- The insights about the very nature of our own subjectivity, a variety of techniques ranging from the practice of meditation to the use of psychedelic drugs attest to the scope and plasticity of human experience for Millenia Contemplatives have known that ordinary people can divest themselves of the feeling that they call I and thereby relinquished the sense that they are separate from the rest of the universe. This phenomenon, which has been reported by practitioners in many spiritual traditions, is supported by a wealth of evidence, Nuro Scientifiques
perspective. Such experiences are quote spiritual or mystical for want of better words in that they are relatively rare, unnecessarily so significant in that they uncovered genuine facts about the world and personally transformative. They also reveal a far deeper connection between ourselves and the rest of the universe that is suggested by the ordinary confines of our subjectivity. There is no doubt that experiences of this sort are worth seeking, just as there is no doubt that the pop you, religious ideas that have grown up around them, especially in the west, are as dangerous as they are incredible. Truly rational approach to this dimension of our lives would allow us to explore the heights of our own. Objectivity with an open mind while shedding the provincial is men, dogmatism of our religions in favor of free and rigorous inquiry. There also seems to be a body of data attesting to the reality of psychic phenomenon, much of which has been ignored by mainstream science. The dictum that quote extraordinary claims require
extraordinary evidence remains a reasonable guide in these areas, but this does not mean that the universe isn't far. Stranger than many of us suppose. It is important to realize that a healthy scientific skepticism is compatible with the fundamental openness of and here I should add a note. I've got a lot of flak from this paragraph from my fellow atheist and skip. I was not saying here and there's an attached endnote, which I won't read, but I was not saying that I believe in psychic phenomenon. But I was acknowledging that there is a body of data that reasonable people can interpret as a into its existence, but this whole area has been stigmatized as intellectual by mainstream science. I think there's a dogmatic kind of skepticism and closure to these data and, as I've said elsewhere since, in pushing back against the criticism I received, I think
it is telling that no one has come into the lab and demonstrated psychic phenomenon in a way that is convincing, because if anyone possessed these abilities to a significant degree, this would be among the easiest things to demonstrate in a lab and the reasons put forward traditionally, for why great, yogis and mystics don't demonstrate their powers in this way are clearly bullshit so. I think, we're wise to be skeptical about these claims. But again we're not wives to DES great and demonize people who study the phenomenon, and there are Tomorrow I reasonably sober people who have done this and claimed that, as a matter of statistics, what they claim to have seen is rather tiny departures from randomness
over thousands of trials. So a random number generator should be kick Nov high and low numbers. Fifty percent of the time, and by concentrating on its output, people can get the percentage to shift by a fraction of a percent again over thousands of trials. This is not the power to bend spoons or read minds that people claimed to have witnessed in the world. And again I don't know if these data are true, but not obviously crazy or fraudulent people claim to have them in hand in as much quantity as anyone could want. I think you're all just read their response to criticism. I have on my website in this growing file entitled response to controversy.
Red dealt with all the push back. I've gotten on specific topics. Just so there's no more confusion about this. Among my fellow skeptics, my views on the paranormal E S, p, reincarnation, etcetera. I put fishing on the paranormal is this, although many frauds have been perpetrated in the history of parapsychology, I believe that this field of study has been unfairly stigmatized. If some experimental psychologist want to spend their days studying, telepathy or the effects of prayer, I will be interested to know what they find out and if it is true the toddler's, occasionally start speaking in ancient languages as Ian Stevenson alleged. I would like to know about it. However, I have not attempted to authenticate the data put forward in books such as dean ratings, the conscious universe and Ian Stevenson's twenty cases suggestive of reincarnation. The fact that I've
I spent any time on this should suggest how worthy of my time, I think such a project would be still. I found these books interesting and I cannot categorically dismiss their content in a way that I can dismiss claims of religious dogma tests here. I'm making a point about gradations of certainty. Can I say for certain that a century of experimentation proves that to let if he doesn't exist? No, it seems to me that reasonable people can disagree about the statistical data. Can I say for certain that the by up on the Koran, show every sign of having been written by ignorant. Mortals. Yes- and this is only certainty, one needs to dismiss the God of Abraham is a creature of fiction,
I remain open to evidence of psi phenomenon, clairvoyance, telepathy and so forth. The fact that they haven't been conclusively demonstrated in the lab is a very strong indication that they do not exist. Researchers who study these things allege that the data are there and that proof of psi can be seen in departures from randomness that occur over thousands of experimental trials. But people who believe in psi aren't thing teen in terms of weak statistical facts. They believe that a specific person can reliably read minds, heal the sick and work other miracles. I have yet to see a case in which evidence of such abilities was presented an incredible way. If one person on earth is that psychic powers to any significant degree, this would be among the easiest facts to authenticate in a lab. Many people have been duped by traditional evasion.
