Sam Harris, Author Challenges Faith of a Christian Nation, fundamentalists, moderates, atheists, James Cones, religion
Sam Harris gives voice to the shared opinions of a great many agnostics and atheists throughout our culture who feel, like him, that religion "is doing such mad work in our society" (Harris). Certainly to many of us it is horrifying, if true, that "44 percent of Americans think Jesus is going to come in the next 50 years" and that the Apocalypse is a completely real and immediate event to be planned for actively (Harris). However, Harris also takes on religious moderates in a way which would leave many agnostic moderates uncomfortable, by claiming that those who claim to be religious but still, unlike most fundamentalists, support and condone most of the modern world, for instance, the use of birth control, are "deluding themselves about the source of their moderation" and are "not being honest".
[...] In this way it is given that fundamentalists, moderates, and atheists will all use the conventions of their time to analyze their own perspectives as well as those of others. Gone are the days when philosophers would try either to prove or to disprove the existence of God by scientific means, because we would no longer accept such a proof on either side as valuable. Nowadays, using political perspectives to discuss religion is a common tool for everyone, from fundamentalists who use faith to justify acts of political warfare to atheists like Harris who use political abuses by the religious as a refrain to point out religion's ills. [...]
[...] National Public Radio. September Herriot, Peter. Religious Fundamentalism and Social Identity. New York: Routledge Kennedy, Philip. A Modern Introduction to Theology. New York: I.B. Tauris McGrath, Alister. The Twilight of Atheism. [...]
[...] New York: Doubleday, 2004. [...]
[...] Feuerbach argued that God was human construction" created out of a psychological need, one which he believed that 19th-Century, Enlightenment Europe no longer had (McGrath 58). On this point, then, the two philosophers seemed to disagree: whether we still needed God in the 19th Century was debatable. However, judging simply from the popularity of religion now, it does not appear that we are ready to cast off this particular illusion. If Feuerbach really thought, as did many, that we had outgrown the psychological need for belief in God, he could not have seen the psychological horrors of secular modernity which Freud, among others, could see. [...]
[...] There is an enduring truth to religious belief even if one does not accept any of the literal articles of faith such as the existence of God. The evidence for these enduring truths can be found simply in the enduring nature of religion throughout the world and throughout all of human history. Furthermore, we cannot deny the positive political role religion has played, particularly if we are to accuse religion of political horrors in its name. Harris is right to point out the deep theological problems which led to events such as the September 11th attacks, and to point out that these problems are not aberrations but are a natural part of the religion of Islam, but he must also realize how those same elements in a religion work for positive political change. [...]
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