A Response to Sam Harris' Talk at the Atheist Alliance
I don’t understand Harris’s greater motivation for wasting so much time philosophizing about what would be an appropriate thing for Atheists to call themselves. If his goal is to minimize the individuals who believe in a God then I can’t imagine a much more ostracizing act than his continual belittlement of their most important values. I understand that his need to criticize as acidly as he does is because so many are too polite to critique one’s own value system, but Harris’s problem isn’t what he’s saying, but how he’s saying it. His choice of language when speaking about religion is so laced with negative rhetoric and ideological slants it’s comical someone like him would consider himself an objective and scientific thinker. His arguments are clearly focused toward the disgust of the caricatures of the religious that he’s built up in his mind. He is attacking a people, and not an idea.
Harris’s proposal to have all atheists not refer to themselves by any title is outrageously self-centered and naïve. Every minority group has always been labeled from the outside more so than the inside. It has nothing to do with the spreading of rational thinking, but seems to just be another way Harris can feel that it is him versus the world.
Harris needs to give up his scapegoating of Islamic terrorism as a violent mindset propagated only by the ethos of the religion. This is a perfect case of chicken and egg thinking: are the poor and oppressed people of the Middle East militant primarily because they believe in Islam (making Islam the cause of this immorality)? Or does a specific homegrown militant version of Islam thrive in the Middle East because the people are poor and oppressed, those conditions themselves being the cause for the immorality and Islam itself being a red herring result?
I am embarrassed to have someone like Harris representing such a smart and generally open group of people. In a time where we need to bridge the gaps that separate people, and increase our understanding of one another, Harris does nothing but aggravate already tender lesions.