This point. It is often said, for instance, that demonstrating such powers on demand would be spiritually uncouth and that even to want such empirical evidence is an unflattering sign of doubt on the part of a student except you see signs and wonders you will not believe John four hundred and forty eight a lifetime of foolishness and self deception away to anyone who won't call this bluff. Okay. So that's that's as it stands currently on my website and nothing has changed since I wrote that again. My point about the gradations of certainty is an important one. Atheist.
And charged with the false claim that we believe we know for certain and can prove that the God of Abraham doesn't exist, say, and I often point out no, we can't even prove that about Poseidon or APOLLO or any of these other gods that no one takes seriously they're, simply not good evidence that any of these gods exist and abundant avid, they are the mere products of literature and the God of Abraham has the same status, but we can't prove him absent. This is burden Russell's teapot argument. You can't prove there's not a China teapot orbiting the sun somewhere between earth and Mars at this moment, but there's no good reason to believe one exists, but what we can be certain about as certain as we can be of anything. Is it the books upon whose basis the religion
of Judaism, Christianity and Islam make all of their claims. These books show no sign at all of having been written by an omniscient being, in fact, they show every sign of having been written by people who were fundamentally ignorant by virtue of their place in history of everything we have learned since they live, and this is a point I make I think somewhere in this book, but if you just imagine how good a book would be if it were the product of omniscience and then consider what's actually in the Bible and the Koran, the claim that only omniscience could explain the existence of these books is patently false, and now All you have to be certain about to entirely dismiss the truth. Claims of these religions back in about the claims of mistakes are neurologically quite astute. No, he
human being has ever experienced an objective world or even a world at all. You are at this moment having a visionary experience that you see in here is nothing more than a modification of your consciousness, the physical status of which remains a mystery. Your nervous system, sections, the undifferentiated buzz of the universe into separate channels of sight, sound smell, taste and touch as well as other sense, the lesser renown, Proprioception Kinesthesia in Terrell reception and even echo location, echolocation, and, if you don't think going to echo locate, just simply hum loudly with your hand in front of your face and then move your hand away from your face, and you will see that you are a truly une talented that the sights and sounds and pulsing to experience. At this moment, I, like different spectrum of light thrown forth by the prism of the brain. We really are such stuff as dreams are made of. Our waking and human brains are engaged in substantially. The same activity is just that, while dreaming arbor
things are far less constrained by sensory information or by the fact checkers who appear to live somewhere in our frontal lobes. This is not to say that sensory experience offers us no indication of reality at large. It is merely that, as a matter of experience, nothing are rises in consciousness. That has not first been structured, edited or amplified by the nervous system. Well, this gives rise to a few philosophical problems. Concern The foundations of our knowledge, it also off, is a remarkable opportunity to deliberately transform the character of our experience every neuron that receives its input from the outside world. There are ten to one hundred others that do not. The brain is therefore mostly talking to itself. And no information from the world, with the exception of olfaction, runs Direc from a sensory receptor to the cortex, where the contents of consciousness appeared to be sequestered. There are always one or two breaks in the circuit synapses,
giving the neurons in question the opportunity to integrate feedback, information or information from other regions of the brain. This sort of integration, slash contamination of signal explains how certain drugs, emotional states or even conceptual insights can radically alter the character of our experience. Your, rain is tuned to deliver. The vision of the world that you are having at this moment at the heart of most spiritual traditions, works entirely valid claim that it can be tuned differently. It is also true, however, that people occasionally have experiences that are rightly characterized as psychotic as it turns, but there are many ways to deconstruct a self or to extract apparent meaning from the deliverance is of one senses and to believe that one knows how the world is not. Call. Visionary experiences are created equal to say nothing of the worldviews derive from them, as in all things, some difference
here, make all the difference. These differences, moreover, can be rationally discussed, as we will see, there's an intimate connection between spirituality ethics and positive emotions. Although a scientific approach, these subjects is still struggling to be born. It is probably no more mysterious that most of us prefer love to fear or regard cruelty is wrong and that we agree in our judgments about the relative size of objects or about the gender of faces at the level of the brain. The laws that, under right, human happiness, are unlikely to very widely from person to person. In the later chapters of this book, we will see that much can be made of this fact long before the scientific details ever become available to us here are just clarify that I am not saying anything spooky in those preceding paragraphs, I'm not endorsing philosophical idealism. On my
saying that consciousness is what the universe is at bottom and much of what I say here in in seed form. I clarify at greater length elsewhere in the book, but also at much greater length in my book waking. Once, we examine the problems inherent to faith and the threat that even moderate religious faith. However, inadvertently now poses to our survival. We can begin our ethical intuitions in our capacity for spiritual experience within the context of a rational worldview require that we Marshall insights from our growing understanding of the human brain, our genetic continuity with the rest of life and the history of our religious ideas. In the chapters that follow, I will try reconcile the bewildering juxtaposition of two facts. One our religious traditions attest to a range of spiritual experiences that are real and significant, an entirely worthy of our investigation, both personally and scientifically too many of
believes that have grown up around these experiences now threatened to destroy us, live by reason alone. This is why Nokwe reason applied as antiseptic can compete with the antiseptic of faith. Once the bomb of this world begin to intrude upon our lives, your child has our add or your wife is acquired a horrible illness that no doctor can cure, or you own body is suddenly begun striding toward the grave and reason and no matter how brought its compass will begin to smell distinctly or from aldehyde. This is led many of us to conclude raw that human beings have needs that. Only faith in certain fantastical ideas can fulfill It is nowhere written, however, that human being must be irrational or live in a perpetual state of siege to enjoy an abiding sense of the sacred. On the contrary, I hope to show that spirituality can indeed must be deeply rational,
even as it elucidates the limits of reason. Seeing this we can begin to dye vest ourselves of many of the reasons we currently have to kill. One another will not remain mute on spiritual and ethical questions for long. Even now we can see the first story among psychologists and neuroscientists of it may one day become a genuinely rational approach to these matters, one that bring even the most rarified mystical experience within the purview of open scientific inquiry. This time we realize that we need not be unreasonable to suffuse our lives with love, compassion, ecstasy and all nor must we renounce all forms of spirituality or mysticism to be on good terms. With reason, in the chapters that follow, I will attempt to make both the conceptual and experiential basis of these claims explicit. Coming to terms
time. We recognize that belief is not a private matter. It never been. Merely private, in fact, are scarcely more private than actions are for every in patentia the belief that it will rain what's an umbrella in the hand of every man or woman who owns one. It should be easy enough to see that belief in the full efficacy of prayer, for instance, becomes an emphatically public concern the moment it is actually put into practice. The moment a surgeon lays aside his worldly instruments and attempts to suture his patients with prayer or a pilot tries to land a passenger jet with nothing but repetitions of the word HAL Louis applied to the controls were swiftly delivered from the provinces of private faith to those of a criminal court. As a man believes, so he will act. Leave that you are the member of a chosen people awash in the salacious exports of an evil culture. That Turning your children away from God believe
He will be rewarded with an eternity of unimaginable delights by dealing death to these infidels and flying plan into a building is scarcely more than a matter of being asked to do it. It follows, then, that certain beliefs are intrinsically dangerous. We all know that human beings are capable of incredible brutality, but we would do well to ask what sort ideology will make us most capable of it, and how can we place these beliefs beyond? in the fray of normal discourse, so that they might endure for thigh thousands of years unperturbed by the course of history or the conquests of reason. These are problems of all co control and psychological engineering. It has low long been obvious that the dogma faith two play in a scheme in which the faithful are promised, eternal, salvation and doubters are damned is nothing less than their perfect solution.
Kings and presidents on down. There is no evidence that any of our books was authored by the creator of the universe. The Bible, it seems Burton, was the work of sand strewn men and women who thought the earth was flat and for whom a wheelbarrow would have been a breathtaking example of emerging technology. Hi on such a document. For the basis of our worldview, however, heroic the efforts of redactors is to repudiate two thousand gears of civilizing insights that the human mind has only just begun to inscribe upon itself through secular politics and scientific culture. We will see that the greatest problem confronting civilization is not merely religious extremism wrath. It is the larger set of cultural and intellectual accommodations. We have made to faith itself. Religious words are in large part responsible for the religious conflict in our world, because their beliefs provide the context in which script call literalism in religious violence can never be at
frequently opposed and again I stand by that. Claim, though it is provocative and controversial and again is not incompatible with the observation which I also I believe that if we could change all fundamentalist and extremist to moderates, that would be a very good thing and the problem of religion was largely go away, but moderates in insisting on respect. For the notion of revelation and because of their general reluctance to link specific religious doctrines with specific instances of bad behave. They stand in the way of an honest criticism of the most dangerous religious ideas. Every sphere of genuine discourse must at a minimum admit of
scores, and hence the possibility that those standing on its fringe can come to understand the truths that it strives to articulate. This is why any sustained exercise of reason must necessarily trans send national, religious and ethnic boundaries. There is, after all, no such thing as inherently american or christian or caucasian physics, even spirituality and ethics meet this criterion of universality because human beings, whatever their background, seem to converge on similar spiritual experiences, an ethical insights when, given the same methods of inquiry, such is not the case with the quote truths of religion, however, nothing that Christian and a Muslim can say to each other will render their beliefs mutually vulnerable to discourse, because the very tenants of there faith of immunize them against the power of conversation believe and strongly without evidence. They have kicked themselves loose of the world.
It is therefore in the very nature of faith to serve as an impediment to further inquiry, and yet the fact that we are no longer killing. People for heresy in the West suggest that bad ideas, however, sacred, cannot survive the company of good ones forever. Given the link between belief and action, it is clear that we can no more tolerated diversity of religious beliefs than a diversity of beliefs about epidemiology and basic hygiene. There's still a number of cultures in which the germ theory of disease has yet to put in an appearance. Where people suffer from a debilitating ignorance on most matters relevant to their physical health. Do we tolerate these beliefs, not if they put our own health in jeopardy, even apparently innocuous beliefs, when unjustified, can lead to intolerable consequences? Many Muslims, for instance, or convinced that God takes an active in Kristen women's clothing, while it may seem harmless enough, the amount of suffering that this incredible idea has caused is astonishing.
The rioting in Nigeria over the two thousand and two Miss World pageant, claimed over two hundred lives. Innocent men and women were butchered with machetes or burned alive simply to keep that troubled place free of women in bikini. Earlier in the year, the religious police in MECCA prevented paramedics and firefighters from rescuing scores of teenage girls trapped in a burning building. Why? Because the girls were not wearing the traditional head covering that chronic law requires. Fourteen girls died in the fire, fifty were injured. Should Muslims really be free to believe that the creator of the universe is concerned about hemlines. Gathering her wits. Recent events Done more than expose our vulnerability to the militant discontents of the world, they have uncovered a dark current of one reason in our national discourse of the irrationality of our enemies, just substitute the name of your
favorite olympion, for God, wherever this word appears in public discourse, imagined President Bush addressing the national prayer breakfast in these terms quote behind all of life in all history. There's a dedication and a purpose set by the hand of a just and faithful zoos. Imagine his speech to Congress September twentieth, two thousand and one containing the sentence. Fear and freedom, justice and cruelty have always been at war, and we know the APOLLO is not neutral between them. Places of our language, concealed, acuity and strangeness of many of our beliefs are present, speaks and phrases appropriated the 14th century, and no one c inclined to find out what words, like God and crusade and wonder working power mean to him. Not only do we still eat the offal of the ancient world, we are positively smug about it.
Garry Wills has noted that the Bush White House is quote currently honeycomb for the prayer groups and Bible study cells like a whited monastery and quote. This should trouble us as much as it troubles the fanatics of the muslim world. We should be humbled, perhaps to the point of spontaneous genuflection by the knowledge that the ancient Greeks began to lay their olympion myths to rest several one hundred years before the birth of Christ, whereas we have the likes of bill, Moyers Convenient Miss gatherings of scholars for the high purpose of determining just how the book of Genesis can Reconciled with life in the modern world pull into the middle ages. It does not seem out of place, to wonder whether the myths that now saturate our discourse will wind up killing. Many of us, as the mists of others, already have two hundred years from now, When we are a thriving global civilization, beginning to colonize space, something about us will have changed, it must have uh. The
wise, we would have killed ourselves ten times over before this day ever dawned. We are faster looking at a time when the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction will be a trivial undertaking, the requisite in and technology are now seeping into every corner of our world. As the physics Martin Rees points out quote: we rent in an era where a single person can buy one. In clan to Stein ACT, cause millions of deaths or city uninhabitable for years and given the power of our technology, we can see the glance that aspiring martyrs will not make good neighbors in the future. We have simply lost the right to our myths into our mythic identities. It is time we recognize that the only thing that permits human beings to collaborate with one another in a truly open ended way is their willingness to have their beliefs. Modified by new facts. Only openness to evidence and argument will secure a common world for US
Guarantees that reasonable people will agree about everything, of course, but the unreasonable are sir certain to be divided by their dogmas. This spirit of me it will inquiry, is the very antithesis of religious faith, may never achieve closure. In our view of the world, it seems extraordinarily likely that our descendants will look up on many of our beliefs, as both in possibly quaint and suicidally stupid, our primary task in our discourse, with one There should be to identify those beliefs that seem least likely to survive another one thousand years of human inquiry or most likely to prevent it and subject them to sustain criticism which of our present practices will appear most ridiculous from the point of view of those future generations that might yet serve. I have the folly of the present, it is hard to imagine that our religious will not top the list is.
The hope that our descendants will look upon us with gratitude, but we should also hope that they look upon us with pity and disgust, just as we view the slaveholders of are all too recent. Fast, rather than congratulate ourselves for the state of our civilization. We should consider how, in the fullness of time, we will seem hopelessly backward and work to lay a foundation for such refinements in the present. We must find our way to a time when faith without evidence disgrace. Does anyone who would claim it given the present state of our world. There appears to be no other future worth wanting. It is imperative that we begin speaking about the absurdity of most of our religious beliefs? I fear, however, that that uh time has not yet arrived in this sense, what follows is written very much in the spirit of a prayer. I pray that we may one day think clearly enough about these matters to render art
children incapable of killing themselves over their books. If not our children, then I suspect they could well be too late for us, because while it has never been difficult to meet your maker in fifty years, it will simply be two e he to drag everyone else along to meet him with you, okay. Well, that was the first chapter of my first book. The end of faith and I wrote it in that form even knew it was a book chapter. This was something I started writing immediately after September, eleventh two thousand one. I I literally think I was writing it on September, twelfth or thirteenth. It then became the basis of a book proposal, but it was more or less in that form, and I think I've said this before. I then submitted it to publishers and it was rejected by no less than sixteen of them. In fact, it was rejected by every
one one. In the end I had this experience of hearing from enthusiastic editors, and learn that there was no way in Hell that their house was going to publish a book like this attack in religion and then all but one passed and finally W W Norton offer to publish the book, but even that, vision was under a cloud of controversy. I only found this out later, but when I went to meet my editor for the first time, half the team at Norton boycotted the meeting. They literally refused to meet me because they found the proposal, most of which you just heard so offensive. In particular, my argument that moderate religion is part of the problem, so I would say our conversation on this topic has evolved considerably in the last decade and a half
I frankly don't know what would have happened. If Norton had passed on the book, it's hard to see how it would have been published, self published certainly wasn't a viable or respectable option. At that point, the book became the first in this wave of new atheist sellers followed by the God, delusion and breaking the spell, and God is not great and letter to a christian nation- was in there. Needless to say, been an honor to be associated with Richard and Anne and hitch for all these years now,.
I'm planning to read more of the book on the podcast. I certainly don't consider myself the best reader of books and that's why I didn't read the end of faith or letter to a christian nation. I just assume the professionals would do a better job than I could and then I just heard nothing but complaints about both of those audio books. So I'm I've read each of my books since it doesn't come easily. I should say- and so if you don't want to spend. Many more podcasts with me this way please feel free to. Let me know you will spare me a lot of work and if there is someone in your life who you think would enjoy this podcast who's, not listening to it.
And who may not even be listening to podcast at all, you might help them with that problem. I've actually had to do this myself. I've actually had to take possession of a family member smartphone point out his resident podcast app and subscribe him to my podcast and two others that I think he would find interesting Because many people have not gotten on the podcast train and they don't know what they're missing many many readers have asked me to release transcripts of my podcasts because they don't listen to audio and uh, going to do that now, but I have real misgivings about doing that, because there's a difference between spoken and written text and the transcript of any podcast winds up being bad writing. In the end, these words were spoken, not written and audio really is its own format and
many things that I will say on this podcast. That will only appear in this format for better or worse, if you know people who just don't know how to and listen to podcasts, and do they haven't found a way to integrate them into their lives? Well, then, for the love of God help them out with that problem and as always thanks for listening. If you find this podcast valuable. There are many ways you can support it. You can review it on Itunes or Stitcher or wherever you happen to listen to it. You can share it on social media with your friends, you can blog about it or discuss it on your own podcast or you can support it directly and you can do this by subscribing through my website at SAM Harris, DOT, org and there you'll find subscriber only content, which includes my ask me anything episodes you also get access to advance tickets to my live events as well as streaming. Video
Transcript generated on 2019-10-05.